Friday, 31 October 2014

Octobirthday Week and Other News

Serina and I had decided months ago that my birthday gift to her on her 40th birthday would be the paddleboarding outing, and on her birthday itself, we would go check out Jumpstreet, the new indoor trampoline park not far from my bachelor pad. Paddleboarding and trampolining seemed like perfectly sensible activities for someone turning 40. 

Aravind and Serina's birthdays are just one day apart, and we celebrated it with our street friends on the Saturday night before their birthday by making food contributions to Reach Out Malaysia and participating in the food distribution run along with our friends Suresh, Looi Fang, Leena and June. Serina contributed curry puffs and muffins, Leena chipped in for half the cost of the muffins, and Aravind pledged and paid for 50 hot meal packs. 

Muffins and curry puffs are Serina's way of spreading joy on her birthday and expressing gratitude for all the blessings in her life. 

Serina's colleagues Akmal and Wan joined in this Saturday's food run and were all ears during the briefing and debriefing, as this was their first time. Aravind was kept busy feeding cats and keeping tabs on those that we need to spay/neuter, and I was kept busy picking up litter using my rubbish claw and reminding the street folks to keep the streets clean and litter-free. 

For their birthdays, I gave Aravind and Serina gifts of Kiva microloans, for which they can choose their own beneficiaries. Additionally, I made a donation to the Lucky Iron Fish project to contribute iron fishes to 3 impoverished Cambodian families. Both are causes new to us, and Aravind and Serina were both very pleased with the gifts that would keep on giving. I think it's an a fitting way to honour both birthday individuals who have dedicated so much of their lives to helping others and improving the world around them. 

I had just completed serving my notice period at work upon tendering my resignation letter and would have a few days of rest before starting my new job, and had spent the last few days on household chores, spring cleaning (including cleaning Aravind's apartment while he was at work as a birthday surprise for him) and other volunteer commitments. 

On Tuesday, Aravind decided to forego a slap-up birthday meal in favour of a simple vegetarian meal. We went for a 3-hour spa retreat and spent a few hours doing Random Acts of Kindness with the Deepavali cookies I had purchased, giving out jars of cookies to the apartment security guards and cleaners, veterinary assistants, and SPCA staff. We did, however, have Birthday Ice Cream instead of cake. I like this substitution of cake with ice cream. I hope we make it an annual birthday tradition.

Wednesday, the actual day of Serina's birthday, was the first real day of rest I had since my final day of work. I had looked forward to the outing to the trampoline park for months, and it did not disappoint. 

Serina and Lan arrived in time for us to join in the 6 p.m. slot and we wasted no time filling up the indemnity forms and putting on our grip socks. Lan and Aravind both decided not to join us in the trampoline park despite coming with us all the way there. One cited loose pants as an excuse and the other cited nausea. No biggie. Serina and I are used to the guys asking to sit out on things and we were determined to have fun anyway. 

First stop: The basketball hoops. It was harder to control our jumps than we expected, but still a lot of fun. We were gasping for breath within 5 minutes.

Next stop: The foam pit. We took turns diving into the foam pit for safety reasons so that we wouldn't end up landing on top of one another. 

Swamp Thing #1 lurched and crawled her way out of the Foam Block Swamp.

Swamp Thing #2 did the same, only she lost one of her grip socks climbing out of the Swamp.

We found an empty Dodgeball Court (as it was a weekday) and had a grand old time knocking the dentures (ha!) out of each other with dodge balls. 

Serina is a better athlete than I am, but what I lack in agility, I make up for in stamina and perseverance. I kept going long after she was winded. Plus I could keep shouting with laughter while dodging balls. 

Okay, we admit we're too old for this. 'Xhausted. No take photos. Go 'way. Come back t'morrow.

Whee! Enclosed trampolines! Only one of us is allowed to enter at a time. We took turns bouncing and doing flips in there, while Aravind took blurry photos of us using my Crapola El-Cheapo compact camera.

We did our best to upstage the Halloween ghost. 

Next, we moved on to the Main Court, where the largest trampolines are. We tried to do forward rolls, somersaults and flips on the trampolines without injuring ourselves or landing on the hard surfaces. 

I can't seem to land with my legs straight. I wanted to learn how to bounce back into standing position as soon as I land. Serina got it down pat after only 2 tries.

My party trick seems to be to hurl myself as hard as I can against the trampoline wall and either slide down it or bounce off it.

Everybody loves kung-fu fighting...

Serina succeeded in throwing cartwheels and somersaults, despite not having somersaulted for over 20 years.

She's not doing the lion asana here, people. She just successfully somersaulted on the trampoline.

We love the trampoline park! We want to come here again!

Our guys agreed to a group photo against the graffiti wall despite the fact that Serina and I were both incredibly sweaty and stinky. 

What a great way to defy gravity and usher in the big 4-0! Many happy returns again, Serina! I love how we always have fun together!

This Week's Photodump:

My colleagues threw me a little farewell party on my last day of work. 5.5 years is a long time. Humanitarian service is a big part of my life and not doing it as a fulltime job doesn't change this. I hope to come back as a friend, a volunteer, an advocate. 

Two of my fellow crazy cat ladies, Ju-Li and Mona, got me a Pusheen calendar as a farewell gift. My colleagues do amazing work for vulnerable individuals and I hope they never lose sight of how much good they are doing and can do. 

Another colleague, Khaulah, got me these adorable black-and-white balloons printed with some of my favourite things -- footballs and animal paw prints.

Paisley decided to 'help' out when I spring-cleaned Aravind's apartment. She was quite disappointed when I took the recycling bag off her because it was a suffocation hazard.

I've always loved these fabric Indian lampshades and I thought this Deepavali display (seen at Paradigm Mall) was simply charming.

Our roly-poly Katniss managed to climb up to the top of the kitchen cabinets. Who would have thought that she could be so athletic?

Found these vegan gummies while out to get ice-cream with Aravind.

Puppies galore at the SPCA animal shelter! Please drop by and say Hello to these little ones, especially if you or someone you know are planning on getting a new canine family member!

Frontline treatment for the SPCA puppies, cats and kittens on a rainy Thursday afternoon.

Stopped by the BYOB Green Concepts detergent refilling station in Ampang on my way back from the SPCA. I love the assortment of rainbow-hued bottles of cleaning solutions they have on display. I love being able to reduce and reuse plastic and glass packaging and not contributing to the waste stream.

A repurposed wooden pallet lets us know their opening hours and business concept.

Dinner with two of my best friends at work, Karen and Shamini, at The Daily Grind.

We shared one of their signature vegetarian burgers, Green With Envy, which has a mild-tasting chickpea and tempeh patty. It was a little heavy on the starch. I would recommend their portobello burger instead.

A delicious Roasted Pumpkin Salad that would please even the most discriminating of palates...

... And a massive, flavour-packed, wholesome portobello sandwich, which left us wanting more...

Finished off with a gorgeous huge wedge of Hummingbird Cake (with coconut and pineapple).

It's been a heck of a week so far.