Kampungkayell

Food, life, and fun in my "kampung,"(village), KL (Kuala Lumpur). Did I mention "food?"

Blessings!

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

It's the last day of the year.

While 2004 hobbles on it's last legs, 2005 is having a very difficult birth.

The scenes on TV of death and destruction rip at any feeling being's heart and it would be so easy to give in to that burden of sadness brought on by the devastation.

But the lesson that has been reinforced in me is to remember the blessings that have been given to us. The blessing of a loved one by my side. The blessing of waking up in a comfortable bed in a comfortable house with my health. The blessing of having a loving family (this includes my extended family and in laws). The blessing of being able to enjoy my work.

This New Year's Eve, I will raise a glass in memory of those who suffered at the hands of the Tsunami and say a prayer for their families. Do spare a moment and pray for their quick recovery from this terrible terrible incident.

Allan and I have been doing some research about aid and how it's distributed and the result, is that we've decided to donate money instead of donating in kind. The thing is, most aid agencies who are experienced at this sort of thing usually find it difficult logistically to get the aid to the places that most need it. So as a measure of practicality, we decided to donate cash.

If you're interested in that option, have a look at CARE. It's an organisation that not only provides relief but also stays on to try and rebuild the community. And they have a secure online option to donate if you so wish.

Tonight, in celebration of all the blessings I've received present and future, in the company of my friends and loved ones, I am going to raise a glass to all, envelop them in my arms and say "I love you."

A Blessed New Year to all!

Quiz from blogthings.com

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy





Your Dominant Intelligence is Interpersonal Intelligence



You shine in your ability to realate to and understand others.
Good at seeing others' points of view, you get how people think and feel.
You have an uncanny ability to sense true feelings, intentions, and motivations.
A natural born leader, you are great at teaching and mediating conflict.

You would make a good counselor, salesperson, politician, or business person.



Front Page of Life & Times, New Straits Times

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy


Just Heavenly's Front Page in NST Posted by Hello

My Gosh! Front page. Never happened to us before. It was such a privilege and an honour. Allan and I have been so blessed ever since we started this business. The new friends we've made, the support we've been given by friends and family and the growth of the business itself.

Thank you all and we'll endeavour to continue designing dreams and serving pleasure! ;-)

Tragedy Strikes! Hope Endures!

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Has anyone physically sat around and counted up to 1,000,000?

I mean, we all understand the number as a concept but have we actually experienced the sheer vastness of the number?

That's the number of people displaced as a result of this Natural Disaster not to mention the 12,000 or so who died. These were people like you and me who were sitting around, probably enjoying their time with family and friends when all of a sudden a wall of water comes crashing on them like so much concrete and either crushed them or just stole their lives away.

Each of their stories are now lost. Each of the little sparks that lit their family and friend's lives have been extinguished. Their shared experiences have become inaccessible to us except through vicarious means. All this in the blink of an eye.

Allan came to bed last night on the verge of tears. He summed it up with "it's so sad to see." We said a short prayer for all those who suffered and asked God to shine hope in their lives. Wish we could do more.

Some hopeful stories;

A friend's Uncle and Aunt were driving in Phuket when they saw the wave coming in. They turned round and sped off and missed the wave by a few minutes. The same friend's brother in law was on Koh Phi Phi off Phuket and they had just left on the boat for the mainland when they saw the wave crashing into the island. They did not know where to go. Somehow, they made it back to Phuket in one piece.

When it's not your time, God is not going to ask you to return home, no matter what danger you might be in.

On the other hand, I pray and hope that all the people who suffered through this will experience a quick healing and recovery.

We Wish You A Merry X'mas

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

The Malay Mail reported today that the brother of the groom who left the bride at the "altar" as it were said that "he was under a spell."

How about personal responsibility? How about having the two young 'uns talk things out? Or better yet, have the families work it out? How about the groom saying I'm sorry? How about the Mother stop blaming fate? Yup, that was the other thing that was reported. Poor fate! Get's blamed for everything. When do we take responsibility? Many Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, all like to go ahead and leave it to God.

Surely there's a balance though. We still need to do our best don't we? We still need to act in an upright manner don't we? Why didn't the groom go talk to the girl privately before this unpleasantness occured? It is possible that he tried and the girl didn't listen because she WANTED to be married?

What it boils down to was that the groom was scared and frightened and didn't know what to say so in a fit of desperation he decides to send her an SMS instead. The fear is understandable.The fact that he did not stand up to his own fear is not. If we allow fear to rule us, we are, in a word, lost. Everything we do will be predicated on what other people think of us, and what we can do so other people won't be pissed off.

How do you live your best life at that point?

The Phil Choir Rocks!

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

After 11 performances and the usual bitching and sniping that goes on in the Phil, the choir wrapped up what was probably their most eventful X'mas season. 11 Performances! That would have put seasoned performers in KL through the mill, let alone a bunch of enthusiastic amateurs.

The choir deserved to be congratulated.

Colin was a good conductor who pulled the choir together and taught the members how to focus. The choir was willing to listen and learn. A very good combination. Bar some hiccups, I thought that everyone had fun including myself.

2 years ago I did not sing for Christmas...at all. And I felt empty. This year I've been busier than ever (not as busy as Allan) but was having fun juggling work and singing. Allan has been understanding of the fact that I feel that this is my way of serving Him. I am so very very blessed! Praise God! ;-)

Allan and I also put the tree up at home. We decided that this year's theme would be Baubles. So we've basically hung the tree with all manner of round balls. Gold, silver, red, antique, you name it. We (Mum, Dad, Allan and myself) stood round the tree (in unconcious tribute to the wiccans/druids/pagans) held hands and Dad switched on the lights.

X'mas has not felt so Christmassy in a many years.

First Weekend of Performances

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

The 1st weekend of performances is over! Hallelujah! Aaaaa-mmennnnn!

Tiring but ultimately satisfying. Colin is supportive as a conductor and the choir responds well to him. I feel the men seem to be shouting too much and a rough sound is developing in the Bass section. That coarse edge when you yell too much. However, the overall balance is decent, despite the fact that we had to contend with a sound guy who was late for our 1st 3 performances out of our 5 this weekend. Hmmm!

Perhaps it's time to have a word with him. Really congenial guy and means very well. AND I know he takes the Phil seriously. But punctuality is also about respecting other people. And if you're late, it seems to indicate that you don't care about people and you don't care about wasting other peoples' time. Something I will have to think about and see how I can communicate to him without walls going up, whether directly or indirectly.

I had an interesting chat with Aariye tonight. Crux of it was about freedom of speech in all it's guises.

My opinion has for a very long time been that I have no quarrels with the notion. It's the consequences of taking the notion to an extreme that I have a problem with. People bandy the phrase "freedom of speech" (especially in America) to the point that it's become this religion, this end in itself. As far as I'm concerned, the only end for me is to live in harmony with my fellow people. My community. I'm a filthy tempered fellow but happily enough I'm finding more balance every day. Thanks to my other half.

So, the challenge is, how do you find a way to get your message accross without it being still born. That's what all this "communication"/blogging/talking/speechifying is all about isn't it? If this is the end itself, then it seems sterile.

We live in a community of mostly like minded people. I'm an optimist. I believe that people are generally good and when it comes down to it, if you can speak their lingo (and I don't mean a foreign tongue) people will generally want to do what you want to do. In my 40 years, I've found people are reasonable. Only thing is that, the way I think and speak, may not be how someone else thinks and speaks. So how do I find a way to communicate what I think to another person without that person erecting a wall to my message? The onus is on me surely.

Furthermore, if you, for example, cause offence to someone, the first thing they will do is erect a brick wall 100 m high and it'll be a very tedious job tearing it down so you can communicate to them again. And for what? Just so you can have the satisfaction of saying what you want to say? Why not just try rephrasing it? Sit down with them specifically and tell them...nicely. If it's not as well received as you'd like it, move on. They don't have to agree with you. And it's not necessarily personal if they don't agree with you...unless YOU make it so.

So you can still have your freedom of speech but the consequences are that you get to pass your message on and still have a decent relationship (and that's what it's all about) with the other guy. No PERSON (for you "womyn" out there) is an island after all. But THAT is a whole other story.


This Is The Moment from the musical Jeckyl and Hyde

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Song: This Is The Moment Lyrics

This is the moment!
This is the day,
When I send all my doubts and demons
On their way!

Every endeavor,
I have made - ever -
Is coming into play,
Is here and now - today!

This is the moment,
This is the time,
When the momentum and the moment
Are in rhyme!

Give me this moment -
This precious chance -
I'll gather up my past
And make some sense at last!

This is the moment,
When all I've done -
All the dreaming,
Scheming and screaming,
Become one!

This is the day -
See it sparkle and shine,
When all I've lived for
Becomes mine!

For all these years,
I've faced the world alone,
And now the time has come
To prove to them
I've made it on my own!

This is the moment -
My final test -
Destiny beckoned,
I never reckoned,
Second Best!

I won't look down,
I must not fall!
This is the moment,
The sweetest moment of them all!

This is the moment!
Damn all the odds!
This day, or never,
I'll sit forever
With the gods!

When I look back,
I will always recall,
Moment for moment,
This was the moment,
The greatest moment
Of them all!

Matt, Matt, Matt...

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Matthew McConaughey's career must be in something of slump.

Matt, Matt, Matt...

Stetson Cologne?

Running A Society

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

It's going to be a challenge to be on the Phil committee this year.

After working with a group of strong minded people in WP for 3 years I've come to see that everything's a balancing act. That's not to say you give in and compromise principles when you're pushed against a wall but how do you balance varying opinions so that eventually what the leadership feels is correct to do, is done?

I hope to contribute some of my experience and talents to the process but I'm under no delusions that I will be able to go as far as I'd like with this. Since everything is voluntary in a society like the Phil, egos need to be massaged, irrelevant opinions need to be listened to and above all an attitude of "let's work it out" needs to be maintained at all times.

People generally do have valid anxieties and concerns. Listening to them and listening to those concerns is going to be job 1. I'm going to have learn to really LISTEN to what people are trying to say instead of what they are actually saying because most people tell you of their worry/fear/anxiety instead of what's causing it. I've found that when you can understand the root cause, you can then begin to address that in any number of ways without giving up your objective.

The Phil is 50 in 4 years. How can I contribute to its growth and expansion?

Breakup Babe

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Wow! Breakup Babe got a book deal from Random House.

Post Holiday Blues

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Had a wonderful 5 days up in Cameron Highlands.

It was just absolutely lovely to enjoy some cool weather, wake up feeling cold in the morning and just spend your days hiking, cooking, playing mahjong and loving your loved ones. :-)

Oh yes, hiking...

Actually, climbed up - in parts on all fours - one of the higher peaks of the Tahan Range called Jasar Mountain. All 1,700m of it.

OK, so it's sentimental but it was a much needed "stop and smell the roses" moment.

The Bungalow was gorgeous, set in about 2 acres of lands and beautiful landscaped gardens full of Cymbidium orchids, snap dragons, Goldenrods, Chrysanthemums, Calla Lillies, you name it. There was a snap to the air and it brought back a spring to your step.

In a way, I'm glad we're back. It leaves me looking forward to the next time we go.

Selamat Deepa Raya

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

To all my Hindu and Muslim friends, Happy Deepavali or Happy Diwali and Selamat Hari Raya!

I'm a proud Northeastern Liberal

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

http://www.fuckthesouth.com

Nuff said!

Phil Christmas Choir

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Colin Kirton is conducting our Christmas Phil Choir.

I am impressed.

For a drama guy who’s conducting the choir, he’s very good. OK, one can get picky about his conducting and say that he doesn’t really know how to flap his arms like a real conductor but since I’m also a part time singer, I can’t complain with his results.

As much as he has to get used to us, we have to get used to him. In terms of how we sound, we actually sound very good. As good as I’ve ever heard the Phil sound. And the best part is, he’s actually getting people to drop their scores. Once you do that, you’ve pretty much pushed the choir to a point where they can then FEEL the music and adding dynamics then becomes a lot easier.

The other part of his conducting which I thoroughly enjoy is the fact that he is sooooooo organized. He’s working with a part time choir and I think kudos to him for being able to pull it together in such a short time. 4 rehearsals and we’re dropping music.

That’s amazing!

Bravo to Colin.

The Phil

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Had fun at the Phil AGM last night.

However, I don't think people generally know what they want to do.

Maybe I'm reading too much into Catherine's resignation as Chairman during the Philharmonic Society of Selangor's AGM on Sat night.

She sounded frustrated and worn.

I think she's done a marvelous job but really, the Chairman's job in running an organisation like the Phil is perhaps tougher than running a large corporation.

To a large extent, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. If you try to push forward, there are those who will say "but that's not inclusive and not what the Phil is about." If you DON'T move forward, you have the problem that the young ones just lose interest and don't come back.

It was summed up in what someone said about an old hand not being picked for the Christmas choir. It was mentioned that the committee was not being inclusive and that it was not the way things were done. Someone intimately involved with the Phil replied that they left it to the conductor in charge of the Phil for Christmas to choose as they are trying to upgrade the choir.

I also accepted nomination for a seat on the committee. I was voted in. I felt that after saying so much in an email to the egroups, I should at the very least contribute some measure of my time to improve matters. Put my money where my mouth is so to speak.

All I know is that trying to please people should never be an aim or a goal. You can only do your best. Do what is right and people will eventually see that it was the right thing to do.

As the World Turns

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

The title of this popular daytime soap is, I feel, extremely apropo for these few days after the most divisive US election in recent history.

George Bush has been making all the right noises. But then again, he made all the right noises immediately after the last election too. The one in which the American people didn't even vote for him. The one which to my mind makes a mockery of the democracy they say they espouse. Come on, in which modern democracy do you have an elected leader who LOSES the popular vote?

Anyway, that's ancient history.

The Democrats are predictably glum but I feel that this was a blessing in disguise for them. They need to field someone like Bill Clinton again. Not just a great thinker but also a great communicator. Pundit's are already talk about Hilary Rodham Clinton running in 2008. If they can sell her to the Bible Belt and the midwestern states, they would have achieved something.

I've always wondered whether they have their elections so close to each other just to keep the economy going. They spent $4 Billion on this last one. At least in terms of what was declared.

Osama Bin Laden got what he wanted. An excuse (that's Bush if you didn't know) to continue his attacks on "The Great Satan."

And through all this, the world continues to turn.

Isn't life grand? :-)

The most important election ever?

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

It's amazing.

The amount of world attention the United States is receiving for it's election of it's next President.

Vilified, bruised, battered but pretending that nothing bothers him, a seeming garden gnome of a man in the form of George Bush still has victory within his grasp in one of the most venomous elections the United States has ever seen.

If the world were to vote, John Kerry would be a shoe in. Pity the world's not voting. I cannot say enough about how hateful this present US President is. He's myopic, self-righteous, bumbling, and has made ignorance a virtue. On the other hand he is everything a majority of Americans like; folksy, seems down to earth, doesn't use big words, and seems like a guy you could have a cup of coffee with.

No matter what we all think however, the world will continue to turn no matter who is in the White House.

The Da Vinci Code

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Wow! This book has been keeping me up these last few nights.

It's extremely fast paced and some chapters are as short as 3/4s of a page.

In essence, this book revolves around a mysterious murder with messages being left behind by the victim in the final moments of the victim's life. The entire book takes off from there.

I wouldn't say that the book uses very elegant language and the author certainly is didactic and obvious in parts. Dialogue between the protagonist and his book editor referencing the bestselling book of all time gets the witty retort about Harry Potter. As if that is not enough, the protagonist replies "I'm referring to the Bible."

The scope is huge and takes in 1000 years of history in ts 400 to 500 pages.

Not being well read enough to comment on the accuracy of the facts, I suspect that the author was a little loose with the truth when he said “All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents,and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.” Not to say he lied, but with Jesus and the Bible and historical accuracy often playing second fiddle to faith based reporting and writing, I suspect that he chose versions of the truth to add drama to the novel.

If you can start from that premise, The Da Vinci Code is an excellent read. Fast paced, entertaining, and a great book to pick up bits of trivia. For example, did you know that Leonardo Da Vinci was homosexual? And that his rendition of the Last Supper actually has a woman (speculated to be Mary Magdalene) on his right? And symbolism and religious imagery of the time being what it was, I've since discovered (by doing some internet research of my own)that this was the Maestro's way of thumbing his nose at the Catholic Church.

Having said that, much of the speculation of the Catholic Church suppressing the "sacred feminine" (remember this phrase;it get's used a LOT in the book) I take to be true.

Anyway, my socio-political leanings aside, pick up the book and read it. You won't regret it.

A Tale of Two Choirs

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

After wending our way up to that chaotic swamp of humanity otherwise known as Genting Highlands and fighting with daytrippers who were jockeying for the best position to do whatever, we eventually settled into our shiny hard plastic chairs and awaited the opening strains of arguably, the worlds' most famous children's choral group, The Vienna Boy's Choir.

Much to our surprise, the opening act was our very own Operafest Children's Choir. We sat back, looking forward to this very highly acclaimed piece of Malaysiana. We'd been told during the introduction that they were international award winners and choral groups of children are at their very worst, endearing.

The opening chords proved me wrong.

Their diction was garbled, so whatever they were singing was unintelligible. The poor sound system did not help matters. During the Toreador's solo from the opera 'Carmen' the boy who was supposed to be singing was yelling. I'm not certain if he was taught to sing that way, but if he carries on, he will damage his voice well before his 20s. Singing is like playing a piano or learning a musical instrument. If you think of your voice as a musical instrument you can learn to play it and maximise its capabilities. If you don't, you can damage the instrument. Imagine banging on a piano day in and day out for 10 years with no proper care.

And they carried on in that way singing and prancing their way around the stage like little marionettes pulled by a very determined puppet master.

Furthermore, 'Carmen' is a very adult opera with very adult themes. It is a beautiful Bizet opera, grand, fiery, passionate but dealing with themes like sexual love, jealousy, and crimes of passion. It seemed incongruous that a children's group was singing some of the numbers.

At the end, the conductor, one Mrs Kam Sun Yoke, ascended the stage with her shawl flowing behind her like an avenging Valkyrie and exclaimed almost bitterly, "We are of international standard. Please give my children a chance."

We feel that the audience were quite willing to allow the children their moment in the spotlight, but after that the mood turned decidedly uncertain and for some, unforgiving.

Then came The Vienna Boy's Choir. And the almost unbearable stifling warmth. For some reason best known to the organisers, they decided not to switch on the airconditioning. Most of the doors were closed so ventilation was at a minimum. With about 2000 people in the hall, it got stuffy very fast.

The first act was vintage Vienna Boys Choir. Tight harmonies, good rhythm, and fully at ease while performing the song. No nonsense, technically perfect singing. If you closed your eyes, they would sound and feel the same as when you watched them.

The second act was livelier but technically a huge let down. The mikes failed. One of the boys had to have 1 technician run out on stage to fix the problem. He was a little tyke who just stood there with a grin on his face. And he just picked up where he left off. Thoroughly the professional. I think people don't know how tough it is to maintain your focus like that for a stage production. Technical mistakes are awful and can only be laid at the feet of the organisers.

So, let's just sum this up;

Bad parking - DON'T GO TO GENTING
Hordes of ill mannered people - DON'T GO TO GENTING
Awful technicians masquerading as people who know what they're doing - DON'T GO TO GENTING
Bitter local conductors - DON'T GO TO...ooo I guess I can't lay this at Genting's door.
Bad performances by local groups with delusions of grandeur.

The were only one group of stars that afternoon. The children.

Bigger IS Better!

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

For certain things anyway! >;-)

Lest the more lurid minded of us begin to get carried away, I'm actually referring to my new purchase of the Nikon D70 D-SLR. I left the last few letters as an abbreviation because if you know what that stands for you'll be really happy for me (I hope). If you DON'T know what it stands for, then you'd be bored to tears hearing me talk about it.

I love it love it love. Did I mention I love it?

I've been positively snap happy over the course of last week and the only thing that has been closer to me has been my underwear. ;-)

For those of you who are not quite sure what type of camera it is (I certainly hope you figured out the camera bit) check this out. http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/nikond70/



Alias Chin Peng

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

For most, the name above will not mean anything. Even for me, a relatively well read late Baby Boomer, Chin Peng is a name that was spoken of only in derogatory terms and a person only seen in fuzzy black and white pictures in the context of National propaganda.

Chin Peng for me is as "real" as perhaps Henry VIII is for school kids in the UK. I never connected him to a real person. Instead, he was associated with events in Malaysia's past. Our history. And when history takes over, the person is lost.

For those who don't know who Chin Peng is, he is the man who led the Communist Party of Malaya or CPM during the dark days of the Communist insurgency and the Emergency during post war Malaya. Yes, without the 'si.'

I read an article in The Star which made me want to find out a little more about the man. And since he had visited Singapore (or so I read in that article) I went to The Straits Times of Singapore (their online version since by agreement, they cannot sell their newspaper in Malaysia) to do a little research.

I found the same article but with pictures of the man. Bald, liver spotted, looking distinctly uncomfortable in his suit and tie, sitting next to Santa Claus. I think that was the guy who wrote Chin Peng's memoirs. Ian Ward.

All of a sudden, there was a face to the name and what Hollywood would call, a backstory. Basically, this was a man who was someone's son, probably someone's brother, someone's husband who was driven to fight and kill for what he believed in.

Please don't get me wrong. I don't and can't subscribe to what he believed in or how he did it. But I cannot help but have some sneaking admiration for someone who created such a large swathe of history. I don't think he or anyone who creates such history actually sets out to do it. All they do is to have the courage of their conviction to do what other people can only complain about.

In many ways, he casts as large a shadow over our history as our first Prime Minister or our immediate former Prime Minister. Not necessarily in a good way, but the footprint is still there, whether we care to look at it or not.

Passion

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

How do you know passion when you see it?

Adam Farouk!

4 of us went to Le Bernadin to listen to him play. He has a guitar he calls "Willow" and you could feel the guys love for what he does. No, not love. Passion! His heart and his soul exude from him when he sings.

Just after a successful run at Actors Studio in "I Have Dreamed" he performed at this French Restaurant on Changkat Bukit Bintang and it's one of the more electrifying concerts I've ever been to. He sat on a stool and was basically himself. And the audience loved him.

More and more, its a privilege for me to meet people who are true to their life calling. Those who do what they do because they have the heart for it. I count myself lucky.

Questions and Answers

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

A dear dear friend's - she's actually like my little sister - grandmother passed away this week. I think to a large extent, while tears flowed, there was in large measure, relief, as her grandmum had been suffering from cancer for months. In the last 2 months the old lady had been bedridden, drifting in and out of sleep, alert and comatose in equal measure.

From what we were told, her grandmum could not move on and was clinging to life because she was worried about the family, despite reassurances from various family members that they were ok.

We told my friend that another good friend of mine could...and I struggle with how exactly to say this...speak to souls, those on the verge of death and those who haven't quite moved on.

So we decided to ask my friend if indeed the old lady was worried about anything and whether or not she could help her move on.

When her reply came back 2 days later, I clicked on it with some trepidation. And it read like a message from the other side. There were things which she had never been told about my friend's grandmum which she expressed.

Just so the reader understands, my friend who speaks to souls doesn't do this for a living. She's a mother who lives outside of Malaysia who until recently was very adamant that her "gift" was something to be ignored. When she chose to embrace it, she didn't do it for the money or any other motivation than to help people, dead or alive. To help the dead move on and the living find closure.

On a very real level, I believed it could be done but not until I received the reply to that query did I really internalise the fact that she was the real deal.

Time & Tide

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Oh mah goodness, oh mah goodness...it's been a munthh...

Reading Chris's blog and even with his busy schedule - holidaying and jetsetting - he somehow finds time to write something, sort of made me think. Maybe I should jot down some thoughts for the new month of May too.

Reread my blogs of a month ago and remembered that part of the reason that I didn't want to write anything was because the death of the pups was very upsetting. However, since then we've been watching the little ones grow into beautiful little dogs, each with their own personality, and I must admit that perhaps it was a blessing in disguise and nature usually knows what to do.

Why I say this is because, even when they were small it was very difficult to make sure that all 5 were accorded space at the "milk bar." Abby has about 9 working teats but when she lies down, the pups don't always have access to all of them. At any one time only 5 are usually exposed.

The 3 little boys grew faster in terms of body size and personality but the little girls are just now coming into their own. They're waddling everywhere now, and with each day comes extra stability. Really cute!

The biggest fellow is a boy and he looks EXACTLY like this.

The Malaysian Kennel Association just called and they are going to have microchip implants and their vaccinations next week or so. Just in time for viewing.

Blame!

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

I keep on instinctively wanting to blame someone.

I know I shouldn't but I do. 4 dead pups. I feel like I'm to blame too. For allowing Abby to have her pups.

I know God has his reasons but it's difficult to put it all down to faith at a time like this. Poor Abby!

I also realise I'm anthropomorphising a dog but when she's as intelligent as Abby is, it's hard to avoid.

Joy & Sorrow

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

It's been almost 4 hours since Abby began her labour and the process of giving birth to her puppies.

I've definitely been anxious and it's been a lesson in humility and faith. Humility because I cannot for one second believe that God does not exist in those little creatures. Faith because the last two, of seven, were still born.

That curious mixture of joy and sorrow is one that I'm slowly allowing into my being. Watching Abby trying her very best to revive her two little ones was enervating as it was piteous. It was the realisation that a mother does not give up even when conventional wisdom tells her that it's not possible anymore.

I've recently reread The Chronicles of Narnia from cover to cover again for the 7th or 8th time. I can't remember. But the wonder of childbirth still overcomes that of death.

Sigh... another dead. For a fleeting moment they are given to the world and I guess God had his reasons.

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

We didn't get the shop in Bangsar Village.

Somewhat disappointed, but we know that God has his plan for us so we're not troubled by it. Things have a habit of working out for the best.

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

After an interminable period (approximately 10 months) of self indulgence, I finally decided to get back to the gym again. I finally decided to "get real" and go with some negative motivation to get myself going.

I basically want to look good! It'll be hard work to get a body like this, but at least it's a target to work towards. Hey, so sue me for being shallow!

But I also do want to make sure that by the time I'm 41 I can still go ski, dive, and do all the physical things I love to do AS WELL AS eat!

Frankly, I've felt very heavy and even walking up the stairs at home has been an effort.

Just 3 weeks of being back at the gym, and I'm beginning to feel how fun it is and damned if i don't feel good after the workout. Hopefully, my addictive personality won't drive me to being an endorphin junkie. Yeah RIGHT!

I've set some goals and some objectives and I'm working towards them. The dive trip in July is my first big checkpoint. So I'll write then about how I did and whether or not I attained my targets.

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

My GOD!

Its been almost 2 months since I've written a damn thing!

"Mentally, girding my loins" to start again. Sorry, Chris, I thought that was such a wonderful Freudian image I could not resist purloining it. I'll give you credit for it though! :-)

Golly gosh! So much has gone on. Where do I start?

Let's see...let's start from...neededtodoproposalfornewshopandhandinbeforeweleftfor
australiawhichwasthreeweeksoffabulousfunandthenwecamebackandhadtocatchupwith
3weeksworthofworkallthewhiletryingtoputmynewresolutionofgettingfitintopractice
withregularsessionsatFitnessFirst.

Allan and I are also going to have a chat with the Englian people this afternoon to hopefully *fingers crossed* finalise things for our first ever shop. We're very excited but nervous at the same time.

My life in a nutshell.

Why is talking to parents so difficult?

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

The Gen.2 is launched.

How do you pronounce that?

Is it "Jen 2" or "Jen dot 2" or "Gen (as in "Gun") Dua" or is it...omigod, we're going to have fun with this name.

Fun with the name aside, it looks like a really good small car.

All my cynical instincts tell me to wait for the other shoe to drop but I'm just going to enjoy this feeling of pride I have in our Proton.

I think they have a very special car on their hands.

Let's hope the market thinks so too.

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Tis true.

If you fall off the wagon of regularly updating your blog, even if it's a short note, time just whizzes by before you ever make another entry.

Ah well...

Rabbit Proof Fence - The Stolen Generations

Allan and I "pak tored" on Monday and were going to watch "The Last Samurai." It turned out, of course, that the only seats available were in the front row of the cinema. So we cast around for another movie to watch.

We chose "Rabbit Proof Fence."

I'd heard of it before but neither of us really knew the story.

When we left the cinema however, I think we were as shell shocked as the rest of the cinema going crowd.

"Rabbit Proof Fence" was a true story of the "Stolen Generations."

"The Stolen Generations" refers to a period in Australia's VERY recent history when the government of the day enacted the Aborigines Act which basically authorised a "Protector" of the Aborigines to forcibly remove aboriginal children from their families and integrate them into white society with white mores and values.

It was shocking.

Words cannot describe the cruelty inflicted on a people whose sin it was to be different.

The absolute worst thing was that the "Protector" played by Kenneth Branagh (who was his usual best) was actually not what you would call a bad person. He was motivated by good intentions and believed, chillingly, that he was doing right by these people.

There was one line in the movie that summed it all up. "We've got to help them despite themselves."

After seeing that, I now fully believe that the Australian Government owes the Aboriginal people a full and unequivocal apology.

CNY Blues
Heart to Hearts
Cooking for Mei Leng

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

My reply to a blogger in the UK who kept a blog before they were called blogs. His name is P. Check his site out at http://www.thatp.com

He's writing about a friend of his who was gay but came out as straight recently.

Hey P

Long time no chat. But what you've experienced and what we've been seeing in a friend of ours has sort of parallels.

I agree with your last paragraph and you're absolutely spot on there. But I think the reason that most people find it hard to believe is because you always put what you hear into the context of your own experiences.

And as far as I know, while it's becoming easier to come out, it still is, for most people, a long, hard road. So from that point of view, the question becomes, if it was so hard to do in the first place, and you are now socially "unacceptable" would it be easier for you just to go back into the closet?

Having said that, I am just playing devil's advocate. I've come to believe that for those who are more enlightened, being gay or straight is really more a requirement of our society to categorise.

If we look at it as just 2 souls falling in love/like with each other, what does it really matter what sex they are. Just that most men couldn't stomach the idea of having sex with other men because of social conditioning.

More power to your friend, the formerly gay man! ;-) I hope he finds true happiness.

Love and happy Chinese New Year
Nigel
From Malaysia

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

I absolutely DETEST the phrase "Straight acting."

What one earth is that supposed to mean? And do gay men actually stop to think about it?

I suppose it stems from a desire to encapsulate a behavioural pattern and associate oneself with a particular group of individuals who, because they don't LOOK gay, are perceived to be NOT gay!

What an absolute load of kaka!

I've known straight men who are comfortable with themselves who behave "softly" and gay men (and this is a huge turn off no matter what the personals say) who will associate themselves behaviourally with a bunch of red necks chawing baccy! And frankly, I couldn't give a damn!

Ooo, shades of Rhett Butler.

I've seen personals list that as an "attribute." I've seen it being referred to in reference to gay men in a supposedly academic paper (where it's more excusable because it referred to how gay men saw themselves) and I've heard some gay men talk about it proudly. Gag!

I wonder why people just aren't happy being themselves. If it gives you comfort to flap your arms and wrists, do so! If it gives you comfort to readjust yourself in public ( you know where) then do so. If you want to go bake a cake then do so. Who the bloody hell cares? I don't. I certainly don't have the time to entertain particular notions of a person being who they're SUPPOSED to be.

Be yourself!

I admit I'm a work in progress and one of Allan's cousin's called me "contradictory." I think he meant that sometimes what I thought and what I did were not always consistent. Well, there we have it. I'm contradictory and proud of it!

"Straight acting."

You spend all this time getting you head wrapped around the fact that you're gay, and then the minute you accept that, you spend all this time trying to convince people you're not! AND, here's the clincher, they're actually proud and relieved they're not, like, OMUHGOD, "faggy."

Good God! It just begs the question, if you're SO hung up on being straight why even BOTHER coming out in the first place. Go do what all closet homos do and get married!

Then call yourself "Straight Acting." I'm off to bake a cake!

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

I love flirting! ;-)

I think part of the thrill of being with Allan is that he and I flirt very well together. Obviously, we usually only indulge when we're on our own. Don't want people gagging with too much pda!

I flirt with friends, girls, hmmm, sounds like I flirt with anything that moves! Wonder if that's why the fish stop swimming when I come into the room! ;-)

It's been a bit of an up and down week. Was hit with some unknown bug at the beginning of the week and was down for the count till Wednesday.

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Some of my friends must think me awfully presumptious.

Sometimes when I say things I couch it in language which makes people think that I know what's best for them. I don't mean to sound like I'm TELLING someone to do something.

I do however, need to find ways to present things that make it more palatable for people to accept. Else my intentions are not communicated. Which defeats the entire purpose of saying something in the first place.

I must admit that I do care about that. But not in a way people might think.

I've learnt to be very direct with my feelings, and one thing I've promised myself is to say what's on my mind and in my heart and not hold back. I try and couch it in as diplomatic a tone as possible but I've learnt that sometimes you just need to say what you need to say.

I am determined not to have people who are important to me pass from my life with the regret that I did not tell a person "I love you" just because I was embarassed to do so.

Or to have someone misunderstand my intentions toward them.