My 2016 happy list

fullsizerenderAs I get older, I find that time passes by too quickly. I live one day to the next and all of a sudden, we’re at year end. A fellow blogger inspired me to come up with a list of things that I’m grateful for and my fond memories from 2016. Continue reading

I need some fresh air

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Over the past couple of weeks, red alerts have been issued in over 20 cities in Northern China due to severe air pollution.  We have seen images of cities covered in smog and children taking exams while wearing masks. This is not the first time it has happened nor will it be the last, despite efforts by the government to reduce emissions. To achieve the status of the factory of the world, China has ended up depriving its residents of a very essential commodity – fresh air. China is not alone in this plight, although the severity is probably worse than most countries. Forest fires in Indonesia have resulted in haze which not only affects the country itself but also neighboring countries. In India, air quality has steadily worsened due to burning in paddy fields, vehicle emissions and industrial activities.

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My introduction to life with a domestic helper

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In Hong Kong and a few other countries in Asia, we have access to affordable help in the form of ‘domestic helpers’ – typically women originating from some of the less developed nations in the region like Indonesia and Philippines. Domestic helpers are tasked with taking care of our homes including cleaning, cooking, taking care of elderly family members, but also pets and very commonly, our children.

I have always been certain that I do not want to be a full time mum because I enjoy having a career. When I was pregnant, I was not thrilled with the idea of hiring a helper to take care of our baby because it was not a concept that I’m used to. Having a stranger live with us, being our baby’s primary caregiver and essentially becoming a part of our lives was not appealing. I was also worried about our daughter becoming too spoilt and could grow up expecting to be waited on hand and foot. Last but not least, I felt that the arrangement was unfair for the helper and wasn’t sure how to achieve the balance between treating a helper fairly while protecting our interests. Continue reading

Where do I call home?

fullsizerenderCompared to my parents’ generation, I have led a more international lifestyle. The first time that my parents traveled overseas was to attend university in London. Due to a combination of technology and budgetary constraints, my dad told me that he had to transit in four airports in order to get from Malaysia to the UK. In contrast, I cannot remember the first time I traveled overseas, but it was certainly before the age of 10. By the time I went to the UK for my studies, I had visited a few Asian countries, Australia, Disneyland in Los Angeles, etc.

I feel very fortunate – I’ve been given ample opportunities to see the world and experience different cultures. I have thoroughly enjoyed my travels and it has helped made me who I am today. I’ve lived abroad for many years, where I get to enjoy my freedom and a comfortable lifestyle. Despite this, I sometimes envy my cousins and friends who have lived in Malaysia their whole lives. Their lives seem much simpler – Kuala Lumpur is their home and they get to spend lots of time with family and friends who are nearby. At a glance, it may seem that they have a poorer quality of life and fewer opportunities and interesting experiences compared to me, but they are certainly less confused and torn. Continue reading

Why is banking a high paying industry?

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When someone mentions banking, the first thing that comes to mind is money. Banks deal with money and bankers have a lot of it. It has always been the case but in recent years, especially post 2008, the spotlight has been on this matter, with bankers painted as greedy villains. I realise that I’m generalizing here, but it seems reasonable that we question the rationale and fairness of this situation, where professions that add value to society such as policemen and teachers earn a fraction of what someone in banking earns.

Here are some statistics to ponder over: in the UK, the median average annual salary was GBP27,531[1], and within this, the City of London (where the bankers are) was the highest earning region, with an average salary of GBP48,023. In the US, the median salary for an analyst (i.e. entry level) working for a bulge bracket investment bank is around $80K[2], while a registered nurse would be paid closer to $50K[3]. The difference increases with experience, with a Managing Director in a bank earning over $600K. I didn’t bother looking into a senior nurse’s pay, but I’m pretty sure it would be miles away. Continue reading