The Heart Melter

There’s something about coming home to dogs that are just great for the heart. No matter how tiring or crazy a day you’ve had, when the dogs run towards to you as if they hadn’t seen you in years, wagging their tails, and innocently staring up at you with the sweetest eyes;  a part of you melt.  It softens you and your heart goes all gooey.

It reminds one of nature and of life.

It reminds us to take time out from all the gadgets, TVs and technologies that surround us.   It reminds us to enjoy the nature that surrounds us, to feel the grass beneath our feet, feel the wind in our hair and hear the birds chirp.

Yes having dogs remind you of all that.  They do because you have to really stop and notice them, take care of them.  You also have to play with them so that they use up excess energy.  Excess energy they would otherwise turn into biting your trees, and digging up your flowerbeds.  So you end up on grass throwing balls and playing “Fetch.”  You end up gardening to fix those plants the dog dug up or finding ways to keep them from digging.  Then as you are doing all that, the dogs are running around playing, occasionally bumping into you as if they were six year olds.  You can’t help but smile.  They seem so happy just running around on the grass, like when once a upon a time we too used to run around.  That must have been over twenty years go.

To be happy doesn’t mean you need to have all the excesses of this world.  It’s purely a state of mind.

Dogs are happy with the simplest snack or a little scratch behind the ear.  Maybe we should train our minds to be happy just as easily.  Life would indeed be a happy one.  Yes, dogs are indeed good for the heart (even though your house and garden gets occasionally turned upside down.)  Have a good weekend!

The Sweeper

On the street where I live, the streets are always clean.   Every morning an old  man, who lives in a little unimposing house in a corner, gets up and sweeps the streets.  I call him “The Sweeper.” He’s not paid to sweep the streets.  He is an inhabitant of the street, yet every morning he sweeps the street for everyone.  He gently moves down rows and rows of houses with broom in hand sweeping away trash, leaves and whatever else is left on the street.   He asks not for recognition, he asks not for notice, he asks not for money.  He sweeps the streets because he wants to.  He sweeps the streets because he has a good heart.

It’s not easy to find a man like him in this modern day where no one wants to do anything for free.  Everything now must be bought, be exchanged, be in response to another good action.  It reminds me of what Thomas Hobbes wrote in the Leviathan about man being innately selfish.  The Sweeper, however, sweeps because he wants to. He is not selfish.

I have not talked to him, but early mornings around 6am when I am rushing out to run, I’d see him already sweeping.  From the looks of his age, he must be many years past retirement.  Perhaps a decade or more.  I assume he started sweeping to keep himself busy, as a form of exercise, but I could be mistaken.  One day, I shall have to park the car and have a chat with him.

I wonder what pushed him to start sweeping. I wonder what his life is like. I wonder what he thinks. I wonder what he was before we all know him as “The Sweeper.”  I wonder if he has any family.  From what I see, his only companions seem to be the dogs that wander around his house and watch out for him while he sweeps.  Some days, I’d see him sitting on the street in front of his house surrounded by the dogs.  They love him.  Dogs know who have a good heart.

I wonder if there ever was a day he wanted to give up and just not get out of bed.   Rain or shine, he
is always there.  He is like a reminder of times past.  A time when Bangkok was less cosmopolitan, less busy, less hectic, and more loving.
I am thankful that on this earth there are men like him.  He reminds us that sometimes life isn’t about always doing things in expectation of returns or compensation.  Life can be about giving.  It’s about doing what gives us pleasure.  He need not be boastful, yet his goodness shines out far and wide.

Thank you Sweeper for reminding us all.  I wish you a pleasant, healthy and good life.

“Home” Is Where The Heart Is

After two weeks roaming around Singapore I have to say I am happy to be home. Although I enjoy going around and exploring new places, trying out new dishes and meeting friends, nothing beats the warmth of being back home surrounded by family and loved ones.  Even if we don’t meet everyday, somehow the thought of being in the same city is reassuring.  It’s warm and I feel fortunate to have such a lovely family.

It’s funny when you look back on years past.  There was a time when I would want to go away for weeks on end and not miss a thing.  Life was fun and I was young.  Now, I can feel the years creeping up on me ever so quietly and I find myself saying “I miss home. I miss my family.”

“Home” for me has always been a funny thing.  I remember being asked on countless occasions what I considered “home” since I moved country every couple of years.  I wasn’t really “Thai” becaused I hardly lived there and I was hardly a citizen of any other country.  I had grown up in Switzerland, Belgium, Poland and the US.  I was a traveling citizen of Earth.  Where was my home?

And so my definition of “home” has always been a simple one and one that I still hold dear.  For me, home has always been where my heart is.  Home is where my family lives.  Home is where all whom I treasure and love reside.  Everything else is just exernality.  It’s the family that makes any place “home.”  It’s not the house nor the country, nor the belongings.  Nothing materialistic.   “Home” is where my heart is. 

What do you consider your home? What is your definition? Please feel free to share 🙂

In Remembrance of Dyzio od Abruchy: My One and Only

Dyzio od Abruchy enjoying Spring flowers

Six years ago on this very day my true love died. Dyzio od Abruchy. He was a miniature dacshund, rusty brown in colour with a fluffy tail and eyes that made you melt. Born in Poland and raised in five different countries, Dyzio was a well-traveled dog who was loved by all who knew him. He traveled on the plane. First class with a ticket and private box. He was indeed a lucky dog. He was my baby.

He spoke not Polish his birth country, nor English, but spoke Thai. He understood when I told him to go fetch his toy upstairs and bring it down to play with me. He understood when we told him to keep quiet.

I got Dyzio in Poland where I had been living with my parents at that time. It was 1993 and the Solidarity movement in Poland had just won their first elections in a Communisty country. For the first time, Poland was moving towards a free market economy. Everything was changing, and it changed fast.

I remember, in other countries you had pet shops and you had kennels where you can go buy a dog. Not in Poland. You had to read a polish newspaper and give the sellers a call. While the rest of the world had digital phones in Poland we used the rotary phone with the round dial. It was awesome.

My piano teacher did us the honours and read the classifieds for us. She rang a lady up who had a batch of newborn dacshunds, and before we knew it, a few days later Dyzio was on the train from Olstyn. It took more than 5 hours for him to arrive at our house. The only thing the seller asked for was the cost of the train tickets if we changed our minds.

Who would though? A cute little puppy with huge feet climbed out of a tiny picnic basket. He was barely the size of my hands and he felt so warm in them. It was love at first sight. A pedigree with champion parents, he had a green tatoo on his left ear.

I took out every penny of my savings and from that day on, he was part of our family. I remember when he took his first steps up and down the stairs. I remember him being toilet trained and running out into the first snowfall. He breaked so fast he left track marks on the snow and ran back into the house. It was minus 20 degrees celsius. I remember him barking at the wind that had swirled a bunch of leaves in the corner of the balcony and digging a hole underneath the fence to visit his wired-hair dacshund neighbour friend.

I remember Dyzio riding on the back of my bicycle out to the lake in Brussels, chasing down the ducks in the garden, going through quarantine and being bitten by ants in Singapore, staying in the airconditioned room in Bangkok, and just enjoying the crisp cold air of Vienna. Vienna was his final resting place. I remember him jumping on my bed to wake me up and stuffing his nose beneath the door cracks. I remember him barking whenever he saw me leave with a bunch of luggage. He was one smart and clever dog.

He was a dog with character and a heart that was so big it just won you over. For over a decade he met most our guests and welcomed them like a true diplomat’s dog. We like to believe that he chose to die in Vienna where the weather is similar to Warsaw. He died 4 days before he was to travel back to Bangkok. I guess he knew where he wanted to stay.

Dyzio touched my heart so much. Dogs are great for the heart and soul. They have unconditional love and are always happy to greet you no matter what a bad day you have.

Rest in peace my dear dog. Hope you are having fun in doggy heaven. Wolf wolf! I miss you.