A little corner of happiness

Sometimes, happiness can be found in the littlest places. You do not need much space to be happy as a friend of my discovered this past two months during the recent flooding in Bangkok. Happiness is something that for different people comes from a number of reasons. Even though this flooding was disastrous it actually brought a little happiness to some people.

Now, let me give you some background. My friend is usually is a lady who is extremely house-proud and will spend most of her waking energy looking after the house, cleaning and putting things in order. Yes, everything is top notch shining, bright and everything is set in its proper place. Not an inch too far to the right or to the left. She enjoys it and enjoys having a house that is always beautiful to look at. No trash left lying around. No shoes or books left where they shouldn’t be.

Then the flood came. Everything had to be moved to the second floor. Everything that was movable that is.

Everything was stacked on top of each other (in an orderly way of course) and the second floor ended up looking like it was a furniture warehouse. There was hardly any space to walk around nor move. Only the sofa provided some seating. The ground floor, on the other hand, looked like it was a newly constructed house with nothing but a few plastic chairs and a table left below. Even the curtains were removed.

Yet up there on the second floor, my friend found a little corner of happiness. Sitting on her sofa amidst the towering stacks of furniture and decorations, my friend sat there smiling. Smiling because she was happy. Smiling because the whole family was home and smiling because she did not have to spend the day doing any house work. No putting things in order, no rearranging the furniture or the decorations, and no grocery shopping. (Being without car and supermarkets were mostly out of stock.)

It was indeed a happy time for my house-proud friend.

She got to rest and relax. In a tiny little corner of the furniture warehouse, she sat there resting, reading, watching television and feeling not in the least guilty that she had to be responsible for looking after the house. Having no obligations, she was happy. Now that all is over, my friend is back to being the person she was before the flood, running around and getting exhausted.

Happiness can indeed be found in the strangest places. Where are you happy ? Do you know what makes you happy? If you do, why don’t you recreate the happiness more often? Happy Holidays! 🙂

Baby, Baby, Come Home

Sometimes your inner voice tells you not to do something, but you do it anyway.  Then later you end up thinking to yourself “Damn, why didn’t I listen to my inner voice?”  This happened to me exactly this past Monday. Here’s a funny story.

This past weekend, Alex and I have been discussing when best it would be to bring my Baby back home.  Yes, my little White Baby Jazz (if you are wondering, it’s my car :))  has been in safekeeping for roughly a month now away from the flood, away from the water that could cause it to choke, suffocate and eventually die.  It has only just reached it’s second birthday.  Too young to die.

Monitoring water levels, canal drainage, potential flooding estimates, we decided that by this week, I should be able to take my Baby out for a spin. It should be safe enough as the chance of her drowning in water seems quite minimal.  She’s restless and needs to get out of her little rectangle high up on the 7th floor.  I’m restless and need a spin around town.  We decide, Wednesday is a good day.

Yes, we will take Baby Jazz out on Wednesday. A few more days and the situation should be clearer

Comes Monday, all seems well and we have a change of heart.  Monday, Monday, will be the day Baby Jazz comes out for a spin!  I’m happy.  Things are becoming more normal and I can go for spins around town!

I was happy, yet deep inside of me I wondered if it was too soon.  Some things were still not too clear.  Was I rushing things too fast?  I pushed those thoughts aside.  What was there to worry about? It will not flood.  I was being overly cautious.  I was overreacting.

I decide to take her out of safekeeping and bring her safely down to flat land.  Once home, she sat happily under the clear cloudless sky enjoying the fresh air and the space around her. Birds flying overhead chirping her welcome.  It was a lovely evening the day Baby came back home.

Things seemed normal until I reached the end of the news.   The presented asked Professor Seri why certain zones were being declared evacuation zones.   What? What zones? They sounded familiar and close by?  The professor said we had to check facts on what was happening at the canal. Bangsue canal.  Yes, the one by my house.

I got on Twitter, FB and checked the news. Only three hours after Baby arrived home, the roads less than a kilometer away from me were being declared evacuation zones.  I wondered what happened to the protocol of having to be declared a “monitoring zone” before evacuation status?  Nevermind, the canal must have overflown.  The pumps must have broken down.  Maybe the water was flowing faster than expected.

My Baby had to go back to safety fast!  I got out of bed once more, dressed and in the midst of the night took Baby back to somewhere I’d know she’d be safe.

I knew this would happen! I knew it was too fast too soon to bring out baby.  My inner voice tells me again.  Why didn’t I listen to it? I didn’t want to.

Upon having completed the task of taking her back to safekeeping and arriving home.  I discover the Evacuation notice has been cancelled.   What??  Data Error.    No Comment.

No matter what, I decide to listen to the original listen voice and wait for Wednesday. Good middle Wednesday.

On  Wednesday I let myself listen to my inner voice.  Yes, it’s okay now to bring out Baby on Wednesday as initially planned. So tonight I brought Baby home.  Let’s hope it’s for keeps this time. 🙂

So listen to your inner voice.  Listen to your hunch.  It may be just what you need to save you some trouble. Or if you want some excitement in your life, just ignore it. 🙂 Who knows what excitement it will bring?  So I had fun driving around.  Better safe than sorry!

Floods, Politics, and Corruption

Where there are people, there you find politics.  Yes, the needs and wants of people differ and how to govern them all is indeed a difficult task.  In good times, things are easy.  Everyone is happy and the people are too busy being happy or going out their own business.  In times of crisis, you really see the true inner side of human nature.   Will the crisis reveal the “innately selfish” side of human behaviour as mentioned by Hobbes or will it reveal a good, compassionate, loving and caring side of human behaviour? What do you think?

This crisis that Thailand is undergoing has revealed both.

On one side, you find people, friends and organizations arranging groups, flood relief missions and volunteering their time to help those in need.  Yes, you see people helping each other, helping elders, helping children, helping dogs and cats.  Every living thing deserves a chance to live and survive.  It’s wonderful.  You see people carrying dogs on their shoulders, soldiers and policemen wading through water chest high. You see these volunteers, these people all helping tirelessly, days on end, and still a smile appears on their faces.  They do it quietly, diligently, seeking no recognition. I applaud all these good people.  You are my heroes.

Then, you see the politicians. (Of course there are good ones too, but let me focus on the main
players.)   Each trying to “make a name” in the face of crisis.  When they fail, it’s the other side’s fault.
This crisis has instead turned into a battlefield between two parties.  Each throwing responsibility at one another.  There is the government’s Flood Relief Operations Command (FROC) which supposedly was set up to oversea the flooding situation.   Then there is Bangkok Metropolitan Administration.  Throughout the crisis, it has been a battle of who can throw responsibility to the otherside.  No one wants to accept responsibility for the flood.  It’s sickening to see this being played out when instead they should be working together hand in hand to get Thailand through this crisis.   We are in a crisis for heaven’s sake.

Both parties are to blame.  Both have their problems.

Then there are things like Corruption. Yes, it’s not a small thing. Yet it happens so much and so often in Thai society that it saddens me to see younger generations growing up in a society where the main value is money.  They think it’s normal.  Money is King.  If you want your kids to get into a good elementary school, pay for it. Make big gifts.  If you break a traffic regulation, well pay the police officer to forget the ticket.  If your company needs your truck to carry loads heavier than permitted, work out a special arrangement.  It’s said simply and easily with a straight face.  It’s a part of life, didn’t you know?

No, I don’t know.

Now corruption not only happens in forms of money. It happens in laws and regulations. Yes, laws can be changed and amended to suit one’s needs. When no one is looking, the cat will play.  Quietly it moves and pounces when the opportunity arises.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I love my country. I wish it well.  Let’s work together for a better Thailand. A stronger Thailand. A
Thailand that not only smiles but smiles honestly from the heart and soul.

Help Help and Help Flood Victims

Parts of Bangkok has been flooded for over three weeks. If you’re lucky, and in the minority then you are still dry.  This, however, depends largely on the power of the pumps.  Yes, inner Bangkok is dry for the moment because the water pumps are working full time to keep the water level at bay.  Lets hope the pumps do not break down.  Anyways, I’ve been asked by some readers as to where they can volunteer their help and their time to doing something for the flood victims?  A lot of you may already be helping, but here is a short compilation for those who have just arrived in town or just want to help.

1. Thai Red Cross: http://www.redcross.or.th/  Here you can donate your money, goods, time and even your blood to help flood victims.  You can even donate online.  It’s located on Henri Dunant Road not too far from Siam and I think the nearest MRT (underground station) is Lumpini. (Please check)  They are open from early morning until late at night.  You can even help with field work if you want to witness the flood first hand.
2. Central Retail:  In front of Central World (CTW) on the Rajdamri side you can volunteer to help pack food for flood victims.  I read that it is open every Monday, from noon to 18.00hours, but I have also seen them packing on weekends so you could go and see if you are passing by the area.

3. Wat Pathum: Located between Siam Paragon and Central World, I saw the temple also has a small relief area helping prepare and distribute food to flood victims. Just stop by and help
4.  Chulalongkorn University:  Help at the main Sala is always needed to help pack relief packages for flood victims.  Other departments are also helping, so you could just stop by anyone that suits your taste.

5. Adhoc Kitchenhttps://www.facebook.com/#!/adhockitchen  This one is great, because it was started by a group of friends who really want to have an impact on helping the flood victims.  Everything is done with the heart and you can be assured the money and food go directly to flood victims. In operation everyday, except Fridays at Bandara Suites.  Check on their FB page for more details.

6.   UniDog Thailandhttps://www.facebook.com/unidog  Help dogs that have been left behind at home by their home owners. This non-profit organization helps provide dogs with food and even find homes for them.  If you are an animal lover then this join this community.  You can email them at unidogthailand@gmail.com  for more details.

7. You can go front line.  I am haven’t yet been to the front line, but I am quite sure that if you went to where there is water, there are bound to be people helping.  So just bring along your boots, your energy, along with your heart.   A helping hand is always much appreciated.

8. Evacuation Centres:  There are several evacuation centers now in Bangkok and they all need help distributing goods, taking care of people or even providing support for families with children.

You can also follow news and flood reports in English at this FB page: https://www.facebook.com/thfloodengver  They will occasionally post where help is needed. You can also ask them for more details.
If you want to listen to news coverage:  Professor Seri gives a synopsis every evening on TV channelThai BPS.  They post the clips online so you can follow the updates:  https://www.facebook.com/thfloodengver

Have a good weekend everyone!  Take care and stay safe! Oh, if you know of other places where one can go help, please share. Thank you.

The 5 Stages of Emotions

In life, in dealing with problems and losses psychologists generally say we go through five stages of emotions:  denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  Most commonly we experience this from heartbreak, losing a loved one, going through a crisis, business problems, etc..  The list is endless.. We humans have a lot of problems and we deal with them through our emotions.

Sometimes we do not acknowledge that these are our emotions.  Yes, we feel hurt, feel sad, feel angry, feel serious, feel resentment.  We try to act “civilized” and push these emotions aside.  We ignore them. After all, we are all grown ups and grown ups do not succumb to their emotions.

It’s dangerous.  Psychologists mention that it is not good to ignore these emotions for it can cause “emotional indigestion.” It can cause us to be tense, stressed and ready for a fight. Our heart beats faster and our natural instinct sets in.  We want to survive. We are ready for battle.

It’s dangerous to ignore our emotions, because if we are not aware of our emotions, it can cause a wide
variety of problems in our lives.  If you are stressed and tired, you may end up shouting or relieving your stress on those around you.  People who had nothing to do with your stress and were instead trying to help you.  We lose our sense of judgement.  We decide things differently, than we otherwise would have if we had a healthy mental state.  As a result, bad feelings arise and things can go down hill.  Relationships, work and things can easily go bad.

This historical flood in Bangkok too is causing those in Bangkok to experience the stages of emotions : denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.   I’ve witnessed this around me and have to admit I too am going through this five stage emotional process.

Denial: At first when talking about the flood with friends I said, “No way, Bangkok will not flood. The government is protecting us, and even if we did flood, it will be minimal. Nothing to worry about. Don’t
worry about it.”  I am denying the fact we will flood.

Anger: If you follow the online social network, Twitter, Facebook, etc.. you see this many places.  At one stage when the “water” first entered Bangkok, many were angry.  I was angry.  How could the situation be handled so badly?  How could the authorities not have seen this coming? How could they not have prevented this?  Anger, anger, anger. Anger at the authorites, anger at the news, anger at everything. Anger at having to empty the first floor of furniture, wrap up everything in plastic, use sandbags and plastic to turn the house into a bunker, take out the curtans and evacuate.  Yes, I was angry.  One should not have to go through this.  Life is too short to be spent worrying about floods.

Bargaining: Even after over a month of flooding, some people still believe that “inner Bangkok” will not flood.  Everyday, some good news give hope. I hate to break the good news.  From the data, I think it will definitely flood.

Before, authorties said the domestic airport would be saved, it succumbed to dear water.  Water now
fills the runway up to airplane bellies.  It has turned into a beautiful lake.  Then they said 7 industrial estates would survive.  They all flooded.  We are bargaining that perhaps it isn’t true. It’s not true that an entire capital city will flood.  Something must be wrong here.  Maybe things will be different.

Depression:  After awhile, we get depressed.  We get sad. We realize that we are indeed in a crisis. We indeed have broken up, lost a job or seen our business gone bankrupt.  I was depressed for a while about this flood and ate more chocolate cookies than I should have.  I went through an entire bag of Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies.  (Yummmm) Yes, these are my favorite cookies!

Acceptance:  In the end, we have to admit it.  The sad and hurtful truth is that Bangkok will be flooded.  We will be flooded for a month.  Now I think I’m in this stage (but I could be wrong).  I know my house is going to be flooded.  I’m less than a kilometer away from the canal that is fighting a losing battle.  I know it’s just a matter of time.  I cannot do anything about it, so I just do the best I can and live life each day as best I can.

Yes, Bangkok citizens are going through these stages of emotions.  If you feel yourself going through this, please allow it to run it’s course and be aware of it.  Don’t let it ruin or run your life.

Rest, take time for yourself and recooperate.  Heal and relax.  Reach out to those around you.

Then take a deep breath and accept the fact.  The house will be flooded.  The business will be flooded.  The factory will be filled with water.  I shall have to evacuate. I shall be uncomfortable.  I shall have to spend tons of money on renovation and rebuildng. I shall have a year ahead of dealing with contractors. I shall be tired. This flood may happen again next year.

Do not fear these emotions for they are normal and they are a part of who we are.

Stay healthy my dear readers. Both emotionally and physically.  Take care!

Bangkok flooding: Bunker City

I’ve been back for a few days now from my evacuation. I missed home too much and needed to get some things done at work.  Now that I’m back, I once again feel the psychological stress and intensity with which this flooding is affecting Bangkok citizens.  It’s like a race against time.  A race against the
impending flood.  A race against water that seeps in through every crack and nook.

Humans race to be the winner in this losing battle.  Everyone is applying new ways of protection against the flood.  The shops on my road and businesses were busy reinforcing their protection.  As time goes by, the form of flood protection changes and evolves with experience.  Everyone is building a bunker or living in one (like I am).

I’ve been observing the flood protection over the past month and it seems to evolve over time.  Here
is a list of how bunkers have evolved over the past month in Bangkok.

First, sandbags. Lined any old way, we thought they would help. Then proper ways were taught as to how they should be aligned.  In the beginning maybe only a row or two, then weeks later, walls sometimes grew higher.  A bank just by my house increased it’s wall protection from half a meter to two meters.  Imagine a two meter high wall of sandbags.  Tomorrow I will take a picture as I walk past.

Second, wide plastic sheets to cover the sandbags that might deteriorate with long exposure to water.  Silicone was used to seal doors and cracks.  Wall cracks, plugs, everything was sealed with silicone. I had fun with the gun.

Sandbags lost some appeal as if they are improperly aligned they might leak.  Also they are heavy, so if you line it up too long against glass or a wall coupled with the pressure from the water, the wall might just collapse on you.  Such has been the cause of many injuries.  They are also extremely heavy, so if you are a house without much manpower, it is a tough job.

Third, brick cement walls came as the scarcity of sandbags caused everyone to seek alternative forms of protection.  A neighbour at first built a small wall roughly 3 blocks high and has since been adding a block per week the past two weeks.

Fourth, wall boards (not sure what you call those walls made of compressed wood that in construction is sometimes used between rooms) then sealed to fronts.  No cement walls, but instead these synthetic walls were carefully placed and sealed to doors and walls.  Sometimes they were given a large plastic cover to give added protection.

Fifth, metal walls.  Yes, I passed a business building today which had protected itself with
large metal sheets.  I think it was aluminium, but I am not sure.  Lined up beautifully and sealed against the entire base of the business, I think it will work well.

Are there other types of bunkers? If you know of any or have pictures, please share.

In the meanwhile, stay dry!  This may or may not be one of the last few posts from my home before I
have to evacuate for who knows how long.

Myth 5: Drink 8 glasses of water a day.

It’s Friday and what a flooded one it is in Bangkok.  Yes, I am back in town to recieve the flood and it is somewhat stressing me out. It inches closer every hour.  I’m sure it is stressful for many others also so tonight let’s change topic and instead continue on with our myths.  Myth 5: Drink 8 glasses of water a day.  Clean water, not the ones that come with Bangkok floods.

I have to admit this is a myth that is seen everywhere.  It is a myth if you believe it is a miracle cure all that will cure illnesses and give you wonderful health.  If, however, you see it as a recommendation on
how to keep yourself hydrated then it is fine.

According to nuitritionist Alannah DiBona, we don’t really need 8 glasses.  This was an easy way to tell people to avoid sugary sodas and other drinks.  She says that one should take one’s body weight in ounces of water and divide it in half. This will be a good guideline for most people on how much to drink. As many things regarding health, think of it as a guideline and not a rule.

Some days you may need to drink more, other days less.   What is most important though is that it keeps you hydrated.  This helps you be relatively more active with bathroom breaks and if you want to lose weight, those hungry signals might infact be thirst signals.

Drinking water is great for keeping your body hydrated, but do not get fixated on the number of glasses you need to drink nor believe wholeheartedly that it is a magical cure all.  Water is one of the best ways to hydrate yourself.  If you want to lose weight, drink water when you are hungry for it may instead be thirst you are feeling.

Take care everyone.  Drink water, but like all good things, have it in moderation.  🙂

Bangkok Flooding: Live life

I’m ready to go home.  I miss my home.  I miss my life and yes, I have to admit, I do miss going to work as well.  I miss the certainty of it all.  I like adventures, but this flooding is not an adventure I like nor enjoy.   I suppose this is what people feel like in wars where they are forced to evacuate their homes and seek refuge elsewhere.

Almost four hundred people have already died.

Some die from tripping and drowning, others from electrocution, or some from health problems.  I suspect too that all this stress from watching flood related news in order to find out if our house will be flooded or not is causing significant psychological distress.

Now all I want is to get flooded and get it over with. Dear water, just flood and begone.

This flood has also reinforced something I’ve thought about before and that is to just live your life before it’s too late.  You never know when you are going to get flooded and die.  In fact, you never know what is going to happen.  A few weeks ago, I was still happily going through life not expecting this national crisis we are currently in. I think ten million other people were too.

Now all that has changed.  So if you want to do something, do it.  If you want to say something, say it. If you want to dream something, dream it.  Do it all before it’s too late dear friends.  Who knows. Maybe there will be no tomorrow. Live each day like it were your last.

Bangkok Flooding: Lost in limbo

It’s my second day after evacuation and I feel somewhat lost in limbo. I do not know what lies ahead. I miss my home and I miss normal daily life. Forced evacuations are no fun even if you get to go out of town. Your mind is always wondering about what next. What happens next? No answer. Now the dilemma is deciding when would be the appropriate time to go back? If I go back too early, I may have to end up evacuating again. If I wait, I do not know how long the wait will have to be. Will it be one week, two weeks or more?

I need to go back to go on with my life. Now nothing can be planned and there is no timeframe.

I realize now how important it is to have certain basic certainty in one’s life. A safe home, clean tap water, electricity and a safe environment in which to live. Most importantly though is to be surrounded by family and loved ones. What good is having all the world’s goods if your family is not with you?

I’m glad we are now all together and safe. We don’t have to worry about wading through water and
getting electrocuted, nor do we have to worry about getting ill with no one to help. I still do, however, worry about my country and all who are now suffering. What will the future be like? How long will this nightmare continue ? When and if, will we ever return to normalcy?

Pray for Thailand. Let’s hope we all get past this nightmare. Maybe bruised and battered, but
still alive.

Bangkok flooding: Reasons for evacuation

It’s strangely calm here away from the craziness and hydrophobia that plagues Bangkok. All I can hear are the sounds of the waves splashing upon the shore outside my window.

I’m glad we decided to bring everyone out. Some may wonder why leave now? Why not wait for the house to be actually flooded? Are you overreacting?

Here are my reasons why and ones I think we should all consider. It’s especially important to get elders out though they are often the hardest to convince.

1. If you wait until it floods you may be unable to get out because the water level rose higher and faster than expected. You end up trapped.
2. You will have to wait for others to help you evacuate and since there are people needing help than authorities can help out, you might be stuck in a flooded home for days on end.
3. Without electricity you cannot charge your phone. Once your phone is dead, it will be difficult to contact the outside world for help. You are isolated from the outside world.
4. Wading through water, you might get electrocuted or trip over something and drown in the meter high water. No one will see you.
5. You might cause other people to die trying to help you. Wading through water to help you get out, these good people might themselves get electrocuted or drown.
6. Water that has been stagnant for long will start to stink bringing with it disease. You might fall ill with no one to help you.
7. You run out of supplies but don’t want to leave because you worry about your belongings. You have others risk their lives to bring you food.
8. If you leave when it’s flooded, everyone else is leaving too. Traffic jams and accidents are more likely to happen. People in panic driving mode are not safe drivers.
9. You can only bring with you bare necessities. Leaving first allows you to pack more and bring more of your things out.
10. Why live life without electricity and water confined to an island home when you can be outside walking and with friends and loved ones?

These were the reasons we thought about when we decided to evacuate. What do you think? Do you have any more reasons?

Have you evacuated? If not, please seriously consider it for everyone’s safety and peace of mind.

Stay safe everyone!