samedi, août 14, 2004

Where is Belarus, Angola, Saint Lucia?

I watched the opening of Olympics yesterday. As Athens is an hour ahead of Paris, we were sitting in front of the TV by 8pm. The opening was impressive. I really liked the parade put up by the Greeks. A total of 9000 Greek men and women were involved in this parade.

When it was time for the participating countries to appear, I was anticipating eagerly for the appearance of the Singapore team. Then, Seb started to test my knowledge of geography. With each passing team, he asked me where the team's country was located. Which part of the world is Belarus in? What is the capital of Angola? Where is Saint Lucia; and Nicaragua? I realised that I was in dire straits . Do I only know the major, big developed countries? How many countries are there in the Pacific oceans, South America and Africa? Do you know that there are 202 countries involved in this Olympics? I felt ashamed that I do not know these other beautiful countries where life is simple in the middle of no where. And the thing is Seb knows most of the 'ulu' countries and which continent or ocean they lie in. I do need to find out more and urge the rest of the Singaporeans and Americans to do so too. I realised all too well that when we find out more about another country, culture, people, our minds are widen and enriched.

Now back to the opening of Olympics, we watched and waited for 2 hours before we finally saw the Singapore team passed by our 29 inch box in 8 seconds. I felt so proud to see the Singaporeans though I suspected that few are neutralised citizens. Just check out their names and you will get what I mean. In any case, I do hope we bag something. It will really give me a lunch time conversion to start with my colleagues.

With 4 free channels showing Olympics provided by our Internet provider, I shall stop here and catch up on some sports. For now, it is women basketball time.

lundi, août 09, 2004

Happy National Day

Today is Singapore's birthday. My boss asked me how Singapore got its independance. I replied, we were kicked out from Malaysia.

In Feb, when I was in Delft, Holland for my 3 weeks of job training, I got to know a fellow trainee who is a Malaysian. A man of about 40 years old, he explained to me why Malaysia abandoned Singapore. I tried to record it down now but I cannot remember most of the reasons after 6 months.

History is important to us. I learnt only in my late twenties now. When I was in school, I detested history for all the dates and foreigns names we had to memorise. And then, the history of south east asia was not very interesting to me and pretty shallow.

In France however, history manifests everywhere in the daily life. The architecture, buildings, food, books, music, transport, cathedrales, museums etc all oozed of history.

My in-laws' summer house in Bretany is at least 100 years old with a big fireplace and stone walls.

The Chartres catherdrale is nearly a thousand years old. And over the weekend, when I visited my granny-in-law in Chartres, she showed me the family genealogy of 8 levels dating back to the 1700s. I wish I can trace back my roots of 200 years ago.

I remembered starkly when after visiting the National Museum in Singapore, Seb told me that it should be called a house rather than a museum as he took 15 mins to finish. Over at the Louvre, it is more likely to take 15 hours to cover the whole place.

The Metro system here though is old (not as old as London's subway) and dirty, it boosts an age of a century.

My mother-in-law sometimes goes for history walk in Paris where a guide explains the history and architecture of a particular area.

Recently when the girlfriend of my brother and her friend came for a visit, I showed them Paris. I explained briefly the reason behind building Arc de Triomphe. And that the Obelix at Concorde was plundered by Napolean from Egypt. The Versailles Palace replaced the Louvre as the King's palace due to the vanity of the Sun King, Louis XIV. The ladies were impressed with my knowledge of French history here. In fact, I was merely repeating what Seb told me when he was my tour guide 2 years ago.

I am fervently reading about history of France through biography books of queens and princess of long ago. I do hope very much that one day, I will start to pick up about the history of China where I believe the roots of my family genealogy 200 year ago lies.