Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.

Even with Robert Frost telling us the mundane details, we all know how that poem goes since most of us, as much as we might want to, can't travel in both directions at once. In fact most times there are even more choices available to us which makes the decisions ever more crucial.

After going through the various pros and cons of whatever outcomes possible to make the final decision, I rarely think back on the whys and wherefores after. Short of having a magical time machine readily available, there is very little we can do to reverse a momentous decision already made.

There are times when we stumble onto the more challenging path in life - possibly what everyone else would erroneously label as the wrong turn. Just because the road travelled gets more strenuous at certain junctions doesn't make it wrong.

Still as fallible human beings, we do occasionally indulge in wondering about the What Ifs. What if I'd gone down the other road in the yellow wood? What if I'd found a more beautiful pasture with a Spanish hacienda filled with bountiful treasure and staffed by dark-haired, brown-eyed Adonises? What if? What if.

Oh yeah a bit of Pietro Boselli would definitely make that decision so much easier. 

Isn't it a wonder why we always envisage reasonably optimistic outcomes rather than conceive horrific endings instead? Yes, what if something better had come along - but what if you'd walked down that road only to fall into a dark pit full of snakes and spiders? Ever thought of that?

Maybe it's a pitfall of the job but I've always seen far worse outcomes than whatever I'm facing currently. Really, I could be battling far worse than an irritating pen-pushing bureaucracy.

If only I could turn back time indeed!

Though I might put them onto pen and paper, I've tried not to fixate on alternate realities that could be; preferring instead to direct my attentions to what I could do now. Very little we can do about regret. Instead of focusing on the What Ifs, perhaps change it into thinking about the future. Work towards what you want instead - think about What Can You Do.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Brutes, Brigands & Bandits

Friend : Oh when are you moving? I heard you have a brand new place? 
Paul : It's not really ready yet. Cabinets and all. Still needs that final touches here and there. 

At least that's what I usually reiterate when questioned. Surprisingly frequent these days. Apparently it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good house must immediately move in.

Truth be told the brass key to the gates of Hartfield has been hidden in my front pocket for the past few months or so. The walls are done, the lights are up and the only hitch would be me repeatedly cautioning the fanatical contractors against placing up the final fittings before it's ready for the dazzling debut.

Though the thought of finally bringing out Hartfield to society thoroughly thrills me, there is still a little nagging splinter of worry in my ever anxious mind. That's all due to the brutes, brigands and bandits that abound in that remote district. As much as I adore the vast breadth of Hartfield, that doesn't make me forget that it also lies in the similarly vast, unexplored remoteness of the dreaded Backwoods.

Practically terra incognita in these parts since they cleared parts of some uncharted wildlands for the building of Hartfield.

Maybe the rolling mists would be able to hide Hartfield from the barbarous bands of brigands. 

Sounds almost romantic, you might say! True enough; perusing through the tattered pages of one of my favourite novels Wuthering Heights while reliving the harrowing tale of the tragic Earnshaws might seem riveting ... but the very real thought of residing by myself in a lone mansion amongst the lonely, rugged moors without a single neighbour for miles would be a tad too overwhelming.

Especially with so many blackguards roaming the lawless Backwoods. With the degree of policing even in the more populated districts being quite suspect, you can imagine how shockingly criminal this lonely, inaccessible area could be. Probably would drive me insane with creeping paranoia.

Is it any wonder Heathcliff went just a bit batty living all alone - if you don't count the help - in the moors?

Calvin : So that means you'll never move? 
Paul : I'll just wait it out. 
Calvin : Wait for? 
Paul : Wait for the other residents to move in. 
Calvin : To have a more convivial atmosphere? 
Paul : No, to provide alternative targets. Let's make sure the raiders and robbers get the fill of all the other homes in the Backwoods first.

Good idea, no?

Perhaps I've just gotten a little too comfortable in Netherfield. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Crouch Rice

Certainly got your attention innit?

Loosely translated into our colloquial Malay, it basically means nasi kangkang. Allegedly a potent love potion brewed by lustful women who crouch over steamed rice to add a dose of their womanly essences; rice which is later served to the virile object of their wanton desire.

Something seemingly wildly mystical and quite impossible to find in our modern world, you say?

Well, you'd be wrong - since lately we've started to suspect Diffident David of being the unwilling ( or so we think ) target of just such sly witchcraft. What else could it possibly be when his crafty landlady keeps him extremely close at hand at all times - even messaging to keep tabs on his whereabouts - and performs special favours for him.

And him only.

The Countess makes her move. 

Hereby given the title of Countess Crouch. Despite her singularly unprepossessing looks and charm, David finds himself unable to tear himself from her clutches. Unbeknownst to all of us before, the Countess has spent the last few months preparing particular meals only for David and no one else. Suspiciously enough, she doesn't taste a single sliver of the specialties prepared for him.

David : No la. She isn't that bad. 
Paul : I'm sure you think so. 
David : She's just nice enough to prepare meals for me. 
Paul : That is free. All the time. 
David : Yes. 
Paul : That she doesn't partake of herself but watches you eat. 
David : Yes. 
Paul : She also cooks for you dishes that she dislikes eating. 
David : Yes. 
Paul : And none of this makes you suspicious. 
David : Well now I'm a little bit worried. 

Practically on cue, his cellphone rings only for the Countess to recall him home. Can anyone blame her growing insecurities? Surely she can't allow him to be that far away from her devilish influence for too long a time. After all there's only so much enchanted steamed rice she can feed the fellow!

Honestly though I think the Countess Crouch would make a perfect match for Diffident David. Perhaps her dark sorcery might be enough to shake him right out of his much dreaded homosexuality. And even if she doesn't, wouldn't she make just the perfect beard?

Monday, March 07, 2016

An Education Direction

With the uncertain oil prices compelling the companies here to invariably rightsize, there's a dark pall of discontent hanging over the harried citizens quite as thick as the hazy shroud that gradually envelops the city environs this time of year. Not a terribly jolly new year this time around which fits my mood quite perfectly.

Even Charming Calvin finds himself in a bit of a tight spot with the oil and gas companies undergoing the recent distressing downturn. Warning breakfast burritos have been followed by termination letters for the unfortunate few in his office which is reason enough it seems to return to one of his earlier ventures.

Though of course if Pietro Boselli taught me math, I would be all eyes and ears.
And hands. But that's something else entirely.


Paul : Tuition again? 
Calvin : Why not? I enjoy math and physics anyhow. 
Paul : Don't think I'd be able to teach anything! The students would drive me crazy. 
Calvin : Doesn't bother me much. 
Paul : Sure you won't be teaching them absolute rubbish? 
Calvin : I'll go through the coursework first of course. 
Paul : You wouldn't prefer selling healthy lunches

Really think that would be far more profitable but even my stirring sales pitch failed to ignite the enthusiasm of a singularly unmoved Madame Borgia who insists that her low-fat, low-calorie, low-sugar meals-to-go are purely made for one - and one only.

But I digress.

Undeterred, our Calvin has decided to stick to what he knows best - and that's presumably mathematics and science - which is why he's decided to offer tutoring services again. There's some thought of refurbishing the upper floors of Netherfield into a charmingly reasonable space for adolescent education once there are enough students around to fulfil the quota.

Really starting to have vague recollections of Plumfield over here with shades of Professor Bhaer. Would I then be Jo? Perhaps I would be a tad tempted to pitch in if I even knew what subject to teach. English perhaps? A bit of Art?

So this weekend was spent searching for public spaces to place up our notices in search of willing students. Know of any?

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

The Secret of the Borgias II : Shifting the Gates of Hell

Sometimes quite literally.

There's not much more I can write about the infamous Forteresse de Borgia - that remote, heavily fortified family compound of Calvin's secretive brethren. Till now he hasn't entirely convinced me that the reason his parents are so reluctant to leave the demesne behind isn't because of a mysterious hell portal hidden deep underneath the quietly unassuming wooden floors.

Since surely the chosen guardians can't simply leave their sacred posts behind! One does not simply walk away from the Forteresse.

Despite having another family stronghold recently erected amongst the rest of their clan a stone's throw away, there has been no mention whatsoever of departing. Having the entire clan summarily relocate to the new compound hasn't managed to persuade Madame Borgia to move an inch. In fact there was even some rash talk of having the new place sold lock, stock and barrel to the highest bidder.

Or so she made us all think.

Just last weekend - lo and behold - his mama the redoubtable Madame Borgia made a sudden, unprecedented pronouncement.

Madame : We shall move. Next month. 
Paul : Wow. That was sudden. 
Madame : It has been foretold by the gods. 
Paul : Seriously I have so many questions. 
Calvin : Shh. 
Benedicta : We shall pack, mama. 

Obviously the rest of the Borgias - even Charming Calvin - didn't see fit to ask a single question about their impending movement to what I'm now calling Casa de Borgia. What the Madame imperiously dictates; apparently happens with these shockingly obedient, unquestioning children!

Madame : Yes we are moving.
Calvin : But you refused a while ago.
Madame : The timing wasn't right then.
Calvin : What changed?
Madame : Everything ...and perhaps nothing.

Maddeningly cryptic.

Since no one has cared to wonder why ( aren't they even the teensiest bit curious? ), it has certainly raised dozens of questions in my head. Why the move? What initiated the move? Why now? Utterly deferential to her mother's edicts, biddable Benedicta didn't even raise the slightest demur so I had to interrogate the marginally more fractious Calvin instead.

Paul : Your parents have had the new place for almost two years. 
Calvin : Yes. 
Paul : Your extended family moved there more than a year back. 
Calvin : Yes.
Paul : But your parents have never thought of moving ever. 
Calvin : Yes. 
Paul : They do visit the new place occasionally. 
Calvin : Yes. 
Paul : So it took them two years to suddenly decide. 
Calvin : Yes. 
Paul : I've figured it out. 
Calvin : Yes? 
Paul : Actually the two years was spent trying to move the dreaded hell portal to the new home so that you have more family members to watch over it. Since the hell demons were slowly breaking through, they figured they needed help guarding the portal!
Calvin : ....

Really. Isn't that the most logical reason for the move?