Friday, July 20, 2012

Bieber fever

Caitlin's interest in Justin Bieber (JB) has waned a little compared to the earlier days of 'Baby, Baby' and other songs in his earlier album (or albums?) as JB has been overtaken by boy-band One Direction (OD) recently. She will belt out OD's 'What Makes You Beautiful' and 'One Thing' in the car when it comes on the radio, and even in the shower....

However, when MTV held their MTV World Stage 2012 concert here in KL on July 14 with JB as the opening act, the 'Belieber' (his latest album is 'Believe' and popular hit is 'Boyfriend' -- that's as much as I know), she said she wanted to go to the concert. She was lucky as E managed to get passes (no tickets sold) as his company was one of the sponsors.

The concert was a standing-room only type at the Sunway Lagoon Surf Beach.
We got there on time and the place was super-crowded. The weather was good but being Malaysia, it was terribly humid, and out in the open, with thousands of bodies inches away from each other, you can imagine how much heat and sweat were produced. E had to piggyback C on his shoulders most of the time for her to see the stage or large screen on either side.

The crowd, as expected in popular concerts, were hyper with their cheers and screams, and there were many carrying posters bearing crazy-fan messages like "I love you Justin", "Will you marry me, Justin?" etc etc. Being among the crowd made me feel old .....and I had to resist rolling my eyes (at least my hairs didn't stand!) with all the young girls screaming everytime JB said something cool like "swag" or flipped his hair.....

JB sang for quite some time, then the other performers, K-pop girl group Kara, Korean singer Jay Park and our own Mizz Nina, took over.  After two hours watching JB and Kara, C said she had enough so we left the concert and headed over to the mall for dinner. C was happy :)

And this is what I meant about all the crazy screaming fans....found this (there's many more) on YouTube.

And this is the 10-year-old crazy fan:

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Remembering grandparents

There are things I remember about my grandparents, mainly of my maternal and paternal grandmas, and my paternal grandpa. I can't remember much of my maternal grandpa as he passed away when I was just about to turn four in 1972, but I remember what he looked like and the house that he lived in. I remember the year because my mum said it was when she was pregnant with my younger brother who was born later in December.

In two days' time on 14 July, it will be my maternal grandma's fourth death anniversary. She left us in 2008 after three weeks in hospital and two surgeries. My paternal grandma died as the world was celebrating the turn of a new decade, between 31 December 1989 and 1 January 1990 while my paternal grandpa died in the early 90s. I don't know why I don't remember the year, but I know I had just started my first few years of working life.

I have good memories of all my grandparents. I lived with my paternal grandparents from the age of five or six in our hometown, when I started one year of kindergarten before going to primary school. My parents were in another state because of my dad's work posting in a plantation so when I had to start school, my grandparents took care of me until I was 11 when my younger brother had to start school. Then, he and my mum came back to our hometown to be with us. My older brother was studying in Singapore then.

For a whole year when I was 10 however, I went to live with my maternal grandma. It was because my other grandma had to go to Singapore to help my uncle look after his family as his wife was very ill.

My paternal grandma was very good in sewing. She sewed many nice dresses, school uniforms and pyjamas for me with her old, traditional sewing machine, the kind which you use both legs to pedal to get it going.  She also made quite a number of patchwork blankets, floor rugs, and little cloth bags for me to carry my tumbler and food container to school using cloth scraps she got from her friends and tailors. She was a Teochew who came from China as a young girl, but she could also speak Hakka, Mandarin, a smattering of colloquial Malay and some English words. She could read and write in Mandarin. Every weekend, I would ask her to translate the comic pages of her Sin Chew Jit Poh Mandarin newspaper to me and she would do so patiently. She also listened to Chinese dramas on the radio in the afternoons in the kitchen while going about her work.

What I remember about my maternal grandma was her gentleness and soft-spoken nature. She was a good cook and could whip up many authentic Hakka dishes for the entire family (children and their spouses, and grandchildren) during Sunday lunch. Her red rice wine pork, steamed stuffed squid, and yong tau foo were most memorable. She had nine children. She was a Hakka who was born and bred in Mauritius but later came to this country. She could also read and write in Mandarin and understood some Malay and English. I guess those days, you can't avoid not knowing Malay and English having to live in colonial Malaya. I remember she used to read the Nanyang Siang Pau Mandarin newspaper and also listened to the radio in the kitchen, but I remember her listening to the news, and not dramas like my paternal grandma. When I was older, already working and married here in KL, she was always glad to see us when we visited her and she would take my hand and kiss it.

Meanwhile, my paternal grandfather was a man of his time. He too, was a Hakka, and came from China as a young man. With his brother and cousin, they set up a pawn shop which I believe did pretty well considering those days. I remember a black and white portrait of him looking rather dapper in a suit and hat (was there a cane?). He went around in a rickshaw (according to my mum, probably that was before I was born), and later he paid someone with a car to send him home from work. He was quite strict with his grandchildren, me in particular since I was the only one who lived with him before my younger brother joined us. No talking at all while eating was what I remember most clearly. And if we misbehaved, a quick knock on our heads with his knuckles did the job in jolting us out of our mischief! But come Chinese New Year, he would buy lots and lots of firecrackers for us to play with every night. He was also a rather heavy smoker, having started smoking from his teens or early 20s, right up to his 70s, afterwhich he developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in his later years which was the cause of his death. He had smoker's cough and coughed up lots of phlegm all day. He also drank a lot of Chinese tea. My grandma made Chinese tea in a big teapot, about 2-litre in size at least, and the teapot was kept warm in a wooden box lined with thick padded fabric, on the kitchen counter. He was an avid gardener and our garden was filled with orchid plants everywhere.  I used to bring huge bouquets of assorted orchids for my teachers on Teachers' Day. Imagine how much a bunch of such flowers would cost these days.

According to my mum, my paternal grandfather was in the police force. I think he was an inspector and he used to be out of town quite a lot, leaving my grandmother to hold the fort at home with all her children. It is an amazing feat, to say the least, doing all the household chores and caring for so many kids. Compared to nowadays, how many women, even if they are housewives, would have that many kids, and be able to do everything without the help of at least one foreign maid? The memory of my paternal grandfather is rather foggy except for the image I have of the double story link house he lived in along a main road called Jalan Kubu. I remember him lying in a bed downstairs, in the area behind the living room. My older brother, who was about five or six then, and I would play on the wooden staircase and also explore the rooms upstairs. We would sit on the steps of the staircase and descend by shuffling down on our bum-bums step by step. One of the rooms upstairs had a peep-hole on the wooden floor and we would peep through it to spy on what was happening in the living room downstairs.

There's more I could say about my grandparents but for now, I guess that's all. I was prompted to write this post in the advent of my maternal grandmother's death anniversary, as her death marked the end of my life with grandparents.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Adopting a kitten

There's a lot of 'wildlife' in my neighbourhood and its surroundings -- birds, snakes, rats, monkeys, iguanas, feral dogs and cats. Those are the ones that I've come across so far.  This is partly because our housing development is nearby some forests and undeveloped land. I will talk about cats because they happen to be the most annoying to me at this point in time.

Birds fly away after stealing Rusty's food pellets, while the monkeys, iguanas and dogs are outside the perimeter fencing of our 'taman'. But the cats, they have invaded our roads and back alleys. They defecate in your garden, and reproduce. They also create a ruckus with their loud fights and mating calls which lead to all the dogs in the neighbourhood barking non-stop. They continue to populate the neighbourhood and back alleys of our homes because some neighbours like to feed them. They may think they are being kind but they don't realise that they are making the situation worse. They also say that it is good to have them around so that the snakes and rats can be controlled. I think that there other more effective ways to control snakes and rats.

Some neighbours have adopted the cats as their pets. Some know how to care for them responsibly by spaying or neutering them, providing them proper living arrangements, healthcare, food and litter boxes. Some, however, do not know or care so much. They leave them roaming outside to defecate in neighbours' compounds leaving a foul stench, and don't spay or neuter them, which then leads to these pets mating among themselves and with the ferals/strays.

Recently two cats gave birth and the kittens have been roaming around my back alley with their mamas. Over the past two months, some of the kittens have disappeared. They either died, moved away or have been taken by people I believe.

C is an animal lover and in the past year, she has developed a strong interest in cats. When she goes out cycling on some evenings, her main purpose is to look for cats, observe and try to play with them. So of course when she discovered two kittens hanging around behind our house, she went on a mission to 'rescue' them. For two weeks, she was always on the lookout for them but never succeeded in catching any.

Last Thursday, one kitten was deep in slumber and she managed to creep up behind it and caught it with her bare hands. The mama cat was not around. She has the intention of keeping it as her pet but she knows we've always 'forbidden' it, so she made up the excuse that she's rescuing it so that we can put it up for adoption to give it a better home. We are concerned because she has allergies. She once got into a sneezing fit and had teary eyes and some welts after playing with a cat outside on the road, came home with fur all over her clothes.... Furthermore, we have Rusty and that's enough of pets at home. We can't afford to feed another mouth and even if C takes full responsibility in caring for the cat, I'd still have to be the 'assistant' while she's at school,  help shop for supplies or drive it to the vet if it's sick!

According to this website, feral cats are hard to tame and if we need to control their population, the Trap, Neuter and Release (TNR) method should be employed. "TNR helps the community by stabilizing the population of the feral colony and, over time, reducing it. At the same time, nuisance behaviors such as spraying, excessive noisemaking and fighting are largely eliminated, and no more kittens are born." However, I think it will be difficult to employ this TNR method here unless it becomes a serious problem. I also wonder if the local authorities or SPCA or other animal welfare group will have the resources to do it....

The female kitten is about two months old and is able to eat solid food. However, the mama cat hangs around our backyard every morning and evening and a mewing 'conversation' between mother and offspring ensues.... I don't like the idea of separating the poor kitty from the mama but of course, letting it loose back out there is also not an option since C has already got it, and also it would then grow up to be another reproducing cat. I've got some word out to get it adopted but so far these few days there are no takers. I'm hoping that it can get adopted soon by a loving and responsible person who will care for it and spay it. It would be good too if we can get the mama cat and also spay it and let it out in the 'wild' like TNR but it's very hard to 'catch'  a feral cat without the proper tools/trap.

So for now, we're doing what's necessary to shelter and feed the cat and keep it within a small confined space at the back of the house so that it doesn't run loose and mess up our home, or cross path with Rusty....

I'm still undecided if I should spay it. A check in several websites give different information about how old the cat has to be before it can go under the knife. Some say two months, others six months.....and I'm unwilling to spend too much money on what is currently a temporary arrangement. However, C is of course secretly hoping that she gets to keep it....

Anyone out there can provide advice, suggestions for solutions or interested to adopt this little kitty? Check it out here.