Friday, May 28, 2010

Days in Dubai

With my brother and his family relocated to the shimmering sands of the Middle East, how could I possibly not pay a visit? With Carrie Bradshaw and her girls dropping by all the way from the Big Apple, I figured it was time to take a look at what the United Arab Emirates has to offer. With the original city girl paying a visit, wouldn't that be the stamp of approval?

Forget any Arabian Nights fantasy about desert caravans and mud-baked abodes.

If anything, Dubai has the most awe-inspiringly futuristic city skyline I've ever seen with the towering Burj Khalifa dominating the rest of the skyscrapers. The glittering monument to Arab enterprise and western capitalism, the Emirates certainly tries to keep up with the Joneses - even strong-arming little scrubs of green to bloom in the arid desert. In the sweltering heat of the day, dozens of sprinklers are switched on to keep the perfectly manicured lawns well-hydrated.

Don't forget the fountains.

None like this here unfortunately!

Honestly didn't think I'd actually have the opportunity to blog over here. Heard my blog was actually banned in the Emirates for a while. Didn't surprise me at all. Although the city's trying to place itself as a internationally cosmopolitan city with modern hopes and dreams, it's still a largely Islamic state.

Homosexuals with an opinion would certainly be taboo here.

The pink dollar's pretty welcome here though. Not for nothing is Dubai also dubbed as do-buy. What would a modern city be without the ubiquitous shopping mall dotting the map! Despite thinking that the prices here would be prohibitive - with oil-rich Gulf folk driving the prices up, I've actually purchased a couple of items on my first day!

Nothing like a few lamps to brighten the day.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Borgia Strikes Back

I should have known that the recent peaceful lull wouldn't last for long.

Madame Borgia always has something up her sleeve after all.

Certainly struck me as highly suspicious when Charming Calvin's mother accepted his controversial decision to remain semi-permanently in the Sin City with perfect equanimity. Even the fact that he'd spirited away his financial documents from right under her watchful eye failed to raise a maternal eyebrow. I would have expected tears of recrimination for the former - and possibly a full wailing bout of hysteria at the latter.

Uncharacteristically Madame Borgia remained silent.

I sense a disturbance in the force!

Falsely assumed that all was right in her happy suburban Pleasantville - even with a gay son cohabitating with shameless licentiousness in the big bad city. Charming Calvin even hoped optimistically that she'd taken the first steps towards being a PFLAG mom!

Yet my suspicions were proven correct when Madame Borgia called Calvin up one morning with a surprising inquiry.

Madame : Are you still gay?
Calvin : Uhh.. Yes?
Madame : It's time your turned your back on such licentiousness!
Calvin : W-what?
Madame : How can you live in such a wicked den of iniquity! Think of your poor papa! His weak heart! How could you!
Calvin : W-what?

Playing the guilt card of course.

Though such a veritable tsunami of tearful accusations would only piss me off, it obviously worked on our tender-hearted Charming Calvin. Poor fellow was put though an emotional wringer as our sly Madame Borgia used every visceral weapon at her disposal, from ailing fathers to a scarcity of communication on his part. Though we had both hoped that time would help increase her tolerance for his irregular ways, that obviously hasn't happened. Seems her homophobic stand hasn't wavered in the least.

Seriously doubt even a blow to the head would help change her mind.

Especially when she's busy dredging up his father's medical condition. Don't think Calvin would be comforted by the fact that heart ailments don't exactly stem from emotional upheavals.

A pity though. At best I think Calvin can only accept a hate the sin, love the sinner stance from his unforgiving mother. Anything more than begrudging tolerance would be nothing short of a miracle.

Guess I can stop counting on her coming as a guest at our engagement.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

How I Got My Beard

With my persistent bachelorhood, my adoration for Madonna and my penchant for sarcastic one-liners, I don't think I could get any gayer at work. No doubt I've pinged quite a few gaydars here.

Which is why my beard must have confounded quite a few suspicions today.

With the hospital celebrating Nurses Day with a dinner function, I was talked into buying a ticket. Seeing how I'ved tried to avoid most after-hours activities, I decided to make an appearnce just this once. Only to have Piratin Patty interject with her suggestion.

Patty : Sounds like fun! Bring me along!
Paul : As my beard?
Patty : Why not introduce me as your social escort?
Paul : Now that would have the tongues wagging.
Patty : Even better. Let's give them something to talk about!

Certainly achieved that goal since dozens of curious eyes swung my way - followed by audible whispers - as I walked in with Piratin Patty. Though the nurses were all glammed up in their blazing finery - chandelier earrings, glittering tiaras and all, I don't think anyone attracted as much comment as the plainly dressed Patty.

What girl/ You mean the one behind me?

Though I'm glad she refrained from dressing in ratty jeans and a tattered tee as she originally intended. There's only so much 'casual' I can take. :)

Caused quite a stir even in her little black dress. Though Patty must have been perfectly oblivious, fingers were pointed her way while tongues started wagging throughout the dinner. Unfortunately few believed the tales of me hiring her as a social escort.

Nurse A : Paul brought a girl?
Nurse B : Yes, a real girl! Patty!
Nurse A : Not a social escort as rumoured?
Nurse B : I know! And I thought he's so gay!
Nurse A : Obviously not!
Nurse B : So who is the girl?

Hardly able to contain their curiousity, an entire cadre of nurses waylaid me in the morning as I went to work demanding her name. Nothing that group of matchmakers like better than a lil bit of gossip. And no, they still wouldn't believe that I'd picked her up soliciting by the back alleys.

Still it's always nice to add to the hospital grapevine.

Amusingly enough the nurses did a reasonably good rendition of the Wonder Girls during the dinner at my suggestion!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Aftermath

Weeping and wailing
And whining and bitching
Crying and pining each night of their calls
Won't get them to make up at all

Oh yes, my medical officers have all gone into weeping, wailing and whining mood since the other day. After months of internal squabbling and sniping, a round-table discussion about ending their pitched urban warfare only dredged up some hidden mines from underground. A minor fallout causing unexpected explosions in the department with collateral damage to some of the more innocent victims.

Round One : Fight!

Even with such an understanding, it was foolish to expect a ceasefire of course. Seems Ebullient Eve didn't receive the official memo on a truce since she led off with an entire volley of unwarranted verbal attacks. Midpoint through the meeting, I even wondered if a clearly distraught Nervous Nancy would take a running swandive off the sea cliffs! Our volatile Ebullient Eve gave her no quarter aiming slit-eyed looks her way throughout.

Which ended with me giving a lashing of my own. Seems like it was about time. Treating them as reasonable adults seemed futile so I've decided to think of them as scrubby schoolkids instead.

Hence the cane.

Don't think I've ever felt as ancient till I gave them a lashing during the department meeting. Though it was barely a rap on the knuckles, I felt so very old having to reprimand a subordinate! Pretty sure I stood in those very shoes just a year ago. And now here I am talking about teamwork and time management.

Oh God, I've become one of them!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Modesty Thy Name

As fuddy-duddy conservative as I sometimes think I am, there are times when I've come to realize that I'm far more evolved than some. Especially when it comes to sexual mores.

Curious Chastity certainly pointed that out. You see, I had her as my guest over at my place this weekend. Seems my fledgling bed-and-breakfast over here has gained some repute! Seeing how she seems the outdoorsy sort to hike up mountains such as Mulu, somehow the topic of school campfires came about.

Chastity : Oh my school never had campfires for the girl guides.
Paul : But why! Scared they'll set fire to the school?
Chastity : Hardly. It would encourage inappropriate mixing of boys and girls.
Paul : Eh? At 17?
Chastity : It could lead to wanton behaviour, illicit affairs and teenage pregnancy.
Paul : It's just a little campfire!
Chastity : Far too early at 17!

Alright, I've come to expect such antiquated notions from turbaned mullahs and overzealous pastors. After all, religious orthodoxy would always insist all vulnerable females be cloistered from the covetous eyes of lecherous men. Even better be sheltered in inaccessible convents till the wedding day.

No doubt decided by the wiser elders.

What you looking at?

But when it comes from a modern, self-proclaimed atheistic girl in denim shorts and slippers, I was somewhat taken aback. Obviously I had no choice but to needle her with talk of sex education and contraception.

Which obviously Chastity flatly said no to.

Look, I'm not saying that I'd condone teenage pregnancy. Nor would I like my child to be initiated into a sexual relationship before they're ready. But I certainly wouldn't want him/her to be caught unprepared either. With the tools I've given, I hope they can make the right decision.

Denying them the right to congregate in mixed company doesn't seem to be the answer. Where do you stop? Where do we draw the line? Do we finally satisfy our worries by locking up all virginal maidens in a guarded harem?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fathers & Sons

Gay men don't love themselves overly much.

Quite a number actually loathe themselves. Something I've come to realize slowly but surely especially when issues pertaining to homosexuality crop up. Think I can deal with the slightest tinge of homophobia when it comes to an unenlightened roughneck, in fact I'd probably expect it.

But when it comes from my fellow gay brethren, I find myself at point-non-plus - especially when they start spouting surprisingly anti-homosexual diatribes. Feels like a bloody stab in the back at times. Et tu, Bruté?


So why do they hate themselves? Indoctrinated with the seeming everyday normalcy of heterosexuality at home and in school, can we actually accept ourselves? Do gay men actually internalize our homophobia? Bury it deep beneath flighty layers of fey nonchalance only to have the dark, dirty thoughts claw through unbidden when issues such as gay parenthood crop up.

Protestor : Why would you even consider it? It's not normal! Why would you subject this pitiful orphan to such an irregular, unhealthy family!
Paul : And why would it be wrong?
Protestor : Because gay life is wrong.
Paul : So your life is wrong?

And that's one of the more reasonable answers I've gotten.

So yes, there are gay men out there who actually think of themselves as abnormal freaks unworthy of a satisfying life. With such internalized homophobia, no wonder gay suicides are on the rise - with the ex-gay movement gaining significant ground.

Most of the disapproving detractors fear the kid would be discriminated against because of his unconventional family. But trust me even if the child were born into the most perfect family, the mean bullies would invariably sniff out the smallest weakness - whether the family, the upbringing or even the way they style their hair. It's how you deal with such bullying that matters really.

Though I certainly wouldn't wish for my kid to be discriminated against, I also hope any kid of mine wouldn't be such a spineless wimp that he can't handle such adversity.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Element of Eve

Back in the days when I was a medical officer, I always wished for a more lenient, understanding superior. Since my authoritarian bosses tended to be either chillingly aloof, shockingly absent or crushingly unsympathetic, we tried our best to work independently of them - occasionally leaning on each other to get through our work. Such close camaraderie in the face of a despotic regime kept us going through the worst of times.

You could say we all made it through with the help of our friends.

Even made a pact amongst ourselves not to fall into a similar trap once we climbed up the rungs. No, we wouldn't be the oppresive slavedrivers we once worked under. Work orders would be convened under a peaceable concensus. Things should get better.

Or at least that's what I thought. Over here though, I seem to have fallen into an alternate universe where everything's happening in the reverse.

While I'm trying my best not to be a steel-fisted disciplinarian at work, my medical officers are busy brawling amongst themselves in an internal civil war. Instead of instant comradeship on the frontlines, verbal warfare and weapons of mental destruction seem to be the game here.

Paul : Speak now or forever hold your peace.

Especially with Ebullient Eve and Nervous Nancy. Like the combatants in the Middle East, it seems neither is ready to admit defeat. Nor to offer a truce.

Leading the charge to crush her enemy, our volatile Eve will accept nothing less than complete annihilation. Or at least capitulation on Nancy's part. Though I suspect Nancy's somewhat oblivious to her nefarious plans.

Eve : You need to step in!
Paul : And?
Eve : Bring some order to the house?
Paul : Should I bring a cane as well? Should I treat you like schoolchildren in need of a reprimand?
Eve : Umm. Yes?

Obviously letting them handle this internal squabble on their own as reasonable adults doesn't seem to be working out. Looks like it's time for a round-table discussion with the entire lot - with me playing the unlikely role of mediator. Hopefully they can work things out peaceably without resorting to slings and arrows.

Otherwise sounds like it's time I became a little more autocratic! Perhaps have a big black cape and leather-studded boots to stalk around in. For a fellow who used to enjoy bucking authority while bending the rules, you can imagine how it irks me to be the one meting out punishment.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Just Say Grace

Years back I actually entered into a deal.

One of those 'If we're not married by the age of 30' kinda wedding deals. Entered sounds almost voluntary. Well, more like utterly bamboozled into the crazy pact on one of my more impressionable days. I might have been drunk when I agreed.

Graceless Grace might have been a little tipsy as well.

When she came up with such a plan, I figured that she'd be safely married by the time so I'd be able to escape scot-free. No need for complex, long-winded explanations that she's probably refute, rebutt or refuse to listen point-blank.

Paul : I'm gay.
Grace : No, you're not.
Paul Seriously, I'm gay.
Grace : And I'm telling you you're not. Come on, stop teasing and tell me what you think of this dress.

Grace is that contrary, I tell ya. And she does soo hate to be wrong.

It's All About Grace

With us both past the age of 30, obviously we've gone way past the expiry date of that particular wedding pact. Since then Grace has been through a couple of failed relationships leaving her somewhat vulnerable. It's been a while since her last tortured break-up so I thought it would be safe to resume normal bilateral ties with her.

But good intentions and all that...

Paul : So what's been happening with the bloke who's into you?
Grace : Nothing much. I'm not that much into him.
Paul : Oh that's a pity. Thought you liked him.
Grace : Not as much.
Paul : He's nice, wealthy and reasonably attractive! What's not to like?
Grace : Well maybe if he was more like you.
Paul : What?!

Oh Mother of God.

Really hope it's nostalgia tinged with alcohol speaking on Grace's part. Otherwise this could be a real problem. Well, maybe if I bop her on the head with a pink elephant.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Lolita Syndrome

Isn't it weird how we all can't wait to grow up?

Even as tiny tykes goofing off in the playground, we try our best to reenact the mature adult scenarios of home and work. Weird how we all imagined that turning to adults would be something to aspire to! A pity though since I actually enjoyed being a kid.

Don't get me wrong. I like where I am right now. Pretty comfortable in my thirties, mature enough to stand on my own two feet and yet not so old that I'd need a proper wooden cane to remain upright.

Doesn't mean I wouldn't mind a couple more years in school :)

Yet I have a kid cousin who'd obviously prefer to be in her fabulous twenties. Far from being a sweet lil girl all sugar & spice, she'd probably sneer at buttons and bows these days. At the threshold of her prepubescent teens, our Little Lolita ( so not a Toys 'R Us kid ) simply can't wait to grow up. Technically a tween, Lolita imitates her fashion-forward celebrity idols by strutting about in stiletto heels, a skimpy minidress and a glittery handbag that wouldn't look out of place on a mature woman thrice her age.

Jenny Humphrey, eat your heart out.

Paul : You do know that handkerchief of a dress is hardly appropriate?
Lolita : I'm not a girl. I'm a woman!
Paul : As your one-time babysitter, I beg to differ. Try not to lean over, things are spilling out.

Despite her winsome, waif-like appearance, our tween queen Lolita displays a scandalous facebook profile that would suggest a devastating femme fatale being courted by a dozen or more beaus. Even her daily comments - openly displayed to the rest of the family - seems to suggest an active social life full of lovelorn boys, daily crushes and broken promises.

All at the age of 12.

And to think I once bought her cotton candy and ice-cream on carnival rides.

Hard to blame Lolita when tougher childhood icons have knuckled down to peer pressure. Fueled by wily marketing efforts to create an entirely new consumer market, the recent sexualization of tween girls has affected even Dora the Explorer. Tough for them to remain sweet lil girls when everything - and everyone - else around them is telling them to grow up.

Unlike the boys. While the girls are playing with eyeshadow and earrings, I don't think the lucky tykes have even left the muddy playground yet.

But oh my Lolita. Why be in such a hurry to leave behind those innocent childhood days? There will be a time and place for minis, make-up and men after all.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Be My Daddy

When are you ready to be a father?

Despite all the hoping and planning, I honestly don't think anyone's actually ready for the reality of parenthood. From what I've seen of the young parents I know, I think everyone just trips, falls and prays hard they actually land on something reasonably solid after.

So I've always figured why not me. I've always wondered what kinda dad I'd be. Certainly have no plans to practice parenting on cats and dogs. At the moment, the usual methods of obtaining a baby doesn't seem applicable to me. Don't think I'm gonna go straight anytime soon. Surrogacy in India could prove somewhat costly with the legitimacy ( and nationality? ) of the baby in serious doubt.

Be my Daddy!

Hence the occasional comment to the nurses here about offering adoption whenever I see an unwed teenage Juno. Which turns out to be more often than you'd imagine. But obviously the nurses here don't really trust my intentions since commitment-phobic single men tend to flee at the sight of drooling newborns.

Not run towards them.

Paul : I wonder whether they'd give up the baby for adoption.
Nurse : Haha. Imagine if you had one at your doorstep one day.
Paul : I think that would be a very good day actually.
Nurse : OMG You are serious!

Well perhaps half-serious.

Enough to be caught unprepared when a couple of the nurses accosted me today to confirm whether I was in earnest. With teenage pregnancies on the rise here - and none of the feckless tweens wanting to take the motherhood route, it seems there's always someone willing to give up their baby for adoption. Certainly a better alternative to baby-dumping.

So they wondered whether I was serious about adopting.

Which left me somewhat speechless.

Always thought this would be a question to answer when I'm a little more settled. Am I ready? Emotionally, perhaps. Financially, probably. Spiritually, God I hope so. But with my partner miles away on the wrong side of the Big Puddle, I wonder if I can go it alone. Being a single dad? Late night feedings and cranky mornings? Baby drool on silk shirts and dirty diapers in leather messenger bags?

:) Well I've never exactly shied away from a challenge.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Backstreet Bandar

With the entire weekend free, my friends and I decided to pack our bags for a road trip. Since dense jungles and dank caves aren't exactly my kinda thing, my choices here are pretty slim so I opted for a visit to the nearest urban settlement.

Which is of course the neighbouring city of Bandar Seri Begawan. Otherwise known as BSB.

Silly rule about tinted cars prevented me from driving. Fortunately Piratin Patty managed to con Dishy Dante into handing over his car. Wonder if the fit fella's ever shagged a bird in his ride.

Dante. Naked. In his car. Hmm.

Road trip baby!

Where were we again? Trip to Brunei?

Oh yeah.

Had some pointers from the Mirian locals though it turns out we were fooled by the slowpokes here. Expecting a three hour journey as described, we packed an entire picnic basket of snacks and drinks along with almost 20 CDs to beguile the dull trip. In reality it took little more than an hour and two CDs to arrive at the polished gates of Bandar.

Just twice around Roxette's Greatest Hits.

So how was the journey? Lonesome highways connect the small seaside kampungs here, beautiful paved roads with empty barren nothingness on either side. Though amazingly accurate signposts dot the entire route. And if we expected glittering towers of steel in the city, we were to be disappointed. Quite sad indeed for such a oil-wealthy state. Rather than invest their billions to create a latter-day cosmopolitan city to rival Dubai or even Singapore, obviously the Bruneians prefer a bucolic backwater of a capital.

Imagine one of our smaller state capitals with tree-lined boulevards, pre-colonial shophouses and the occasional modern department store. Then turn back the clock a decade. Or two.

Still, it was a relaxing trip full of pirated DVDs, glowing mosques and delicious sushi. A nice break.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Comedy of Manners

Obviously I'd never make a diplomat.

With my forthright in-your-face attitude coupled with a patent dislike for social protocol, no doubt I'd be kicked out of the diplomatic corps. Sure I could put on a phony mask of friendly gregariousness for a while but it wouldn't last for long. Takes but a slight nudge for the mask to crack and fall.

And there I'd be putting snotty society matrons to the blush with my blunt unpolished comments.

But as we creep up higher in the hierarchy of work, we're expected to attend such grand soirees with purported VIPs. Filled to the brim with social protocol, beady-eyed bureaucrats and the usual fawning toadies.

Which irritates me no end.

TIme for another formal do!

So when I had news of fellow compatriots visiting from abroad, the entire crew of sweet-talking bureaucrats came knocking. There goes my simple plan for a quick stroll through the wards with a light luncheon after.

Bureaucrat : We should give them a proper welcome. Red carpet treatment.
Paul : With dancing girls no doubt?
Bureaucrat : Can certainly arrange for that. Probably a kompang troupe to welcome them as they alight from the bus. Then we must arrange the seating for the entire table for lunch.
Paul : No.
Bureaucrat : No?
Paul : It's meant to be informal.
Bureaucrat : Surely some parting souvenirs for the entire visiting team? Bags perhaps?
Paul : Are you sponsoring?
Bureaucrat : But they're VIPs!

Social debutante I'm not.

In a democracy where everyone's created equal, what's a VIP after all?

And please don't say elected officials ( which includes the Prime Minister! ). Kindly recall the fact that they're elected public servants put in place to serve us. Not the other fucking way around. A simple fact that escapes many a Malaysian. Even in post-colonial times, we don't seem to have left our feudalistic heritage behind. And till one of our royal families actually show a touch of noblesse oblige, I don't think they'd qualify.

L:ike I always say, respect is earned.

So short of divine angels descending from up high, I don't think there's a need for overly complex social protocol. After all, weren't rules such as these created to pander to the overweening egos of pompous buffoons - and to provide the fawning bureaucrats with a job?

Sunday, May 09, 2010

The Return of Grace

It's been a while since I've spoken to Graceless Grace.

Guess the blame lies mainly on my shoulders - since I find it nearly impossible to converse with a contrary harpy who disagrees with everything I say. No doubt Grace would claim the sky was a shade of cerulean if I dared say it was blue. So you can imagine I'd balk whenever she calls.

Yet I simply can't leave the exasperating gal in a lurch especially when she needs me. You can't just turn your back on someone you've known since kindergarten! No matter how aggravating she may be.

Henry Cavill
There goes the phone again. Should I pick it up?

So when I received this message yesterday...

Grace : I'm feeling a little down. Can we talk?

Fool that I was, I fell for the instant message hook, line and sinker. Should have known it was a trap but what can I say? Not only does she know how to reel 'em in, I've always been a sucker for damsels in distress.

Even more for dudes in distress but that's something else entirely.

I blame it on my alma mater of course - a school renowned for inculcating outdated Arthurian values such as chivalry into naive lil schoolboys - which of course makes us all absolute putty when it comes to weeping women.

So oh yes, I made the dreaded call to Grace. Only to have what seemed like an entire band of maddening furies descend with their claws and fangs out to dissect every flaw in my personality. In between callously pointing out all my innumerable failings, our painfully exacting Grace proceeded to tear apart several reputations, rant about her insufferable workmates and generally rage about the infidelity of heterosexual males.

A group she obviously still considers me a part of since she couldn't stop lumping me in.

Grace : You bloody men are absolutely worthless. Less than worthless if there's even a word.
Paul : I'm sure you could coin a new word.
Grace : I feel I can only talk to you.
Paul : And I wonder why.

And this went on for nearly half an hour. As usual I tried to offer several ingenuous solutions to her endless problems only to have her wail that no one understands her unique plight.

There are times when I actually thank God I'm gay.

In the end I had to call upon a dying man to support me - whereupon I disconnected since saving lives have to come first. Of course I never told her I was the one dying after her neverending tales of woe.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Operation Pemberley

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to infiltrate the headquarters of the Borgias in the country. Get into their guarded compound, find the safe and retrieve these documents.

As always, should you or any of your IM force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds.

Such an intriguing mission impossible which is why Agent Piratin Patty and I were all eager to offer our services. After all you don't get all that many chances to bamboozle the in-laws!

You see, Charming Calvin had some important documents pertaining to his new apartment - the aforementioned Pemberley - sealed in the family safe back home. Bonds, shares, accounts and the financial like. In order to keep the buyout a secret from his prying family, Calvin had to retrieve the documents without exciting suspicion.

Paul : Are you sure you can do it alone? I fear your mother has a scheme in place!

Before he could recruit our services however, our intrepid fellow decided to attempt the mission on his own. Though I had my doubts in his powers of concealment.

No doubt clad all in mysterious black to suit the occasion, Calvin stole across the compound, evading the vicious guard dogs, to slip into his parents' bedroom - even as they were safely away in the other corner of the house. What follows afterward I can only imagine. But I can already see our daring thief slipping down a rope from the ceiling to access the shockingly well-protected safe - where temperature, sound and touch would set off the sensitive alarms.

Of course our modest hero would never admit to such.

Paul : So how did you bypass the alarms?
Calvin : Just opened the cupboard and dialed the code lo.
Paul : Then it opened? No booby traps? No security guards?
Calvin : Uhh.. no?

Seemed like a fait accompli to me.

Though our team hadn't reckoned on simple witchcraft. On his cunning mother's part. Always knew Madame Borgia had some wicked tricks up her sleeves. With scrying spells and talking mirrors on her dark side, is it any wonder that she always appears at the most inopportune moments?

Paul : Beneath that simple countrywoman disguise there is EVIL!

Giving us barely any time to breathe a sigh of relief. Just as Calvin was boarding the plane with the documents safe in his pocket, his sainted mama came up to him and whispered.

Madame Borgia : Come here, child. I have something to tell you.
Calvin : Yes, mama?
Madame Borgia : I know what you did last weekend. My eyes, they see all!

Spooky I tell ya.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Musings in Miri

The most frequently asked question I get here is this.

Layperson : Will you be staying?

A reasonable question since medical personnel in the general hospital here tend to leave the minute their hardship posting is over. Practically a revolving door installed in every department as doctors come and go.

So will I stay? Almost a year back - at the beginning of my tranfer - it would have been a flat, emphatic no. Wouldn't have entertained even for a second the thought of living her a moment longer than agreed in the terms. Mingling with the birds and the baboons miles away from civilization without any family or friends around? Just no.

Henry Cavill
The bucolic life!

These days though with a lovely home, a serene bucolic life and a job I love, I might be reconsidering. Isn't this what life is all about? Idiotic waiters and slowpoke drivers, I can deal with. Away from the hectic rush of the capital, I actually can take the time to smell the roses. Precious pockets of civilization to be found even in this isolated hamlet, books / dvds can be delivered right to the doorstep - and if I find myself in desperate need, there are eight flights a day out to the capital.

Of course I didn't consider Charming Calvin.

Paul : So what if I actually settled down here? Will you get a job here?
Calvin : Umm. Uhh.

Hemmed and hawed for at least a minute possibly. Even longer than his phlegmatic wont.

Which I figured out nearly immediately.

Imagine the horrific hometown scandal of Calvin moving in with his boyfriend! At least at the moment his sainted mama Madame Borgia can play pretend that nothing untoward is happening since such shameless shenanigans are confined to the sinful capital. But if we actually set up a home right in front of their noses!

And their meddling neighbours!

Oh the shame! I am already picturing a hysterical mother-in-law wailing dramatically at our gates - possibly lying prostrate on the ground clutching a tattered placard denouncing our criminal degenerate acts.

Not exactly the best way to have a homecoming. No wonder Calvin couldn't come up with a definite answer.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

What the Chinese Want

As a Malaysian of Chinese descent, I've always wondered what the rest of the country thinks of us. Following the racist stereotypes prevalent here, the Malaysian Chinese would no doubt be the slit-eyed, greedy capitalists out for a quick buck - utterly ungrateful to be given a place in this country.

Worst case scenario of course but a skewed perception quite obviously seen here in Utusan Malaysia - and a translated version here in the Straits Times. All written by the endlessly xenophobic Zaini Hassan who obviously enjoys trampling on racial sensitivities. Quite disheartening to hear such racist thoughts from a supposedly 'learned' Malay editor in Utusan Malaysia. If a member of the cultured literati has thoughts such as this, what about the rest of the uneducated masses?

Of course the paragraph that really pissed me off - oh yes prepare for a rant - came from his article.

The Chinese produce the largest number of, and the most successful professionals. The school system of the Chinese Malaysians is the best among similar school systems in the world. The Chinese account for most of the students studying in the best private colleges in Malaysia. The Malays can gain admission into only government-owned colleges of ordinary reputation.

Somehow he succeeded in making it all sound vaguely disreputable.

Maybe we should just stop working and wait for manna to fall from the sky!

Does he honestly think all the apparent success of an immigrant race comes from nowhere? Does he assume the wealth of the Chinese drops like so much manna from the sky? It wasn't handed to them on a silver platter. It took lots of sheer hard backbreaking work. Doesn't he know that the money to procure a place in those self-same private colleges comes from the sweat of their fathers' brows? Doesn't he know those successful professionals worked damned hard to get where they are now?

Education is all important for the Chinese and it shows. Compare this to the lackadaisical attitude I once saw in a neighbouring family.

Boy : Oh mom. I got a couple of Cs for my exams. Enough to slide through.
Mother : You're going on to the next form?
Boy : Oh yes, this is my report card.
Mother : Only a D for Math? Perhaps you should attend extra tuition for Math?
Boy : Nah, I don't feel like it.
Mother : Alright then. You coming back for dinner?
Boy : Think I might go cycle to the cybercafe.
Mother : But it's late. And it's a school night.
Boy : It's not even past midnight yet.
Mother : Well okay.

I kid you not.

If it were my own mother, I'd have been skinned alive for any one of those comments. Yet his mother seemed to take it in stride that her kid was practically flunking out of school - and then rewarded himself with a games night.

Left to me, I'd probably have tied him to a chair and shoved his face into a textbook. Trying my best not to disparage anyone's parenting skills but it just goes to show how much education means to the Chinese. Any score less than a C would probably mean the almighty cane.

Or the deeply disappointed sigh.

Never knew which was worse but it was something we all worked very hard to avoid.

Fortunately I'm not alone in my disgust. In reply to Zaini Hassan's racist rhetoric, we also have an article by Kee Thuan Chye as a rebuttal.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Night Owl Shooting

Death when it comes to the young is always woefully tragic. There's a deep sense of loss, not only for the life but also for the sweet promise of what was yet to come.

So I can imagine the grief and shock of the parents of Aminul Rashid when he was gunned down by the police during a six-kilometre car chase on the wee hours of a Monday morning. Seems the 15-year-old boy allegedly sped off after being stopped by policemen and ran several red lights. An outraged nation has immediately called for an inquiry into his sudden death with a few hysterical voices calling out for an immediate youth curfew.

My utmost condolences to his grieving family.

Coming in guns-ablazing!

A series of unfortunate events led to his untimely death but perhaps we're all pointing fingers at the wrong people. In our zeal to find immediate justice, we seem to have missed something. Negligence on the part of the police officer aside, I think the person who taught the boy how to drive should also share the blame in his unforeseen death. Certainly a rap on the knuckles if not a bullet to the head.

At the age of 15, the boy shouldn't have been allowed to drive in the first place so how did he get his hands on the wheel? According to reports, the car was taken without permission but surely some irresponsible, addle-pated fool must have taught him to how to shift gears at the least. He couldn't have picked up driving skills from playing Grand Theft Auto incessantly, could he?

What would have happened if he'd run over the police officer in chase? Should they only have stood by to be served as roadkill? From the numerous cases I've seen in the intensive care, no one actually recovers from blackened tyre marks on the torso. Emboldened by a lack of political will to stop them, mat rempits and illegal racers play cat-and-mouse with our frustrated boys in blue. Panicking and fleeing from questioning would easily be the equivalent of waving a red flag in front of our trigger-happy officers.

Or even worse, what if the unlicensed kid had actually run over an innocent bystander? Another juvenile rebel out past midnight ( on a Sunday night?! ) for the jollies?

Impulsive trigger-happy cops shouldn't be allowed on our streets but that doesn't mean we should allow pre-teen kids joyriding on the highways as well. Caretakers and parents, take heed. Don't leave the parental policing only to the boys in blue.