Tuesday, November 28, 2006


EJ took the plunge last August. Last Wednesday I met her at the gym for the first time since her officially becoming a missus. She told me she just came back from her honeymoon in Australia.

Giddily she was yakking away about her honeymoon. Her story was so heavily glazed with the sugary sweetness that I bet she has been rinsing her mouth with honey and corn syrup. EJ was radiant with this post honeymoon glow. It was almost blinding! But I could still see her lips curling up sheepishly every time she talked about her life as Mrs. B. Her eyes sparkled with joy but shrouded with this dopey dreaminess. She dashed off; no she floated away, as the husband was coming to fetch her home. Well she shouldn’t be driving anyway as she was totally loaded. She was certainly high on something.

Whatever she is on, I sure as hell want some, ASAP!

Oh boy, marital bliss is highly infectious.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Speaking with Hands

The room was filled with people. We were asked to mix around so we gingerly filed in and took our seats, dispersed among the crowd. Hands clapping and punching and throwing around frantically in lightning speed, complemented with intense facial and body gesture, along with the occasionally shrieks. I could feel the buzzing energy in the air. Surprisingly, it was rather noisy (in a good way) for a Deaf event. I was at the Diwali gathering for the Deaf with my class mates. It was an assignment for our sign language class to attend a Deaf event.

In the beginning, it was difficult to communicate; obviously there was a language barrier there. It was like being in a foreign country where you do not speak the language. You resort to hand gesturing and pointing. But the trouble was all the pointing and gesturing were indeed the language itself! Here, I could actually make a huge ass out of myself, or worse still, offend the Deaf if I point or gesture with the wrong finger! Therefore, it was a little intimidating as I felt inadequate and ill-equipped to communicate with the Deaf with my limited signs.

I was almost floored looking at them signing fervently to each other, across the room! I think it’s the best way of communicating as the eyes are fixed on the hands and faces while the ears are not distracted easily by the surrounding noises. Signers are totally devoted to each other during a conversation, nothing else and no one else. The intensity and passion is incredible.

Upon knowing that we were learning sign language, the Deaf were definitely helpful and accommodating. They signed slowly and finger spelled to ensure we understand. Somehow I was so overwhelmed that it was such a struggle even to read their finger spelling, let alone sign.

"Just let loose and have fun."

It turned out to be more than an enjoyable evening. It was a very interesting learning exprience and the most fulfiling and best assignment I ever had.

Monday, November 13, 2006

After Watching World Trade Center

After watching World Trade Center, I dug out my diary and read the entry for that fateful day. Back then I was volunteering with Raleigh International, building a 6-classroom block for a school in the sleepy village of Chunox in Belize.

It was a clear hot sunny day. I was on camp duty, cooking and cleaning and some light work around camp, a rest day actually. The gang was slaving away at the site as the project was slightly behind schedule. We were tasked to construct the roof, make windows and doors and paint the building. There seemed to be so much yet to be done.

Around lunchtime a local pulled over breaking the news to us. At first everyone was skeptical and thought he was joking. He turned on his radio in his truck. It hit us like a wall. We dropped everything and rushed over to the little store down the road with a TV to watch the news.

It was indeed happening. The 12 of us crowding in front of the tiny TV looking at the footage of thick smoke billowing from one of the towers. Then, followed by the footage of another plane flying low crashing into the other tower. And finally both towers collapsed, leveled. These images kept repeating on the tube with lightning speed commentary in Spanish. I saw the image zoomed and panned along some who jumped of the blazing towers. It was horrifying.

Everyone was extremely quiet during lunch. No one said anything. Perhaps the magnitude of such insanity had sunk in and we were just trying to make some sense out of it. What the hell was going on? How did it all happen? Who did this? Why? How could we actually watch this on TV for real, on a news channel, not a movie channel? The world was going crazy? But it made no sense. I was hungry but I was too sick to eat. I couldn’t sit still doing nothing after lunch, so I went to work at the site.

I remembered planning my traveling into Bolivia after that. I called the Bolivian embassy inquiring about the visa requirement for a Malaysian visiting Bolivia. The embassy officer told me that I would need a visa and how I would go about obtaining one. Before hanging up he asked: “Are you a Moslem man?”

Can you believe that? I did not bother to proceed with the visa application. I wondered if I’d ever get the visa if I said yes (though I’m not).

Everything changes after that terrible day. For example 911 is no longer a mere emergency number. It’s also how we spell terrorism and hatred now. Keeping a beard or wearing a scarf can be deemed making a radical statement. Fear and paranoia will be forever an integral part in our lives.

In the end, the movie fast forwarded to a thank you barbeque in a park on a bright sunny day two years later, organized by the two surviving police officers rescued from the rubbles, John and Bill. The movie shows Olivia, Bill’s daughter born not long after that fateful day already an adorable toddler, running around happily and innocently.

Perhaps that signifies a new beginning and hope…

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Curve Ball

Last Friday was an extra happy one as a close friend, S emailed me that she’s about 6 weeks pregnant. “Wow!” I could hardly contain myself from jumping for joy and hollering yahoos in the office. Somehow I managed, but it was no easy feat.

The baby excitement was leaping and spewing out from the screen. Her husband, D was already talking about decorating the baby room, planning which route to take to the hospital when the baby is ready to pop, etc. Without knowing the sex of the baby, D had bought the baby a stuffed toy. She signed off the email with S + D + "little grape". How adorable?

Of course there was talk about baby’s names. They were set to name the kid after his grandfather if it’s a boy. If it turns out to be a girl, they would be scratching their heads. Hence they were asking for suggestions. I happily obliged and hoped that they'd use them.

That email just made my day!

Yesterday afternoon I got another email from her. She had a miscarriage during the night. “Oh no!!!” This time I could not contain my sadness and grief. My heart just sank into a bottomless pit. I wanted to cry.

The whole situation just sucks. They must be devastated. I was stunned and I did not know what to say or do. As a friend, I felt helpless. How painful it is to face these life changing experiences in such a short time, I could not even begin to imagine. I replied her email and said a prayer for them.

One thing I’m certain is that S is a strong and determined woman. She is always calm and composed catching any curve ball thrown at her or picking up those hit her. As she is recuperating now, she had already called family and emailed friends about the abrupt end of her pregnancy. She is crushed and disappointed about this sad episode but she refuses to let this haunts her. Together with D they will move on with chin up high.

Rereading her email this morning, I saw her strength and resilience to forge ahead. She will come out of this stronger and braver. I know she will.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Gym Junkie

“Hi! My name is Boonsky and I’m a junkie, a gym junkie.”

Like a drug addict or substance abuser, I have always got endless excuses for my incessant abuse and indulgence. It all started during my college days. In the beginning I pumped iron to pack some muscle onto my stick-like frame. After joining the 9-to-5 club, I signed up to a gym working out regularly to kill time and to stay lean and toned. Now I hit the gym at my office every weekday evening in order to avoid the rush hour traffic. On top of that I also swim twice a week and log about 20k running a week.

It is simply amazing how I turned elated after each gym session. I practically am basking in the post workout glow. I’ll be high on dopamine, endorphin and testosterone. Dopamine induces a sense of euphoria and hope, albeit temporarily. Endorphin numbs the strain and pain of the ever-increasing workload. Testosterone gives me an extra boost in the ladies department. Totally a happy camper!

Therefore, I supposed somewhere along the line I got hooked. If I don’t get my workout fix, I’ll be feeling like shit. Something just doesn’t seem right. I’d feel lethargic, I’d lost my appetite, I’d have trouble sleeping that night, I’d run on an extremely short fuse and snap at anyone within a 10 ft radius around me.

In order to indulge in my habit, I’d sometimes reschedule dinner plan with friends or call in for a rain check last minute. I had declined invitations to happy hour altogether just to ensure I got my gym shot. I should have seen these red flags so long ago. But I was in denial.

My obsession turned severe when I avoid any form of communication, even eye contact in the gym. In fact I’d be annoyed if someone trying to make small talk while I’m doing my bench press super set. I just want to be left alone doing my weight regime, sweat it out, hit the shower and get out of there, preferably without uttering a single word.

My road to recovery began over a weekend in last October. I recently enrolled in the sign language weekend class at the Y in town. I normally do not go into town during weekends. Then the thought came to me on my way to class on that fateful Saturday: I should have packed along my gym bag and get my gym fix before attending class, as the Y is just a stone throw from my gym. Brilliant, I can pump more iron! On Sunday night, I sat idly in front of the TV as the Monday blues crept in slowly. I suddenly rejoiced and looked forward to going back into office the next day, because I can go to the gym after work tomorrow!

At that moment I know I have a problem and I need help.

Quitting cold turkey is tough. It’d send shock waves to my system and the withdrawal syndrome would be too much to bear. I still go to the gym daily but I dial it down a couple of notches on the intensity. Later on I hope to slowly cut down the number of days. Oh, and I started talking to people in the gym.

Well, just taking it one day at a time.