Read All About My Reading From Readings From Readings

On May 15th I did a reading of my chapter from Readings From Readings at the MPH bookstore in 1Utama, along with several talented writers — Shanthini Venugopal, Alina Rastam, Brian Gomez, Uthaya Sankar SB, and of course the lovely Sharon Bakar, who hosted the event. Leen and the boys were there to cheer me on. Okay, actually Alisdair was whining because he wanted a sticker book, Aaron was squealing with delight and running all over the store, and Leen was trying to keep both boys within arm’s reach without any bloodshed. I appreciated their presence nonetheless.

I was a bit nervous about reading my work aloud in front of a small crowd. I’ve spoken before more than a thousand people without any major anxiety, but these readings always make me nervous, even with only two dozen people in the audience.

Today there’s an article about the event in The Selangor Times.

Thanks to Sharon for the link to the article…and also for inviting me to read that day. I had a great time and made some new friends.

A Clinical Accomplishment

Finally, after settling on a suitable location, securing financing, and putting in a lot of hours of hard work to set everything up, my lovely wife Mazleen now has her own dental clinic: Klinik Pergigian Dr. Leen. She’s worked at government clinics and hospitals, in private clinics, and at a college, and has even been providing answers to questions about dentistry in what may be Malaysia’s first Malay-language dentistry blog (and people ask her a lot of questions, like in this post, which at the moment has 955 comments and counting); now she finally has a clinic of her own. She’ll have to work harder than ever (and I can tell you she already is), but I know she’s really glad to be the boss and to be able to do her job the way she wants to do it.

Here are some pics of the clinic, which is located in Reko Sentral, Kajang (actually I think it’s in Bandar Baru Bangi, but the borders between the two towns tend to be rather blurry):

This is the first view most people will have of the clinic, as they step out of the new Econsave supermarket. Reko Sentral remained a ghost town for quite some time after it was built, until word got around that an Econsave would be opening there. Soon the area began filling up with businesses: restaurants, laundries, car repair shops, electrical shops, hardware stores, clothing stores, a couple of medical clinics, tuition centres, a college, a gym, a florist, a bank, a car dealership; there are even at least three hotels, one of them right across the street from the clinic. Econsave is definitely the anchor tenant, and will probably be the reason most people come here, at least until the other businesses can establish their own clientele.

The waiting area, with a smiling Dr. Leen behind the counter.

The chair. There are two surgery rooms (Leen prefers to call them treatment rooms, which sounds less…scary), but for now she’s only going to use one (the other one is her temporary office, which is where I’m sitting right now). The chair is from Vitali, an Italian company; apparently Leen is the first dentist in Malaysia to use it (or one of the first two, since her former boss is getting one too, though I’m not sure if he’s using it yet). She took a bit of a risk buying this chair, since it’s untested here. It’s a mid-range model (high-end chairs are prohibitively expensive; low-end chairs, especially the ones from China and Korea, don’t last very long); she hopes it will serve her well.

Al lounging in the waiting area.

The kids’ section of the waiting area.

The clinic occupies the entire first floor (that’s the second floor for any Canadians/Americans who may be reading this). That gave us plenty of room to create a second home of sorts for the whole family: a large family room, a kitchen, and a dining room. There’s also a huge room that we’re storing things in, which will eventually be Leen’s office. There’s also a small room just off that one which may end up becoming my office.

Yes, I’ll be spending a lot of time at the clinic, as will the kids. It’s a big change for all of us; a new chapter in our life as a family. We’re not exactly moving in or anything, but we will be spending quite a bit of time here. It’s not very far from our ‘real’ home, no more than a ten-minute drive on a normal day. We’ll all come over here in the morning and, except for the times I have to step out and the few hours that the kids might be off at a preschool, we’ll be here all day, until well after sundown. The boys will practically grow up in a dental clinic. Future dentists, perhaps?

I’m really proud of Leen for all the hard work she did to make all this become a reality. She’s an amazing woman, and a darn good dentist if I may say so. She’s the only dentist who’s managed to get anywhere near my mouth with a drill since I moved to Malaysia eight years ago; I was pleasantly surprised the first (and so far only) time she used the drill on me. Hey, it’s a big thing for me to endorse a dentist. I’m not a big fan of dentists. But I’m most definitely a big fan of Dr. Leen!

If you would like to have Dr. Leen dig around inside your mouth (doesn’t that sound exciting?), drop in at 27-1 Jalan Reko Sentral 6, Reko Sentral, or call 03-8739 4039 or 014-6345 676 to make an appointment. (We recently discovered that mobile number was recycled; apparently it used to belong to someone named Jes who runs a gay massage service. Needless to say, we’ve been getting some interesting calls and texts. You won’t get anything like what ‘Jes’ offered at Klinik Pergigian Dr. Leen, unless you count gum massage. Leen prefers the word pulpate, which somehow sounds worse.) Anyway, give Dr. Leen a call, or just walk in, make yourself comfortable, and don’t be afraid of the sound of the drill. I used to hate it, but these days it’s music to my ears.

Highway Robbery: Some More Good News

Saw this in The Star today:

The blatant use of gangster tactics to collect outstanding instalment payments and repossess vehicles will soon be outlawed when a nationwide law is introduced.

The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives Affairs and Consumerism Ministry is drafting a law to govern matters relating to collection of instalment payments and repossession of vehicles.

Deputy Minister Datuk Rohani Abdul Karim said yesterday the Government had to step in and regulate the business as the rough tactics were becoming too blatant.

Many financial institutions use the services of third parties to collect outstanding instalments or repossess vehicles.

There have been complaints that some third parties use scare and gangster tactics when carrying out their work.

“We cannot allow such methods to continue. There have been cases of gangsters going around ambushing vehicle owners in the streets, in offices and even breaking into their homes to ask for payment and to repossess vehicles.”

Rohani said the new law would require all third parties involved in vehicle repossession and collection of outstanding instalments to be licensed.

“Anyone wanting to get involved in this business must set up a proper company and register with the ministry.

“Those employed must be professionally trained and be governed by a code of ethics.

“These companies must adhere to guidelines. They cannot simply hire thugs and gangsters to do their job for them,’’ she told a press conference here during her Hari Raya visit to the ministry’s Miri division office.

Rohani said the draft of the law would be tabled at the next Dewan Rakyat sitting.

Asked about the severity of gangster involvement, she said there was no proper data, but based on public complaints and feedback, the problem was widespread in cities and towns nationwide.

It’s about time.