Thursday, September 19, 2013

Not into tuition

I don't have fond memories of tuition. In secondary school, my grades were atrocious. The parents tried to remedy the situation by engaging tutors for me. Each hour spent with one tutor or another was such a drag.

In the classroom, I was only one of forty kids. We were all terrified of being called upon to answer the teacher's questions, but there was always a thirty-nine in forty chance that we wouldn't be called. At the tuition table (on Friday evenings, it became Dad's mahjong table) there was only me and the tutor, and I had to answer all the questions.

I wasn't terrified of any of the tutors. It wasn't that personal. What I dreaded was having my freedom of movement curtailed, having to sit still for that hour, hour-and-a-half chained to the table while life went on around me... elsewhere.

I didn't have as much tuition as today's kids. But having to sit through each interminable experience every week was traumatic every time. I realize now that I'm a better kinesthetic learner than a sit-down-and-mug learner, so maybe that had something to do with my sensation of claustrophobia while making my poor tutor earn every last 1-cent coin of his or her monthly paycheque.

Was it worth it in the end? Well, without tuition, I was failing. With tuition, I failed anyway. And I'm talking about the big exams. My best subjects were the ones that didn't require extra tuition in, so I didn't get the benefit of having tuition pull my Bs to As. Knowing me, I'd probably get them pulled down to Cs with tuition.

I can't speak either for or against the mania for after-school tuition as it stands today. All I can say is that if I didn't want to learn something, no amount of tuition would have helped. But maybe the tuition allowed my parents to think that they did their best for their kid who liked to read (garbage), yet didn't have the smarts for school.

But they also paid for my college tuition years later, and for that, I will always be grateful.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Circle-Line lunch quest: Breko Cafe

Not often we get to go out and have a proper lunch as colleagues. We're making the most of our current opportunity during this exam-marking period to enjoy something a little more leisurely than the usual grab-and-run, if at all.

The rules of today's game: see where the Circle-Line will take us to nice, reasonably-priced food.

We went as far as Holland Village and bounced between eateries looking at their menus before settling on Breko Cafe.

To accommodate seven of us, we occupied the upper deck. Dim lighting, comfy couches to slouch back upon, but the tables felt slightly higher than optimal, but you can't have everything. We were looking to relax, and we got what we wanted.

The menu here is quite varied: burgers, ribs, steak, pasta, breakfast items (up till 1200 hrs) and cheap beer, smoothies and desserts -- something for everyone. The ribeye I had (above) was satisfactorily pink inside, so none of my usual complaints about the conservatism of the chef. It was juicy and had just enough fat left on the rind to down smoothly. The portions were reasonable (looking at the other dishes the others ordered), though I could have done with more steak. That's me being greedy, and also finding something that's quite close to the perfection I have been looking for in a while.

Where will the Circle-Line take us to next? Stay tuned...!