Friday, October 29, 2010

Sunday stills: The voodoo doll

Sorry, I am not into spooky things. I grew up in Borneo, where voodoo things are real, and people cast hex. I do not like looking at spooky things or watching spooky movies.

Here is what I grew up with, the road to our airport cut through two cemeteries. We were not to call our siblings their names when we drove through the cemeteries. Otherwise the ghosts would hear the names. That night, the ghosts would come and call for the person, aka call them to go with them aka they will die. You bet we took this very very seriously and kept very very quiet until we have driven past the cemeteries. That was really spooky.

Even in modern day Malaya, Taiwan, and Singapore, many people celebrate the lunar month of July as the Hungry Ghosts month. At this time, they believe the hungry ghosts, those spirits with no families to burn money and food, are allowed to come out of Nether land. Having starved for one year, they rush up to earth with a vengeance. People offer food and incense and stage musical shows for them. My friends tell me the front seats are left vacant for the hungry ghosts. This is very real and and I avoid them.

I wrote this story incorporating a lot of the prevalent elements of practices of the underworld.

The Voodoo Doll

It was the early colonial days on the island of Minau. Minau was known before the white man came to conquer them as Land of the Head Hunters. Even though the white rulers had outlawed this gruesome tradition, the mountains were remote and the rulers couldn't do a thing. The people believe in animism, vampires, mystic and spirits. Casting voodoos were rampant on people who upset you and they continued to chop people's head off.

Christopher Granada was one happy man. He beamed and grinned to himself. After ten years as a junior teacher, and then deputy head, he had finally been promoted to be a principal. He was to be the youngest school principal in the country. Though the school was up in the mountains, it was his school and he was the principal. It was a primary school of forty children. He had persuade new wife Nancy, fresh from England, to agree to the teacher and school matron.

Christopher and Nancy packed their luggage, emergency first aid and medicine and boarded in the motor boat for a two day's journey.

"The school is very remote, after the motor boat ride, the head man, Chief Waretini will wait for you in a long paddle boat at the town of Kano. He will take you to the school." Advised Alfred, the education officer.

Christopher and Nancy sat in the motor boat looking at the other passengers. They were natives from the mountains and had tattoos on their arms, legs and face. Their lips were darken by the tattoos. They were also sharing the boat with ducks, chickens and dogs. Some of the passengers looked fierce and Nancy wondered if their decision to move up to the mountains was a right one.

When it was mid day, some of the passengers opened up their food parcel of dried fish and taro. They offered their lunch to the new school master and his wife.

"Thank you, we brought our own," and quickly stopped at there. Alfred had reminded them that the natives were very hospitable people.

"Make sure you accept food offered to you, otherwise it will be seen as an insult and they will think you are snubbing them. But you offer some of yours in return."

Christopher and Nancy took a bit of the fish and taro and ate as though it was some gourmet food. Then Nancy opened her picnic basket and offered the fellow passengers some of her chicken sandwiches.

When they eventually arrived in Kano, it was late afternoon the next day. Nancy was quite happy to get off the motorboat and stretch her legs on the tiny jetty.

"You must be Mr. Christopher Granada, I presume!" Said the fifty something grey hair man.

"Yes, I am, you must be Chief Waretini, this is my wife Nancy." Replied Christopher.

"Welcome to Kano, Sir Granada and Mam Granada. Tonight, we sleep in a communal rest house, and tomorrow we paddle up to your school."

Nancy had not expected to sleep in the rest house. In deed, it was communal. There was no separate sleeping area. Thin mattress were rolled up like futons and kept at a corner.

"You may like to take the right hand corner, and I will take the left hand corner. I suspect some of the passengers will be sleeping in the rest house as well." Said Chief Waretini.

Chief Waretini took them to a small coffee shop where they had their dinner and then back to the rest house.

Nancy felt quite amused having to sleep on the floor. Never in her wildest imagination had she thought of how primitive the place was. The thin mattress didn't give any cushioning and Nancy didn't sleep a wink that night.

The rooster was crowing at the break of dawn, as though it was saying, "Welcome to the mountians."

"I did tell you that we were going up to the mountains. You don't expect a nice soft warm bed and a nice hot bath." Said Christopher.

The next morning, Chief Waretini brought them two hard boiled eggs each.

"Eat up! We start rowing as soon as you have finished. We need to travel a full day."

The Granadas or now known as Sir and Mam quickly ate their breakfast and packed up their luggage and followed Chief Waretini to the jetty. Waiting on the jetty were two boys about the age of twelve.

"These are two of you oldest students, they have come to help paddle the long boat."

Chief Waretini helped the Granadas load their luggage on the tiny long boat with no roof. Then he gave Nancy a big conical grass hat and a paddle.

"Do I have to paddle too?" asked Christopher.

"Well, if you want to reach the school before sun down."

So Christopher and Nancy each took a paddle and tried to synchronize with Chief Waretini and the two boys.

In a jovial mood, Nancy started to sing "Land of the silver birch, home of the beaver." And Christopher joined in making the rowing less tiresome.

They didn't stop for lunch, but just passed around more chicken sandwich and hard boiled eggs. The boys ate the chicken sandwich ravishly.

Eventually, they arrived at the jetty of their school. It was some fifty feet from the jetty and some girls were waiting to help them unload their luggage. The school was tiny, but The Granadas didn't expect it to be this tiny.

"It doubles up as the church chapel on Sundays." Chief Waretini told them. It is a Roman Catholic Church. The school was built by the mission. Sir, you are the first lay person to be our principal. In the past, we always had a priest."

"Behind the main school building was another rectangular shaped building. The end nearest the school is your living quarters, in the middle is the mess, and the far end is the kitchen."

The Granadas followed Chief Waretini on the grand tour of the school. In another smaller block was the dorm. The dorm was divided into two, one end for the boys and one for the girls. Again Nancy noted there was no bed. Thin kapok mattresses were rolled up and placed against the wall.

"We don't have a cook, the older girls will help you, Mam to cook for the children."

Nancy felt aghast, no where was there written in her job description that she was to be the cook. But it's too late now, Christopher was so enthusiastic in taking up the job that they forgot to check everything. She brushed back her tears and pretended that something got into her eye.

"The generator will provide the electricity in the evening. Make sure it is lights off at 8.30pm."

"What about us? Do we have to have lights off too?"

"You have a powerful torch light."

"Have we gone back in a time machine?" Asked Nancy.

"You have everything here, once a week, I will come with the food supply and the district health nurse will come once a month." Said Chief Waretini.

The Granadas worked hard in their little school. Both of them were liked by the students and their parents. They did not expect the extra added bonuses of eggs and chicken when the parents came to visit.

Christopher wanted to have a vegetable garden, Chief Waretini organised a community project and the parents, uncles and aunties and grand parents came for two days. Such co-operation was heart warming and soon they were self sufficient in vegetables, and starch roots like, sweet potatoes and taro.

Nancy was happy knowing that Christopher was elated. One day when the health nurse came, she confirmed that Nancy was pregnant. They were happy but Nancy was not overjoyed.

"How am I going to bring up a child in this remote place?" Nancy questioned herself, but she did not let Christopher know of her apprehension.

Nancy became sick, the health nurse suspected she had a miscarriage. "You work too hard here."

Much to Nancy's chagrin, Christopher didn't seem too upset, "Don't worry too much, we are both young, we can have another."

Nancy became pregnant again, but tragically she lost the baby again. She didn't recover physically from the lost. Her system got muddled up and she was constantly having cramps in her stomach and her hair was dropping in clumps.She feared she was turning bald.

Chief Waretini's wife came secretly to Nancy. "I don't think your health problems are due to natural causes. I think there is something supernatural about this."

"What do you mean?"

"I think some one cast a hex on you."

"Why would they want to do this?"

"I am not sure, I can ask our clairvoyant for you if you like."

"Christopher will never agree to witch craft."

"Do you value your life or not?"

In desperation, Nancy heeded Mrs. Waretini's advice. On the pretext of visiting a student's home, Nancy went with Chief Waretini's wife to the village clairvoyant.

In the clairvoyant's hut, lined against the wall were many shelves. On the shelves were bottles of magic potion with insects and herbs in them. She had darkened teeth, and covered her hair with a long black scarf. But bits of fizzy white hair could be seen sticking out at her forehead. She lit some red candles.

The clairvoyant gave Nancy some homebrew and asked her to spit out part of it on the floor. After saying some mumble-jumble words, the clairvoyant fell in a trance and prostrated on the floor. When she came through, she looked horrified.

"It's evil. Some village girl is jealous of you as the wife of our handsome young Sir. She wants you dead so that she can be the new Mam."

"What can we do?" asked Mrs. Waretini.

"The evil girl would have gone to a witch doctor and got her to cast a voodoo on you."

"How do I get rid of it?" Asked Nancy.

"We must find the source of the voodoo, she must have hidden a voodoo doll some where near the school, when you find it, you bring it to me, and I will remove the spell."

"Who could do such a hideous thing? I will enlist my husband Waretini to help."

"Please keep this a secret from Christopher, he will think I am superstitious to believe in this voodoo thing"

"When you live in the mountains, where most people are animists and not Christians, you have to believe that people resort to voodoo." Said Mrs. Waretini.

Chief Waretini scoured the whole school compound especially about the dense bush that surrounded the school. After two days, he struck gold. He found what he was looking for. Hanging upside down was an eight inch voodoo doll wrapped in red cloth, and bounded tightly in black string. Without touching it, he saw thorns stuck in the abdomen area. Parts of its hair had been pulled out leaving bald patches.

"No wonder the Mam had been losing her babies and getting bad stomach ache and dropping her hair."

Chief Waretini quickly got a student to rush the clairvoyant to come to school. They told the students to remain inside the dorm. The clairvoyant said her prayers, and removed the thorns stuck to the voodoo abdomen area, unwound the two metre long black string and the red cloth. Then she poured some kerosene and set the voodoo on fire until it became ashes. She swept up the ashes into a little gourd.

"That was a good job you located the voodoo doll. Now your job is to catch this vicious girl who wanted our Mam dead."

Every day and every night, Chief Waretini hid in a bush waiting to catch the culprit red handed. For ten days, he had no success and was about to give up.

"No, Waretini, you must be patient. For the sake of our beloved Mam, you must persevere, her life depends on you. " Said Mrs. Waretini and the clairvoyant.

It was a full moon night. At mid night Chief Waterini was getting sleepy. He heard a morepork hooting melancholy and he looked up. He saw the morepork sit conspicuously at a nearby tree. As a child, Chief Waterini heard that when this owl hoot melancholy, it had been with the spirits and something bad was going to happen. He felt the air suddenly become cold and the atmosphere become eerie.He even smelt the smell of death.

Out of the bush came Tania, the belle of the village. She was considered the most beautiful girl in the village but her pride had led her to reject all the suitors from near and far. She confided in her aunty that these local men were not good enough for her, and she was waiting for her knight in shiny armour.

"So she had decided that Sir was the knight, and so evil had she become that she was willing to kill Mam to get Sir."

Chief Waretini threw his fishing net on Tania so she couldn't escape. Then he bound her hands and legs with rope. He found she had a bottle of formic acid presumed to be used to splash and dissolve the voodoo. In such a terrible act, she had intended to kill the Mam.

In the mountain way of justice, he marched Tania to the clairvoyant's hut. The clairvoyant told Mrs. Waretini to cut off Tania's hair and smear charcoal and ashes on her face. Tania was to be the clairvoyant's slave for as long as the clairvoyant deem necessary and after she felt that Tania had become remorseful.

Christopher still dismissed the voodoo doll as mumble jumble. Miraculously Nancy recovered with no medical intervention. Her hair grew long and luscious.

Friday Shootout

One day, I had a long walk, and came across this letter box. I did a double take before I took the photo. Then I was intriqued by the entrance or rather the lack of it.  It was an unruly bush. I couldn't see anything beyond the bush and the trees. It looked like an overgrown deserted bush and abandoned house.
I suppose you don't have to be a rocket scientist to guess why the neighbours don't venture into the compound to tell the owner to keep his garden neat and tidy like the rest of them.

Sorry, I am not into spooky things. I grew up in Borneo, where voodoo things are real, and people cast hex. I do not like looking at spooky things or watching spooky movies.

Here is what I grew up with, the road to our airport cut through two cemeteries. We were not to call our siblings their names when we drove through the cemeteries. Otherwise the ghosts would hear the names. That night, the ghosts would come and call for the person, aka call them to go with them aka they will die. You bet we took this very very seriously and kept very very quiet until we have driven past the cemeteries. That was really spooky.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Outdoor Wednesday: Mud

I was watching the CBS Survivor series, and I just love the challenges. As I see them rolling in the mud, I remember this photo my niece took. She and her friends went to the same place the first Survivor series were filmed in Sabah Malaysia.

"I think I caught a fish, I think! I hope it is not a snake. We should have enough protein to win the next immunity challenge."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My World Tuesday: Goslings going on an outing

I am repeating these photos because I love them very much. It was this time last year when I went to my favourite park and saw these three adult geese taking the goslings for a Sunday swim. They swam a whole stretch of over one hundred meters each way like a fleet of naval boats.

Do count and see how many goslings there are. I counted 17 or 18. Others counted as many as twenty. Ka Pai aka good job, Goosey Lucy and Daddy Gander.

When I observe the geese, I often see another adult goose tagging along mummy and daddy. They share protecting responsibilites and fight off other grown geese when they come too near to the goslings.

I invite you all to come to New Zealand to witness this marvelous sight.

Monday, October 25, 2010

save the world/green blog hop: Green wall

The railway station in Mt Albert at the tunnel is disgusting, full of graffitti and smell of urine. People avoid using it. An Auckland city councillor has his green fingers on the pulse when it comes to enhancing the Mt Albert rail station.

Graeme Easte is proposing a station upgrade by applying "green wall technology", a system that enables plants to grow directly on a built structure.

Mr Easte says to build a seven-metre-long by three-metre-high wall opposite the station's seated area would cost about $50,000.

The wall would be irrigated from the top and any excess water could be collected and recirculated or allowed to seep into the ground."

Natural Habitats manager Pete de Jager says the green wall phenomenon in architecture and design has become popular since botanist Patrick Blanc covered Paris' national museum wall with plants in 1988.

"Apart from the aesthetics, engineers like them because they reduce the opportunity for graffiti, provide noise baffling, and also improve air quality. Stormwater run-off can also be used to irrigate the structure."

In fact, a cheap version of planting creepers like ivy on a wall already exist a couple of stations to the West. I am very impressed with the red wall less the graffiti.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sunday Stills:Fall Foliage
Sunday Stills, the next challenge: Fall Foliage
Posted in Sunday Stills, Sunday Stills Challenge of the Week with tags Sunday Stills on October 17, 2010 by Ed

Its that time again, most of the U.S. is in the middle of all that great fall color. So if you are in an area with some great color lets see it, if you are in an area past color or in a different hemisphere you can use archive pics… Have fun..:-)

We, in New Zealand, are at the beginning of spring. My archives are not very good.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Friday shootout: Patterns

All these photos were taken on the Gold coast of Queensland Australia.

Located at Chevron Renaissance Shopping Centre at the Surfers Paradise is Infinity which Sam went. INFINITY is a mind blowing journey into spectacular, futuristic maze like worlds of wonder and is the first of it's kind in the world. INFINITY is an extraordinary series of around 20 multi-sensual environments filled with unique special effects, atmospheric sound fields, ultra groovy music and illusions that appear to go all the way to infinity. It's an exciting, hilarious, interactive experience with unforgettable impact. It's fun for all ages, great family entertainment and a unique group or team building activity. The incredible INFINITY journey takes around 40 minutes and is suitable for all ages over 8 and all nationalities.

While repetition in the humdrum of daily life can at times be a little boring – capturing it in your photography can create an image with real impact.
Life is filled with patterns – many of which we overlook due to the business of our days – however once you get an eye for spotting them (and it takes being intentional and some practice) you’ll be amazed by what you see and you’ll wonder why you didn’t incorporate them into your photography before.

Patterns, both natural and man-made, bring a sense of visual rhythm and harmony to photographs that, like a series of repeating notes in a melody, capture the imagination. Patterns appear whenever strong graphic elements—lines, colors, shapes, or forms—repeat themselves.

Once you do become aware of the power of patterns, you will discover them almost everywhere: in a field of Maine lupines, in crowds of faces in a stadium, even in the zigs and zags of modern architecture. The secret to finding patterns is to explore potential subjects from a variety of angles. While you might not notice the colorful design of umbrellas as you maneuver a crowded Paris sidewalk, they become blatantly clear from an upper-floor window or balcony. Lighting is another potent painter of pattern. Fresh-plowed furrows in a cornfield, all but invisible on a dull, overcast day, rise into waves of highlight and shadow when lit by a bright, low-angle sun. Close-ups are also filled with pattern—consider the swirl of seeds in a sunflower or the intricate tracings of color in a butterfly's wings.

one I found on the internet as an example

Posted by Doreen

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Save the world: Use organic pesticides

My elderly immigrant neighbour planted some cabbage plants. Sadly, some were infested by aphids. I asked him if he wanted to spray his sicked plants with a diluted vinegar spray. he was happy to try. I gave him a spray bottle and some vinegar.

I just went over and found the aphids had gone. He was so happy.

You make a solution of 10 % vinegar, and 90% water. It should be strong enough to kill the aphids and not burn your plant.

I used to grow a lot of vegetables until I got bitten by the blogging bug. LOL

Vinegar is very good for cleaning too, to my dish washing detergent, I add 2 spoon of vinegar and baking soda. My son likes this as the dishes don't smell of detergent.

You can save the world by using less of the pesticides that can be toxic to humans, animals, plants and the soil.

My world Tuesday: Succulent plant

Winter should be gone, but it is reluctant to leave. There are still snow and hailstorm.

Look here to see what the hail storms have done to my succulent plant. They have left little holes on my beautiful plant.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday stills: Cars

Is it a car? Is It a boat? Is it a duck? It is all three, it is an aquaduck.

My fascination with cars when Dad bought his first car when I was six. It was a Fiat 1100.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Blog Action Day/Save our world: Water

Blog Action Day site at">|Start Petition
The following photos were taken in 1991 when I revisited the Rejang River. The river then was reddish and murky. A far cry from the 1960s when I swam and drank from the river.

uld accomo

I was born in Sibu, Borneo. Sibu is along Rejang River. We have very high tropical rainfall, about 144 inches annually. We swam in the river. Every December, part of the town is flooded. Our houses are on stilts, and the water level comes up to our thighs. I learned to respect the power of the river when after the flood, I see dead cats, dogs and chicken among the flotsam. The engineers tell me that it is the silting that is causing the floods.

A dam had been built in one of the tributaries of Rejang River. The Bakum Dam has attracted international opposition.

I saw this dead tree stump in the edge of a man made lake caused by the building of a dam. When I saw this, I am reminded of a trip in 1995 to Sarawak.

. We went by long boat powered by outboard engines. We sat in the boat and I saw lots of islands with a few trees and dead trees around them. I asked my guide what they were. She said, those were not islands, they were not so long ago, hills. When they built the dam, they flooded a whole area. So what was once a hill became an island.

She added that thousands of farmers were displaced. Instead of tilling the land they had done for generations, they now had to learn a new skill of fish farming.

This worried me because Rejang River Dam was to generate electricity for West Malaysia. The dam I saw was very small, it is not hard to imagine how much harm there would be to dam up a 350 miles long river.

The Bakun Hydroelectric Dam Project aroused widespread concern among environmental and social NGOs and indigenous peoples' organizations in Sarawak, which have been opposing this megaproject considered unnecessary -since the present and future energy demand of the country are adequately covered with the electricity produced nowadays- and negative from an environmental and social point of view because one third of Sarawak's remaining primary forest lie in the area to be affected by the dam, thus forcing the migration of indigenous peoples from the catchment area. In May 1997 the Coalition of Concerned NGOs on Bakun (Gabungan) urged ABB, the main contractor involved in the project, to definitively abandon the project.

"The flooding of the dam reservoir, the size of Singapore island, is scheduled to start next month," he said.

The Bakun problem-ridden project, Malaysia's largest hydroelectric dam, is located on the Balui River in the upper Rejang River basin, some 37km upstream from Belaga.

The construction of this dam will have adverse environmental and social consequences. At least 12 protected animal species and 93 protected plants are found within the dam's flood zone and will be destroyed if the dam is built. The dam may also have a negative impact on the Rejang River - the longest in Sarawak - by lowering water levels and degrading fish habitats and fisheries downstream. Construction work has also already forced the relocation of 10,000 people from their ancestral homes to a relocation village named Asap, where they face poverty, malnutrition and unemployment.

By the time I wrote the above, the information has become obsolete. I may have left the country of my birth Sarawak for more than thirty five years, I am still a Sarawak girl at heart. Today, my heart bleeds for the river that is crying. The country’s longest river, the Rajang at 350 miles/563km long from its source, was not navigable to all boats, big or small.

The river was like a conveyor belt in a sawmill but instead of transporting uniformly cut wood, it carried an endless flow of uprooted trees, discarded logs and all manner of vegetative debris from Kapit, some 176km away. Kapit experienced an alarming situation from about 2pm last week.

On Wednesday I wrote a post,


This phenomenon was also reported in China where it said to be threatening the world biggest hydro electric dam, the Three Gorges Dam.

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