This Little Tadpole Went To The Pool

Wednesday, September 26, 2012
She was an odd child. We always had difficulty getting her into the water. You can imagine what kind of tricks we got up to just to get her to bathe. It didn't matter whether it was in the shower or the tub, she just didn't want any water near her face.
So we are kinda glad now that she has lost her water inhibitions. These days, she'd be the first to ask to be taken to the gym for a swim at the pool there. Albeit she has not learnt to swim yet, but she is very enthusiastic when she does her laps in the pool, complete in her gear.
Look Ma, no hands!

My Emigration Friends On Keeping My Sanity

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Well, nobody said that the immigration road was easy. In fact, if you look at all that has been said, most immigrants will tell you that it requires hardwork, dedication and loads of patience. The road can be uncertain at times, when you hear nothing on the other end. You start thinking of the worst. And there are even times you feel that you might as well just give up.

The road I had taken was no less different.
The first months into the application were magical to say the least. I had the energy and determination to fill out forms and dig up information as I was spurred on by the mere thought of what our future would be.
However, of course, after a while, the excitement died down and depression set in. It was kinda lonely on this road alone. I had my family with me, yes....but they knew no better of the situation and the waiting game than I did. We were all stuck in the same car with no bright light at the end of the tunnel.
On a chance googling session I stumbled upon some discussion forums talking about Canadian immigration to be exact. The forums were filled with people, who have already emigrated or are still in the process of emigrating or are still deciding whether to do it or not. At first I used to just stalk these people on the forum and watch all the comments/advices/questions like a hawk. I suppose in the end, the temptation grew too much. I just could not contain myself any longer. I simply had to join the groups so I can contribute as well. (Remind you much of "pay it forward"?)

I took the leap and introduced myself to the group. It really felt great to be part of something bigger. Knowing that each time I needed to let off steam, I was supported. Or if I needed something cleared up, all I needed to do was ask.

3 years down the line, I still visit the forums as often as I can. I crave new posts and am always eager if I can participate in the discussion as well. I know the people in the forum only by their avatars and handles and have not met any of them (yet). But my online friends have become more real to me. They have helped me tremendously and have been instrumental in changing our lives forever.

And somehow it has made the journey so much more enriching.

I am most active in SACanada - for South Africans going to Canada.

I also visit Pinoys to Canada - for Filipinos going to Canada.

I check out Canadavisa - for news about the rest of the world going to Canada.

Movie Review: The Hunger Games

Monday, September 17, 2012
From Wikipedia

I think I may have fallen into the trap again.

A few years ago, when I first heard of the Twilight series, I did not think that I would be affected so much. However, after watching the first Twilight movie, I was suddenly overcome to buy the whole series on paperback. It took me a week to finish the 4 books. By the time the second Twilight movie came out, I had the whole story embedded on my head.

Of course, I wouldn't say that I'm a Twi-hard fan. I just had a mild obsession after watching the movie. I occasionally get these teenage symptoms. No biggie. Although I think it might cause some alarm to say that I am almost middle-aged and I'm still getting these tendencies. LOL.
This past weekend, the family decided to rent The Hunger Games on DSTV BoxOffice. I must admit, I was quite impressed. It's not the greatest film I've seen and I did find the ending slightly disappointing (I think they were prepping the movie for the sequel)...but it certainly has captured my imagination enough that I want to go on and read the books. I have even already gotten the electronic version of the whole series.

Set in the future where two tributes from each of the twelve districts are selected to fight to the death on live television. The story revolves around Katniss Everdeen (captivatingly portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence) who volunteered to become a tribute to take her younger sister's place. Joined by the male tribute from her district, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson in real life, who reminded me so much of Dash Incredible), Katniss and Peeta travel to the Capitol to train with Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) before the match.

And the day finally arrives and the Games begin. One by one, the tributes fall. The movie evolves into almost like a "Running Man" feel (If you're as old as me, you'll remember that old Arnold Schwarzenegger movie).

Without giving away too much, the film is one of raw emotions, inner strength and undeniable bravery. For me, Katniss really stood out like a female gladiator in this live-or-die arena.

I can't wait to dig my way into the book series! And hopefully, by the time the second movie instalment comes out (which I'm sure it will), I would have all the words off by heart.

In the words of the movie: May the odds be always in your favour!

The First Sprays Of Spring

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The road to work

In South Africa, September usually marks that spring has arrived. Imagine our surprise, when last week, a few days into September, we had our first cloud outbursts as well.
It started the night before. The rain suddenly came and continued on until the early hours of morning. On my way to work, it had started again.

I love going through the city when it's raining. I see things in a different light. Not to mention that it has not rained for a long time. We've just had 6 months of winter :-) Of course, I don't mean that I love driving in the rain. We all know how traffic it can be on the roads when it's raining. It delayed my trip that morning by 15 minutes.

Johannesburg traffic - can you make out the Vodacom building?

I spent the day cooped up in the office. Not that it was any different from any other day that I spend in the office. I'm an office girl so i don't get to go outside a lot. At lunch, I had a quick break to fetch some food in town.
This picture was taken before the hail onslaught at around 2pm that afternoon. I was imprisoned in the car by the hail and could not get back into the office. It stopped eventually after 30 minutes.

Going home was bad. Mother Nature did not look like she was about to let up yet. It took me more than an hour to get home because of the traffic because of the rain :-( Maybe I will rephrase that sentence and just say that I love the moderation.

Pay It Forward

Monday, September 10, 2012
From here

It was more than just the film. The movie was neither that bad nor exceptionally good. But somehow I think what actually struck me (and stuck with me) was the whole concept of asking a good deed to be repaid by having it done for others instead. It was quite the novel idea. And so the expression "pay it forward" became something of a motto in my life.

I've learnt early on that paying it forward does not mean helping out in just monetary terms. Thank God for this as I don't really have much money myself to uplive this motto if that were the case. Instead, it requires, at most, some time and kindness on my part.

I've learnt though that when I help others, I must never expect that the favour is returned. I would always hope afterwards that if I had helped someone, they would in turn help others.

Not that I've already helped many, many, many a soul. I'm no expert at this, even after many years with the motto. Sometimes when I extend assistance, I'm not really sure if I am helping someone or not. Is it really what they need in their life? Or is it just what they want to have at the moment?

Some would call it naivety. Because I've been depressed at times when helping others does not quite work out to the "pay it forward" system in my mind. I suppose I must just learn to accept as well that not every hand lent reciprocates the same way.

But I'm pressing on. I believe in this. Regardless how big or small, I've been a recipient of this gift many times over from wonderful people to stop believing that such a concept exists in the world.

There is a greater appreciation in helping others with something they cannot do for themselves.

There is a greater reward in not counting how many people you've helped along the way.

There is a greater happiness in knowing how your simple smile have brightened somebody's day.

I know it will never be enough. But my one good deed will bring forth three more and another three until (I hope) it makes an impact. This is the whole idea. Simple.

Have you ever paid it forward?

Copyright picture (mjdotcom)

The Maple Leaf According To Missy

Wednesday, September 5, 2012
It's a little lopsided and asymmetrical but a definitely good attempt by an eight-year-old, I think. No doubt, she'll be perfecting this soon enough.

The maple leaf flag of Canada according to Missy.

Missy's Canada flag

VTT - Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe Recap

Monday, September 3, 2012
Before I came to South Africa, I always had this misconception that animals run amok on the streets of Africa. I even envisioned that elephants are the main mode of travel, as opposed to anything with wheels. My logic was that Africa had all these animals in abundance that the best way was to put them to good use.

After 20 years, I have long accepted that this misconception is what it is, a misconception. Until I came to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and Chobe National Park, Botswana. I think pets are classified quite differently in this part of town. Instead of cats and dogs, the streets and hotels of Victoria Falls were filled with small monkeys and babboons and warthogs (or what I happily remind myself as mini-Pumbaa's, haha).

My mental picture of riding elephants was not really far off when we went on an elephant back safari at Victoria Falls.

Come to Africa! Ride some elephants! The myth is true!

We met a "domesticated" cheetah named Sylvester. Well, as domesticated as he is, he was still a wild animal, according to his keeper.

We saw how a herd of elephants crossed the Chobe river and threw mud all over their bodies.

Crossing the Chobe

Enroute our way back to our hotel at Victoria Falls from our day trip to Chobe National Park, we encountered a lioness crossing the road.

Don't mind me, I'm just crossing the street

Okay, so in South Africa, there are game drives which let you experience seeing all these animals in the wild (much like our game drive in the Chobe National Park recently). But the experience is not quite the same when you realise that you are not in a game drive, you are in the security of a tour bus, and just outside walks a fierce animal, right smack bang in the middle of a town road.

The best I can describe Victoria Falls is basically a semi-urban jungle, where the animals roam free and the tourist beware. Taking nothing away from the main attraction of the waterfalls, it is the best backdrop one could have amidst the wilderness.  I wish I was a bit more adventurous to have tried out the other activities that were being offered at Victoria Falls (i.e. white river rafting, bungee jumping, etc.) It was such a small town but definitely worth the visit.

It is a true African adventure unlike any other.