Tuesday, March 31, 2009

POOP! (2)

Excuse me for being long-winded! Once you read this, I'll not say the word anymore!!

If you pass by my house, you'll definitely see 4 'POOP FREE ZONE' notices nailed on the trees. So you wonder - huh, a gazetted zone??

Cartoonist, Todd Schowalter aces with a beagle sporting a 'pardon me' look. Well, doggie, you needn't be. It's so natural to poop. Nature calls and you must!

I started putting up the signs when I couldn't stand it any longer. Something must be done. In a non-violent , gentle way.

You see, I've been HIT again and again! Outside my house I've green and flowering plants skirting the perimeter of the house. When it's time to tend to the plants, aaarrrggh.......... My fingers hit ........ And I withdraw quickly. Too late! A mad rush to the tap to get rid of the stinky stuff. Yucks!

Silly me. Surely the bluebottles feasting in extra numbers is already a tell-tale sign. But there are times when the rot has not set in , yet.

Watch out culprits. Humans! Whoever you are!

I DECLARE it is uncivic to allow your pet foul the environment. Period. Your doggie needs that walk to exercise, to feel good etc. And you're doing your bit for that. But how about doing it RIGHT?

How about scooping/picking up the poop after your pet? Just carry a couple of plastic bags and pick it up. Anyway, shouldn't there be a by-law that penalizes fouling of the environment?

I could play detective and pounce on the dog owners/walkers, but heck, time is too precious. Methinks I'm the only one doing the policing with these notices. Honestly, I do not wish to see my signs up for eternity . There's enough of all kinds of notices nailed on trees, wired round lamp posts etc. in neighbourhoods. Have you noticed?? Granted, mine isn't commercial but I do not really want to uglify anything, least of all, my trees.

Heard it through the grapevine that someone in the neighbourhood was (still is) very angry with inconsiderate dog owners/walkers . He even confronted them. Not only were there denials but preposterous answers were given. ' But my dog is imported' claimed a certain culprit. Are you laughing your head off ? No wonder the aggrieved neighbour turned black in his face!

So, give us a break! No smelly poop.

Monday, March 30, 2009

My Story - Paradise Lost.

On 22 March 25 excited kids came with their parents to attend my storytelling session at the British Council, Jln. Ampang.

The kids 6 - 9 year olds had registered their attendance . At the doorway, having their names ticked off the list itself signalled something special.

The story theme was environmental. And World Forest Day celebrated on 21 March was a nice tie -in with my story written a couple of years back.

For a start, I asked myself. How do you bring the vast rainforest into a classroom? The beauty can't be replicated. How about the smells and the experience of trudging the moist forest floor? The task is impossible.

That's when I decided to create a collage to give my best shot for a great visual impact.

Home is where we want to be!

Well, the kids told me they have not been in a rainforest. For those who have trampled into the forest at FRIM, they actually had.

So there was a getting to know the rainforest in the chant.'There are layers in the forest'. We stood on toes to reach the sky for the emergent layer. The canopy must be the biggest umbrella in the world! So, arms outstretched, we made huge umbrellas. The understory layer below housing the snakes . For that we crouched a little. Then ... we sprawled flat on the floor for the forest floor layer. Oh! did we disturb the armies of ants marching with food to their queen?

It was indeed a swinging start to the session. Next, a quick 'dressing up' - I slipped into an eco- green shirt, slung a water bottle on my shoulder and held a pair of bins. Then I invited everyone to sing 'I've Been Walking In The Rainforest'. We marvelled at the parrot, iguanas, leopards, the ferns, the twisting, curvy lianas.

So, with knowledge of the rainforest, it was time to listen to my story, Paradise Lost. I wrote it in verse. The collage was propped on an easel. 'My' rainforest in its full glory was ready to do the story for me.

But all is not well as the story unfolds. Loggers, hunters come ...... decimation is their game. The animals cry out. Soon their homes are lost. Victory lies in the hands of the humans. They scar the land and when their handiwork is done and dirt dusted off their clothes, their heavy machines lumber out of the barren land.

But, listen, do you hear a pleading cry??... somewhere??

The collage worked nicely for it was laid bare by the kids who played loggers, hunters. The kids stripped the greenery and the inhabitants off the collage.

'ZAP! ZAP! GONE! GONE! they shouted.

Gone Forever

Then it was straight into the song 'Rock-A- Bye -Rainforest' by musician Hayes Greenfield

Yes, the kids in front of me do realize it's human actions that mar and destroy the beauty and awe of our rainforest. I overheard an instant soft lament ,' Oh, the animals. Pity!'

So sad,' one other echoed.

These kids may be small but they learn. Fast too. My story does not have a cheerful ending but the truth lies there. These small ones can handle the truth.

To round off the session, they made an elephant out of recycled milk/juice cartons.
Happily they used their favourite colours to make their elepant their very own.

Milk carton elephant

An hour well spent. I'm glad I got to tell my story. And to play with the kids.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

60 Earth Hour HAS ARRIVED!

By now, everyone has heard the buzz - get ready for 60 Earth Hour 2009. It's all over the media, everywhere.

It's here and the hour is done! I had an hour for Mother Earth like the millions around the world. Somehow it didn't feel that long. Well, we were having dinner and with candles lit, and chit chat over a meal and a glass of red wine, time passed pleasantly. The air was rather cool. Surprisingly, no mozzies annoyed us in the dark.

Only one light was on in our entire house and it was the wall light for the back garden. The neighbours' houses seemed darker than usual. What more can I say?

I'm glad we were part of this worldwide event. Call it hype, if you want to. But how about awareness? We have to to start from somewhere. And it's here and now.

The spirit of being united in promoting a message is powerful. Actions will then speak louder than words.

My candles in my kitchen are blown out. The lights are switched on. I ask myelf, 'Where do we go from here?' The answer lies in me, in each of us. JUST BE the bright light for Mother Earth. Conserve! Save!

Friday, March 27, 2009

POOP! (1)

I look out of my bedroom window and there nailed securely on the trees outside my house are 4 laminated 'POOP FREE ZONE' notices .

Hey! what's up? Well, I'll talk about it in a jiffy.

In the meantime, perhaps we can enjoy a down-to-earth book I have in my small collection. Also about POOP. But it's fine. I have no grouse against ' EVERYONE POOPS' by Taro Gomi. In fact, it's a short book , easy to enjoy. The text is deceptively simple and direct.

The book starts with the 'big' picture. It begins 'An elephant makes a big poop'. Then it downsizes to 'a mouse makes a tiny poop'. Wow, wouldn't that make a young reader want to find out more? It talks about the different animals - camel, fish, bird, gorilla, anteater, snake, rhino, racoon, humans - adults and babies doing ' their number 1 !! Hey, that lingo seems so outdated! Pictures show the different shapes and different ways all poop ; some moving along pooping, and us humans sitting at the toilet to poop. All a very natural part of life. Essentially it says we eat, therefore we poop.

I find it amusing about the ' two- hump camel makes a two - hump poop ... only kidding'. And the whale in the wide blue ocean. It asks ' what does whale poop look like?' I'm sure an inquisitive child will unhesitatingly ask that question. Me, I never thought about it. Just poop,lah!

EVERYONE POOPS is a book to introduce to young readers. It's a refreshing way to introduce a teeny bit of biology. Can't take poohing for granted,can we?

I think the young readers will enjoy the eye-catching pictures which are also amusing. Share it with a child and be ready to hear ' I do it same too, mom!' pointing to a child on a potty in the book.

A sure winner? Most probably.

Alright, now let's talk about 'POOP FREE ZONE'. What's bugging me?

Do visit me for the next posting - POOP ! (2).

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Eco YOU, Eco ME!

Are you eco-friendly? I too have to ask myself this question.

We cannot choose to ignore the calamities that are affecting our planet. Al Gore's 'An Inconvenient Truth' puts us smack in the picture of impending disasters which will impact our lives and every living thing on this planet.

It's just 6 days to 60 Earth Hour. Boy, I look forward to this day to celebrate our unity in voice. To be counted. It's already a good feeling to be part of this momentous hour worldwide. So, be part of it. Do not miss out!

Back to me. What have my family members been practising to be eco - friendly? Talk is cheap if we do not put at least some words into action. Let me share.

1. My husband, Ravi has switched to energy-saving bulbs.

2.We use old plastic bags to throw thrash out.

3. At the shops we politely refuse the small plastic bags to hold a small lock, a sellotape, ballpen etc. The list goes on for the small items we purchase especially things we can just stuff into our handbags. The shopkeeper smiles and nods his head when I give my reason why.

4. Our garden has a compost heap tucked away in a corner. To add to the pile of grass cuttings, we toss our veggie scraps, fruit peelings.

5.We collect all our household papers, tin cans, bottles, tetra packs, plastic containers and regularly send them once a month to our community collection spot. Kudos to to the Alam Flora staff for sorting out our recyclables!

6.Good old used clothes find its way to a charity shop at the Selangor Cheshire Home.

7. To water our plants and for general washing purposes, we use the rainwater we've harvested. At the back of our garden, we have a tank in the ground to collect the run-off from the gutters. Again, thanks to Ravi , the soul and will power behind it all..

8. In the evenings, only essential lights come on.

9. Yes, I do not allow water to run while I'm brushing my teeth.

10. It's been 19 years since we installed solar heating for our bathing needs. And it's only showers.

11.Someone called my garden a 'botanic garden'! I really wish! Well, up to the last count it has 75 varieties of plants. No worries, you can still spot me! '

Is there more we can do? Certainly! In many little conscious ways, eco YOU and eco ME can make a difference 'coz every effort adds up.

Hey! Come 28 March, be counted! Unite for 60 Earth Hour at 8.30 pm. I plan to have a candlelight dinner. In my kitchen.

How about you?

My refuge?

Precious water under the planks

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It is always sunny in Beccles!

The other evening I got a call from my friend, Wanphen in the UK. Beccles, calling! Where ? It's a small market town on the Suffolk/Norfolk border and is within the area of The Broads. And Wanphen, of Thai origin , lives there now after having trotted Mexico, Malaysia , Istanbul and then back to the UK with her late husband, Tony.

Wanphen called to say 'hello' As usual, she takes her time to talk, never hurrying as if to beat the seconds that tick away for a long distance call. When she heard of my son's trip to Tanzania to do some voluntary work, she was glad. 'Let me round up my friends to help donate towards the fund raising for his trip,' she said.

Wanphen left Kuala Lumpur more than 19 years ago. I bumped into her at our daughters' ballet classes. And from there , our relationship blossomed.

If she could wrap her hands round as many people as she could to bring them into her 'fold', she would. That's how I got 'caught' by her easy , friendly demeanour . She needed some help to get some activities going at Selangor Cheshire Home, a home for the disabled. After all, it was just about giving a little time to care and share. So, I joined her company. Others did too and soon there was a big group of ladies who liked her warmth.

Working with her, I found there was always room in her heart to fill it with more love and care for the disabled residents. There was one resident who wanted to hold her hand and walk with her whenever she was around. Somehow, he could not utter any word and saliva dribbled at the corners of his mouth. She always let him and talked to him with kindness as she guided him to his place of activity

It was just natural chemistry to interact with her disabled friends. How did she do it? It was her genuine desire to touch hearts and spread sunshine to others. That's just her.

She cooked and shared her wonderful dishes with as many as her giant wok could feed! That was her birthday party treat for them. Not forgetting her yummy cakes and delicious snacks.

In Beccles, she still radiates warmth. Walking round her her garden, I sense the tender care she exudes for her plants too. What I gave her , a ' keng hwa', as a cutting years ago , she took to Beccles . Mine is doing sweet nothing! Hers is a huge wicker basket of flourishing flowers.

When I was there in November, I was smack in her party planning for her 56th birthday. Her friends , all 10 came for the party. It was Thai cuisine at its best. Her food drew appreciative oohhs and aahhs. After the guests left, we both put our feet up and talked about the great time had by all.

Far from the maddening crowd of Mexico, Kuala Lumpur and Istanbul, she still retains her personal touch. A friend or two always needs popping by and checking to see if everything's alright. I remember we drove by a house to check if her neighbour's lights were on. That was enough to let her know she's ok. There were the times when her kitchen was in full swing to cook and bake for some charity raisers. A friend asked to babysit her dog for the owner to be away. So many little ways she finds to be a friend.

So, be it snow or sleet , girlfriend you shine, as always. Yes, it's always sunny in Beccles.

Birthday Smile

Hanging garden

What A feast!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Fly me to The Academy, AirAsia

It was a special day today. Not only to wake up early at 6.30 to leave the house at 7. This morning I was to meet Anthony , a disabled friend who wanted to show me his special training session with a new batch of trainees from AirAsia.

Anyway, my drive to meet Anthony at the Indian Temple near Assunta was quite an easy ride. I waited in the car as rain began to fall more. Soon we were on our way to The Academy ,Air Asia, Sepang. On the way, I got to see for myself how a disabled person like Anthony drives a car, like any of us. All these he does deftly with the modified brakes and pedal.

I felt elated to be walking through the corridors of an AirAsia building. After all, it's our own CEO , Datuk Tony Fernandes, the whizkid of Malaysia who owns this building. And this is his training ground to groom his staff. Work is in progress to expand the new wing. I love the cheerful mural hugging the corridor walls. They depict such a bustling, lively, happening scene of people on the move, on the ground , in the plane. Did I spot one of Tony Fernandes with his signature cap? Have to say, I'm an admirer of him. Thanks for the zillions of air miles for everyone. Now I CAN fly too!

Anthony introduced me as his guest to 15 AirAsia trainees. Politely each entered the room and wished a cheery good morning before settling to their seats. These young and able bodied men and women have come from Hong Kong, India, Cambodia, Myanmar, , Vietnam and of course, KL. The training today: DET (Disability Equality Training) . From the start to the end of the training, it was an eye opener for all the participants. When were such topics covered during the school years? Was awareness ever raised so openly for forthright questions to be asked? But it was a no holds barred session as Anthony was well-equipped and ready to share his knowledge . Topics covered - wheelchair users, the deaf, the blind and people with learning disabilities . Each was dealt simply but expertly by the different disability coordinators besides Anthony . The aim was to help these trainees to be at ease to deal with people with different disabilities they encounter. After all, not only everyone can fly with AirAsia . Everyone must fly in comfort too, with or without handicap. So simple clear instructions were given on how to guide a blind his seat, down an aisle; how to wheel and transfer a traveller from a wheelchair to the airplane seat, how to sign simple words like 'welcome. goodbye, plane 'etc. It wasn't all about digesting facts and figures at this training session. The hands-on learning made it lively and interactive. Nothing beats putting oneself in someone else's shoes. Imagine the feeling of just sitting in a wheelchair ( only for a few minutes, mind you!) and not feeling the earth beneath your feet. Just wearing the eye masks drew comments of ' oooh! so dark! can't see anything!'

It was a long day but one with new found awareness for people with all kinds of disabilities. The message was clear : break down attitudinal and environmental barriers. Be proactive to change society. That's the way forward!

Like me, I believe the young men and women were enlightened . They are keen and full of spirit and ready to embrace more and shine. They are ready to spread their wings, take to the skies with AirAsia. Ready to serve ...

Wheels a-turning

Heave ho! Carefully does it!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Blog To Unclog!

Today is my first attempt at blogging . School's over for aeons and the brain does rust. Time to unclog. Never let it die!

Last night, Emily came to the rescue. She was on google chat and I told her I was stuck. In the mud? In the mind? Well, all I can say is I tried to create a blog and supposedly what was created was not there! I guess this new world of IT makes me nervous . So, I needed someone to hold my hand. Emily popped up on my screen. And she said ' Ok, let's get right down to it! ' You see, what I mean about unclogging? HELP!

So, a meeting was set to meet Emily the next day. We were to meet at Alliance Francaise but landed at The Raintree Club. Over a quick lunch, we chatted. She sure looks better with her long stresses:))

It was back to school. IT school . I brought my laptop , unsure of what to expect but ready to learn. I told myself , 'Small steps first. ' After all, I enjoy writing and blogging is about that and much more , I'm told.

So , here I am with my first baby steps at blogging. Hey world! I'm going places with Emily! Emily is a good teacher - patient and encouraging. Thanks a million! I hope not to disappoint her after the hours she spent of her precious time.

Thanks for the sunshine, Emily. Thanks my friend!