Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Curious incident of a cat in the night - Part 1

It had to be my imagination. I sure as hell didn’t want to acknowledge it as an apparition.

In the split-second I caught the shadow of a cat’s tail, I hesitated for a moment.
To chase after the thing, or not?

I peered out of the bathroom and there was, I swear, nothing there. Dripping wet in my tangle of towels, I assured myself that I have always been civil to cats and there was no reason for the phantom (or any phantom for that matter) to seek a bloodthirsty revenge. Anyway, what exactly can it do? Meow me to death?

Mind happily convinced, I settled comfortably on the floor with my good friend FritoLay and a fat book. Laying curled up in my awkward angle, the hours flitted by until my stiff bones made a convincing case to stretch. It was then that our eyes met.

She backtracked slowly, taking her time as she made an educated guess as to where the open window was beneath the billowing curtain. Her physics stood true and with a graceful leap she exited the window exactly where the fabric parted. Together with a tiny kitten in her mouth.

My heart whimpered as I peeped out the window to see Mommy cat with her baby on the downstairs awning. It had been pouring and she had nowhere to take her kittens. I silently closed the window as she pondered her next course of action. I simply could not let her in again. My landlord would kick me out, then her, if he found I was harbouring a stray. In my first floor room. Best she found another friendlier home for her litter.

A bit disturbed and not totally convinced I did the right thing, I settled back on the floor. Fat book was waiting impatiently.

Wait, the cat could not have deposited the rest of its family already, could it? After all the window was open the whole day.

Good God! The laundry basket!
5 minutes of flying undergarments and yesterday’s socks, I heaved a sigh of relief when I found no feline trace. Ok, that was an over reaction. Checking beneath the bed for the last time before shoving the basket back under,I thot I thaw a puddytat!

I did! I did thee a puddyt.. I mean pussycat. Three. Maybe four. Complete with fuzzy fur and tightly closed eyes. Nestled between my Hush Puppies and Tang shoe boxes. Then my torchlight decided that it got enough excitement for the day and promptly died.

Okay, okay, what to do.
First, breathe.

Next, call cat lover to ask advice. Providence was kind and Jo was still awake. Fact that I was thick-skinned never came more handy.
Shrieked my problem and being the first to laugh, she sort of set the precedent.

Together formulated a plan:
1. put newborns in box.
2. place box in backyard.
3. pray hard mommy cat will not question too much why her kids are on the backyard, right after she deposited them in the upstairs bedroom.
4. mommy cat would give kittens usual drill for not staying put and take them somewhere safe. (apart from under my bed)

So far so good. Not really having a choice, I had to tell my landlord about the cat that invaded my bedroom. Got the expected ‘I told you to close your window’ bit.
Not fans of cats, they are not fiends either and their experience was that one should never touch a newborn for fear that our putrid human scent would put the mother off from picking the kittens up again. Or worse, she would eat the babe.

Oh that put me in a real right mood. Like my already traumatised karma needs more of this.

Okay, plan B.
1. Leave window open hoping mommy would come back
2. hope that mommy would perceive that big surprised human (me) as a threat
3. pick up her kids and get the hell out of my room

With the bedroom silent, the wind blowing through the once again opened window, I went to bed with a brood of kittens under me.

Curious incident of a cat in the night - Part 2

Sleep was fidgety with dreams of flat cats and my offering Iman an adorable muffin of a kitten. At 5 am I just about had it.

Heart full of hope, I peered down underneath my bed. Oh no, the kittens were on the move and it looks like one would spill out of the shoe box enclosure. I reached down to wedge the box in but the hand never got very far before it was greeted with a ferocious hiss.

Oh great, not only did mommy come back, she was now right in there too! Kittens I can handle but now I got a feisty tiger in there too. JUST GREAT! The plan was for her to sneak them young uns out of here.

Look, me big predator. (check out the size of this bum!)
Them, small defenceless babies. How hard could it be?

Okay, I can understand the nature of maternal instincts and all that jazz but at 5 am, logic is not one of my best qualities.

Think. Think. Okay the main reason why my berth was chosen was because it is warm and dark. (note to self: clean room soon, you dolt)

So seeing that my torch was being uncooperative, I swung my miserable 60 watt, floral-motifed lampshaded reading bulb under my bed, hoping to make the environment less hospitable. Well it worked somewhat.

Mommy cat crept away and eyed me from the window sill. Whoa, I gave her all the room she wanted. Claw scratches are so last season.

No sense in blinding the kittens, so I moved the lamp but kept it lit to show mommy cat, who’s boss. Who da predator? Who da man? Apparently it was the 60 watt floral-motifed lampshaded reading bulb.

The babies began meowing and scratching and yes my friends, it drove me nuts. Why else would I be at the office by 7 am already Googling and Asking Jeeves for cat repellents and the SPCA.

Please, please may the cat take her kittens away.
I so don’t want to have to deliver them to the SPCA. Everybody knows that the animals are put down if there are no adoptive parents. My karma will be shot to bits. Yet YOU try living with a litter of kittens under your bed zealously guarded by the feline equivalent of Zena, Warrior Princess.

I was thinking about the cats throughout the day, from my meetings to my lunch to my buying the lottery. Thick skin again came in useful when I cajoled Jo to accompany me home to show the cat who is boss, again.

We plan to transfer the kids into a box, away from the dark so that mom would have no choice but to seek out alternate lodgings. Hence after work, armed with a cardboard box, bubble wrap to pick up the kitten with and a shaky resolve, we entered my room like a pair of burglars.

And lo and behold – the cats were gone!

Nothing scratched, nothing torn, everything clean as a whistle, well except paw prints on the walls and window sill. Thanks, Jo for being a willing hero.

Cat-astrophe adverted. I don’t have to worry wear I park my feet again. No rustling in the night. No big cat lustily eying my rug. No high-pitched meowing in the middle of the night.

Shucks, I hope they are alright.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Just breathe


Like pure water. Like vivid sand dunes. Like the heart-stopping blue of a cloudless sky.
Achievable only in the human sense with detachment as a prerequisite. Only when one is out of the picture does one actually see the picture and marvel at its magnificence.. or its utter absurdity.

I think we all have those bursts of moments when everything seems so perfectly clear. Yet it possess a momentum so weak that it is usually dissipates in a wink. Living in a society, we are too comfortable reacting. Like zombies, we do the same things everyday, succumb to the pressures of everyday, to abide by conventions because obedience is an easier path than to question.

We shrug our little shoulders and throw our arms in the air and declare “nothing I can do about it”, then proceed to blame someone else.

Little do I think of what my purpose is in the universe anymore. What ripples I create when I hurl rocks into my everyday relationships. What I do to my body, what I feed my mind, what I dispel with repugnance, what I embrace with love, I am just so busy reacting reacting reacting to even think anymore. Its autopilot turned on, off we go! Is it as good for you as it is for me?

It is an underrated virtue this clarity. I used to mock an acquaintance for wanting to be a philosopher. I think he has a better grasp of whats going on that I will ever have. A confused Japanese product of the jpop phenomenon, he is a soft-spoken enigma of his own. We hardly spoke the whole year since the day I welcomed him as a junior to my college. Yet it was he who, on my birthday, wrote me an existential essay and pinned in on my door. And he came just to carry my bags the day I left. Did we resonate in some way I hadn’t noticed?

Monday, May 09, 2005

Of fairy tales and regret

Strange indeed.
I suppose it is not uncommon to be effected by a tune or a movie, but a story book? I am not talking about paradigm shifting here or learning some irrelevent bits of trivia, but actually taking on the life expounded in the pages of books.

Take for instance Oscar Wilde. When I read him, I become terribly aloof in my own misguided superiority that manifests in my turning terribly rude. Then there was the time I digested a Buddhist script, I was on a puffy cloud of calm, which actually saved me from hysterics when I lost my camera a week later.

I am currently reading a novel set in Princeton and I am inexplicably drawn by this mad desire to study Faust.

Sigh. I had neglected to apply to Cambridge or Oxford because I was terrified of being surrounded by upper middle classmen who would naturally have pictures of ancestors gracing the hallowed halls. Of course I was wrong. Fear and embarrassment were stupid stupid stupid reasons not to send in my application. Especially after my personal tutor was egging me to do it.

On one weekend visit to Cambridge, I remember scaring the pants out of travel companion when I stood by a canal and cried my heart out in regret.

Well I did dismally at law school anyway. To be frank. I never truly worked.
Motivation came to me too late.

WWF Walkahunt 2005

Despite protests from my lower limbs, I maintain that the WWF Walkahunt 2005 was a great event. It cost only RM20 to enter and it was relatively easy going. Relative being the operative word here. Or is it just that I am getting better? (Doctor help! My head just prematurely swelled!)

As Rapid KL was the sponsor, the treasure hunt took us from the main roads to the train lines covering both PUTRA and STAR. My only complaint was that I didn’t have time to work out the anagrams. The hunt even took us to Chinatown where even a street urchin was dishing out free advice.

With 200 teams on the road, pandas were too common a sight. Participants had to exchange their first list of questions for a second one at Ampang Park then trudge to Maju Junction for part three.

Our 4-member team, solemnly baptised as Panda Panda, pushed on and at a junction had to split up to cover more ground. The division of labour worked well as for the first time in my hunting experience we actually submitted our answers on time with even 5 minutes to spare.

On hindsight I should have brought my clipboards and digital camera. And I should have tried harder to make a photocopy of the questions as sharing it between 4 clueless people reduced it to resemble dog-chewed homework.

Maya Karin gave out the prizes although I don’t know why as she stayed to give out the top three then vamoosed out of there.

In all it was a good experience. Especially because I had a good team that didn’t linger or give up. Made all the difference.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

A book for your thoughts

If I could do my degree again, without fear of having to feed myself upon graduation, I would take up English Lit.

In my childhood, when money was reserved for to more pressing needs, books were a heady indulgence. Generally local libraries were poorly stocked but I thank heavens that my primary school library saw the wisdom in getting Enid Blytons in. Poring over enchanted trees and naughty golliwogs, my lifelong love affair with books began innocently enough.

But what actually sealed it was my biggest treat yet. 1995- a college first year, English A2. I was introduced to Chinua Achebe by venerable Ms Angela.

Then I was fed with Orwell. Then F.Scott Fitzgerald. Tennessee Williams. Keats. Douglas Adams. Nadine Gordimer. And oh, Oscar Wilde. From Antigone to Wuthering Heights, such a diet can only leave one craving for more. Kids stuff for the most of my European peers but I loved every page, word and punctuation mark.

It made not being good looking, popular or even likeable for that matter irrelevant.

And as I see the same books tentatively appearing on our local shelves, I am glad but I wonder if people pick them up? I hope with all my heart they do as if the stores realise that they aren’t being profitable, they will disappear and break my heart.

And people ask me why I fancy eccentric English professors.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

What's in a name?

I had the pleasure for meeting Mr Ramli Ibrahim on Friday. And Mr Siva Natarajan, resident artist of Sutra House. Soft-spoken and passionate about their art, they somehow radiate a serenity that left me envious. I figure it comes with being devoted to something higher then yourself.

My name left them wondering, I think I look too oriental to carry such a traditional name. Nevetheless they were amused and I was charmed.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

I took this picture at Cameron Highlands when I was there on holiday. Just before I left the UK, my friend Polly gave me a plastic sunflower pin. I have sadly lost it since and I have been looking for one ever since. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Ele-fun fun fun

How to possibly be serious when one meets a red elephant with dinner plate eyes that seem to return your stare with equal amusement?

It was a thrilling afternoon. Not only had I the pleasure of visiting Yusof Gajah’s gallery but to be driven to his studio by none other than his wife to meet the artist extraordinare in person – surreal!

I was apprehensive of meeting Mr Gajah for the first time. Eccentrics artists are a dime a dozen. A reflection of creative genius I think. Looking very much the part, he is a quiet, serious man but with sharp dry wit. With a long beard and curly silver hair he reminds me of A.Samad Said. Only with more frizz.
He is completing a new collection entitled : the other side of the elephant. I have already spotted my favourite.

Well, I got to meet another creative heavyweight (pun unintentionally, I swear), Mr Harris Ribut. I think he would not think much of me by this comparison but he is the Bolero of the East. Actually I am wrong to say that. His style if different even though they share the same fascination for voluptuous curves particularly on women.
And to think after having lunch with the Gajahs, they actually drove us to the Artist Colony to meet Mr Harris. Gosh, it’s great to represent a corporate sponsor!

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Back in action, baby

After a month long hiatus, the drama queen in back. Live and in your face. Okay, that is about as much attitude I can muster.

April was a good month. Celebrated a birthday, took a holiday, got a part time job, doubled my caffine intake, wrote a travel commentary, saved my brother from starvation and still managed to find time to put on another 3 kilos.

Watch this space!