CALPURNIA'S CLOSET

A Day in the Life of a Roman Empress

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Location: Malaysia

Formerly an Empress and the crowning glory of the Roman Empire, long-suffering glamorous wife of Caesar Augustus (a marriage of INconvenience, if you ask me!) Some people call me a drama-queen but then I'm often misunderstood. Deep down I'm really just a medium-maintenance princess. Some people think I have a puppy personality just because I have eyes shaped like an upside down smile. That would be one of the few times public opinion was accurate. Find out for yourself. Read on.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Nursing Dogs

Right this moment I am taking a rare, medically enforced break from my normal breakneck routine. Doc ordered strict bed rest and maybe the occasional visit to the toilet but only when absolutely necessary. Which is why I’m right now sneaking a forbidden rant on my brand-new technological acquisition; my 12 inch screen 1.4 kg (inclusive of battery) wafer thin laptop codenamed Sasha. Small enough for my briefcase, tough enough not to contract my virus, & cute enough to get away with work even on a sickbed.
My own cleverness astounds me sometimes.
Working backwards, let me just say that my trip to KL was wonderful, productive, fruitful, the works. On the downside, I managed to catch one those virulent West Malaysian D & V bugs at the tail-end of my trip. “D & V” (aka “Diarrhea & Vomiting”) is just med speak for what the laymen would call, the “urge to purge.” For a while I thought perhaps the salmon at breakfast was the culprit. No fear. Imodium’s here. But at the check-in counter the airlines guy’s face suddenly disappeared from my line of vision. It was much later that I discovered I was the one who “disappeared” right behind the counter. Passed out cold along with Sasha, who miraculously broke my fall without sustaining any injuries herself. (Thanks to the super-shock memory foam bag I got her just moments earlier.)
Fast-forward a few days and here we are in bed. I am exhausted from sneaking out earlier to run some errands. I’m not a sucker for punishment but with my sister breathing down my neck re Sammy’s import license, I couldn’t afford to lose another day to chronic pet anxiety. Sammy is a 7 month old West Highland Terrier who looks exactly like Snowy in the Tin-Tin comics. His Mom who happens to be my younger sister Mei Mei is about to relocate from UK to Australia. So I get to babysit Sammy while she and her hubby are sorting things out Down Under. Provided I handle the application for Sammy’s import license. Something I promised to do a month ago but never got around to finishing due to various excellent reasons.
From my comfy bed I called the four numbers listed for the Animal Import Licensing Department. Each calls required a minimum on-hold period of 20 minutes followed by a supremely confused individual at the other end who doesn’t seem to know he’s working for the Animal Import Licensing Department. (Sometimes I suspect they make the cleaners pick up the phone when they sneak off work early.) I made a note in my pad to drive to the darn building myself. Then I called the Veterinary Section at the airport to figure out the procedures required upon Sammy’s arrival. This time I only had to call them 3 times but on-hold period was 25 minutes each. I hung up. Yelled at my bedroom wall for 2 minutes. Made another note to drive to the airport and track the relevant officer down like a bloodhound.
To aid me in my quest to liberate Sammy from his potential quarantine hell, was my trusty steed, Le-Le. I dressed her up like the doll she really is & tucked her inside my jacket to avoid detection in the government buildings. This being Malaysia, most people are allergic to dogs no matter how adorably precious they may be. For the Muslims, it’s because dogs are considered “unclean”. Wait till they meet some Brits I know. Haha.
Anyway, to avoid controversy, I bundled her up in my jacket & cradled her against my chest like a wriggling baby, thinking that would get us through the door unnoticed. Unfortunately, I did not consider the unerring radar of the red-blooded heterosexual male animal. My wriggling bundle attracted at least ten men who practically ran to peer at my chest region. I thought it was unusual for men to be obsessed with “baby” (since that’s normally the domain of giggling salesgirls and old aunties). Typical of most guys, when a group saunters over, the others start to catch up, asking what the fuss was about. That’s when I got my first clue. Some “kutu Muthu” guy told his friend “Dia sedang menyusui bayi!” (Translation: The chick’s breastfeeding!]

I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or dropkick my bundle of doggy joy. Now I was caught between having to reveal that I’d actually brought a little dog into a government building & risk being escorted out by security guards before I got the import license application form…OR…keep pretending that I was breastfeeding a “baby” smothered in my jacket. I thought about the last hour I’d spent on the phone being put on hold and chose the latter. Suffice to say, it was a pretty full lift to the 3rd floor! Those clowns wanted to catch a glimpse of the “baby's” natural sustenance, to put it delicately. And overseas, women are actually campaigning to be able to do this in public places?? Mind-boggling, this culture thang.

I practically ran out of the lift before the doors could open fully. MEN. They’re like hormone-operated tools with only one button: Predictable, simple, fail-proof. Blanket statements are not fair, so let’s just say that these traits only apply to males at the Animal Department ok?

In short after much effort & about 3 hours of being referred to one department after another (all of whom gave me special consideration since I was “nursing” an apparently very hungry “baby”), I finally got the necessary forms sorted out & returned home tired but triumphant.
Le-Le was a real darling throughout; never made a sound just played by herself at the backseat of the car on the way home. I was so pleased with myself that I managed to beat the traffic crawl by 30 minutes. Pulled into the driveway; opened the door to pick up the form & my dog.
And found the precious import license form in shreds.
Lesson 1: NEVER bring a dog to a Malaysian government building.
Lesson 2: NEVER put any documentation anywhere near a semi-intelligent mammal with teeth.
Lesson 3: If your dog is being suspiciously good in the backseat of your car, CHECK!
I yelled at the bedroom wall for another 2 minutes, knowing that Mei Mei’s gonna call tonight & I’ll have to explain yet again, WHY I haven’t got Sammy’s license sorted out after so long. This time I’ll have an excellent reason and I’d probably be one of the few who can claim this excuse for the truth:

“THE DOG ATE YOUR IMPORT LICENCE!”

Running the Roman Empire was never that difficult.
Rant finished.

Signing off,

Calpurnia (& Sasha the Laptop)

1 Comments:

Blogger Zaty said...

hi there. i was just searching for 'calpurnia' for literature research, and stumbled upon your blog. was pleasantly surprised, though pretty much irrelevant, when i found a person's blog. heheh.

well, anyhow, i really like your dog story, heheh. is the dog picture in the other post her? she's adorable! =)

oh yeah, just wanted to explain briefly that it's not that muslims thinks dogs are unclean, it's more their saliva, actually. and since dogs naturally lick themselves (and people objects, etc), muslims are forbidden to touch them, but that doesn't mean that we have the right to harm them in any way.

just wanted to inform. =)

well, anyways, have a great week, ms. "calpurnia"!

=)

12:24 PM, February 06, 2006  

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