along a pathway in Desa Park City, I fish out my mobile phone and jab Sifu Sabrina’s
number. “Hello? Sabrina? Where’re you? I’m near the pavilion.”
with my dogs!” A pause. “Ah! I see you now!”
jaw drops. Sifu Sabrina [pix below] is dressed to kill.
saunter towards her and stop a few feet away. “So, can you give your
predictions for the twelve animal signs?”
not this year.” She starts to walk towards Three Little Birds Coffee and I
stride along. “I’m giving too many freebies for your blog. For this year, I’ll
just predict how the different businesses will fare.”
sit at a table in the café and order cakes and coffee. Sabrina puts her doggies
on the empty chair next to her and, soon, our orders arrive.
sit upright and cross my legs at the knees. “Can we start with the good?”
industries will perform well. That sector includes publishing, plantations,
furniture stores, fabric factories, fashion designers, bookstores, healthcare
professionals such as doctors and sinseh, and private colleges.” She lifts her
cup of latte and takes a sip. “The metal-element businesses will also be
strong. Examples are banks, loan sharks" -- the corners of her lips upturn in a grin -- "goldsmiths, mechanical engineering firms,
hardware stores and motor repair workshops. The fire-element businesses will be
smooth but there will not be big gains. They include electronics, IT,
entertainment, lighting stores, oil companies, and restaurants.”
gaze fuses with hers. “Why
you say that?”
the Hsia calendar, the year of the dog is symbolized by Yang earth atop a Dog.
So the Earth element is prominent this year.”
She arches her eyebrows. “Wood destroys earth, so the earth element symbolizes
money to wood-element industries.”
take a piece of cake from a plate between us and start to eat. “Which kind of
businesses will fare badly?”
businesses will be in the doldrums.” Sabrina tosses her gaze at her dogs for a
moment and strokes their back. “Money to the earth element is symbolized by
water which is absent. So, challenging
times are faced by ice cream factories, beauty and health spas, casinos,
fisheries, cleaning services, bubble tea stores, shipping companies and suppliers of refrigerated products such as
fruits and fishes. However, among the
five elements, the earth-element business will be the worst. Examples are real
estate, property developers, architects, pet stores, and pottery.”
tear my gaze away from her eyes with great difficulty. “What are some of the important things to
take note of for year of the Dog?”
lucky hours for Dog year are 3 am – 5 am, known as Tiger hours; 5 am – 7 am,
called the Rabbit hours; 11 am – 1 pm, referred to as Horse hours; and 7 pm to
9 pm, regarded as the Dog hours.” Sabrina brushes stray strands of hair from
her forehead. “Lucky numbers are 3, 4 and 9. Lucky colours are green, purple
and red.” Her expression becomes serious. “There will be earth-related natural
disasters like earthquakes and underground mining mishaps. Also, avoid
travelling in underground subways. Several foreign cities like Hong Kong have them." She leans back on the chair. ”Finally, I’ve
said before that one should be careful of the North direction which will be a
trouble spot. So…if your front door faces north, here’s what you can do – hang
a wind chime with six metal tubes under the door. Another feng shui object you
can display is a five-element pagoda.”
Christmas and a Happy New Year,” says Jessica, “to all Christian readers of The
Wordslinger blog. I say, I just stole Santa’s naughty list! Whoa… the Gang of Four’s
names – Chow Kah, Hussein, Wati and mine – are there!”
“How can I help you, Mr Ranjit?” asks Paulina (pix below),
her tone sticky-sweet.
“I run a Bengali bread bakery and profits are
down.” A sigh rolls from Ranjit’s lips.“And
I don’t know what to do, so can you help me?”
Paulina leans back in
her chair, rests her elbows on its arms and steeples her hands. “Have you tried cutting
“I use dirt-cheap Bangla labour, so there’s
not much I can do in that area. I don’t want to compromise on quality by using low-cost
inferior ingredients. I want to maintain quality.”
Paulina squints in thought for a moment. “Hmmm…So,
that leaves you with two options -- either increase price or pump up sales
“People only eat bread in the morning. So, how
to grow the sales volume? Very difficult, some more I’m in retail sales.”
“Then you’ve to increase price.”
“How to justify the price hike?”
“Have you heard of the word ‘artisanal’ “?
Ranjit shrugs his shoulders. “Nope, Maam.”
“Artisanal food means food made by an artisan
and by skilled hands. It’s priced higher than regular food. There’re now
artisanal pizza, artisanal ice cream and even artisanal soap -- they're damn expensive! So, re-brand your
product and call it ‘artisanal Bengali bread’!”
Ranjit gapes as epiphany strikes him. “Well,
the name of your bakery?” Paulina’s spectacles slide down her nose and she
pushes them up again (pix below).
“Ranjit Bengali Bread, Sentul.”
Turning sideways, Paulina taps a few buttons
on the keyboard of her computer. “I see that your bakery doesn’t have a
Facebook page as yet.” She flicks her gaze from the computer screen to Ranjit.
“Never mind, I can create one for you, call it Ranjit Artisanal Bengali Bread.”
Ranjit scrunches his nose. “What if customers post
Paulina gives a wave of her right hand. “No
problem! I can create dozens of fakey Facebook accounts to post good reviews!”
She raises two manicured fingers. ”You know, for every bad review, I can post
two good ones. In that way, we can maintain a healthy ratio of 2 to 1 in your
favour.” She leans forward on her desk, her
eyes gleaming with hope. “So, can we
discuss a social-media-based PR program for your bakery? It can be drawn up to
suit your budget.” She pauses for a reply but there is none. “But if you want
to go traditional, I can get a two-page write-up on your bakery in next year’s
edition of the Holy Book of Sikhism.”
Ranjit’s eyes narrowed. “Er, I’d like to
consider your suggestion.” He sits upright suddenly, causing the cushion’s springs
to creak. “Can you give me your bill, please.”
Paulina’s fingers dances on the computer keyboard
and a printer on her desk spits out a
sheet of paper. “Here you are, sir, my
Ranjit’s eyes flare wider when he sees the
bottom figure on the bill.“What? So expensive? This is ridiculous!”
“Mr Ranjit….” Paulina clamps her cherry-red lips
to stave off a grin. “I offered you artisanal PR consultancy advice, not
I pull my car over to the visitor’s parking
lot, yank the handbrake up and get out. As I walk to the security booth at the
entrance of Jessica's condominium, I lock my car with the remote control. Beep!
A Nepali security guard pops his head out of
the window of the booth. “Yes, sir? Which unit?”
“Jessica’s unit, number eighty-eight -- she’s having
a poolside BBQ.”
He gestures with an open palm. “Please enter,
When I reach the swimming pool, I see that
Jessica’s party is in full swing -- some of the guests are scarfing down grilled food, ohers are dipping in the pool. Sporting a pair of shades, Mummy Lulu (pix below) is chatting with Johnny Yap, the owner of Hot Legs Niteclub & Karaoke.
The smell of cooked food wafts in the air and
starts the engine of my appetite. A mini compo is blasting out foot-stomping
music which almost makes my stomach vibrate and a singer's hoarse voice is shouting,
“Put your fucking hands up!” I almost cringe at the vulgarity.
I spot Jessica and Chow Kah (pix below),
half-submerged in the pool and wave at them. Chow Kah waves back at me and I go to the BBQ grill and pile some grilled
squid rings and prawns on a plate. After getting a drink, I settle my butt at a
poolside table and start to eat.
Within moments, Jessica joins me and slaps a
high-five with me (pix below). “Glad you can come!” She drags out an empty
chair beside her for Chow Kah who’s holding a plateful of satay in one hand and
another plateful of popcorn shrimp in the other hand.
"Great party!" I flash a smile at Chow Kah and pop a squid ring
into my mouth. “Where’s Wati?”Talk of
the devil! I mean, Wati. At that moment, bikini-clad Wati (pix below) emerges from a changing room near the pool, rounds our table with a wiggle of her butt and joins us.
I flick my gaze at Wati, sitting across
me. “Hi, Wati, where’s your best friend,
Hussein?” I point at Jason, Mummy Lulu’s toyboy (pix below) -- togged up in swimming trunks and a bowtie -- gyrating under a marquee. “You know, two’s a couple, three’s a party!”
“Didn’t you know?” Wati picks up a popcorn shrimp and blows on it. “He’s in hospital.” She pops it into her mouth.“You know what
happened to him?”
I shake my head and from the corner of my eye,
I see Jason coming to our table. He pulls out a chair, nods and sits down.
“Don’t let me interrupt your conversation,” he says.
Wati takes a swallow. “Penile fracture.”
My jaw sags a full inch. “Sweet thunderation!
How did it happen?”
Wati’s eyes twinkle with amusement. “He was making
boom-boom with his fourth wife when it happened!” She picks up a six-inch bamboo
skewer. “An accident happened which broke his manhood." She snaps the bamboo skewer into two. “Like
Jessica picks up a skewer of satay. “Do you
know that certain sex positions are dangerous?” She brings the skewer to Chow Kah’s mouth.
“As proven by research.”
“Wow!” I sit upright. “You just read another
interesting scholarly article?”
Chow Kah bites off two morsels of meat from the skewer. “Yes,
Jessica loves to read!” He takes the skewer away from Jessica's hand.
Jessica picks up her glass of fruit punch and sucks at the straw (pix below). “The University
of Campinas -– that’s in Brazil -- compiled statistics of penile fracture
treated at three hospitals from 2000 to 2013.
Most of the victims revealed that they were engaged in either the doggy or
cowgirl style when the mishaps happened. The risk of the man accidentally hitting the woman's pelvic bone is very high in these two positions.” She winks.
of Sexual Medicine article?”
“No, a journal called Advances in Urology." Jessica puts the glass of fruit punch down. "Year 2014 issue.”
Wati flits her gaze to Chow and then to me. “Not
only that -- according to an article in International Journal of ImpotenceResearch, the doggy position causes the most severe injury.” She pauses. “I
think it appeared in the February, 2017 issue. The authors of that research paper were Dr. Barros,
Dr. Schulze, and one or two other doctors.” Her face becomes taut with seriousness. “Men who suffer penile fracture can be left
with permanent erectile dysfunction. It depends on how serious the injury is. So this is no laughing matter.”
"Holy cow!" My eyes jolt
wider. "I didn't know you also read medical journals!" From the corner of my eye, I see Jason widening
his eyes in fear (pix below). “What’s wrong, buddy? I ask, tossing my gaze at
him. “You look terrified.”
“Mummy Lulu’s favourites are doggy and cowgirl!” Jason's voice is a croak.
Ewe Paik Leong is a novelist and a member of the California-based International Thriller Writers. All articles in this blog cannot be reproduced without his permission. Anonymous comments and those containing profanities will not be published.