terse & at large

GRRRRR. Arrrgh. And sometimes a travel log.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Muzaffarabad, Part 7

We stay at the field hospital for a little longer. At 4.30 pm, the vehicle comes to fetch the first group of the medical team back to base camp. Because of our numbers, we need at least two trips to bring everyone safely back to camp. I volunteer to go with the second group because there wouldn't be anything else to do at camp anyway.

It is then that someone from the Pakistani medical team comes to those of us who have remained behind with an invitation for all of us to observe iftar with them. It is immediately apparent that it's their way of welcoming the second medical team into the fold. There is a half-hour of uncertainty because of this, however, because the first group has returned to the base camp, and there's no doubt that they would have begun cooking their dinner already.

We wait for the vehicle to come back - it takes a while because of the fading light and the bad road and traffic conditions. When it does return, only Izuan and I climb in. The others have decided to stay back to break fast with the locals. All Izuan and I would have to do would be to inform the others and send them back to the field hospital with the driver.

It suddenly hits me that this would be my only full day in Muzaffarabad. Most of the five days have been spent just travelling and I'll be leaving the city for the drive back to Islamabad by about 10 in the next morning.

Not a lot of time to do what I wanted to do.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

I sit alone at the back of the minibus with my thoughts. Outside, there's some life on the streets. People heading back to wherever they've set up their temporary shelters. Men are standing around corner food stalls that are open and around the distribution points for food, so that they'd be right there when the fast is broken and they can get their sustenance for the day. All they get is just the basmati rice; the canned food and other foodstuff that have been donated and shipped over have been deemed useless - they are simply not used to the food contained within.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

There's that feeling again, the same one I got while in-country in Meulaboh and Nias: we're not done here; there's more that can be done; we need to do more. And so on. Scared shitless? I still am, but now it seems I have some reason to come back here. To do more. Fred and Hassan were talking about the third and fourth teams to come up to Muzaffarabad. And the possibility of changing the the mission of the fourth team from a medical one to a logistical one - the distribution of tents and winter blankets to the survivors.

Logistics, now that I can do.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

The sunset is beautiful.

Related Links:
Flickr Photoset

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Muzaffarabad, Part 6

I go back to the hospital. It's 3 pm, nearly time for the medical team to pack up and return to base camp for their rest. They've been at it, non-stop, for seven hours, with only twenty minutes at lunch for a break. Because it's Ramadan, they have their meal in a tent at the back of the hospital, near the OT tent. Chin calls it the 'tactical lunch tent'.

There's still not much else I can do in the field hospital. Worse than pointing a camera in the faces of people in the IDP would be to point it at them when they're on their hospital beds. Pearl and I take a tactical smoke break ourselves behind the newly-constructed field toilets, courtesy of Oxfam. Masoud is amused, of course. We tell him our reasons for doing so: being sensitive and all. He tells us it isn't a problem - we are in a hospital after all. And we're not local. So we smoke our ciggies, still behind the toilets and only the thin wall of the tent separating from the moans of pain of someone just beyond it.

During the lull, Masoud passes us his scrapbook to fill in some of our thoughts on the whole sorry tragedy and to leave him our contact details. It takes me a while to put down in words what I feel (even now, it's not as easy I'd thought it'd be). It is here we find out about each other: his education, why he'd come, where he was from.

He also passes us some food and water he'd gathered from the hospital pantry - mostly packaged biscuits. We hadn't eaten all day since breakfast, but neither Pearl nor I were hungry. We thank him and I stuff the packages into one of my vest pockets.

We talk for a while. It was good to take a break from the work in the morning and then the photography in the afternoon.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

I get roped in to become a temporary cameraman for Pearl since there wasn't anything for me to do - I'd thought my work for the day was done - until the vehicle came to pick us up. As we moved through the four tents forming the different areas/ wards of the hospital (dubbed 'Cirque du Soleil' by the members of the first team for the motley colours and the hues they cast on our faces), a local Pakistani doctor (or paramedical) comes up to me and asks if I could take photos of some of the patients. It's unusual that I get approached in this manner, and more unusual that I'm allowed to shoot at all.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

And so I do.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

I limit myself to just the children's ward. It's still a bit uncomfortable for me to be wandering about the adults.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

And in the distance, landslides continue.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

Related Links:
Flickr Photoset

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

Muzaffarabad, Part 5

Originally uploaded by Terz.

By the time I get to the field hospital and IDP, Pearl has already completed most of her interviews and her walk-through of the IDP camp. I get to the riverside, to the camp that's not in the safest place in the area - a flash flood would wipe out everyone who survived the earthquake. There is very little for me to do. I don't fancy taking a walk through the camp. These people don't need another person who hadn't experienced what they had gone through to be among them, taking photos of their misfortune and being invasive.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

Otherwise, there are only children moving about in the camp. And most of them gathering what they may from the litter and other human detritus. The adults are either up on the embankment waiting for food and other supplies to arrive or at the distribution tent at the edge of the camp proper, waiting for the distribution of clothes for warmth.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

Masoud is our guide and translator; a Masters degree student or graduate, it isn't very clear, and he has come from his hometown in the Punjab province to volunteer. When not showing media people and photographers around, he is usually at the hospital helping the Singapore medical team translate for the patients and their kin. He is 24, the same age as my brother. He's friendly and a great help to all of us at the hospital and at the camp. His friends, one of whom lost his family during the quake, also volunteer at the hospital.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

A young boy, gently cradling a bottle of water like it's the only thing in the world that matters to him, follows us around. He is chased off by the adults with us, but he remains unperturbed and continues to trail us at a distance. The children are intrigued by the photographs I take and showing them the images on my LCD screen seems to delight them to no end.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

The Neelum River - Masoud tells me it used to be clear and used to appear blue from a distance. I find it hard to believe him. The water, when scooped from the river, is full of sediments. From time to time, a foul smell comes from it. It is freezing cold, though, that much hasn't changed. Masoud then points to the mountains in the distance. "See? There are still landslides."

He is not lying. The distant mountains are covered in a perpetual blanket of dust and debris the whole time we are at the field hospital.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

As we leave, a new shipment of tents arrives and the volunteers get to work setting them up. I meet the man in charge of the camp. An imposing and traditional man (who refuses to shake Pearl's hand when it was proffered) who tells me about the tents. Many of the volunteers wear a green scarf on their heads. I learn later that these are the mujahideen, jihadists, who have come down from the mountains to volunteer. They are not as scary as they have been painted to be by the international media. Many are appreciative of the efforts that Team Singapore has put in during this tragedy. The man-in-charge calls Dr Fatimah, 'Sister'. Fred calls them, 'good guys'. I believe him.

It's comforting.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

Related Links:
Flickr Photoset

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Muzaffarabad, Part 4

It's almost noon before someone remembers and sends the vehicle back for me. In the meantime, I help with the reconfiguration of the Singapore enclave - two eight-man tents go up (with much difficulty - not because we're idiots at setting up tents in the field, rather, for a place that was supposed to have been used for a soccer field, there are plenty of rocks just beneath the surface which don't help the knocking in of the tent pegs; I'd hate to be playing on this field and be on the end of bad tackle). The weather turns again. The morning sun burns away whatever chills we have had from the night before.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

And continues burning. By eleven, it's blazing hot and threatening to become hotter.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

The vehicle returns and I finally get to do what I'd been sent for.

The first stop, however, was the Red Cross camp, situated in another stadium (seems like the safest places in these earthquake-hit places) at another part of Muzaffarabad. This afforded me the opportunity to have a look at the city in daylight.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

Not pretty.

It might have been once, in a rustic sort of way. But the temblor on October 8 changed that. Locals look as lost as they did when we were pulling in the day before. Many stand around the fallen ruins of their homes, shops and workplaces, unable to do anything for the lack of heavy machinery. In Nias, by the time I'd joined the relief efforts, there were already bulldozers and cranes in place and most bodies have already been cleared. Here, it's a different story.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

Some people are picking through the remains of buildings permeated by the smell of decay. Most of the time, however, locals stand by doing nothing. It is hauntingly familiar: it was the same in Meulaboh and Nias. Helplessness, a sense of loss and the inability to do anything but remain in shock.

We pull into a different IDP near the Red Cross camp and the doctors visit the nearby hospital. I take a walk around the area. Most of the survivors here look a little more sullen; there are few smiles from them, save for a few children, whose play seems a little louder in the silence of the area.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

A few pose for the camera willingly as I move around them, but the sense of loss is palpable among the adults as I moved among the tents. An older man, a truck driver it seems, is the only one to break into a smile as I gestured at him.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

The trip to the Red Cross camp is a bust. We're checked over and over again by the security guard at the entrance and by IRC personnel. The doctor we're looking for is busy and doesn't come out of the tents in the time we're there. We leave after twenty minutes.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

On the way back, more children approach us, many holding out hands begging for food, water and, in some cases, money. We try to ignore them as best we could and trudge wearily to the waiting vehicle. The weather has become increasingly hot - by the time we get to the minibus, we're stripped down to just one layer. Government agencies provide water in the form of watering trucks, but much of the water goes to the IRC.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

When we get to the vehicle, the driver is with a little girl, who's drinking out of one of our bottles of water. Her mother joins her shortly and begs for more bottles which we don't have. We hand over the half-empty bottle to them and drive away.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

Related Links:
Flickr Photoset

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

Monday, October 24, 2005

Muzaffarabad, Part 3

Morning in the APS is a wonderful thing. It's cold, yes, but the view is awesome. Izuan, from Team 1, already told us about it, but seeing it for ourselves is a completely different thing. It wasn't too bad a night. The duck-down lined sleeping bags that we'd brought along for this trip complemented the four layers of clothes I had on when I slept. Didn't feel too badly when I woke up. I ought to have brought along my pillow though, or stolen one from the plane when we were disembarking.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

I'm still in my cold weather gear as I settle down for an instant noodle (curry, just curry) breakfast - hey, anything to stay away from the awful smelling toilet*, ok? There's coffee, the coffee shop kind in instant coffee bags. Anything hot to get us going, I guess.

* I find out the same day, though, someone - probably a local - took it upon himself to provide the toilet cleaning service for the entire camp. One way to show gratitude I suppose.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

The dew from the previous night was heavy and it had already started forming at 10 pm local the previous night.

After the briefings and countless meetings the previous night, it was decided that the medical team would head to the field hospital first to get themselves orientated. Pearl, Iskandar (Team 2 Leader) and Edwin would attend the daily UN briefs and then we would all head to the hospital and the IDP camp just across the road from it to get our respective stories and shots.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

I get a few perfunctory shots at the start of the meeting. I was told it's pretty informal, with everyone just standing around and saying what they needed to say and finding out what they needed to know.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

When I get the shots I wanted, I go back to the Singapore camp, just a tent flap away to help out with the setting up of the generators. For purely selfish reasons I must admit. The batteries I brought were already at half-full and, in the cold, I don't expect them to last the day (I'd even gone to sleep with the batteries painfully poking into my sides, wrapped as they are in my scarf and tucked nicely into the inner pockets of my fleece jacket). If I helped with the setting up of the generators, it would mean I get to plug the recharger in and get them back up to full.

It turns out, setting up the generators meant having to reconfigure the layout of the camp. We get to it immediately: we move the medical boxes to one side and dismantle the tent Hassan, Yong and I were in the previous night. That tent was moved to the northern end of the campsite and set up again. Once that was done, we moved the food supplies and camp equipment into it.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

The light areas on the mountains in the background are scars from the landslides caused by the earthquake and subsequent aftershocks. By the time I leave, these areas will have increased in size.

Which was about the time the meeting in the UN tent ended. I got myself ready to move off. But when it seemed that nobody was ready to leave yet, I continued, with my camera strapped across my back, to move stuff into the newly-christened supply tent.

But the time I took a break, I realise that the vehicle had left without me. And left without even calling for me.


Related Links:
Flickr Photoset

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Muzaffarabad, Part 2

Originally uploaded by Terz.

I preferred the other sign (only for the poignancy of it), but couldn't get a shot off before the van we were in passed it. The other one said, "Welcome to Muzaffarabad. The Beautiful City that is Gateway to the Kashmir Valley."

We were at the bridge for about fifteen minutes, with all four vehicles in the convoy, while the next leg of the journey was discussed. Finished my smoke and took some pictures of the area. It seemed to be military-controlled with armed Pakistani soldiers everywhere (directing traffic mostly - and most traffic seemed to be heading into Muzaffarabad).

The other drivers had gathered around our minibus when we arrived to take a look at the damaged side. Our driver shows them the hubcap that had been ripped off in the impact - proudly, it seems to me. It was decided then that our driver would travel on in the goods lorry and the guy in charge of the whole operation would drive us the rest of the way instead. The journey after that was more uneventful, but it took a while for my hands, white-knuckled throughout the earlier leg from holding on to the handles too tightly, to recover.

We arrived at the city limits at about sunset, just after the Muslims travelling with us broke fast. By then, we had already passed several families camped by the side of the road, across from where their homes used to be, now crumpled and fallen in a heap of debris. The smell of decomposition is heavy. It's horrifying realising that these people are still living near destroyed homes where the bodies of their loved ones are still trapped amidst the rubble. Many stretch their hands out in supplication: for food, water, tents, blankets - anything to help them survive the nights.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

Even now, the weather has turned. It was hovering about the 20 Celsius mark for most of the journey, but as we neared the city, and with sundown, the temperature had fallen markedly to about the sub-tens. We were snuggled in our warm gear but these people are still in the clothes on their backs when they fled their homes. Some had blankets, but they all look awfully thin against the elements.

We lose two vehicles in the convoy in the dark. The city is still without electricity. And people wander the streets, at a loss for where they could go to spend the night. Our vehicles pull into Neelum Stadium, where the Pakistani Army has set up a helicopter landing pad in the field and a command centre and wait for the missing vehicles to find us.

It is another half an hour before we arrive at the base camp, only a little further up from the stadium. The UN compound is based at the former premises of the Army Public School (APS). The school is heavily damaged by the earthquake (in all, about 90% of buildings in Muzaffarabad are damaged) and the only buildings left around us are three buildings, one of which is where, we're told, we could take cold showers and use the toilet facilities - facilities which, until we got there, weren't cleaned on a regular basis, so stepping into any of the cubicles meant stepping into something nasty. Mostly, I'm just glad I'm already constipated by this time; I don't quite fancy being in another unsafe building doing my business, especially when after-shocks are still hitting the area.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

It's a warm welcome by the members of the first team. The Singapore team is nestled near the entrance to the compound, in between the crates of equipment brought by the Swedes and the WHO and WFP camp.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

The rest of the night is a blur of setting up tents, assigning sleeping places, dinner, briefings, smoke breaks, talk cock sessions to lighten the mood and generous portions of Irish coffees (3-in-1 mixes with shots of Uncle Jimmy Black). By that time, the temperature's fallen to a level that I'm decked out in four layers of clothes, my fall jacket, beanie and gloves. I try not to think about the people who don't have the same level of comfort as us.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

It is well past midnight by the time I decide to turn in for the night.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

Related Links:
Flickr Photoset

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

Muzaffarabad, Part 1

In the end, it wasn't the trip I had expected.

I wasn't expecting the plane to smell of piss (seems like the carrier that'd been chosen for our team didn't require passengers in-transit to leave the plane at a stopover - and didn't stop passengers from using the facilities while nothing on the plane, including the flush systems in the toilets, was running) and I wasn't expecting to be stopping over at KL (plane ticket seemed to indicate a direct flight to Karachi). We spent most of the first two days, and the last two, travelling. Just travelling (one hour to KL, one hour stopover, 5.5 hours to Karachi, 1.5 hours to settle the boxes we'd brought, 2.5 hours' rest at the airport hotel - where I had my last shower [cold water] - 2 hours to check in for the next flight, 2 hours for the flight to Islamabad, 2 hours settling the transportation to Muzaffarabad [most of which was spent by some members of the team in the facilities at the house of Dr Tariq, head of PIMA, to freshen up for the next leg] and 7 hours by minibus to get to the UN compound at base camp).


Didn't even arrive at the base camp until Wednesday night at about 6 pm (9 pm Singapore time).

Originally uploaded by Terz.

The layover in Karachi wasn't as I'd feared. We managed to secure accommodations at the airport hotel until it was time to check in for our flight, though making arrangements for the 69 boxes (66 after the rain damaged some of the boxes in-transit and some items had to be repacked into new boxes) of medical supplies, food and equipment made it such that we only had 2.5 hours to shower and to sleep before we had to leave for the airport again.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

It didn't occur to me then, but the shower would be the last one I had until I got back home. More things that we don't [I didn't] appreciate until it's too late.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

Because it took us so long to arrive, I only had one day, proper, to take the shots to document Team Singapore's (can I just say now: I don't like this term too much? Thank you) efforts in Pakistan.

But I ought to be thankful I arrived at all.

The trip to Muzaffarabad took seven hours by minibus. The driving is a lot like the driving in India - lots of occasions when you feel like you're sitting in the Millennium Falcon and there're swarms of TIE fighters/ interceptors streaming past your canopy. Wasn't too bad at first - I was seated in the first row of seats with Fred. Then when we got to the mountains, our driver inexplicably forgot how to get to Muzaffarabad and had to stop several times to ask for directions.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

Which makes sense if he didn't try to outrun the other vehicles in our convoy (3 minibuses and 1 goods lorry) at all times. There were other drivers in the convoy who knew the way, but for some reason (*cough*machismo*cough*) he wanted to lead all the way. I mean, I'm used to it. India was enough to convince me that these drivers knew what they were doing and they knew how to avoid accidents. He'd know when to slow down or get out of situations of unavoidable collisions.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

Apparently, I gave him too much credit. And even before we'd completed one-quarter of the journey, we got into an accident.

Completely avoidable, of course.

Driver decided to overtake the vehicle in front of us, on a winding mountain road (one lane - barely! - either direction), and in the opposite direction, Someone dictated that there would be a similar bonehead coming our way. The other bus sideswiped ours, hard enough that everyone who had been asleep was woken up immediately. Hard enough that Pearl (CNA correspondent who'd come along on assignment) felt the impact and could pinpoint exactly where the transference of the force hit her side.

I can still see the whole thing happening in slow motion.

Things got heated, while we remained on that single-lane road unsure whether we should step in, and there was definitely an incidence of shirt-collar grabbing. Then the driver tells the other that they should move off the road (yeah, thank you dude, twenty minutes after the accident, during which huge trucks drove by at speeds they weren't meant to go at), and discuss this in the nearest town.

Smart decision, we thought...


Our driver decides that this was the best time to speed up and lose the other guy. So, instead of settling it in the town, our driver takes off, at breakneck (and every fucking other bone in our bodies) speed down another road. It took about thirty minutes of us shouting at him to slow down in Urdu (new language learnt!) for him to actually slow down.

Scared shitless? Tell me about it.

Turns out to be a fucking blessing in disguise because our driver had taken a completely different route from the other vehicles in the convoy, and we manage to catch up with the goods lorry.

And when we stopped at a bridge spanning the Neelum River (halfway to where we needed to be), it was all I could do to accept a cigarillo (actually, to smoke the rest of it - it'd gone out during Mr Toad's Wild Ride after the accident) from Fred, with shaking hands, and smoke it in front of fasting Muslims.

And we were only halfway there.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

Related Links:
Flickr Photoset

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The dew is heavy

The dew is heavy
Originally uploaded by Terz.

Where I was.

But home now. Safe.

More reports when I have them ready.

Updated 2236 hours:

Photoset from this trip up on Flickr already. Thoughts to follow.

Updated 10 November, 1715 hours:

Thoughts complete:

Related Links:

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


So, this is how it begins. A flight to Karachi, then a five-hour layover which we'll have to spend at the airport, because we probably can't do much of anything else, before a domestic flight into Islamabad.

And it'll be pretty much the same thing the other way around when I come back.

Going away now.

See you all in five days.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

No Time to Blog

Originally uploaded by Terz.

Too busy preparing for another trip out. And it's down to whether or not there are seats available on the plane...

Went about town today looking for one of those automated photo booths so's I can get a couple of passport-sized photos for the visa. It's unbelievable how few there are of those nowadays. Made three stops before we found a C-41 process shop in Peninsula Plaza that did the photos onsite. $8 and ten minutes later I got what I'd spent most of the early afternoon (about one hour, going to the SIR Building - who would've thunk that they didn't have those booths on their auspices [that didn't require me to get a body-cavity search by the security guard on duty so I could enter the building, that is...], Lavender MRT station, then Peninsula Plaza) looking for.

In the meantime, I've checked on the weather in Islamabad - not good, it's 16 degrees Celsius at night there, at 500 m above sea level. Hard to say whether or not it'll be colder wherever we're going. But, I've already pulled out my winter jacket and beanie from cold storage. And I've have gone window shopping for prices for a new pair of gloves ($45) and fleece jacket ($190).


Tomorrow, assuming I am activated in the first place, I will have to remind myself to pack the rolls of film that've been in the fridge since the last time I had to go someplace where a running supply of electricity isn't guaranteed.

I should be prepared.

More or less.

Briefing's only tomorrow.


Now that's out of the way, can I say now, truthfully, that I'm scared shitless going on another one of these trips?

I mean it. Maybe the average human being isn't supposed to witness so many disasters in his lifetime. In one year, no less. Maybe I should have asked to take a break before heading off to another place where there are thousands of dead people all in one place. Maybe I'll ask that this be the last trip I go on for this year and for the first six months of next year.

I mean, it was bad enough that I had fallen off the wagon again (smoking*) within two days of someone asking me if I wanted to go? Or that it took me a long while before I could respond to that question (actually asked for one night to think about it)? Or that I've been having sleepless nights all over again?

One part of me wants to go. Badly. Open my eyes and all that shit. Help out in any way I can. Badly enough that I was willing run about town (in the downpour that was today) looking for photo booths for visa photos and places to buy cold weather gear. Badly enough that I'm already 70% packed to leave, whether or not I was actually going - did laundry and all. If anything happens, it'll be in clean underwear.

But there's just another part of me that's saying, "Are you fuckin' out of your mind? You're married, for chrissakes. What's with all this running all over the place? And throwing yourself into harm's way? Have you forgotten that you're 34 this year, or are you planning still to die at 35 and leave a [relatively] good-looking corpse, assuming there's one in the first place? And what about freaking out your parents, your mother especially, with all this? Leave all this shit to someone younger, why don't you?"

Scared. Shitless.

Not quite as heroic, eh?

* clean for 22 days before the fit hit the shan.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Rest In Peace

... wherever you are; and don't get yourself into too much trouble.

Had dinner last night with a friend I hadn't seen in a while and he was telling me stories about his dog that used to be mine.

Back in 1998, I got myself a Husky puppy. I called him Xander (short for a poncy Russian name that I won't reproduce here). Then I got married. Then I got a flat, and we all know Huskies aren't exactly kosher for flats in Singapore, so I had to give Xander up. That was 1999.

Xander was killed in 2001 when he ran out of my friend's house and got run over by a car, though the maid swears it was a cab that did it. By then, my friend had gotten himself a second Husky puppy so Xander would have some company. Right after the accident, the puppy remained with the body, refusing to move from the middle of the road, until the family came to claim it. My friend tells me that it was only recently that the second puppy stopped grieving for Xander, but he would still wander into the kitchen and look at Xander's photograph on the fridge.

Anyway, last night was about my friend telling me stories about what a holy terror Xander was: how he'd bully everyone but family; how he'd watch television - jumping up onto the sofa and pushing everyone else out of his way, using his bulk, before settling down to watch the programme - upright; how he tore down the wire fence between his new house and the one next door (twice!), tear up the stairs to the bedroom of the matriarch of the other family who's bed-ridden and (I can't remember) dying(?), and how my friend and his family had run after him, praying that he wasn't savagely mauling the little old lady, only to reach the bedroom and find him sprawled on the bed next to her, licking her face; how they used to tie crates of soft drinks to him so he would tire himself out dragging them around the house, so he wouldn't be a nuisance during Chinese New Year, and how it didn't work because, heck, he was a Husky; or how my friend and his family thought he was smarter than the maid because he could remember instructions, warnings and admonitions while she couldn't and how he used to drag her to his bowl so that she'd fill it and he could eat.

All I remember was a puppy who tore my bath towels so he could wrap himself up in them and stay warm in the night, and the puppy who got his head stuck in between the grilles of the gate and who, after I got him out, was very subdued, laying his head on my lap for two hours afterwards.

I'm sure I have a photograph of him somewhere too.

I miss that pooch.


Wednesday, October 12, 2005


So I was out buying myself a couple of external hard drives (following Brown's recommendations) and while waiting at the lights, I overhead barely pubescent boys talking about their LAN gaming (probably Counterstrike, what else?):

"I actually only prefers the M-16A1 M-16A2 (my bad, was re-reading this and realised that it's the A2 that had the setting for 3-round bursts), but only in semi or full auto mode; I really don't like the 3-round burst..."

Nothing wrong with that, except for the little grammatical boo-boo and the fact that the grammatical boo-boo was pronounced 'preface'.


But, I now suddenly have 50GB to play with on my HDD on my laptop. Yay!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Saga Ends (Almost)

Pride and Prejudice
Originally uploaded by Terz.

So, after one term (ten weeks plus the one-week September hols), this saga, a saga (see what I've done? Repetition so that more urls - all five of them - may be linked to the saga... that's how long the saga has gone on) that's gone on for far, far too long, is almost over.


The first set of prints (all four bags' and one cardboard box's worth) were delivered today: thanks to Packrat who met me at the shop to help with the load - the load that was enough to remind me of the days when I had to carry two jerry cans (or a couple of Browning MGs - if that were at all possible) on each arm back in the day.

Not fun.

Not fun at all.

But it's almost over. Barring the last-minute submission of more orders from one class; barring the lack of submission of orders from another; and barring the narrowly-averted problem of one class ordering by the serial numbers assigned to the prints by the machine, instead of the filenames that I had assigned in the first place - but narrowly-averted nonetheless. All settled. The last group will get their prints tomorrow, the others next week. Before I leave for Pakistan - and leaving this sorry mess behind.

Sorry, still fuming (enough to mention here that last year's school took only three weeks for students [students!] to submit all their orders). I'd expected more from teachers. There are times I don't really want to defend the teaching profession at all.

Whadda...? (Part Two)

It's somewhat a turn-on when you're sitting at the coffee shop with your missus, having a couple of kopi-O-gaos, and she, in the middle of reading the latest issue of NatGeo, turns to you and says, "I really like learning about boobies."


"Look at it, the booby chick is so cute!"


[Sudden realisation] "I mean, when I was younger, I used to read about boobies."

Er, ahem. Yes.

Booby Chicks
Originally uploaded by Terz.


In other news, the Yankees are out. I guess when you squander chance after chance with enough baserunners to win the game thrice-over, you deserve to lose...


And in more news. I'm back on standby for next week: but everything's dependent on what the first team out says. If more medical people are needed, then I won't be activated at all.

Either way - I've got one week to prep.

Edited 12 October 2005:

Well, at least I know I'm good to go as far as time (or jet lag) is concerned. Been sleeping only at 2-3 am these couple of nights - which should be good in preparing me for Pakistan--Western India time (am told by the missus that the em-dash is correct in this case - don't know about that, but she's the one who's getting the money for doing editing work).

Monday, October 10, 2005

I'm Going to Disneyland

Either Way
Originally uploaded by Terz.

Well, it's (the series, that is) tied: Yankees and Angel at 2-2. Which means, whoever wins the series goes to the Chi White Sox with just one day's rest... not a good way to start the Championship Series.

Looks like I'm taking another day off from work tomorrow. In the morning, at least.

Friday, October 07, 2005


The t&al Sports Tickertape says: ALDS: Yankees 1 - Angels 1 (darn); NHL: Canucks 3 - Coyotes 2.

Sunset Bridge
Originally uploaded by Terz.

Just a few thoughts - and pics - for the week (that's not covered in the posts of the week, that is):

Moron, Again
Originally uploaded by Terz.

Just when I thought I'd only need to blog about one moron cutting into a nicely-formed line of cars...

This one, just outside the studio on the Sunday when I had the car to use. No license plate though; not safe to be keying in numbers while driving, but the image should be clear enough for people to see.


Cats Grown Up
Originally uploaded by Terz.

Cats all grown up and moved away...

I don't have the original image any more (not since my previous mobile went for an owner-swap - the missus should still have the image on her phone though), but the three kittens from a year ago, now reduced to just the two, still huddle up and take naps together at the void deck of our block.

As it turns out, the missus did blog about it:

Originally uploaded by Tym.

Same cats, shot on 2 December 2004.


This one was shot 2 days ago on my way to work:

Originally uploaded by Terz.

Same deal. Driver cutting in and out of traffic, and then coming to a sudden and unsignalled halt just outside the last row of shophouses before the last intersection before the studio. I should have shot the reactions of the other drivers as they came to sudden stops of their own.


And finally, something from today, as I walked to the bank to deposit my latest paycheck:

Originally uploaded by Terz.

Uh, you know... at $1, I really don't want know at what stage of wear it'll fall apart on the owner.

Originally uploaded by Terz.

And sock. Yep, 50 cents for a sock. Another 50 cents for the other one.


And finally, a peeve of mine:

See this?

Originally uploaded by Terz.

Convenient little device, really. Press the button beneath the arrow and the lights eventually change so you get to cross the street without getting run over by the morons in one-ton hunks of metal. Simple to use too: just press the button and step back - no hassle at all. And somewhere inside that contraption an electronic timer starts counting down to when the lights will change; and the timing just depends on the time of the day it got pressed (longer if it's rush hour) and whether or not the road you're at happens to be busy, usually. There's even a red light on the thing to tell you that someone's already pressed the button and all you have to do is wait.

So why do people (delete where inapplicable) press and hold down the button/ continuously press the button / punch the button repeatedly / hit the button hard at regular intervals? Look, this is not like one of those first-person shooter games where you hold the 'open' or 'use' key to arm / disarm the bomb, set up the radio, etc. It's a simple life-saving device people. Abusing it isn't going to make your wait shorter. All that'll do is damage the bloody thing and then, what happens to the next person trying to use it?