Posted by: maximos62 | April 24, 2020

Beyond Borders

Well I’ve finally assembled all of the stories for my next book of short stories into one document for editing.

The selection is divided into Stories Lived that retain elements of memoir and Stories Learned which, although based on real events, are fictional. In Aqua is entirely fictional and based on events beyond the tangible world.

Here is the list of stories:

STORIES LIVED 

Australia

Iniquity Shall Abound

A sergeant’s progress

Vietnam trilogy: A prelude to war

Vietnam trilogy: We don’t want war

Vietnam trilogy: Darkest before the dawn

Unravelling Crossie’s past

A land of ancient belonging places

Seventy years on

Indonesia

Tarzan in tights

Jero’s story

Singapore

Going down?

Garam Masala

Greece

Austerity’s dawn

Resilience or resignation?

Malaysia

Can you help me?

Timor L’Este 

Beginning a journey

A new era

A journey from Ainaro to Jakarta Dois

Regional

Memories of fires past

The Bay of Debris

Beyond the geomorphic

STORIES IMAGINED  

Australia 

A morning by a river

Rachael’s descent

Turkey 

Peter’s reverie

Indonesia 

Forest tales: A meeting in the forest

Forest tales: Strangers in the forest

Another world 

In aqua

 

Posted by: maximos62 | April 20, 2020

A strange encounter

Parks, gardens and footpaths in Singapore are usually kept clean, sure there are a few careless people that litter, but the city has a global reputation for being clean and tidy. This also applies to dog owners, so it was with some surprise that I encountered this strange lump on the footpath at Fort Canning.

 

 

For a flash I thought it was the result of a lazy or careless dog owner. Then I realised I had jkust passed a particular tree, Enterolobium cyclocarpum. It’s a flowering tree in the pea family, Fabaceae probably better known as the Leguminosae family. Along with all other legumes it’s a nitrogen fixer. This species is native to the tropical Americas, from central Mexico to Venezuela and northern Brazil.

At Fort Canning was once a botancical garden and still has some fine tropical and equatorial trees.

Enterolobium cyclocarpum is also known as guanacaste or caro caro. So, I think you can see where I’m headed with this. It so happened that being a heritage tree the Enterolobium cyclocarpum I had just passed was displaying a tag with a picture on the tage that looked a little like the object I found. The tree is also known as the monkey-ear tree or elephant-ear tree. The label identified it as an Ear Pod Tree.

Without hesitation I picked up the object, obviously a seed pod, and turned it over. Sure enough, the inside looked just like the inside of a mammal’s ear, well sort of.

 

 

The serendipitous aspect of this was that I’d been thinking moments before, as I gazed at the label, how I’d like to see one of the pods. Now I have one.

Posted by: maximos62 | April 2, 2020

#COVID19 and writing about Jakarta Dois

 

Being forced to remain at home for long periods through this pandemic is an existential challenge for some, for me it’s ushered in a new dawn for my creative writing. There is no longer the excuse or distraction of browsing through Chinatown or Little India. People in my age group have been advised to avoid markets, so I can’t just take off walk into Tekka Market, and then settle into a Dosai across the road at Komala Vilas. Mind you, I think I will have to make a special trip to Komala Vilas soon if only because this restaurant offers the best South Indian food in Singapore. It’s cuisine is specifically from the Tanjore District, in Tamil Nadu.

Sure I still like to go walking in the relative isolation of a tourist free Fort Canning, or if time permits the beaches of Sentosa island. Recently I’ve made two short audio visual works set in these places. So now there are less distractions.

Stories with strong emotional content

When writing short stories that have a personal component, it’s can be hard to write about the deep emotions sometimes released. When writing my last book this was most evident. I found writing about the Bali Bombings of 2002 challenging, tearfully so, yet it was therapeutic. Recording the audio tracks of this writing was more challenging because I needed to voice the characters and this imposed a greater emotional challenge.

Writing about my mother’s death was the hardest and I left recording that story until last.

Jakarta Dois

I’ve written two stories about Timor L’Este, but I’ve been struggling with this last tale, ‘A visit to Jakarta Dois’. It’s been a struggle, mainly because I’ve opted for the distractions available rather than face the emotional challenge of writing about this.

After working in Ainaro, Timor L’Este, during 2017, my eyes were opened to the still glaring examples of atrocity inflicted on the East Timorese people during the 25 years of Indonesian occupation. I’ve already posted an account on this blog, but the story moves deeper into the atrocity.

Thanks to the COVID19 pandemic I’m at home and simply forced to confront this task. The enforced isolation is helping me develop perspective. With due care, and assuming we have the means or the opportunity to take care, the threat of COVID19 does not necessarily have to be existential. It remains a mental challenge.

Placing matters in perspective I’m now able to write about another time when people had little opportunity to avoid a threatening situation, and were cruelly murdered.

Here is the location of Jakarta Dois.  It’s easier to assess in satellite view.

 

The beginning of my story

 

Directly ahead wildfire leapt up steep gullies towards the towering prominence of Foho Madanaga. Strong winds from Australia’s dry heart drove raging flames now lost in billowing white smoke. Intense combustion, and mere days after the dry season’s onset. Foreshadowed in the blaze was an ominous warning for Australia’s coming bushfire season where the years of woodland clearing and tragic mismanagement of inland waterways, driven by relentless global warming, had deepened continental aridity. Such preoccupations dissolved in the immediate drama, as flames raced towards Madanaga’s summit here tilted bare rocky strata ensured certain extinction. They presented no threat to my journey only a sombre reflection on my own country.

Sombre was an apposite description for my mood as I set out for Jakarta Dois. Weeks earlier I visited this place with colleagues. We went to pay respects to the many people from Ainaro killed in this place during the Indonesian occupation.

Posted by: maximos62 | March 30, 2020

The #Covid19 pandemic does not mean distance from nature

Singapore’s Sentosa Island, without foreign tourists, was an excellent place to visit and still conform with the social distancing requirements during the COVID19 pandemic.

I offer this work as a glimpse of beauty in the hope that viewers might find the images and the music relaxing

Posted by: maximos62 | March 25, 2020

Remaining mentally healthy during the #COVID19 pandemic

Several days ago I posted the World Health Organisation’s reflections on social and mental health in the time of the COVID19 outbreak, Mental Health and Psychosocial Considerations During COVID-19 Outbreak.

My contribution

I enjoy walking, and as someone in one of the groups at risk COVID19 complications, it both strengthens and relaxes me. Walking is a meditation for me. The only activity I prefer to walking is kayaking.

Posted by: maximos62 | March 24, 2020

Improving the messaging on #Covid19

For weeks now I’ve been waiting for my country to come up with a coherent message about the pandemic dangers of COVID19. Watching our Prime Minister Scott Morrison make his comment about attending the footie on the weekend, revealed an ignorant trivialisation of the COVID19 problem.

Fortunately Australia’s PM wasn’t quite as dismissive as Boris Johnson and his suggestion that the UK could let the virus run it’s course so the population developed herd immunity.

I’ve relied on both the WHO and the Singapore Government for clear focused commentary. This has been lacking in Australia although some state governments are beginning to convey the seriousness of this pandemic through their actions.

Australia still lacks a coherent and uncluttered commentary on the COVID19. So it was with some relief that I came across the article by Melissa Davey, ‘

Australia is crying out for clearer messaging on coronavirus, ‘rambling’ politicians told

With her byline – ‘Experts call for mass communication campaign – not ‘naff little drawings’ – and ministers urged to relearn art of answering questions’

Thanks Melissa

Follow the link to Melissa’s article.

COVID19

Posted by: maximos62 | March 24, 2020

WHO Launches #COVID19 Health Alerts via #WhatsApp

The WHO is now bringing facts to billions via WhatsApp, explaining that using WhatsApp has the potential to reach 2 billion people.

Click on the image for more information or send Hi to +41 22 501 75 96 on WhatsApp

Installing WhatsApp

If you don’t already have WhatsApp Visit whatsapp.com/dl on your mobile phone to install. You will need a phone number but it is also possible to install WhatsApp on a PC or Mac, just visit the download site.

Posted by: maximos62 | March 23, 2020

A letter to a friend in the UK about #COVID19

Dear
Catherine and I are stuck, so to speak, in Singapore. Here everything is fine.
The government learned much from the SARS epidemic so it was early and proactive in its response the COVID19. Communications have been frank and information about the outbreak widely and transparently disseminated. There were a couple of days of toilet paper and tissue panic, along with a run on staples, several weeks ago. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and the supermarket chains, were quick to reassure the public that there were no shortages. The drama quickly subsided.
Last week, when Malaysia closed borders there was a day of uncertainty about fresh vegetable deliveries, but we soon learned that deliveries wouldn’t be affected.
All in all, this must be one of the safest places in the world right now. Total COVID19 cases in Singapore as of 22 March is 455, four were discharged on Sunday a total of 144 have now been discharged with 309 remaining in hospital. Most in hospital are stable or improving with 14 in ICU.
Borders are closed for all but  returning citizens and residents
Anyone entering the country must comply with a Stay-Home Notice (SHN) to limit spread of virus.
There was a case in the complex where I live. But there are five building comprising 800 apartments. The person concerned was on a 14 days home quarantine when they converted to positive. People in that situation carry an app on their phone that enables authorities to track their movements, lest they attempt to breach the 14 day SHN.
I’m more concerned about my friends in Australia and the UK where governments were a little slow to heed the clear warnings from the World Health Organisation (WHO). The UK Prime Minister’s suggestion that one approach might be to allow the disease to pass through the community so that a herd immunity was developed, was –  ill informed/incautious/idiotic – select the appropriate adjective.
The WHO were saying strike against the virus hard and early along with the mantra “Test, Test,Test”.
So here we are.

Mental Health and Psychosocial Considerations During COVID-19 Outbreak from the WHO is an important read at this point.

Regards,

Russell
Posted by: maximos62 | March 23, 2020

While following the science I contine to pray COVID19#

Recently I posted links to both the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Singapore Ministry of Heath (MOH). The objective was to provide a jump site mainly in the hope that visitors would chose to follow those other sites, or at least rely on them for updates about COVID19.

Whenever there is a major challenge facing humanity, one that confronts us with our mortality, whether it’s war of pandemic, there are physical strategies adopted to confront and overcome the threat. In this case of a pandemic, there is a science driven response that is being implemented with varying degrees of success.  Some leaders have been extraordinarily remiss, others incautious in the way they have responded to the threat of COVID19. Gradually science is prevailing but in some cases far too late.

Emotional stress

As with all great threats there are  significant emotional stressors whether precipitated by the loss of loved ones, being locked down, unemployment, inability to operate a business, being unable to return to one’s own country because of border closures or anxiety around guaranteed access to food and medical attention. There are numerous instances of fearful people reacting in ways that, in less troubled times, would be seen as extremely anti-social.

The World Health Organisation makes a number of suggestions for dealing with in nits publication Mental Health and Psychosocial Considerations During COVID-19 Outbreak. In summary they are:

  1. Do not attach COVID-19 to any ethnicity or nationality. Be empathetic to all those who are affected. Get the facts; not the rumors and misinformation. Gather information at regular intervals, from WHO website and local health authorities platforms, in order to help you distinguish facts from rumors. Facts can help to minimize fears.
  2. Do not refer to people with the disease as “COVID-19 cases”, “victims” “COVID-19 families” or the “diseased”.
  3. Minimize watching, reading or listening to news that causes you to feel anxious or distressed. Gather information at regular intervals, from WHO website and local health authorities platforms, in order to help you distinguish facts from rumors. Facts can help to minimize fears.
  4. Protect yourself and be supportive to others. Assisting others in their time of need can benefit the person receiving support as well as the helper.

These are 26 more. Consult the remainder in the document Mental Health and Psychosocial Considerations During COVID-19 Outbreak

Prayer

Several days ago someone I know quite well was very critical of me because I posted comments on my Facebook page from His Eminence Archbishop Makarios. He was addressing COVID19 liturgy and Holy Communion. I found myself reacting quite self righteously to the comments before realising that both the comments from my contact and my reaction were part of the problem. Fear and anxiety can be very damaging to personal relations.  So I offer another prayer in this time of the Corona Virus crisis.

 

 

 

Posted by: maximos62 | March 21, 2020

Treating COVID-19 Patients in China – Inside an ICU

Here in Singapore we have excellent digital connections. At my place the internet speeds on the optical fibre connection approach 1Gb/second. There seems little digital divide in the sense that from the young through to the elderly, connectivity is common and expected.

A few weeks months back I met a neighbour by the swimming pool in the complex where I live. The complex consists of six separate structure each of 20 storeys with eight apartments on each level. A lot of people live here. It’s a small village.

My new friend connected me with a WhatsApp group. I think I’m the only member who isn’t of Chinese descent.  A lot of feeds from CGTN (China Global Television Network), are circulated through this small WhatsApp group.

Some of the material is in Mandarin, but our discourse is largely in English.  One of the most interesting items recently was this excellent video ‘Treating COVID-19 Patients in China – Inside an ICU’

Click on the image to visit the CGTN site

 

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