Month: March 2011

Dogs, II

Appie gets pregnant every now and then, and has babies. Floppy (I don’t name the dogs) was one of the last batch that stayed here.

Mother and son.

Floppy and his sister.

Playing with Jinny.

Floppy helping with the laundry clip.

Floppy sick; his final night.

The day he died, I wrote a few notes:

The puppy died today. “The puppy’s gone,” W tells me as I return from the market in the morning. He pulls back the metal barrier to the dog house to reveal the puppy, stiff, with eyes open, as though looking beyond the wooden box. I find this death both predictable and hard to believe and accept at the same time. The other night the puppy lay still in the dirt, and I had taken him for dead at that moment. Or at least that he was on that path, and he himself realized this impending fate. Yet I think that I held out some faith for his recovery despite his wretched appearance and demeanour this week, since we had taken him to the vet twice for IV and various medicines. Just yesterday the doctor had said the survival rate for dogs with this viral infection is 50/50, and this time I really wanted to see the glass half-full. But this morning, the dog is dead from Parvos Virus, at the age of 6 months. It is a jarring sight, to see him still and immobile, this young animal of so much life and vitality, this dog that had jumped off the roof so he could play with the other dogs. To see the spark of life so quickly extinguished, so suddenly absent from this environment, is sad, and quiet.

Everyone is dying. As D and I pass Bethel Hospital, a woman on the balcony cries out in anguish at the death of a loved one. We can hear it pierce through all the chaos of the traffic jam. Driving around the city, I come across homes that have erected makeshift bamboo structures for funeral services and death anniversaries. Plastic chairs fill opened rooms, from which can be heard the pastor’s somber voice through the crackling speaker system. After the service people gradually filter into another room where food has been set up. People sit, people talk, people eat just like any other day; in fact they’ve probably just seen one another at a similar event not too long ago.


music: john martyn – sunshine’s better


Dogs, I

W is browsing through the photos on my camera. “Why did you take so many pictures of dogs? They are not even human and you’re taking pictures of them.”

For most of the week, I live with 9 dogs. Since I first came to this place a few years ago, some have been born, some have passed away; others have been poisoned and/or stolen. These are the three adults.


He’s the alpha male. The big German Shepard. The polygamist. He is gentle, greedy, in-your-face, doesn’t like fruit, very tall, kind, attentive, a neglectful father, and, at times, rather stoic.


She’s the school drop-out. The light-colored one. The speaker. The pretty one. She is a little dense, agile, completely lovable, Shadow’s lover, and quick to accept others.


She’s the grump. The mean one. The unfortunately must-have-been-abused-before-and-now-is-scared-for-life mother. Shadow’s former lover. [I get the sense that she wants to be loved, but doesn’t know it. It’s taken quite some time, but I can finally pet her now after some tactful offerings of food.] She is suspicious, cautious, loudly protective, snarly, territorial, assertive, reluctant, and sometimes  despondent.


music: tahiti 80 – yellow butterfly


Earthquake in Myanmar

While in the village last weekend, my mother told me over the phone that there had been an earthquake near the northern Thai-Burmese border. She was alerted about this since my family has partners, friends, and co-workers in that area. This is part of the report she forwarded to me later:

Tremors and aftershocks are still being felt in the eastern Shan State of Myanmar.  About 400 people have died, and hundreds are injured.  Our co-worker has dispatched a team to the affected areas to check the gravity of the situation and also bring some aids to the earthquake victims .  The Myanmar government is not disclosing any detailed information yet nor asking for international aid.

Reports from other news sources (such as AFP, Reuters, CNN, BBC) provide conflicting information concerning the severity of the natural disaster, and I know coverage has been minimal if at all. At any rate, I trust the reports from contacts within the state, and am reminded of the brevity and the eternity of life.

music: elvis presley – stand by me


The eve of the Supermoon was also the night before Holi, the Hindu spring festival celebrating the end of winter on the full moon, well known for its colors. When I went outside to stare at the glow of the moon, I noticed flashes in the sky. I called H outside to check out the fireworks; he said there weren’t any fireworks. I went to the rooftop and realized that they were extended flashes of lightning. And so I spent my night stationed on the roof with the five puppies and their despondent mother, watching the moon gradually move from one side of the sky to the next, and the lightning illuminating the city and billowing clouds to the sound of thunder, a gusty wind, and pre-Holi tunes.


It is raining heavily again outside; I hear the excess waters overflow from the rooftop and splatter on the concrete below. It’s late, and the crazy roosters should be crowing around now. Perhaps they’ve taken shelter further into the garden, considering the downpour.

Someone asked me to intersperse my writings with lighter posts. And while this past week has been particularly somber, moments of happiness do interrupt my days. I celebrate every little victory that comes. So, stayed tuned for LOL CATZ posts in the near future.

Kyoto, Japan

I keep telling myself that spring is coming, that spring is here, even though today gusty winds brought a chill to the city.