Monday, 26 May 2008

Postcard: Glad You Weren't Here!

24th – 25th May 2008: Postcard – Glad You Weren’t Here!

It would have been a good weekend for me if I didn’t have to attend the office annual bowling tournament. I would have gone to the SPCA, bade goodbye to Felicity, collected the cage and had another stray cat neutered. I would have put in 5 – 6 hours of volunteer work before going back to the parental home.

Unfortunately, in the interests of fostering camaraderie and goodwill, we all had to drive down to the A Famosa Resort in Melaka for the infernal bowling game. There is nothing amicable or peaceable about these games. Such events are almost invariably fraught with vicious backstabbing, quarrelling and allegations of cheating or rough play.

It was with reluctance that I made the journey to A Famosa Resort. Like most other amusement parks and holiday resorts in Malaysia, it has seen better days. The golf course was overgrown with weeds and the timeshare apartments were mostly vacant. There was a desolate shabbiness about the place.

The Cowboy Town in which the bowling alley was located was just as bad. Migrant workers in Western getup greeted us with a kind of desperation. Will you buy a souvenir? Have a cold beer? Shoot a few bottles off a wall for a made-in-China stuffed animal?

The workers were only just opening up the bowling alley for us. The air conditioning wasn't working but the 'fridge stocked with overpriced sodas was running beautifully. The rugrats (my workmates' children), succumbing to the resort management's devious machinations, began to scream blue murder for soda.

The game began hours after it was supposed to have commenced. I fared badly as my heart wasn't in the game. I played much better with the 4x4 team and the Parents, but playing in a pointless tournament just doesn't float my boat. (If it were a Sudoku or Scrabble showdown or a public speaking competition, however, I would be singing a very different tune).

Despite all appearances, I am not usually a competitive person. Nature thrives on cooperation and collaboration, not competition. Success isn't about defeating the next person, it's about achieving your objectives and doing it well. So a bowling tournament has little context for me. I don't know whose pride or honour or survival I am bowling for. How could a bowling victory help me improve myself as a person, or help society at large or the animal world or the natural environment?

It must have been a while since the alley was last used, because a fluorescent light fitting fell off in the middle of my team's lane and the computer system in 4 out of 10 lanes were faulty. The air conditioning was still out and everyone began to smell positively vile.

Even the Boss had to throw in the towel after his team had completed the first set and admit that the place was a dump. We'd have to play all over again in one of the better sports facilities in the city. Oh joy. Yet another weekend squandered against my will on "office sports".

There was a miniscule shopping arcade in the Cowboy Town offering substandard made-in-China goods. Worse, there was a tiger chained to a stage for photo opportunities. His paws were shackled to the floor and he looked either sedated or unwell. When we made eye contact, his sense of despair was palpable. How could people be so cowardly and so cruel as to display our national symbol, the Malayan Tiger, this way?

Visitors had to pay to have a photo taken with the poor tiger, and I chose to forgo getting photographic evidence of this instance of animal cruelty so that I wouldn't be aiding and abetting wildlife abuse and enriching the management.

(As at Tuesday, 27th May 2008, I had sent out Letters to the Editor to the major newspapers, had notified the Tiger Crime Hotline and had e-mailed the Wildlife Department upon Loretta's advice. Thanks, Loret.)

Was in no mood for dinner and went back to KL immediately after the game, drenched in sweat though I was.

Reached the Bachelor Officers' Quarters, fed and cleaned up after the cats, cleaned the 'Quarters and crashed into bed. It's been a terrible waste of a Saturday.

Went back to the parental home on Sunday morning. My cousin, Boy Scout, had come to stay for the weekend. Had lunch with the family, gave Amber a bath, took Amber and Cody on walks, cleaned the parental home, read the papers, sent Boy Scout off to get his bus back to college and went back to the 'Quarters in the evening.

I still think it is a waste of a weekend.

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