When I was 18, I signed up to be a Territorial Army Reservist (Askar Wataniah Kerahan) because I felt that if there were a crisis in this country, I want to be part of the solution. When I grew older, I realised that one does not have to take up arms to defend and protect one's country. We defend and protect our country and society every day by choosing to act with integrity, responsibility, justice and moral courage. We can try to be part of the solution every day without ever having to put our lives on the line.
(P/S: In retrospect, I would have been absolutely rubbish as a soldier anyway.)
I had a busy National Day week. Wednesday proved itself to be a wet, chilly and blustery one. Met up with my good friends Rudhra and Angela for an early banana leaf lunch at Usha's in PJ Old Town before heading to Section 52 to explore the back alleys and photograph street art before the thunderstorm broke.
... And then it was off to the National Blood Bank in Jalan Tun Razak for my National Day tradition of blood donation.
A short rest and some refreshments followed, and then I was off to the SPCA to help out in the Cattery, since it was too wet and cold for bathing dogs. I cleaned the cats' ears with ear mite solution, administered Frontline tick and flea prevention spray on every cat, checked each cat for injuries, overgrown/ingrown claws and other irregularities, and cleaned out the Cattery. This took several hours and since it was a wet, cold night, I went home afterwards and spent the night doing housework instead of going out for coffee and a movie as I had planned earlier.
The following day was a workday and just as rainy. Traffic in the evening was frightful and it took me close to two hours to get to the Homeless Assistance and Service Centre in Lorong Medan Tuanku 2, where Green Living is having our annual collaboration with Kedai Jalanan. Thankfully, our other volunteers did not have such a great distance to travel as I did, and managed to arrive in good time to assist Lin Idrus and her students with setting up the store. There were puddles everywhere, so it was a good thing the clothes were hung up on racks and there were tarps to line the ground with.
The volunteers helped me unload the remaining donations from The Stinkbug and we arranged the goods while our homeless clients queued up for dinner. We opened our store for 'business' as soon as some of the clients finished eating. We were kept happily and busily on our feet attending to clients, helping them try on clothing, putting things into reusable shopping bags (we had stacks of those donated by volunteers) and managing the crowd. Our Green Living committee members Shannon and Zhang Hui were fantastic as usual.
A group photo of the volunteers for posterity. Well done, Kedai Jalanan!
We finished around 10 p.m. and packed up. I loaded a rubbish bag full of dirty, stained and torn clothing for recycling into the Stinkbug to be dropped off at the recycling bins later and went out to supper with the other volunteers at the Naan restaurant nearby.
It has been a fulfilling week. Often, patriotism means appreciating and accepting the people of all strata of society who make up this vibrant young nation. It means putting our time and energies into improving our country and community. It means taking the time to appreciate all that is beautiful and quirky about our country and doing our best to keep it beautiful, safe and clean.
... And in honour of things that are beautiful and quirky, I leave you with a photodump of the street art in Section 52, Petaling Jaya, around the PJ State Cinema and Menara MBPJ.
This one is a really cool interactive one. It's an adult-sized merry-go-round made of steel and bungee cords.
Seats and tables made of reclaimed steel drums and pallets for the public's use.
Bamboo windchimes in the darkening sky.
I love the "suddenly something" effect of street art. I love their incongruity. I love the way they encourage interaction and participation from passersby.
Storm clouds gathering in the darkening sky.