Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sushi on Saturday

Some years ago I read a column in George magazine where the author had decided to outsource his life. At a not-completely-unreasonable cost he hired an India based company to handle his life and work.

The services included simple tasks like sending flowers to his wife, replying to party invitations and organise his personal like. The company also contacted his dry cleaners to complain about the work on the latest batch of shirts they had handled for him, did research for some overdue work, located and ordered a special shampoo type that was no longer in stock at his local shop. His India contact even drafted and sent an email to his boss outlining all the excellent reasons why negotiations for a pay rise should be imminent.

The results were excellent and the author, who found himself spending most of his time on the golf course (booked by the company in India), would have continued employing them if his wife had not put her foot down after discussing the weekend menu, not with her husband, but a recent graduate in India.

Today I decided to temporarily outsource my social life to my co-worker K. She did such an excellent job I am considering taking her on full-time.

Take this

I hate when I think of a great line only after a conversation is over.

This weekend an annoyed P told me to "play something else but that shit you always have on" (referring to Miles Davies).

I said nothing...but what I should have said is "Sorry, I don't have Take That"

Next time!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Not superman

I received a text message tonight requesting my company for a quick drink. As I am currently trying to be a bit more spontanoeus, I decided that it would do no harm to leave work for just an hour. Within the 5 min it took me to come to that decision and reply, my friend was already on his way home. I think this was completely unreasonable. Nevermind!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Mum evasion

My mother is trying to get me to call my cousin to ask him to mow the lawn at my house in Sweden. Every time she calls I pretend to enter a tunnel, be in a meeting or go suddenly deaf. I'm putting so much time and effort in dodging her phone calls that I would find myself with lots of spare time if I just gave my cousin that call! But that's the beauty of procrastination, isn't it!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Just thinking

If you've just had the most perfect day, would you retrace your steps, do it all again in the exact same order, just to experience another perfect day? If you did retrace your steps, would the day still be perfect? Or would expectation ruin it? Was the day perfect in the first place because you had no expectations on it? In such case, could you ever have that day back? If you did nevertheless retrace your steps and things turned out not quite as perfect the second time around, would it ruin the memory? Are things better left when they are at their best. What if you only know that things were at their best, by the time it is no longer so? If you don't go on to find out, how will you ever know? On the other hand, do you always have to know how the story ends? Is there not some beauty in leaving it after "once upon a time..."?

No, I'm not stoned!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Clean clothes vs feminism

I knew the minute I received the call saying “I have bought a used washing machine” that it meant trouble. I don’t have anything in particular against second-hand household appliances, but whenever they involve some sort of installation process I KNOW that I will be the one who have to take care of it.

This is in itself not a problem. Having grown up with two very practical men looking after me, I am well adept in anything from woodwork to fixing minor electrical problems. However, with my current workload, my general feelings towards anything not work-related, or spending time with my neglected dog and friends, is that I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS SHIT!!

Inevitably, after a week of Juliet and P both telling me that it is being taken care of, nothing has happened as of yet and I am running out of clean clothes.

At this point I betray all the strong women who have walked before me. Women who rolled up their sleeves to deal with that washer, just to show that women are indeed equal, have the right to vote, own property, should be paid the same salary for the same job. I imagine Simone de Beauvoir turning in her grave as I switch to my most pathetic voice and phone Daniel in the estate management office.

“Hi Daniel, I’m so glad I got hold of you. I wonder if you could help me. I can’t seem to install the washer. I have all the hoses and connection….thingies…but I don’t quite understand what to do. Do you think you have time to come by and take a look?”

Within 5 min Daniel was there, sorting the problem while I was putting on my favourite red shoes and left for work.

Do I feel ashamed of myself? Not at all! Although I feel a great deal of gratitude towards the women whose hard work and suffering have offered me the opportunities that I have today, I still believe it is a woman’s prerogative to choose when she will be strong and when it better suits her to be helpless!

In London, my co-worker and friend Caroline and I often discussed the Catch 22 in our work as Conference Producers. As such, especially as a woman, it is vital to be taken seriously and to give a competent and professional impression. At the same time, downright flirting is what gave us the edge over male colleagues. The key is to find the balance between acting like a bimbo, and shocking the hell out of people with your skills and competence.

I can just conclude that it really can’t be easy being a man, with women like myself out there, changing the rules whenever it suits us!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Send me free stuff

I received this email today.

To all my friends who in 2007 sent me best 'wishes', chain letters, 'angel' letters or other promises of good luck if I forwarded something,

For 2008, could you please just send MONEY, Vodka , Beer, chocolate, or fuel vouchers.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Seeing eye-to-eye

One significant difference between life as an office rat in Hong Kong compared to London, is that when you find yourself in a jam-packed lift in Hong Kong, you are a head taller than everyone else.

Sometimes I start talking to tall strangers in the lift just because it feels like we have something in common.

Kiss a Swede tomorrow!

24th April is the International Kiss a Swede Day. If anyone would like to celebrate that, let me know as I am always happy to help a friend in need...of a Swede!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Snaskefar was discussing practical jokes the other day. It reminded me that it has been far too long since I last asked for free samples of incontinence products to be sent to my former step mother. She doesn't know that I am the one signing her up every 2-3 months, and she's not smart enough to realise that this is done to her purely for the fact that she is a vicious cow and a low-life...but it still gives me great pleasure to press that submit button on Tena's website. This is an evil streak in me that I am rather proud of.

Cats can't fly

I had only just moved in when it happened AGAIN! Stinky the cat slipped off the balcony railing and fell 4 floors.
Convinced that there is no way she could have survived I was shocked to see her sitting on a ledge, looking through the window to the car park like nothing much had happened. The ledge, however, was out of reach and neither the doorman nor the SPCA guy could figure out a way to get to her.
This was the point when I was prepared to break down the window. After some good advise from friend M (so sorry that I woke you) I decided against it and agreed to lower a cat trap. Stinky the cat though is not the sort of cat who will walk into a trap, unless it’s Gucci. She’d rather starve to death. There was nothing to be done seeing as it was about 5 am.
Around 10 am we finally got to her through a door that I had claimed all along must exist. She was absolutely fine and can now add this to her list of adventures, which includes falling off a balcony in London (ONLY 3 floors) and being accidentally loaded unto a lorry and shipped from London to Northern Ireland. Each time I have been close to having a heart attack!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Not old - vintage!

My Word! is today facing the challenge of navigating the mobile phone jungle to find that one phone that is "just a phone".

I have considerable experience in this, seeing as mobiles make up a large share of the non-food items that pass through my dog's digestive system.
Ahead of each replacement time I try to read up on the latest features available so that I can include these in the list of what I do NOT want my phone to do.

So my usual conversation with pubertal sales person starts off like this:

Hello, I would like a phone with no camera, no camcorder, no radio or mp3 player, no other type of player either. I don't need any word processing or editing software. I don't want to be able to check my emails or go online. I don't need voice recording or speech recognition. I don't want translation software or a calculator. I don't care to know what time it is in 5 major world cities. I don't want a colour display. I don't want any games.

That normally leaves the just-turned-17 stuttering "bbbbut, than it is just a phone!"

He then inevitably has to leave for the furthest most storage room, climbing over piles of past seasons electronics to find that one dust covered box that contains those ancient Nokias that calls, sends texts, possibly has an alarm clock...but with a battery life that will put any Duracell bunny to shame!

Insisting on using vintage phones alone has occasionally given me a mild cult status. I'm awaiting the day when some kid will ask me how it works. It will be a bit like when my sister M2 asked me what "that thing" was, pointing at the LP player!

What goes around...

This morning I retaliated for a wrong that was done unto me a few weeks ago. It was beneath me...but it felt good!

About coconuts

I've been asked to clarify 'the whole coconut thing".

There are challenges (I prefer to call problems "challenges" as I am a very positive kind of person) that people have been faced with, whether they lived 4000 year ago or are around today.

I find it comforting to know that the big challenges that I face are in no way unique, and if I look around me I will find people that have overcome them and got on just fine.

At this very point in time there are 3 major things that occupy my mind. Coincidentally, my mother had to go through the exact same experiences when she was my age. She might be slightly crazy, but generally a balanced and happy person despite it.

If faced with a serious or life-or-death challenge, I believe our survival instinct will kick in to open that damn nut!

Ironically, if we are talking literally about being stuck on an island with only coconuts for sustenance, it wouldn't matter if my survival instinct opened them as I am highly allergic to coconuts and would die either way!

You may choose to use this fact to dwell on the dark side of my sparkling personality but if that's what you're doing I'd say you think too much and really need a hobby!


The other night, around 11 pm, I popped out for a caffeine fix. On the street I ran into a friend, who kindly invited me to join him and his colleague for a quick drink. I declined with the motivation that I don't get off work until around 3 am.

His friend, an American (!) turned to me and asked:

"Wow, 3 am, really?! You must have some crazy job"

As he was sweet and American I couldn't help myself:

"I'm a stripper"

...which was of course (I know, too easy) followed by:

"Really? That's so cool. Where do you work? Can we like go there"

I then left my friend with the task of explaining sarcasm.

I'm not proud of it but...

Typhoon warning 1 is raised in Hong Kong this evening. This reminds me of a deep dark secret that I swore never to tell anyone.

I love natural disasters. I don't want people to die or suffer, really I don't...but the higher the death toll, the more interest I will have in following developments.

A few years ago I watched a documentary about the Estonia disaster in 1994. One of the interviewees was a news anchor for one of the major TV stations. He was recounting the enormous intensity of their work following the event, and one of his most vivid memories was a senior reporter announcing "I haven't had this much fun since Olof Palme was murdered".

It's sick, it's morbid. It's human nature!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Simply chilled

I don't know if it was the delicious salad I just ate, or the invigorating gym session I just came back from, maybe that I am beating all my work deadlines, perhaps it's the knowledge that tomorrow I am not going in to work or that I just booked Tuesday night off for a wine and dine event...perhaps it is all of the above in combination, but right now, at this point in time, I feel FANTASTIC.

Now I only need to work out a way to bottle this feeling so I can bring it out whenever another coconutesque problem arises.

Just dig in!

I just need to put down this quote that was sent to me yesterday before I delete it from my SMS inbox (or my dog eats another one of my mobiles)

"Meetings are insecure people's way of pretending to manage and be in charge"

I couldn't agree more after sitting through 8 hours of meetings, over the past 2 days only....with the same people...going over the same issues again and again and again and again.

I'm a mover and shaker! Not a sit-around-and-discuss-it-until-we're-all-dead kind of person!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Swedish PM Fredrik Reinfeldt's visit to China seems to have been a success. No one seriously believes that Sweden will in any way influence Mr Hu and the Boys, but at least one Western leader has realised that DEMANDING change is going to have about the same effect as poking a dragon with a toothpick.
Instead, you need to start up a dialogue and carefully plant ideas that the Chinese can later claim as their own.

Or if you are really serious about making a difference, make use of the most famous Swede in China - the Super Mega Star Lao Wa, or JO Waldner, as a spokesperson.

I'm a big fan of Mr Reinfeldt's but I think the Chinese people would pay more attention to the "Michael Jordan of Table Tennis" than a Swedish PM, no offence!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Dance or suffer the consequences

I'm listening to Swedish radio online. They just played a song with lyrics that went:

"Anyone not dancing is a rapist"

That must be a really efficient way of filling a dance floor. I can think of some alternative lyrics:

"Anyone not dancing has a venereal disease"
"Anyone not dancing wets their bed"
"Anyone not dancing kills kittens for fun"
"Anyone not dancing thinks Britney is classy"

...the list is endless. Perhaps with a few more songs like this they don't have to play Dancing Queen EVERY TIME I'm at Mes Amis!

They're coming to take me away ha ha

Last week my boss suggested that perhaps I should put in some extra hours over the next few weeks. I told him I thought working 4 pm to 4 am is generally defined as "extra hours", and ended the conversation.

He's sneaky though, for he later on went ahead and scheduled 3 meetings at 11 am this week, which pretty much means I am now doing 16-17 hour days. I wonder how long a person can do this without going crazy?

Friday, April 11, 2008

God bless Buddha

I need a holiday.

Not one of those adventure holidays that I’m always on about. I want a nice hotel, a big pool with a swim-up bar, a white beach and sunshine. I want to stay under a parasol, sipping a cocktail, reading a book and not move for at least 3 days.

Buddha’s birthday is approaching, isn’t it? For those of you who don’t live in Hong Kong…we like Buddha here because it means BANK HOLIDAY. Perhaps I ought to book something?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Blog or die trying

SvD (se) reports that 2 American blog writers have died due to stress and exhaustion connected to the work on their blogs. A third one had a collapse but survived.

I'm telling you people, this is dangerous stuff...

In case you are concerned about my welfare I just want to reassure you that I am neither stressed nor suffering from exhaustion...I'm sick of sitting at work all night, but my head is well above the waterline.

Old smelly socks

The reason you haven't heard from me since Saturday is that I have been working insane hours. What's new?, you are thinking. Nothing, I suppose....I just wasn't expecting it.

I'm suppose to be in between 6pm and 3 am...but my boss always schedules afternoon meeting so it ends up being 4 pm to 4 am instead.

During the wee hours of the morning (from about 1 am) I am completely alone in the office. I don't mind being alone. It allows me to work without interruption and no one notice when I talk to myself. However, nearing the end of the 2nd week of graveyard shifts, I am struggling to stay focused.

One good thing though. I joined a gym next to my work place and I make it a point to spend an hour there each night. It's a very posh gym - each cardio machine has a DVD player. Yesterday I watched a whole episode of Lost on the cross-trainer. Sawyer has a very positive effect on me.

The gym also provides exercise shorts, t-shirts and socks. I can't decide if I think this is practical or disgusting.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Saturday morning pizza

I can easily remember my 8 digit+letters password for Pizza Hut's online ordering but not the 4 digit pin for my bank card.

I wish my brain would compartmentalise information in order of importance.

Friday, April 4, 2008


Intellectually not-quite-so-stimulating newspaper Aftonbladet today has an article revealing that a "normal intercourse", foreplay excluded, lasts 3 to 13 min. The study was made by providing an undisclosed number of women with stopwatches.

I would like to point out that:

1. I don't know for sure, but I would imagine that a man's "performance" might be affected if the woman is holding a stopwatch.

2. If you are, for instance, waiting for a bus, there is a considerable difference between 3 and 13 min.

3. I don't think anyone in their right mind gives a $hit!

4. ....and also, I get stats on which blog entries receive the most "clicks". "Porn" is in a slight lead over "Placido Domingo and Russian lesbian". I expect this one to shoot to the top. That means my readers all have filthy minds. Good on yous!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Problematic mikes

Do you guys remember that I had a phone call the other night from someone whose identity I didn't know?

Well, the exact call started something like:

Hi, it's Mike, do you remember me?

The thing is...I know at least 4 Mikes i Hong Kong. I remember all of them. However, I am not sure which of the Mikes was the person calling. He was supposed to call back yesterday to schedule that "catch up" but never did. I had a missed call but from a private number. I have only got the phone number for one Mike...I'm quite sure it wasn't him. So it's a problem. I'm hoping that he might be one of my mysterious blog readers and call me back.

Mental note to myself: make sure you know who you are talking to on the phone!

Bimbo by choice

My Russian grammar teacher once told me in confidence that the Dean referred to me as the "matryoshka" - pretty on the outside, empty on the inside. Alexey, the grammar teacher, had defended me by saying that I'm not as dumb as I look. I suppose I ought to have been offended but when I was younger I spent so much effort making sure people thought I was clever, I simply cannot be bothered taking myself seriously any longer. Instead I think it is quite nice that the Dean thought I was pretty! I would also like to point out that it is only the smallest matryoshka that's empty, before reaching that one there are lots of interesting layers to get through.


Flavours that really don't go well together:

Diet Coke and blue cheese
Red wine and salt liquorice

Ice cream and crisps however work really well. In Hawaii I would occassionally have chips dipped in chocolate milk shake (from Jack in the Box) -that's the only way I've ever liked anything chocolate.


I sometimes find that Diet Coke has an aftertaste of mould. I have asked friends and random strangers if they have had the same experience but it seems I am the only one. Perhaps it is my body's way of telling me I really ought to cut my consumption. I may be an addict but in the grand scheme of things, there really are much worse things to be addicted too.

Few serial killers in sight

Flowers and chocolates awaited me as I returned home. I must have a secret admirer I thought to myself, only to realise that if I do...he knows where I live!

With a perfect mix of fear and anticipation I reached for the card.
"We are sorry for the inconvenience caused. With compliments British Airways".

Mine was one of the 17,000 bags stuck at Heathrow. I didn't mind at all, it was full of work stuff!

I locked the door nevertheless...


I have some very exciting news! I have been awarded my very own corner office, complete with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the HK skyline (well, a couple of buildings at least). Having always worked in office landscapes, I am looking forward to the endless possibilities that privacy grants.

I'm putting together a list:

Write on my blog instead of working (that won't hold up though, I'm very busy!)
Tell people "can you step into my office please"
Close the door!
Tell people on the phone, "hold on, I'm just going to close the door to my office"
Have meetings in my office
Decorate it to my liking
Close the door and take a nap!
Conduct work calls in private
Make private calls without anyone noticing
Have more room for my shoes

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Language matters

I like how the management office in my building so clearly use a translation software.

Other things that occupy my mind right now are: what is the synonym for "synonym" and how to abbreviate "abbreviation"?

Toilet training

My dog now drinks out of the toilet. I think this is one of those natural progressions as a puppy is growing up. It's like when a child takes the first step, or starts to speak. Imagine this conversation:

My little Lisa is starting school tomorrow.

Oh, is she? Don't they just grow up so quickly. My Gweilo is now big enough to drink from the toilet!

Ah, and I can still remember when you brought him home. He was so little.

It's disgusting but at least I'm now winning the "lid up or down" argument in the flat!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Apart from the night I ended up at the fire station, the trip to St Petersburg and well, definitely apart from the last night in Venice, there hasn't been much party. So I had decided not to fall into my old habit of a daily glass of red.

Yet here I am again! Oh well, it's Tuesday, and red wine is good for you anyway.

Crap cats

Didn't think I would come back to HK and be freezing! I've been trying to get Stinky and Smelly to lie on my feet to keep them warm. They seem appalled by the very idea of going close to my feet. Plus, they haven't yet forgiven me for abandoning them for so long.

Time to change phone number?

Someone just called me and I have no idea who it was. Even worse, I agreed to meet up for a drink next week to "catch up". I do tend to be quite liberal with handing out my phone number...I really should stop that! Although, I suppose it is nice when people want to meet up.

Me and Joe

I need to buy a CD player!

My friend Snaskefar recently wrote on his blog that he tries to "catch out" his musically profound friends by checking their top 25 most played songs on I-Tunes hoping to find songs from Aqua.

Whenever I have friends flipping through my CD collection, I always receive compliments for my taste in music. They then, inevitably end up chosing the only CD I am slightly embarrassed about owning - the soundtrack for Notting Hill. Never mind Miles Davies!

I don't listen to music much but when I do, I pick it carefully. This, however, does not mean that girl pop music never makes it to my CD player (if I had one) - I do for instance like Timberlake and Stefani. Right now, however, I am listening to Joe Crocker.

Poo and packing...I need a hobby!

P is off on a business trip tomorrow and is busy preparing for it. Since I'm home tonight I thought I'd offer to help out with something - some sort of research I was thinking.
Something intellectually stimulating would be nice after 2 days in front of the TV.

So I was really happy when P called me back and said..."actually, there is something you could help me with".
Marie's thinking: "Cool, I can be useful"
P: "You can pack for me!"

Great! It seems the 5 years I spent in university are really paying off - I am actually qualified to estimate how many shirts are needed for a two-week business trip.

Instead of packing his bag (which I will do, later) I am now pondering on whether the outcome of Gweilo having just stolen and eaten half a banana, will be unpleasant later on tonight.

Curtain call for the blog?

...actually I have rather got used to sharing my thoughts online so I think I will keep it up.

How else could I share the pain of having just sat through a 20 min conversation about curtains with my insane mother. I tried to tell her that in the great scheme of things, what kind of curtains I have in my Swedish house, really makes no difference. She doesn't listen. P claims that I have for some time been turning into my mother. I don't think that's exactly true but I CAN think of worse things!

I suppose I'll need a new name for the blog now. Something to think about - suggestions are most welcome.

Juliet is a rock

My helper Juliet has been outstanding. My flat is supertidy.
Gweilo and the cats (Stinky and Smelly) are happy and reasonably well-fed. Gweilo has being picky with his food and has lost weight, but I'm fattening him up now.
Juliet has also learnt a few new dishes and filled the fridge upon my return with all my favourites!

She has also continued her annoying habit of decorating my flat with rubbish (like the knitted napkin holder above). I don't want to tell her not to, it seems petty when afterall she is here more often than I am. However, the place is starting to look like something decorated by a 60+ Chinese woman. I'm moving in a few weeks, I think I'll bring it up then!

Meanwhile I ought to get her a present. Wonder what she would like?

First night home

It was so nice to get back home! After a quick shower for me and a shower of attention for the dog and cats, Gweilo (dog) and I strolled down to Stanley.

It's nice to have been missed. Main Street's profit has obvioulsy gone done while I've been away.
I ended the evening in Smugglers talking to some lovely gentlemen in their 60s. I wonder why I always end up talking to men significantly older than myself? Or rather, I wonder why I much prefer to have conversations with men over 50, to my contemporaries? I'm sure there's a good freudian answer to that!

I did have a really great time, especially since one of the men had like me, gone to LSE, and shared my passion for military history. It was 8 am when I finally, surprisingly sober, ended the discussion somewhere around the Crimean War and went home (the dog had been sent home around midnight I should add!).

I slept on Sunday - all day!