Monthly Bucket List, January 2015:
January has been such a whirlwind of activity that I haven't the time to record all of it yet -- weekly volunteering sessions with the SPCA and ReachOut Malaysia, Green Living activities, Volunteer Appreciation Day, Dr. Jane Goodall's visit to Malaysia, the MNS Waders Identification Course and a million other little things.
1. Make a new friend.
During the Volunteer Appreciation Day in Janda Baik, I shared a room with a new Cave Group volunteer, Sok Yin, who I became friends with.
Another MNS member, Wendy, is someone with whom I have mutual friends and whose comments I have read on social media, but I didn't get to know her better until our Waders Identification Course on 31 Jan - 1 February.
Dr. Jane Goodall was in Malaysia to launch Roots & Shoots Malaysia. and I attended the dinner organised by the ICLIF Foundation at Lanai Kijang. I sat at a table of mostly strangers and made friends with Holly, whose table I sat at, and Jyunichi and TP, who are coordinating Roots & Shoots Malaysia, and I have remained in touch with them since the dinner.
2. Help a stranger.
This is a long story, but my Battletank, who has been serving me faithfully for over 8 years, has been facing so many problems that I cannot afford having her repaired monthly, and so had to sell her. I wanted to make sure she went to people who would love her and know how to keep her running and in good repair, and so I put up an advertisement online and screened the prospective buyers. I didn't know there were so many Daihatsu Feroza afficionados out there!
Eventually, I sold my beloved Battletank to a mechanic, Azmi, who wants to keep her as his 'weekend car' and had the parts, resources and skills to look after her. He offered me twice what I asked for Battletank (there were around 50 offers to buy her and many buyers tried to outbid one another) and promised to send me pictures of her all fixed up. I was sad to let go of Battletank, she is more than a car to me. She had been a Volunteer Van, Animal Ambulance and at one point even a Mango Mobile. We had good times together and she had served me well and kept me safe. I had even camped out in her on many occasions. I thanked Battletank for the memories and promised her I would never forget her.
With the unexpected extra money given to me by Azmi, I set some aside for the indigenous communities that would need to rebuild their lives after the recent floods. On the night I bade goodbye to Battletank, it rained terribly. I went out to the nearest drive-thru and purchased large coffees and apple pies. I gave out coffees and pies to the night watchmen at the local school, our neighbourhood security guards, the migrant workers who clean up the neighbourhood food court and the old man who is always kind to the food court cats. I was sad to say goodbye to my beloved old car, but it was also important to me that I share my blessings and bring a little comfort and happiness to others.
January also saw us neutering and rescuing 2 other cats under Project Second Chance, Velvet and Harley. Velvet is a sweet and affectionate black cat living in Aravind's neighbourhood and we released her after spaying in the same area as there are no offers to adopt her yet. If you know of anyone looking for a lovely young black cat, please let us know! Velvet would make a great companion!
Harley is a skinny orange kitten we picked up in Taman Megah outside the bakery when we went to buy a birthday cake for our friend Lin Idrus. He didn't have anyone else caring for him or feeding him regularly but he was incredibly trusting and affectionate. I took him home and cared for him, ridding him of fleas and worms and getting him vaccinated. He is still a little too young to be neutered, but I sought the SPCA's help in putting him up for adoption over the long weekend when I had to go away for the Waders Identification Course, and Harley was adopted by a kind lady along with another kitten. Another little life saved, thanks to kind people who believe in adoption and second chances!
In January, I also resumed volunteering with The Revolving Library, as I found something that fit my schedule -- Monday night reading and literacy sessions at Beacon of Hope, a community-run tuition and learning centre for children from a lower-income area within a 15-minute drive from my office. Our reading sessions are scheduled once a month, but since it was no sacrifice for me to go more often, I have been volunteering on Monday nights, giving English lessons, providing homework help and doing one-on-one reading coaching sessions with some of the struggling readers. It hasn't been all that easy, and I do feel a degree of anxiety over how some of the children will cope with standardised testing, but giving my best as a volunteer always beats worrying and complaining over the state of public education any day, and so I will soldier on.
3. Eat something/at someplace new to me.
Rangamal's birthday falls on Christmas Day and it is always a challenge to try to fit in a birthday dinner date then, so we ended up having dinner together in the first week of January instead. She chose Pine3 New Age Vegetarian Restaurant, in a shopping mall called River City, which I have never previously been to (there are way too many shopping malls popping up each month).
The food was delicious and I reviewed it for Kindmeal.my.
I had dinner one evening at Hainan Kopitiam SS2 and reviewed it for Kindmeal as well, even if this particular experience was less than satisfactory.
After I completed signing my Sale and Purchase Agreement for my new apartment, I celebrated alone by having a fancy durian dessert at U Desserts, SS2 PJ, which opens late.
At the "An Evening With Jane Goodall" dinner hosted by the ICLIF Foundation at Lanai Kijang, I had really good vegan wraps and cake. Not that I could eat much due to excitement at meeting Dr. Jane again.
On Jan 30, right before leaving for the Wader Identification Workshop, I redeemed another Kindmeal voucher for baked goods from Biogreen Valentime, an organic bakery and cafe located in The School, Jaya One.
I did a review for Kindmeal, and would like to add that the baked goods that I purchased were really value-for-money because they had a generous amount of filling, unlike more store-bought buns which is all dough and very little filler.
4. Go someplace I've never been.
So in January, I went to at least 4 different places I have never previously been, namely:
i. River City shopping mall for dinner with Rangamal and Aravind;
ii. D'Ark Resort, Janda Baik, for the Malaysian Nature Society Volunteer Appreciation Day,
iii. Lanai Kijang for the ICLIF Foundation dinner to hear Dr. Jane Goodall talk;
iv. Birdwatching in Jeram and Sungai Janggut, Kuala Selangor, with the Malaysian Nature Society Bird Group during the Waders Identification Workshop.
5. Learn something new.
Despite the fact that I already have a Basic First Aid certificate, I learned many more helpful tips on packing a wilderness/outdoor First Aid kit from Dr. Suba, Pasu's daughter, at the Janda Baik Volunteer Appreciation Day.
I have always loved birdwatching even if I am not remarkable at it. During the Wader Identification Course at Kuala Selangor from Jan 31 - Feb 1, I learned many useful tips on how to identify and differentiate birds. In the beginning, all the information seemed to be very overwhelming. I felt there was no way I could remember it all. On the final day, we had a quiz and my team and I managed to identify all the birds correctly using our field guides, and so it must have meant that some lessons did stick in my thick head.
6. Declutter and cull 100 items.
With Moving Out Day approaching, I've been decluttering and purging all the boxes and baskets in the storeroom to reduce the things I will be taking with me to the new apartment. In the final week of January, I cleaned out the display cabinets and porch storage area in our bachelor pad as well and removed a lot of things for repurposing, recycling or donation to others who can put it to better use.
7. Give up something for a month.
I've always tried to avoid accepting and using disposable tableware and packaging, and have, for years, been taking my handkerchief and cloth shopping bags with me whenever I go out. One thing I need to work on is stopping waiters from putting straws in my drink for me, so for all of January, I remembered to remind the waiters not to put straws in my drink (I normally have iced chinese tea or iced lime juice) to reduce plastic waste. Some of the waiters and service staff expressed the belief that it would be messy to drink a shake or juice without a straw, but you don't see people asking for straws to drink their beer or stout with just because of a little foam, do you? Perhaps next month, I can work on taking my own drinking water with me so I will not have to order a drink.
For all of January and well into February, I have given up taking the lift at work in favour of taking the stairs. Our lives are already more sedentary than they need to be, and any opportunity for exercise is good. When I first started working here, I liked taking the glass elevator up to my room, but now the novelty has worn off, and it is better for my health and energy conservation to take the stairs instead.
8. Letter to the Editor