Thursday, 31 July 2008

Bangkok City Jaunt, 25th – 27th July 2008

“It's a street in a strange world
Maybe it's the Third World
Maybe it's his first time around
He doesn't speak the language
He holds no currency
He is a foreign man”
- Paul Simon, “You Can Call Me Al”.

To visit my Bangkok photo album, please click HERE.

Friday, 25th July 2008:

When my colleagues and I voted Bangkok as our destination for the company trip this year, I did so with the knowledge that a city trip would offer little respite from pollution, traffic jams and petty crimes, unlike an island or coastal getaway. Still, it would be my first trip to Thailand (shocking revelation, I know) and I was curious about visiting another country and experiencing another culture. The fact that my old buddy Samuel is now based in Bangkok as the General Manager of International Operations of his company also helped, as I was keen to see him again.

I have always had misgivings about air travel, but the fact that we were travelling on an Airbus A320, which has relatively high fuel efficiency although nowhere near that of the A380, offered some reassurance. I sat in between my colleague Amril and a stranger who later turned out to be an awesome friend that I just haven’t had the good fortune to have met earlier. Anand works for the United Nations and was formerly with the Royal Malaysian Air Force. We talked about scouting, civilian defence, public interest work, the UNDP, Malaysian politics and strangely enough, my favourite fictional air force ace Biggles, during the 2-hour flight.

We arrived at the Suvarnabumi Airport outside of Bangkok city limits at 1455h local time. After bidding Anand goodbye, I joined my colleagues on the bus that was supposed to take us back to the hotel. It would take us an hour to arrive at the hotel, and I had planned on taking the MRT to SCAD Bangkok’s retail and adoption centre, since their animal health centre would be less accessible on a late Friday afternoon. However, the bus driver and tour assistant who were supposed to despatch us back to the hotel decided to play silly buggers with us and took us on hour-long detours to look at honey and royal jelly and all manner of things that I had no intention of buying.

Thanks to the famous Bangkok traffic snarls, we didn’t even get to check in to the hotel until almost midnight. We went to the hotel to pick up the first group from our office who had arrived earlier, repaired to a Muslim restaurant for a mediocre and deeply boring dinner and adjourned to the Suan Lum Night Bazaar after dinner. My hopes of visiting any of SCAD’s animal charity centres were dashed as it was obviously impossible to fit an animal shelter visit into my truncated holiday schedule. Oh well. Perhaps I will have the opportunity to contribute to SCAD stray dog vaccination and neutering programme when I meet with the founders/directors during the Asia For Animals Conference 2008 in Bali next month.

Saturday, 26th July 2008:

Chugged down enough milk and juice to last me until lunchtime, bade my colleagues a hasty adieu and stepped out into Soi Sukhumvit 11 almost smack into the trunk of an elephant waiting for passengers across the road from the hotel I had spent the night in. A familiar figure with a loose-limbed gait strolled past the shops, and I waved with joy when Sam came into view. It was so good to see him again after 2 long years, and we went to a cafe so he could have his morning cuppa.

After coffee, we took the Bangkok SkyTrain to the National Stadium, crossed the road, and walked down the alley to Jim Thompson House, now a museum. Sam stopped at a souvenir shop manned by a hearing impaired lady and bought several fridge magnets, while I browsed through paintings and postcards. We purchased our tickets to Jim Thompson House and waited for the tour to begin. Jim Thompson was an American military intelligence officer who decided he had enough of WW2 and ended up bringing Thai silk, then a cottage industry, to the western world. Thompson’s house was constructed out of parts of 6 antique Thai houses and is filled with antiques and exquisite works of art. Thompson disappeared without a trace on Easter Sunday 1967 in Cameron Highlands, Pahang. His body was never found. Many theories abound as to his fate. Some believe that he was too smart to have gotten himself lost, snared or killed by wild animals, and believe that he had orchestrated his own disappearance. Having always had a weakness for unsolved mysteries, I could not miss the opportunity to visit the house. We were taken through the living and dining rooms and bedrooms, as well as the maid and gardener’s quarters. The house was immaculate and would probably win awards for ecological design and architecture had it been built in this millennium. I had expected to find a sense of sorrow about the place, but surprisingly, none was present. The house gave out good vibes, and is palpably one that once housed a man of great savoir vivre.

I found that most Thais could understand spoken English reasonably well, but could not speak it well enough to make themselves easily understood. On our way back from Jim Thompson House, we saw pots of lotus and sea cabbage plants outside a shop selling paintings and sculptures.

“What’s in there?” inquired Sam, poking a lotus bud aside.
“Feet!” came the shop proprietor’s jolly reply.
We pushed a plant aside and found that the pots were, indeed, teeming with fish!

The Chinese may struggle with their enunciations of the ‘r’ and ‘sh’ sounds, but the Thais do not so much struggle as leave them out completely or substitute them with other consonants.

We made a pit stop at Sam’s apartment so that the maintenance people could come in to fix his lighting and cable TV. Then it was time for lunch, and we went downstairs to hitch a ride from the ‘biker-taxis’ – motorcyclists that provide transport service. We paid the bikers 30 baht to take us to Sala Daeng for street food. The ride was exhilaratingly fast, and when my bare knees grazed a car first and a bus tyre second, I was convinced I was going to fall off to my death. I reached Sala Daeng in one piece, and we had spicy and tangy chicken feet noodles at a street corner and washed it down with cold, milky tea.

It was time to take a boat to the Grand Palace after lunch. We boarded a ferry boat that would take us down the Chao Phraya River. We stood on the left to make way for the monks, for whom the right side of the boats were reserved. The rivers in Thailand were quite murky and polluted, but for some of the people, it was their source of water supply. I could not see why we could not similarly rely on river transport in Malaysia. Our rivers are equally polluted but once efforts have been undertaken to clean up and widen our rivers, commuter boats could help ease traffic congestion in the city and reduce reliance on road transport. Shipping and rail, after all, are the most fuel efficient modes of transport. Ships and railways carry 75% of world cargo, but emit only an estimated 3% of greenhouse gases.

We arrived at our destination and weaved through the stalls at the marketplace to get to the Grand Palace. There, we were loaned sarongs and trousers to wear over our shorts, as legs must be covered before visitors could enter the Palace grounds. Sam and I took pictures outside the Palace premises but decided that the entrance ticket at 300 baht was prohibitive. We could have gotten massages for that price. We duly returned the borrowed garments, slipped on our shades and trekked 15 minutes in the heat and heavy traffic to Wat Pho, Temple of the Reclining Buddha, for a sorely needed massage.

Wat Pho is famous for its traditional Thai massage school, and we waited outside one of the temple with what seemed like 200 other visitors after taking our number for a massage. The sun must have awakened a latent part of Sam’s memory, because he suddenly recalled that the Wat Pho Traditional Thai Massage School proper was located down the road from the temple. And so we trekked out in the heat again to the school, which we located with the help of the friendly locals. Sam paid for my massage as a treat, for which I am very grateful. The masseurs made us put on long pants and put their hands in prayer before massaging us. I wouldn’t take any chances either if I were a masseur. I might fracture someone’s ribs. My masseur folded and contorted my limbs in all sorts of impossible positions and held down my pressure points with such force that I thought she would cut off my circulation and make my legs drop off. Then she inserted her thumbs into my ears, held them down for a minute and then released her thumbs so suddenly that I could feel my eardrums pop. Our hour-long massage session cost only 360 baht, which is a reasonable price for getting rid of months’ worth of muscular tension.

We walked back to the jetty in search of coconut ice cream, which we couldn’t find, although there was no lack of ice cream vendors on our way to Wat Pho. We had a coconut, some sausages, an orange drink and a bag of churros with vanilla icing sugar. Sam and I took the boat back to the jetty and made our way back to the SkyTrain station. Sam disembarked at Ratchadamri after we had made plans for dinner, while I was to switch trains and disembark at Nana station. I love the Bangkok SkyTrain, as the system is highly user-friendly and the little TV screens broadcasting creative and engaging commercials in Thai made the journey anything but dull. After a few trips on the SkyTrain, I could extol all the advantages of using Bergamot hair treatment, Axe deodorant, Coke Zero, Dutch Milk, Fit telco service provider and Maxmo paper towels, and hum a few Thai jingles as a bonus.

I got down at my station and took what I thought was a shortcut to the hotel. While walking along Soi Sukhumvit 8, I saw a man leading a young bull elephant on a leash. The elephant carried a pannier filled with packets of sweet potatoes. For 20 baht, we could buy the elephant some food and take photos with him. I was thrilled and saw nothing objectionable about how this man was trying to make a living for himself or his pet. The elephant was not subjected to any form of cruelty or made to perform unnatural tricks. I bought him some sweet potato and he took them from me with much relish and without fear. I wonder what will happen to the elephant once he outgrows his cuddly stage. Would they put him to work with the logging companies? In the meantime, he doesn’t lead such a bad life at all.

I returned to the hotel, showered, tidied my things and went back downstairs to take the SkyTrain to the Ratchadamri platform to wait for Sam so we could go to Sala Daeng for dinner. We went to a sidewalk restaurant for a sukiyaki dinner. We had papaya pok-pok for starters and Chang beer to slake our thirst with. The waiters asked if I enjoyed the food. “Aloi, kaaa! (Very tasty)” Sam taught me to say in response.

Sam wanted to go to the Suan Lum Night Bazaar after dinner, as I had informed him of some beanbag chairs and couches I saw there. We took a tuk-tuk to the night bazaar and tried out the beanbag chairs. We were distracted by a teenage boy selling magic tricks and I was curious enough to be conned into buying trick matchboxes for Sam and I. I tried to locate a shop selling paintings in which I saw a pygmy marmoset the night before, but could no longer find the shop in the maze of shops. I am glad I had taken a photo of the marmoset the night before, otherwise Sam would have thought that I was pulling a fast one on him with my marmoset story.

After Suan Lum, we took a tuk-tuk to the Sofitel Hotel as Sam wanted me to see for myself his favourite watering hole. V9 on the 16th Floor of the Sofitel Hotel is a lovely little jazz bar with a great aerial view of the city. We had Long Island iced teas and snacks as we listened to the in-house deejay and jazz musician.

It wasn’t good to stay put and get comfortable in any one place for too long, so off we went again in search of more adventure in the streets of Patpong. We had more drinks at Twilo’s in Patpong (Long Island for Sam, vodka and Red Bull and Tequila Sunrise for me) while watching the people and listening to the live band. Halfway through my second drink, I received a text message from Li Li informing me that I was one of the recipients for the Malaysian Nature Society Selangor Branch Awards at the Annual General Meeting today. The news came as a complete surprise and I felt deeply honoured, and I told Sam the good news. I did a spontaneous Napoleon Dynamite-type dance out of sheer joy. A few drinks later, Sam and I finally lurched home via tuk-tuk in a haze of mega mega white thing and lager lager lager lager.

Sunday, 27th July 2008:

Sunday morning saw me demolishing a huge breakfast with neither fuzzy tongue nor brain. The drinks couldn't have been very strong after all. Pih. I've been ripped off. Sauntered over to the Nana SkyTrain station and hopped on the train to Mo Chit so I could do some last minute shopping at the Chatuchak Weekend Market. I couldn't get enough of the commercials on the Skytrain,. I was learning more about Baby Mild powder, Sprite Zero, Kirin Lite and upcoming Thai movies than I needed to know.

The walkways leading from Mo Chit station to Chatuchak were congested with petty traders selling crafts and snacks. I entered the market via Gateway 16 and weaved my way through the stalls and shops. I could not speak the language yet, but my Oriental features must have confused the locals into thinking I was one of them, and they would render monologues in Thai in my general direction. “Chan put Thai my-die! (I can’t speak Thai)” I would interject, alarmed, and point to myself and qualify: “I’m from Malaysia”.

Shopping has always been an extremely stressful and burdensome affair to me, and the heat, noise and crowds at Chatuchak did not make the experience any more pleasant for me. Still, I could seek cool relief in 10-baht popsicles and roasted coconuts when bargaining in a combination of Thai and pidgin English got to be too much hard work for me. I left the market after two hours, having spent pretty much all my Thai currency on elephant-patterned sarongs, boxers and other technicolour gifts.Back to the hotel to shower and change into a clean football jersey. I had the concierge look after my backpack while I snoozed in the hotel lobby. Sam was busy as his maid's mother had come over to cook for him, the lucky man.

For lunch, I walked out into Soi Sukhumvit 8 where the street vendors were busy serving spicy cucumbers, sliced fruit, fried pastries and noodles to the taxi-bikers and shopkeepers. I had sweet potato balls and sliced cantaloupe. Back to the hotel lobby to finish reading my book. Our airport coach arrived at 1400 hours to take us to Suvarnabumi. It rained heavily shortly after our arrival at the airport, sending the heat and dust of Bangkok down into its waterways.

I called Sam at the airport to say goodbye. And as I boarded the plane, I looked back too on Bangkok, with all its contrasts and unique beauty. Kapunkha for the memories, Bangkok, and this won't be the last I'll see of you.

“And at this moment, we are forgetting
What we caused, what it takes,
The one perfect world, when we look the other way”
- Indigo Girls, “Perfect World”

Bangkok City Jaunt, 25th - 27th July 2008

Jim Thompson House, Bangkok.
Sam and I trying to solve the mystery of Thompson's disappearance.

Living it up in Patpong. Me beaming with joy after receiving the news via text message from Li Li that I had just been honoured with the Malaysian Nature Society Selangor Branch Award.

Lamps for sale at the Suan Lum Night Bazaar. Sure they're pretty, but they are also silent energy vampires.

Taking a tuk-tuk to the Sofitel Hotel.

Wat Pho, Temple of the Reclining Buddha.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

More animal shelter updates

Jake left for Kuldeep’s wedding in Ipoh on Friday night, so things were pretty quiet at the Bachelor Officer’s Quarters. Some of my MNS friends informed me that they would be going birding with the bird group on Saturday morning, and later, frogging at FRIM with Najwa and the herpetology group. Looks like I’m missing out on a lot of fun in life. My entire life is consumed by work.

Things at work are not so good, but I’m trying to keep on top of things and see this as an opportunity to improve myself as a lawyer and an individual. I’ve had to bring work home again this weekend, just so things won’t be so crazy when I come back on Monday, so I’ll have to try to fit it all in.

Went to the market on Saturday morning to hand over the recyclable items to the charity truck man and to buy garlic to be cooked in the SPCA animals’ food. I had Keisha and her babies in the car, as well as a signboard I made for Shasta to explain his condition to others. This is what my signboard says:


Hi, I’m Shasta. I’m twitching because I have Cerebellar Hypoplasia. This means that when I was born, the part of my brain known as the cerebellum was not completely mature.

· Cerebellar Hypoplasia is NOT CONTAGIOUS. I cannot infect humans or other animals.
· There is no cure for Cerebellar Hypoplasia. However, I am expected to have a NORMAL LIFESPAN and am otherwise healthy, active and cheerful.
· I do NOT need medication for Cerebellar Hypoplasia. I can eat wet and dry cat food and can use the litter tray just like any normal kitty.
· I do NOT require any SPECIAL CARE or medical treatment.
· I was VACCINATED on 9 July 2008 and responded well to the vaccination.
· My condition CANNOT GET WORSE. I will not grow lame or paralyzed. However, my twitching will not get better either.
· My IMMUNE SYSTEM is otherwise NORMAL. Cerebellar Hypoplasia does not make me weak or sickly.
· I am NOT IN PAIN and am NOT SUFFERING. Please do not suggest that I be put to sleep just because I twitch a little. I can lead a happy, healthy and long life.
· Having Cerebellar Hypoplasia SIMPLY means I may have some coordination problems and will always be a little WOBBLY.
· I have adapted to my condition and am as ACTIVE as my brothers and sisters. I can run, climb and jump almost as well as they can.
· However, I need to live INDOORS in a SAFE ENVIRONMENT because I may not be able to escape from danger as quickly as a normal kitty can.
· I am CUDDLY and AFFECTIONATE and would love to live with you in your home.


I hope someone decides to bring little Shasta home. If I fail to get him rehomed, I would keep him myself, but it would mean that I would not be able to do any more stray rescue work due to lack to funds, resources, space, time and manpower. As it is, I am already skipping meals almost every day to be able to afford high quality pet food, supplements and vitamins and vet bills for all my little ones under Project Second Chance. I’m not sure how many more sacrifices I will be able to make before I burn myself out completely.

Arrived at the shelter and handed the garlic over to Sugen for refrigeration and with strict instructions not to overdose the dogs with garlic. Rose assisted me in getting a large cage cleaned, lined and ready for Keisha and her babies. I put up Shasta’s sign and another informing the visitors of the cats’ ages, sex and vaccination status. Gave them food and water, kissed each of my kitties for luck and kept my fingers crossed. Then Rose and I got the dog-bathing things ready so we could bathe and medicate the shelter dogs.

There was a group of 19 teenage volunteers from the Rotaract Club of Inti College Subang Jaya today, and they were a great help to us. They had spent most of the morning helping Reve and the general workers clean cages and kennels, and they came back after lunch to help Rose and I bathe the dogs. Most of the youngsters have pets at home and were confident about handling dogs, unlike many of the volunteers we have encountered in the past. I got them to help me bathe and tickwash the dogs from Kennels B, B-Extension, Sick Bay and the dogs at large that have the run of the Central Area and Front Area. A few of the youngsters asked pertinent questions related to animal health and behavior, and showed genuine concern over the welfare of strays and shelter animals. I wish we had more volunteers like them.

In the evening, I managed to get 2 kittens adopted after official closing hours, but not Keisha or my own kitties. I hope someone falls in love with my beautiful babies and decides to bring them home. It hurts me to have to give them up for adoption after caring for them for 3 months, but that’s something every animal rescuer has to learn to come to terms with.

The wonderful volunteers from Inti College had already scrubbed and disinfected the Cattery and Maternity Kennels before they left at 1500 hours, so I only had to wash the Reception/Admin areas and the Puppy areas today. There was a mother dog I recognized from a few weeks ago, but she looked lost and lonely without her puppy. I asked Reve if her puppy had been adopted. Reve responded that her puppy had died of distemper. That made me very sad, because the mother dog was a very young one and had relied on her puppy for companionship. They looked so happy playing together. I could understand the little dog’s loss, but could not comfort her or replace her puppy with another. Why is death so cruel and arbitrary? Why do the neediest animals never get to enjoy even a few days of a good life before they leave this world?

I cleaned up the shelter, cleaned myself up, kissed Keisha and her babies goodnight and drove home with two empty pet carriers in the backseat and a hole in my heart the size of a mother cat and her four kittens.

Cleaned up the Bachelor Officers’ Quarters, fed the cats, showered and went back to the parental home. I had a load of ironing to do before I could get started on reviewing the two agreements I brought home, but I fortunately managed to finish the ironing around midnight. Completed reviewing 1 ½ agreements before I dozed off without the benefit of Xanax.

Woke up on Sunday to the sound of Little Big Dog ripping the straps off my crocs outside my bedroom window. I know those sandals are ugly, but they’re not good to eat. Gave Amber a bath and tickwashed both dogs. Helped Mum prepare lunch and cleaned the kitchen. Read the Sunday papers. Cleaned the parental home and polished the furniture. Spring cleaned the display cabinets.

Little Big Dog’s stitches had not come off entirely by themselves, so I had to engage Mum’s help to distract him while I snipped the stitches off. We couldn’t do it when The Twin was at home, because he was convinced I would end up cutting his precious dog. I’ve done it before and know how it’s done. I had Mum occupy Little Big Dog with biscuits so I could flip him onto his side, clip the ends off the threads and pull the threads out. I got it right the first time. Mum and I make such a great team!

Took the dogs out for walks in the evening, tidied the garden, swept the yard and driveway and mopped the living room floor. Left the parental home after dinner. Stopped by the night market for fresh produce before heading back to the Bachelor Officers’ Quarters.

I’ll be going on a company trip to Bangkok on Friday, 25th July. I guess that’s as good a break from monotony as any.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

The Great Fuel Debate

Was home by 2000h on Tuesday night to catch the Great Fuel Debate between de facto Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek on cable TV. What is at stake is the future of our country.

Anwar was brilliant. He addressed the issues raised and provided intelligent responses that reflected a true understanding of economic principles and genuine concern for the welfare of the populace. Shabery, on the other hand, did not seem to appreciate the ground rules of debating and resorted to making cheap and tacky personal attacks. This could have been an excellent opportunity for the Government to persuade us that if we gave the ruling coalition a bigger mandate in the next General Elections, they could lead Malaysia into economic recovery and even prosperity. The Government’s representative squandered that opportunity. Too bad, retard. You had one chance to redeem yourselves in our eyes and you totaled it. We have no confidence in the Information Minister. We have no confidence in the PM. We have no confidence in Barisan Nasional. Is that unambiguous and unequivocal enough?

But before we could congratulate ourselves and go about the streets pumping each other’s hands over what a great democratic country ours is to allow televised debates of such nature, the police had arrested our man Anwar for an uncorroborated charge of sodomy. Can you spell Sore Loser?

Anwar was freed on police bail this morning. Shabery is probably in hiding and shitting bricks and pinecones right now. We’re going to have to keep a close watch on this case to make sure Anwar gets a fair trial, if any. I doubt that the prosecution could even raise a prima facie case.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Sunday, 13 July 2008

SPCA Saturday and Serene Sunday

One and a half weeks more before Keisha and her babies can be put up for adoption. It was another busy day at the SPCA. I arrived at the shelter around noon to find that the front area was packed with visitors. I hope they were all potential adopters, because our animals are in very urgent need of new homes.

I got my dog-bathing and tick-washing gear and proceeded to bathe and de-tick all the dogs in Kennels G and E. Rose joined me later and we managed to bathe almost all the dogs from the two kennels between us. It remained thankfully warm until around 1630h, when the skies began to get dark.

After Rose, the vets and the staff left the shelter around 1700h, Reve and I let the dogs out to play in the compound and began cleaning the shelter. I started by soaping and disinfecting Kennels E, G and H, and then moved on to cleaning the Reception/Admin/Office areas, the maternity kennels, the puppy kennels and the Cattery.

It was while cleaning the Cattery that something terrible happened. I heard meowing and yowling from the guttering and tried fruitlessly to pry the metal grating open to get the cat out. Something was pulling the cat backwards, and I hoped he hadn’t snagged himself on something sharp. The cat finally managed to free himself and shot out of the gutter and to the dark recesses of the Cattery, and I went after him in hot pursuit to see if he was badly hurt.

Linda then came in crying and holding part of the cat’s tail that had been torn off by dogs. The cat had somehow managed to escape from the Cattery through the gutter system because the metal barriers were no longer secure. I tried to pick up the severely bleeding and traumatized cat but he was too fierce to be handled even with gloves on.

“Somebody, get me some wound spray, I think I can save this cat”, I cried, but before I could get the medicine out of Reve’s basket, Muniandy had entered the Cattery and put the unfortunate cat to sleep. Linda cried because she blames the cat’s death on the poor living conditions in our underfunded shelter, while I cried because I believed I could have saved the cat, even if it meant selling my soul to pay for the vet bills.

I was feeling very depressed by the time I finished cleaning the rest of the shelter. I hate it that the battle against animal cruelty is far from over. I hate it even more that our shelter is so underfunded and poorly run and there are never enough adopters for all our beautiful babies. I hate it most of all that I wasn’t able to save every one of the beautiful animals from euthanasia.

A torn tail and spine may look gruesome but it isn’t a death sentence. I would have sold myself to raise the funds to pay for the poor kitty’s vet bills. The tail would have to be amputated and the wounds stitched up. It would take him 2 – 3 months to heal. Then I could have him vaccinated and neutered and released. He is an adult cat and plenty streetwise. He could live in my house, like Halle does, and roam the garden and surrounding areas. It would not be a bad life at all.

I was so blue when I got back to the parental home that Mum asked me why I looked so tired and down in the dumps. I told her about the cat and she was shocked and upset. She too said that we could have raised the money together to save the poor kitty. But as I had explained before, shelter animals are routinely euthanized for lesser reasons. Even the healthy young ones are euthanized rather than neutered and released. I felt really gloomy thinking about all the animals I didn’t manage to help, but I was also immensely grateful to Mum for her understanding and support. I think I have a very special mother, because I can’t think of a great number of people (especially retirees who don’t have very much money) who would want to take the effort to save a wounded cat when there were so many healthy ones being put down too.

I felt better by Sunday morning and got up in time to help Mum prepare lunch for the family. Gave Amber a bath and tick-washed both Amber and Little Big Dog, who has made a full recovery from the neutering procedure. Cleaned the kitchen and the laundry area. After lunch, I asked Mum to come spring clean her closet so I’d have some company while I spring cleaned her room. Managed to pick out a lot of clothes to be given to charity (refugee settlements and indigenous communities). Then I cleaned the living and dining rooms while waiting for the thunderstorm to let up so I could take the dogs out on a car ride. Little Big Dog didn’t want to go and struggled mightily, so in the end, only Amber went on a car ride with me. Mum and I walked the dogs around 1900h after the rain.

Fed the dogs, had dinner, did the washing up and went back to the Bachelor Officers’ Quarters around 2200h. Looked in on Keisha and her babies. Good ol’ Jess had already cleaned up their cage and fed them. Jake, Jess and I watched CSI together, and I kept myself busy sorting and folding clothes and folding the newspaper sheets for cleaning the cat litter up with. I tidied the ‘Quarters, sorted out my clothes and files for the following day, retired to bed with Tintin’s Adventure of the Red Sea Sharks, and hoped that the following week would be much better.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

3R Workshop and Kitty Vaccination

I had applied for half a day’s leave on 9th July, as I had promised to conduct an after-hours 3R workshop at a shipping and construction multinational in conjunction with the company’s World Environment Month.

As the company was not far from the SPCA, I took the opportunity to make an appointment with the SPCA to have Keisha and her kittens vaccinated on the same day. The kittens are about 2 ½ months old now, and all as active and loveable as can be. One of the kittens (Shasta), however, trembled and wobbled a lot, long after his siblings had developed a steadier gait, which led me to suspect that he had Cerebellar Hypoplasia . Dr. Lim confirmed my diagnosis and advised me to put him to sleep. I refused to agree to it, and rightfully so, because apart from a slightly awkward gait and a twitch, Shasta is perfectly fine. Cerebellar Hypoplasia is not an infectious or degenerative condition. Shasta’s condition is unlikely to get worse, and he does not need medication. More importantly, he is NOT in pain and is NOT suffering. You do not execute a human being with a facial tic, so why should a cat’s life be terminated if his quality of life is otherwise relatively high?

I vow to find him a good home and failing that, I will care for him myself. I had Keisha and her kittens vaccinated and returned to their carrier, paid for their vaccination at the shelter office, and made my way to the auditorium where I was to deliver my presentation.

I started with the screening of The Story of Stuff , followed by a discussion of Reduce, Reuse and Recycling in the waste hierarchy, plus interactive activities and checklists. It went well, and I was pleased that the video ran smoothly. I have given the same speeches on green living, the 3Rs, energy conservation and getting started in activism so many times now that I could probably render them in my sleep.

For my efforts, the Malaysian Nature Society’s Green Living group will receive a cheque for a pre-agreed sum of money, which I will utilize for our future conservation and education activities. I brought the cats home in the evening, gave them a treat of fish with cod liver oil and Liv 5.2., cleaned the Bachelor Officers’ Quarters and got started on reviewing the Environmental Quality Act.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Little Big Dog Undergoes Surgery

Little Big Dog

Went back to the parental home on Friday night so we could get Little Big Dog ready for his neutering appointment the following morning. The Twin and his Girl were understandably tense and worried about the surgery despite my assurances that it’s only a superficial cut for boy dogs, and that it would heal quickly, especially since we had opted to get it done early.

Initially it was agreed that it would just be the 3 of us accompanying Little Big Dog to the SPCA for the surgery, but when Dad wanted to come along “to offer moral support”, I had to put my foot down. It was going to be a surgical procedure, not a rock concert, and it would do Little Big Dog more good to have The Parents waiting for him at home to get his bed all nice and ready for him, than have the whole family crowding poor Dr. Pushpa’s surgery and wringing their hands in agony.

The deed was done in half an hour. I didn’t even have time to help out much in the shelter, except to help Wolfhound transfer a balefully growling cat into his new cage. The Twin carried Little Big Dog to my car and his Girl held LBD in the backseat while I drove us all home.

Little Big Dog recovered from the effect of the anaesthetics by afternoon, and Mom and I gave him lunch to make up for his having to fast the night before. He was groggy but otherwise in good spirits and could play with Amber without stumbling and bumping into things.

I spent Saturday and Sunday at the parental home watching over Little Big Dog and cleaning up the parental home. Washed the rugs and doormats, cleaned out the living and dining room cabinets, wiped down and polished everything, spring cleaned my bedroom, spruced up the yard, bathed Amber, prepared dog meals 3 times a day and finally completed my 20-page report on the Climate Change seminar in the afternoon when everyone was napping.

It was an uneventful weekend otherwise, which judging by the circumstances, was highly welcome because it meant that Little Big Dog could have time to recover from the surgery without much incident.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Brand new month

I had the Battletank’s exhaust header, expander and silencer replaced last week. Sold the old parts to a scrap metal dealer to recover some money for food. I have to save and scrimp more so as not to have to dig into my savings, which I plan to invest on land and stocks with.

Woke up on Saturday morning to a text message from R.R. inviting me to a threesome. My first thought was where was it going to be, and how many fuel miles would I have to travel to get there? You know you’re on the wrong side of thirty when you could actually turn down an invitation to a wild party.

Left the ‘Quarters for the SPCA after feeding and cleaning up after the cats. Jake had left for Korea the night before, so things were pretty quiet. I didn’t even feel like watching football on Friday. Arrived at the SPCA and got to work immediately with the kennel dogs. There were a few new admissions to Kennels G and H, and I’m afraid they’ve spread ticks to the others. I made a tub of Tactick solution and shampooed, rinsed and tickwashed each dog. Then I soaped and disinfected the kennels to get rid of any remaining parasites.

A kind man came in with 4 feral puppies he had been feeding and had managed to capture, and he even paid for their vaccination and neutering fees. 2 of the puppies escaped and cowered in a corner, snapping at anyone who tried to pick them up. I went behind the cages and picked them up. They were so terrified that they eliminated waste all over my crocs. Ah well. They are puppies, after all. Great distract-and-flee tactic, though. I cleaned my clothes up and resumed bathing and tick-washing dogs.

There was to be a Vintage Clothes Sale at the shelter on Sunday, 30th June, to sell off as much as the Jumble Sale ware as possible, and so I cleaned up the front Reception/Admin area where the sale was to be held. I soaped and scrubbed the table, benches, sink, floor and gutters and put away the old cages, mops, pails and other junk that didn’t belong there. In the evening, the evening staff let the dogs out to play in the compound so we could clean the shelter. I cleaned the Cattery, cages, puppy area, maternity kennels and central area and we collected rainwater in barrels and pails for washing and rinsing. The monsoon season may be a killer, but it does provide us with a steady supply of freshwater.

Finished cleaning up and bade goodbye to Reve, Linda and Muniandy. On my way home, I purchased a copy of the upcoming week’s ‘The Edge’, as I had been interviewed for their special Green Pullout. Went back to the ‘Quarters, fed and cleaned up after the cats, tidied the place up and drove on back to the parental home. Spent Sunday giving Amber a warm bath, cleaning the parental home, spring cleaning the spare rooms and washing the driveway with, yep, you guessed it: more rainwater. Took Amber and Cody out for a short car ride in the Battletank, followed by longer walks around the neighbourhood.

Went back to the ‘Quarters after dinner. Did the laundry, mopped the floor, and did some research work on the rights of directors and shareholders. This is about as exciting as my Sunday nights get. Now that Mizan has stopped singing at Online, I don’t even go to the pubs anymore. I currently have the social life of Napoleon Dynamite. I really need to get outdoors and do some camping and offroading again soon.

Bowling with the workmates again on Monday night, which was an excruciating waste of time. At 2100 hours, the alley management turned out the lights and switched the ultraviolet lights on for glow-in-the-dark bowling. I couldn’t think of anything more ridiculous. It felt like being on Space Mountain, which I found dreadful and didn’t enjoy at all.

Was relieved to be out of the bowling alley and shopping mall and downed a cheap daiquiri before boarding my train home. It had been raining again and I squelched my way back to the ‘Quarters.

More than half of 2008 has come and gone. I wonder if the ensuing months will bring my country more political and economic stability. I wonder if as a direct consequence of the rising fuel prices, we could make significant cuts (10%? 15%?) in per capita carbon emissions by Christmas. I wonder if, out of boredom, I might want to go for the threesome after all.