Thursday, August 28, 2014

Once Upon a Ramen

Once upon a time, there lived a little prince in a secluded castle far, far away. With him were his parents, both ardent lovers of all things horticulture and bucolic which was why they brought their little son with them to live miles away from life in the bustling capital. In that wooded castle built on miles of rolling hills, sheltered from the rigors of city life, our prince grew up tutored in all the arts of music, math and principles. 

Peculiar principles which were taught to him almost on a daily basis - one of which included the abject warning from his loving but stern parents NOT to play with his food. In fact above the family altar there was a golden spoon with that particular motto emblazoned on the handle. 'Play Not With Thou Food.'

Calvin : Oh that's a vegetable. They don't really talk much. Definitely can't dance.
Friend : Hmm. 

Calvin : My parents usually grind and crush them so they can't possibly rebel. 

For whatever reason the little prince never knew for he was a quiet, obedient child who never saw fit to question his occasionally authoritative parents. And after all, there was little he could do to even talk to the food placed in front of him - nutritious, vegetable-laden meals who didn't seem to have much to tell him. Surely he would never have a chance to even play with the food. 

But one day when his parents were away to do whatever royal parents were wont to do, the little prince was left very much to his own devices. Eschewing the prepared meal left behind by his mother - a grainy, mealy green gunk supposedly full of fibre and vitamins, our prince decided to step outside for a look to see what there was to enjoy. 

And lo and behold, there was a bowl of noodles right at his doorstep. A bowl of spicy, scrumptious ramen to be exact, adorned with layers of heavenly pork. No one knew exactly how long it had been there, or who exactly had delivered it but the scent of the spices seemed to draw the little prince in. 

Rather than just sit still in the bowl as the nutritious meals were wont to do, the noodles crept out of the bowl and decided to dance a waltz. Curiously enough! Never had the prince seen such a shocking sight for who could ever have known that there would be a Waltzing Ramen Monster. Was that what his parents had been talking about? 

Taken aback, he rushed back into the castle searching for a weapon but found only the golden spoon. As the noodles reached to draw him into the dance, he smacked it with the spoon which caused it to fall to the ground lifeless. Little did he know that the golden spoon had been used by his ancestors to clear the forests of rampant noodle creatures centuries before. 

Seeing his returning parents about to come over the rise, he packed the noodles back into the bowl and hurriedly buried it. At least now he knew why his parents had always told him not to play with the food. Obviously they liked to dance, something his parents expressly forbade in the castle. 

So from that day forward, the little prince decided to stay away from ramen. 

And definitely never to dance. 

At least that's what I think must have happened to Charming Calvin in his youth. No doubt the Waltzing Ramen Monster must have haunted his dreams ever since. Otherwise how to explain his peculiar aversion to ramen?

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Posted by savante at 4:49 PM 0 comments

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Powder Room

Unless you personally design your own mansion from the ground up, you'll generally find that most housing developers here build surprisingly small bathrooms into their cookie-cutter generic designs. No matter the size of the house, or even the bedroom in question, you'll find toilets here remarkably minuscule. With the recent trend leaning towards vast sumptuous mini spas in the home, I simply cannot fathom why they would insert a singularly cramped cubby-hole - almost as a forgotten aside - as the supposed ensuite bathroom for an extensive bedroom.

I mean I don't expect to organize a full-on mind-blowing orgy with the entire football team in the bathroom but at least give me reasonable space for one broad-shouldered quarterback and me!

All I can think of is that toilets are customarily considered negative places that should be closed off or ignored in traditional feng shui - all thanks to the days where bathrooms tended to be horribly derelict outhouses left forsaken in the farthest reaches of the manse. Surely that's the reason for the tiny toilets, yes?

So I can strut across the bathroom tiles dropping clothes like this?

Whatever it is, I have decided to knock down part of the bedroom to allow space for the adjoining bathroom. I don't see why I should have a severely restricted closet to have a shower and shave! Along with the imagined plans for Hartfield, I sketched in a larger window right next to the shower area - which prompted a horrified response from Charming Calvin.

Calvin : Is that a window? 
Paul : Yeah, I figured I needed more light in the bathroom so why not get large windows that stretch almost to the floor. 
Calvin : It's right next to the shower!
Paul : Yes, I know. I drew that. 
Calvin : Your neighbours can see right in!
Paul : I can wave hello. 
Calvin : You'd be naked!
Paul : So? I don't have body image issues. 
Calvin : What would the neighbours think!
Paul : Am I supposed to care? 
Calvin : They might take pictures!
Paul : Well I hope I look good in them. 

Which sufficiently explains why toilets here have such miserably microscopic vents for windows.

Frankly I don't really care. So what if the curious neighbours peek in? Seems I get less bothered about what the rest of the world thinks the older I get. What's wrong about having a shower en déshabillé in the privacy of my own home? There are times when I'm barely dressed at home, especially with the infernal heat of the tropics. In my time I've even gone skinny dipping on some of the secluded beaches - without the interference of our overly judgemental moral police.

Honestly if I had a sculpted physique like Chris Evans, I would probably be parading naked all the time.

But compromises have to be made, at least to satisfy Calvin who's practically up in arms over the shocking impropriety of said bathroom. For my prudish Calvin's sake, perhaps the windows would only come down to about waist level. Surely that's enough to placate the delicate sensibilities of everyone in question?

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Posted by savante at 3:17 PM 2 comments

Friday, August 22, 2014


Ten years into the job and very little surprises ye olde cynical me anymore. From the ludicrous to the macabre, we've seen the farcical mysteries of life spin through the halls of the hospital. Surprise long-hidden stepfamily creeps out from the cracks at the deathbed? Seen that. Miracle infant pops out from teenage girl after months of mysterious stomach ailments? Seen that. Nurse and physician, both supposedly married, having an afternoon delight in the linen closet to burn calories? Seen that.

Rather than have my nurses assume I've turned into a dispassionate android, I've even managed to school my usually impassive features into at least some animated semblance of surprise, ready to activate the moment something seemingly impossible happens. At least have a ready gasp of amazement.

Then I get something like this. 

Friend : Hey, are you free this weekend? 
Paul : Sure. What's up? 
Friend : Do you know where I could score some weed? 
Paul : What? 
Friend : You know. Weed. 
Paul : What? 
Friend : To smoke with?
Paul : I know weed but what?
Friend : So you know where to get it? Or at least a fella who deals? 
Paul : OMG.

Yes, things still do surprise me apparently. 

Though I might usually appear worldly and quite sophisticated, some questions still leave me completely non-plussed! Gosh I felt like I was back in college. Sure I might have some vague idea where to find such contraband products - we tend to have a motley crew of patients from all walks of life, even some of the darker byways - but do I appear so shockingly permissive that I would condone such reckless behaviour?

I'm gay, not irresponsible.

Dammit I told her not to smoke that reefer in the office.

Generally having sane adults getting high and stoned doesn't bother me, as long as it's within limits. So go ahead and smoke it in Amsterdam, even bake it in delish brownies if you want - but don't do this at home, especially if you're here in Malaysia. In case some of us have casually forgotten, the Malaysian legislation provides a mandatory death penalty for convicted drug traffickers. Individuals arrested in possession of 15 grams of heroin or 200 grams of marijuana are presumed by law to be trafficking in drugs.

It's illegal. So kids, take this as a friendly warning. 

And yes, even if you're a reasonably mature adult, you never know when you're just gonna go over the brink when it comes to an addiction.

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Posted by savante at 3:58 PM 0 comments

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Enabler Parent

With helicopter-parenting being ever in vogue, is it any surprise that modern hospitals have scrambled to accomodate the ever-growing crowds of parents wishing to accompany their children into the operating theatre? Supposedly it reduces psychological trauma for the child and eases the induction process. Honestly there's so much pressure to keep up with the perfect parenting Joneses that it seems almost taboo for any supposedly caring parents to admit that they would rather remain patiently in the waiting room.

Of course that all depends on the discretion of the anaesthesiologist. 

For me, it all depends on the parent. There are certain tough yet tender disciplinarians who actually manage to successfully allay their child's increasing stress just by being present in the room. With a touch, a glance,  a word, that's all it takes for them to get their anxious child in order. I've even seen one military father who just stood at attention at the door while keeping a stern eye on his son who literally frogmarching to the operating table. Seems almost like parenting magic. 

Keep steady, boy. 

And then there are the enabler parents. 

What can I say? I assume they would be the ones desperately trying - but woefully failing - to corral their screaming brats in shopping malls. Since not only do these enabler parents fail miserably in pacifying the paediatric patient, they actually amplify their child's distress by adding their own. 

Nurse : Could you come look at the patient? 
Paul : That small boy? Isn't his mother with him? 
Nurse : Yes. And that's the problem.
Paul : He was perfectly alright a moment ago. Said he wasn't in pain at all.
Nurse : That's not the problem at all. 
Paul : Oh, what is it? 
Nurse : I think the mother's a pain instead. 
Paul : Oh. 

And rather than help with the child's anxiety, the mother just gets increasingly more agitated. Which serves to excite the child, which... yeah it enters a hysterical cycle. So much so that we usually feel like sedating the parent instead. 

So yes, if you feel yourself unable to handle the stress, don't feel obligated. Please remain outside instead. 


Posted by savante at 2:54 PM 0 comments

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Finding Hartfield

Since there's a significant lease tagged to the house keys, Netherfield was always meant to be a temporary domicile till a new one was secured. Never expected for us to remain so long - has it really been almost three years? - or for any of us to grow so much attached to this bit of land with lush tropical backwoods to spare.

But it isn't forever.

Despite being a farflung outpost on this side of the Big Puddle, the fair city has never run short of housing projects. In fact there seems to be far more developments than there are honest citizens in this city, so much so I have no idea how they would ever manage to make a sale. But wealthy merchants there are aplenty here so they need never fear.

Quick stroll one afternoon through one of the neverending housing fairs here was all it took for me to pick out a place. Location was right, size was right, price seemed alright...  Never been one to haggle for long over a sale so I signed for the house before the loudly overenthusiastic salesman could even finish his usual spiel.

Yes, this looks like Hartfield. Or at least it shall be. 

Which is how I found Hartfield, a relatively new area of town repurposed from the swampy wetlands that makes up most of the city. Boasting of a new road to the city which would make it roughly the same travelling distance to the city centre as Netherfield!

Now that all happened a year back, which is about the time it took to get the place ready. Keys haven't been handed over yet but I've already taken several pictures of the area with more than a few idea on how to decorate the place. Slightly large in size than Netherfield yet much more modern in outlook, Hartfield just needs a few tweaks here and there to make it largely liveable. Have plans to extend most of the ground floor, enlarging the dining and living areas. Perhaps even a grand kitchen with a bartop ( or a banquette ) breakfast area.

Sometimes makes me wonder about my choice of career when I find far more joy and fulfilment trying to rearrange the upstairs bathroom - with a view to having a clawfooted bathtub by the window - than in my normal everyday work. But then perhaps it's usual to enjoy designing and building your own space.

Will of course try my best to avoid falling into the Chinese towkay design pitfall of flashy, shiny ornaments.

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Posted by savante at 2:34 PM 0 comments