Wednesday, 3 June 2009

In My Neck Of The Woods…

I thought the Penanti by-election was a big yawn. PKR’s victory was a foregone conclusion. I have nothing of consequence to report of the past week except:
Yes, I like Pina Coladas/
And gettin’ high on butane/
I’m not much into health food/
I am smashed and insane/

… write to me and escape.

Thursday, 28th May 2009: Mel’s Wedding

One of my football teammates, Melissa, finally got married to Dinesh, who she had for years insisted is ‘just her best friend’. You really couldn’t blame some of us for being confused over the identity of her groom when we first received her wedding invitation via text message.

Him?” the gang and I asked each other incredulously. “But she said he was just her buddy!”

I appointed myself the shopper of gifts on behalf of the team (No, I didn’t get her Adidas Predator boots in the end. I got her bedlinen and kitchenware for her new home) and so a bunch of us – Mun Yee, Rachel, Priya, and I - trooped along to the Sri Mariamman Temple Hall after work on Thursday for the wedding ceremony.

It was good to meet up with the gang and to eat together at the Hall, although frequent inquiries of “So when’s your turn?” from well-meaning acquaintances soon became a persistent source of annoyance.

“When I’m finally out on parole”, I usually reply, just to give them something to think about. The Hall was full of our friends from law school, and the fact that many of them recognized and remembered me from our undergraduate years is nothing short of a miracle, considering the fact that I was truant from lectures 80% of the time.

Mel looked resplendent and we could hardly recognize her in her bridal getup. I said “Good catch!” conspiratorially to Dinesh, who, incidentally, was my A-Levels classmate, and made him laugh when he wasn’t supposed to.

We left the Hall after dinner and upon having congratulated the radiant and smiling newlyweds again. So here’s to you, Mel and Dinesh: May your happiest days be the ones yet to come!

Friday, 29th May 2009: Jess’ Birthday Celebrations

It’s been a week of celebrations in my neck of the woods. Jess celebrated her birthday with a dinner with Jake on Tuesday, 26th May, and so I took them out for a dinner treat on Friday night instead, as it would be easier on everyone’s schedules.

Jake recommended Jake’s Charbroiled Steaks (no relation to him) as I had suggested Southwestern food for dinner, and off we went to the Medan Damansara branch of the restaurant. The economy must be picking up, because the place was packed and we couldn’t find a parking space. We were finally ushered to a table upstairs. Jess ordered the Stroganoff, Jake had the Texan Burger and I had the vegetarian Mexican Nachos.

We did the general knowledge quiz questions on the back of the laminated placemats while waiting for our entrees to arrive. That, to me, was the highlight of the meal. I scored above average on all 6 quizzes. (Easy ones -- Q: Which British businessman & empire builder founded an African nation that was named after him? Q: What mountain range forms a natural border between France and Spain? Q: Which British musician wrote the rock opera “Tommy”? Q: In what year did World War I end?) In fact, I was a bit miffed to be interrupted when my nachos arrived.

Mexican Nachos!

The food was fairly tasty, but not exceptional, and the portions were rather small. Jake pointed out that for a burger that costs 1½ times more than Chili’s, it should taste 1½ times better than Chili’s, but it doesn’t. Jess and I concurred and added that at least we could get Bottomless Tostada Chips (with all the guacamole and salsa we could ever want!) and Bottomless Fruit Juice/Soda at Chili’s. So guess where we’re going for Jake’s birthday in June?

Our dessert of Pecan Pie a la Mode arrived and it was such a tiny sliver of pie that I could fold it up in my wallet and make it disappear. While we did enjoy each other’s company (that’s only natural – we’re housemates!), the food was reasonably good, but definitely not worth the exorbitant prices.

Saturday, 30th May 2009: Blogosphere Bulletins

I spent Saturday back at the parental home to attend to some housework and other matters. I had to get some Green Living activity boards and charts prepared and laminated before the Star’s World Environment Day celebrations next week, respond to some Malaysian Nature Society-related interview questions by e-mail and sort out binders of my published materials for an upcoming interview on Thursday. While I was at it, I cleaned the parental home, sorted out the recyclables, spring cleaned my bedroom, swept the compound, mopped the floor, gave Amber a bath, washed the Battletank and administered Rain-X to the windscreen.

Just an update on my IRL friends who have now joined the blogosphere: Green Cindy has started a blog on living an environmentally and socially responsible lifestyle and you can visit her here: Terra-Cin. I will be contributing from time-to-time as a guest. The Green Living and Eco Kids monthly columns will be posted in Terra-Cin (since the MNS website is playing silly buggers with me again), and I will be doing the occasional product review of locally available environmentally-friendly and fair trade goods.

I’ve managed to help Meem get the Luv Thy Pet semi-commercial blog up and running as well and we welcome visits from animal lovers everywhere. Meem’s organic and/or homemade pet treats are irresistible and surprisingly affordable, so do drop by and see if you’d like to get your fuzzies a Bark-Day cake or some savouries -- you’d have them sitting up and begging in no time at all!

So do come on by and pay my friends a visit, and we’ll try to keep things relevant and interesting for all our visitors!

Sunday, 31st May 2009: SPCA Sunday, followed by a Musical Evening

The SPCA animal shelter had another mini Jumble Sale on Sunday morning, but did not receive the publicity it needed and the visitor turnout was pretty low. I was surprised that the shelter secretary and officers did not request my assistance in getting the event announcement out to the public via radio and the Press, but apparently it was all a bit of a rush job this time. They could have informed me a week or two in advance and I could still get the relevant notices out on time and paste fliers on the notice boards of all the low-cost flats and bus stops in the area days before the event.

Having slept only at 0400h on Sunday morning, I turned up at the Shelter at noon, because I realised that Chelvy would have enough school and college-age volunteers to assist with the Jumble in the morning. I was right. I went to the Central Area of the Shelter bearing a bagful of pumpkins and peeled garlic that Covert Mum had purchased for the animals and found the industrious youngsters already in the midst of bagging up the unsold items for disposal or to be handed over to another charity for recycling. I put the vegetables away in the freezer, helped the young'uns put away the trestle tables and got to work cleaning the cat cages and litter trays in the front of the Shelter.

I joined Nicole, Jacinta and Sashi at Studio 5 across the street for lunch and a long conversation about the training of companion animals before resuming work at the Shelter in the afternoon. Apparently, our general workers had tick-washed most of the dogs during the week, so I would not be required to do tick-washing this weekend. I cleaned out the Cattery and changed the bedding, litter and water for all the cats. I scrubbed, disinfected and rinsed the Cattery floor, shelves, baskets and cages and squeegee-d the place dry so that the cats would not have to deal with the damp.

Next, I cleaned up after the dogs in the Maternity Kennels and Puppery and removed the food and water bowls for washing. I let the dogs out to play while I washed and disinfected the cages and enclosures. Muniandy offered to put the dogs back in their enclosures later, so I proceeded to clean the Front Reception/Admin area and the Office. I left the Shelter by 1930 hrs to shower at the SPCA Bungalow and get ready for the concert I was to attend with Alicia.

Alicia had very kindly invited me to join her for a musical evening at University Malaya to hear The Canticle Singers in a performance called “Be Our Guest”, described as a ‘feast of lush choral music and other selections’.

And what a feast it was! The choristers sang classics from Broadway, the West End and Disney musicals, among others. Their rendition of ‘September’ by ‘Earth, Wind and Fire’ and Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ had us bopping in our seats, and their interpretations of ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’, ‘The Winner Takes It All’ and ‘Pareiso’ were simply too exquisite for words.

My only bugbear was that some of the songs left me feeling as though I had inadvertently wandered onto the set of Sesame Street. I have never been partial towards Disney and children’s music theatre, so numbers like ‘Hola, Lola!’ and ‘Be Our Guest’, though cheerfully rendered, failed to move me. Speak to me about musicals, and I can expound all night on the artistic merits of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ and even ‘O Brother Where Art Thou’, but Disney’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ doesn’t come across as a musical to me.

My favourite performance of the evening had to be guest tenor Tan Wei Han’s solo rendition of ‘Bring Him Home’, which was heart-achingly beautiful to listen to. That has always been my favourite song from ‘Les Miserables’, and tenors like Colm Wilkinson have set the bar very high. It is not an easy song to sing by any standards, yet Wei Han delivered it magnificently.

I am charmed by the performance of the Canticle Singers, and slightly regretful that it took me so long to have the opportunity to appreciate them. It is admirable to me that they are volunteer singers as much as I am a volunteer for all my various causes, and that they display so much discipline and dedication in practicing their music. If their reason for making music is to bring others pleasure, then they have unequivocally achieved that objective.

I drove Alicia home after our utterly enjoyable evening and went back to the BOQ to clean up, wash my stinky SPCA clothes and get ready for the coming workweek.

~ Whiskey-Echo-Lima, Over. ~


mamasita said...

No comments! Its the same! You're just amazing!

Unknown said...

Yes, the Canticle Singers do perform well tho I've missed them this time round.

hobbit1964 said...

The account of delicacies and choral performances tug at the heartstrings. These do I miss of the city. I wonder now, if I could deflect suggestions of matrimony as adeptly as you were I in your shoes. What would I say...maybe when I make squadron commander?

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Datin Mamasita, I'm not amazing, really, but thank you for thinking that I am. Thank you also for visiting my humble pages to read of my misadventures!

Keats, am delighted to meet another music and culture afficionado! The Malaysian arts and theatre scene has come a long way although there is always room for improvement. I just wish it were more affordable for the masses.

Major Jeffrey, much as I love the great outdoors, like you, I would miss the arts scene and the availability of food from around the world too much. I know I was quite scandalised when I realised that my cousins from out of town have never had Southwestern, Spanish or Italian food, and have never watched a live play or orchestra.

Pat said...

Hello E!

Busy-busy-busy as usual, eh? I agree about Chili's, too. And I love their margaritas! I had their baby-back ribs when I was in Banff, Canada. It was yumaciously porky - so not like anything you'd find here. And sooooo much, too, that I had no room for their molten lava, though I'm sure I'd have managed to squeeze it in, if pressed lah!

Say hi to Soldier Man for me, ya?

And you: be good :)

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Welcome Back, Pat! Oh dear, I don't eat ribs. I love Chili's veg fajitas and tostada chips, though. Taking Jake there tomorrow night, which is Chloe's gotcha day(June 9). Jake's birthday is on June 10th. Bit of a mixed up family, aren't we?

Soldier Man says hi right back atcha! He asked "Ooh, Pat yang dachshund dia kena cobra patuk tu ya?" So yes, unfortunately that is what he remembers best.

Ellen Whyte said...

Another week busy enough to rival Jack Bauer :-) Want to meet me at Chili's next week? Our ancient old proton will be in the shop but as soon as it's out I'll call you!

Pat said...

OMG. It's a-bit a-late lah, but are you vegetarian? And how did I miss that? Sometimes, I'm kinda duh lah. Sometimes.

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Ellen dear, Chilis sounds good! Which outlet would be the most convenient for you? One Utama? Wanna drag Meem along? Must text me, we keep planning to hook up and we never do. But I'm not going to drive, cos I wanna drink! Let's whistle for a cab!

Pat dear, I am not a grass-eating treehugger but I eat very little meat. I am a flexitarian though, and will eat anything that is served if I am a guest, rather than let food go to waste. I do enjoy the occasional fish and chips, though. But no pork. Cos pigs are cute. Except for the ones in Animal Farm that are really sinister and tell the sheep to say "Four legs good, two legs baa-aad" and then end up walking on two legs themselves by the end of the story.

Ellen Whyte said...

Love the "Huffy wuffy". We play that game too. With "tail twizzles" where we tug tails very gently to show we've won - and sometimes get nipped and growled at in mock revenge :-)

Your "Sphinxy" is our "Mandarin cat"!

Let's start a cat lexicon...