Tuesday, 22 December 2015

37th Solar Return

I celebrated my 37th Solar Return two weeks ago by taking the day off work. For around a month, I had been carrying out a private little project I call Project 370, to give away RM370 in cash to various beneficiaries (which does not include my usual causes and projects). Among those I gave to were two animal rescuers, a single mother who sells tapioca and plantain chips outside the neighbourhood Maybank, the elderly differently-abled man who sells vadai and idiyappam outside the SPCA gates and to the workmen repairing the rubbish disposal area at my apartment. RM370 is not much, but then again, I am no Zuckerberg. I have parents to support, bills to pay and vet fees to settle. I will continue to give as often as I can, to as many beneficiaries as I can, but for now, I can mostly afford to only volunteer my time and energy.

My friends from the Yellow House KL Volunteer Hostel joined me in Ikea for a game of hide-and-seek that I had been planning for weeks. The rules are that participants are not allowed to hide inside furniture, damage or deface any property, scare other customers or do anything to alert non-participants to the fact that there is a hide-and-seek game going on. It turned out fantastic. I elected myself Seeker and went in search of the 5 Hiders. Babaq and Gibran were the first to be found, but Gibran ran away and continued to hide. Babaq assisted me in seeking the others out. We found Shyam and Gibran next, hidden behind a barricade of sofa cushions. Migle was found behind a curtain in a bedroom. Suntheran was the last to be found, since he shifted positions each time I passed by an area. It was a great game. I had circled Ikea at least 4 times by then and knew practically all the names, prices and specifications of everything by the end of 2 hours.

We had a late tea at the Ikea Cafe. It was raining heavily outside by then and we warmed ourselves out with vegan 'meatballs', cake and coffee. I thanked my friends for being such good sports and making my day for coming out to play with me.

It was soon evening. I picked up several cartons of juice and 24 doughnuts and headed over to the sports centre in University Malaya where I volunteer every Wednesday night with Care2Mentor. It didn't seem like anybody knew it was my birthday, and that was just fine with me. I didn't explain what occasion the doughnuts and juice was for.

We ran relay races around the track and I am glad I have not lost my ability to sprint 400 metres. Our games master Rudhra, an exceptional volunteer, came up with challenges in which our mentees had to relay tongue-twisters to the subsequent runners and the last runner has to deliver the message to the group, as in a game of Chinese Whispers / Broken Telephone.

After the final lap, all of us mentors and mentees formed a circle for the final message. I was the last in the circle, and imagine my surprise when the message turned out to be "It is Ee Lynn's birthday today. Sing her the birthday song." They did, and our group leader / founder Prem Kumar ran up to the middle of the circle with a homemade birthday cake for me. This means a lot to me as I think the world of this group of mentors. It felt really wonderful. We ended the session with a supper of cake, doughnuts, juice and bananas and I drove my teenage charges home.

I had another little celebration with my family on the weekend, and my team at work bought me a cake as well, so it has been quite a special week.

Come to think of it, every week is special, with its own projects and causes and special things to look forward to. Life is good. It really is.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Monthly Bucket List, November 2015

I won an iPhone 6S in the Kindmeal.my contest, which means that I am now posting from my new phone, but it also means that I now have difficulty retrieving and posting the photos from my old phone, so for now, this post will have to be sans photos.
1. Make a new friend

(i) Although I commenced volunteering with Care2Run / Care2Mentor in October, I only got to know the other volunteers -- chiefly, Mee Leng, Angela, Rudra and Hari -- better in November.

(ii) In November, while planning and preparing for the Year-End Party at Beacon of Hope, I got to know Amelia (the one helping me hold the pinata pole steady in the picture), one of the contributors for the Beacon Year End Party, who also attended the party.
2. Help a stranger.

(i) Through my friend Lynette, I got to know of Andrea Reger, an animal rescuer in Penang, and contributed towards the vet bills of two of her rescued little ones, a puppy and a cat with a recurring prolapse. I am sending good vibes to the universe for the furry ones' recovery and adoption.

(ii) I took in another foster cat in November. My friends Seng and Carol asked if I could take in a young female stray living outside their home and I agreed to do it if they would pay for her vaccination and ELISA snap test. It is a reasonable request and they did it promptly, after which I took in Zeya. She looks to be part Burmese, so I named her "Zeya", which is Burmese/Bamar for "victory" or "success". Within the first 2 days of Zeya moving in, I realised that she is in heat. Oh boy. Good times -- not. Thankfully, it cleared up in less than a week and I managed to get Zeya spayed last week. She is a lovely and sweet kitty, although very timid, and I will take my time in getting her socialised and ready for rehoming.
3. Eat something/at someplace new to me.
(Photo credits: www.hungryangmo.com)
(i) My friend Lai Wah treated me to lunch at Laksmi Villas vegetarian restaurant in Lebuh Ampang when I went to meet up with her to pick up a backpack and school supplies she had pledged for one of my students in Beacon. The food is good and not as pricy as Sangeetha's, which I also enjoy.

(Photo credits: my.openrice.com)
(ii) My Big Bro and Sis-In-Law came over for our niece Hailey's full moon celebration, and Covert Twin took us to Sofie Seafood and Grill, One City Mall, which does have several vegetarian options, only everything is so pricy.

(Photo credits: driftlessorganics.com)
(iii) I finally tried parsnip for the first time and wonder what took me so long to discover it. It tastes rather like a jicama, which surprised me. I had expected it to taste more like radish or turnip.

(Photo credits: Pinterest)
(iv) I have always had kedondong (Ambarella) juice in Malay food stalls but hadn't realised I could eat the fruit raw. Sometimes I marvel at how long it took me to come to realisations like this one. I finally bought some to add to my bento lunch. The fruits are tart and crisp and quite refreshing although not sweet.

4. Go someplace I've never been.

(Photo credits: www.theantdaily.com)
(i) Thanks to CovertTwin and Hailey, I've been seeing more of that part of town, and in November I visited One City Mall and Subang Skypark.

(ii) Finally went for a pre-LASIK assessment in ISEC. This is probably going to burn a hole in my savings account but on the plus side I may finally be rid of my glasses for good.

5. Learn something new.

Thanks to the fact that there is now a baby in the house, CovertTwin and I were compelled to learn how to use a Nosefrida one rainy week when Hailey suffered from nasal congestion and rhinitis. It worked like magic, and our relief was palpable.
6. Give up something for a month.

Upon learning that almost all chewing gum is now synthetic and therefore, plastic and non-biodegradable, I decided to give it up for good. I had previously chewed 1-2 pellets of sugarfree gum a day, especially while driving.

7. Letter to the Editor.

I submitted a letter to the editor on the need for stronger laws and enforcement on turtle egg consumption on 12th November and it was published in various news sites and newspapers that week.