September 24, 2013

Don't envy

Recently in a social gathering, I met a couple of those "show-off" kind of people. You know, those ... "Hey, notice the brand of car I am driving! Look at my watch! Did you see the platinum card I am using? My kids are smarter!" kind of people. I am sure you have met one or two of these characters before. I feel that nowadays people put a lot more emphasis on status than it used to be ... they want others to know they are living well and be envious of them.

Well, I don’t envy them ... for that matter, I don’t envy anyone. I don’t believe people should envy and wish they had what someone else have.

I have been tempted by the influences of both worlds. Of the rich and famous ... I have seen people living the lifestyle of luxury, pleasure, lavishness and affluence but I don’t envy them. And of the simple and humble ... I have read about the lives and teachings of distinguished masters, teachers, gurus and “sifus” but I don’t envy to be like them.

I learn from both worlds and gather what I think is good for me ... so, I choose to be content with an easy, simple life that is free from outdated beliefs and dogmas.

Envy is perceiving that you are always lack of something ... it get worse when it morphs into jealousy ... that is when it starts screwing with your thoughts, feelings and life. If you are not content with what you have ... hey, go strive harder for what you desire. Don’t envy ... if you do, you are counting other people’s blessings instead of your own and you will be miserable because you cannot be envious and happy at the same time.

September 02, 2013

We cannot afford “high class”

We were invited to a birthday party and on that day just as I was about to change, my daughter said to me ... “Daddy, we are going to a “high class” restaurant you know” ... she was hinting that I should dress up a bit and I answered cheekily ... “We cannot afford “high class you know”. My daughter gave me a blank stare ... she don’t understand what I meant, she was worried that I will go in my seasoned khaki pants, a fake sports shirt bought at my favorite pasar malam (night market) and my cheap pair of (dog chewed) sandals ... which is how I usually dress going out.
So, I did dress up a bit ... put on a weathered pair of jeans, a "still quite new wore a few times only” T-shirt I bought at a hypermarket (two CNYs ago) and my old pair of (Jusco Sale 70% discounted) sneakers ... really, that is me dressing up.

And indeed it was a “high class” restaurant ... I hope I did not “sutt lai” (embarrass) anyone.

Now, that is not what I intend to talk about here ... I am just giving a prelude to the term “high class”. What I want to talk about is managing the “high class” expectations of my kids.

You see, I am very reluctant to take my kids (or even let them go on invitations) to expensive fine dining restaurants or alfresco styled cafes or other swanky brasseries and bistros. We don’t need it ... more importantly, I don’t want my kids to be influenced by extravagance and overindulgence ... at least not until they make it out on their own. Even then, I hope they don’t get caught by the “high class” obsession ... getting into the habit of indulging on brands, trends and opulence ... hence that is why I am trying to manage their expectation now.

I once heard a mother telling her friends that she spent “kei pak mun che ma” (in Cantonese meaning a few hundred dollars only) on coloring and treatment for her daughter’s hair ... she sounded as if it is just small money out of the pocket. I am not against teenagers coloring their hair but spending “kei pak mun” to do it? That is not the way ... at least not for my kids. I am sure there are other “wallet friendly” options.

I can accept the need to pay several thousand dollars for a teenager’s dental braces but spending a few hundreds for a teenager’s hair coloring and treatment ... that is outlandish. I don’t think a teenage girl should be given that kind of luxury.

People tell me about birthday parties for their kids that cost several thousand dollars held at “high class” outlets. If these people tell me they are more than willing to spend thousands of dollars on good and proper education for their kids and maybe many times more when their kids are at tertiary level, I will be very happy for them but splashing thousands of dollars for a birthday do ... that is definitely out of the way for me. I think celebrations can be held in a simple and meaningful manner with those that matter most to you.

Some parents talked about their kids getting onto programs and getting involved in organizations to help the poor and unfortunates ... they tell me how their kids will learn to be a better person when they (their kids) witness how deprived and underprivileged the very poor people live. But on the other hand, I see the very same parents allowing their kids to live in extravagance, indulging in lavishness spending that directly contradicts every single word that they told me. Let me say this ... if their kids really did witness, learned and understood how important a few dollars can be to a very poor family, these kids will NEVER want their parents to spend hundreds of dollars just to do up their hair.

Call me old fashion or call me a “kedekut” (stingy) ... my kids can live comfortably learning to manage what they have and how they should spend. If they decide to go for good food, they have to settle for Jin Nan Fish Ball Noodle, State Wanton Mee, Ah Wa Hokkien Mee, Fatty Mee Hoon Kueh, Klang Bak Kut Teh, Chuan Kee Chicken Rice and the likes ... NOT the likes of Ole Ole Bali @ Kiara, Alexis @ BSC, Genji @ Hilton or Garibaldi @ Bangsar ... not even on special occasions.

I am not saying we have to live like a pauper ... I just don’t want my kids to think about Starbucks when they want a cup of coffee ... Starbucks is not a place for coffee ... it is place to for those who want “to be seen”. At their age, they don’t need the latest smart phones nor do they need on-the-go online access. If they want internet access they can wait till they get home ... we have high speed wifi at home ... THAT is already a luxury.

So, to my darling daughter (and my dear son), when you read this ... I hope you can understand what I meant when I said we cannot afford “high class”.