Saturday, March 31, 2012

Ready Aim Fire vs Ready Aim Ready Aim vs Ready Fire Aim

Following on my post below "Ready Aim Fire", I would like to discuss the above categories of approaches towards acting on one's project. 

      Sam (below) has now started researching ideas for his cooking school project. Yaye! He is really excited and looks forward to the launch of his cooking school. 

      Fast forward another 10 years. Sam is still planning his cooking school project! Sam has so unfortunately fallen into the category of people who think that they are taking the Ready Aim Fire approach but instead are really taking the Ready Aim Ready Aim approach. Let's discuss the differences. 

      Ready Aim Fire: this means that you are quick to seize on the opportunities that come your way. But you don't just seize them blindly.
     Once you see an opportunity, you get ready by doing market research and studying your competition, you aim by planning and conceptualising your project and then you fire by launching your project eventually.
      You may not always succeed as life is just oh-so-unpredictable. But your chances of succeeding are definitely higher than a person like Sam who is always in the Ready Aim Ready Aim mode. What does this mean? 

       Ready Aim Ready Aim: you act on the opportunities that come your way. But you don't just seize them blindly. Once you see an opportunity, you get ready by doing market research and studying your competition, you aim by planning and conceptualising your project and then you go back to doing MORE RESEARCH and then you do MORE PLANNING AND CONCEPTUALISING.
       You never fire and launch your project. You are always stuck in the researching and planning mode! If this is what you are doing, you will never be able to make your idea a reality. Thus, when you have done your fair share of research and done enough planning, you should just go ahead and launch your project.
        You will never be able to do all the research and planning that you ever need to launch your project. Nothing is ever perfect. You just need to research and plan good enough. And then implement your idea. You will make mistakes along the way.
        You can then tweak your plan to avoid making the same mistakes. 
        However, please remember that you have to do your fair share of research and planning before you act on your idea.

        Don't slip into the Ready Fire Aim mode. This means that you seize an opportunity and act on it even before you do research and plan to assess if it is a viable opportunity. 
        You can't just get READY AND FIRE AIMLESSLY! You need to have a plan. You need to have a system in place! If not, it will be very hard to succeed because you will just be like a chicken running around without its head.

        Your ideas will be all over the place and it will be very hard to succeed even though you have acted on your ideas. You need A PLAN! 

        Get into your Ready Aim Fire mode today! And let me know how your projects go :) 



Ready Aim Fire!

Hi guys 

       How's everybody? Hope you guys are busying pursuing your dreams :)

       Anyway, following up on the thread below "The Key To Success", I would just like to add that I fully agree with Sheau Ching in that Action Speaks Louder than words. 

       Let's take Sam (fictitious and for purpose of this example) for example. Sam has been talking about his Project A (he dreams of starting a cooking school as he is passionate about cooking) for 10 years. He doesn't take action to pursue his Project A.

       Instead, he just talks about it and whines that he can't pursue it because he has no money. Can Sam succeed? Of course not! Not even on his passion when passion is just mixed with a dream. He needs to take action and start work on his Project A. He needs to start taking steps no matter how small to work towards fulfilling this dream of his. 
       How can Sam do this? He needs to stop talking and whining and just GET ON WITH his Project A. How much time has he already wasted TALKING AND WHINING? If he has no money, he can consider getting financing or round up a few potential investors to pitch his idea to them.

       Even if this does not succeed, at least he would have tried to make his Project A a reality. It is important to understand that an idea (no matter how brilliant) will always be an idea if one does not act on it. What's so good about an idea anyway if it does not serve a purpose it was meant to serve in the first place? 

       So please, if you have an idea, take action today! Ready. Aim. Fire! 


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

When Cinnabon Is None To Be Found...

       Spending RM16 on 4 small pieces of cinnamon roll at Cinnabon is worth every bite.

       Unfortunately, they don't run a franchise here in the East Coast and I needed help with my intense craving for the fluffiest and moist cinnamon rolls with generous creamy topping, sprinkled with the crunchiest toasted pecans.

       But since Cinnabon wasn't within 100 km drive I had to head into my kitchen and start whipping up things to soothe my desperate craving. The rolls turned out to be awesomely tender and tasty! And I'm sharing this with all you bread-cravers out there!

       In a mixing bowl, put 500g of bread flour, 10g salt, 15g yeast, 60f sugar, 150g milk and 2 large eggs. Use a dough hook and knead until a ball of dough is formed.

      Then add in 100g butter. Knead again and when all of the butter is incorporate. Cover the bowl with a cling wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes. 

       On a flour-dusted work surface, knock back the dough and roll it into a cylinder. Using a rolling pin, flatten the dough into a rectangular shape. Spread the cinnamon filling generously onto the dough and start rolling. Cut into the desired thickness and let proof for at least 45 minutes. Glaze with egg wash and bake at 190C for 15-18 minutes. 

     While it's still hot, glaze it with cinnamon topping- beat 100g butter, 100g cream cheese (room temperature), 300g sifted icing sugar and few drops of vanilla.

     Sprinkle with the nuts that you like (walnuts will do for me) and there you go...tender, warm and delicious homemade cinnamon rolls!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Key To Success

I HAVE been giving talks on writing, working from home, and building home-based businesses for several years now. Often, I get e-mail from people who have attended the talks. Some are doing well after taking the plunge to try something new. They heeded the advice given them and kept improving their skills and knowledge until they knew how to handle new challenges.

However, a large majority have not taken a single step towards what they had so wanted to do. A woman met me in a car park recently, and said: “Your talk was good but a home-based business is not for me. I am too old to try new things.

“Also, I don’t want to work so hard when my kids are still young. I don’t have a tertiary education like you, so everything takes more time. I don’t have the business skills and I am scared to do anything new!”
Just before she closed the door of her BMW, she threw in one last sentence, “And I don’t have money for the capital!”

I was rooted to the ground after hearing so many “I can’ts” from her in one breath. The woman was in her thirties.
She was not the only one who has given me a list of “I can’t”. Young people gave a common reason: “I am too young, I don’t have the business acumen” even though they were told that they could learn by doing and through seminars.

Retired people told me they were too old to try new things, forgetting that the founder of KFC started his fast food business when he was in his seventies! Some people believed that they don’t have the energy, while others thought that their personal and financial situations were not conducive for them to try anything new.

In contrast, those who are doing well are the ones willing to learn from others. They don’t give up easily. When difficult situations arise, they solve their problems with a positive attitude. Those who are religious also believe that bad things happen for a reason. If they have to face difficulties, it is because their God wants them to learn, 
experience, and think in order to train them for something bigger.

A home-maker friend who didn’t have the confidence to do event management was asked to volunteer and organise an event for the disadvantaged. She met the disabled, patients with chronic illnesses, and poor people who have the odds stacked against them.

This is what she had to say after the event: “It’s so inspiring to hear what some of these people are doing. The beauty of it is that every one of them is not complaining about his or her situation. They have chosen to be optimistic, despite facing difficulties on a daily basis. Some people I know are much better off in life, but they do nothing except whine about what’s not right in their lives.”

After the event, she chucked out her “I can’ts” and tried her hand at writing, even though it was something she had not done before. She is still learning, but I know she will go far because of her attitude.

People who keep saying “I can’t” should be reminded of 12-year-old Mohd Haziq who was born a paraplegic. Although he does not have the use of his lower body, he excels in football, swims, scoots around on his skateboard, using his arms to navigate his way around, and lift himself up. He bathes, dresses himself and gets ready on his own to go to school.

In Ghana, Emanuel Yeboah, who was born with one leg, was abandoned by his father at birth. His poverty-stricken mother raised him with great difficulty. Ten per cent of Ghanians are disabled, making disability a serious problem in the country. Disabled people are ridiculed and humiliated by the public.

As a child, Emanuel climbed coconut trees, fetched water and helped his mother around the house. He was excluded from basketball games in school, so he worked and earned money to buy a basketball. He negotiated with his friends that if they wanted to borrow the ball, they had to include him in the game.

After his mother passed away, the teenager decided to learn to ride a bicycle. He applied to a foreign foundation for a new bike to ride across Ghana to raise awareness about discrimination against the disabled. Eventually, he won a triathlon in the United States and learnt to make prosthesis to help other disabled people in Ghana. Emanual went on to receive international awards for changing the Ghanian perception of the disabled and giving them a chance at education and sports.

Ghanians were mesmerised by his courage. People who are better off than him asked: “If he can do it, why can’t I?”

His friend commented in the documentary about him, “When you do something from your heart, you will do it well.”

This can-do attitude determines the success of many people I know, whether they are baking cakes from home, translating for overseas clients or writing for a publication.

- by Chong Sheau Ching


About The Author

Born and bred in Ipoh, the third largest town in Malaysia, Chong Sheau Ching attained her Bachelor's Degrees in Food Science and Nutrition in Canada and a Master's Degree in International Administration in the United States.  
      She spent ten years working in international organizations on community empowerment through health and informal education, poverty alleviation and sustainable development programs.

       She returned to Kuala Lumpur for the birth of her daughter in 1994. From her home, she then began to write "stories for My Mother", a weekly column in Malaysia's most popular English-language newspaper, The Star, from where she soon gained a large following. 

       More recently, she established projects designed to open up new opportunities for mothers and homemakers. She edited and co-authored "Working @ Home - A Guidebook for Working Women and Homemakers" published in 2000. 

       She also founded the "Mothers for Mothers" network ( and so continues to maintain her long-standing interest in community empowerment.

       Chong Sheau Ching's family is of Hakka descent (see below) and has been in Malaysia for six generations. The Hakka lineage and Malaysia's multi-cultural environment have shaped a unique cultural heritage for families like hers. 

        Not only has their food been modified to incorporate spicy local ingredients, but they speak mostly the Hakka dialect (which has n written script) at home, with a smattering of words from bahasa Malaysia (the national language), and may also use a mix of Cantonese, Mandarin and English.

        (Hakkas are a unique ethnic group of 'Han' Chinese originally active around the Yellow River area. They are renowned for their early and extensive migration to all corners of the world, as well as for their determination and strength to survive under the most adverse conditions in their new homes. 

        Hakka women were revered for laboring alongside the men folk while at the same time nurturing their children and taking care of the house. As a result, Hakka women were never afforded the luxury of bound 'lotus feet', but were known for their big, flat feet. 

        An old saying urged men to marry Hakka women for they worked very hard without complaint!

The Fat Lady

"Hi! How are you?” The woman smiled as she took the seat beside me. She had to lower herself slowly, squeezing her ample bottom into the seat, filling all available space.
Positioning herself comfortably, she plopped her enormous arm on our common armrest. Her immensity saturated the space around us, shrinking me and my seat into insignificance.
I cringed and reclined towards the window.
She leaned towards me and repeated her greeting in an upbeat, friendly voice. Her face towered above my head, forcing me to turn to look at her. “Hi,” I replied with obvious loathing.
I turned away to stare out the cabin window, sulking silently about the long hours of discomfort I was going to experience with this monster beside me.
She nudged me with her meaty arm. “My name is Laura. I’m from Britain. How about you? Japan?”
“Malaysia,” I barked.
“I’m so sorry! Will you accept my heartfelt apology? Come, shake my hand. If we’re going to spend six hours side-by-side on this flight, we’d better be friends, don’t you think?” A palm waved in front of my face. I shook the hand reluctantly, still silent.
Laura started a conversation with me, taking no notice of my unfriendly reactions. She talked excitedly about herself and her trip to Hong Kong to see her frinds. She rattled off a list of things she was going to buy for her students in the boarding school where she was teaching.
I gave her one-word answers to her questions about me. Unperturbed by my coldness, she nodded as she made appreciative comments to my answers. Her voice was warm and caring. She was considerate and obliging when we were served drinks and meals, making sure that I had room to manoeuvre in my seat. “I don’t want to clobber you with my elephant size!” she said with utmost sincerity.
To my surprise, her face which repulsed me hours before, now opened into extraordinary smiles, lively and calm at the same time. I couldn’t help but let down my guard slowly.
Laura was an interesting conversationalist. She was well read in many subjects from philosophy to science. She turned a seemingly unimportant subject into something to explore and understand. Her comments were humorous and inspirational. When our topic turned to cultures, I was pleasantly surprised by her intelligent comments and well-thought-out analysis.
During our conversation, Laura managed to make every cabin crew who served us walk away laughing at her jokes.
When a flight attendant was clearing our plates, Laura cracked several jokes about her size. The flight attendant roared with laughter as she grabbed Laura’s hand, “You really make my day!”
For the next few minutes, Laura listened attentively and gave pointers to the flight attendant’s weight problem. The grateful attendant said before she rushed off, “I’ve got to work. I’ll come back later and talk to you about it.”
I asked Laura, “‘Have you ever thought about losing some weight?”
“No. I’ve worked hard to get this way. Why would I want to give it up?”
“You aren’t worried about cardiovascular diseases that come with being overweight?”
“Not at all. You only get the diseases if you’re worried about your weight all the time. You see advertisements from slimming centres that say, ‘Liberate yourself from your extra baggage so that you are free to be yourself.’ It’s rubbish! You’re liberated only if you’re comfortable about who you are, and what you look like any time of the day and anytime of the year! Why would I want to waste my time on slimming regimes when I have so many other important things to do and so many people to be friends with? I eat healthily and walk regularly; I’m this size because I am born to be big! There is more to life than worrying about weight all day long.”
She sipped at her wine. “Besides, God gives me so much happiness that I need a bigger body to hold all of it! Why would I lose weight to lose my happiness?” Taken aback by her reasoning, I chuckled.
Laura continued. “Folks often see me as a fat lady with big bosoms, big thighs and a big bottom that no man would even bother to cast a glance at. They see me as a slob. They think I’m lazy and have no willpower. They’re wrong.” She held up her glass to a passing flight attendant. “More of this magnificent wine, please.” She smiled sweetly at the attendant. “Great service from your crew. May God bless all of you.”
She turned to me, “I’m actually a slim person inside. I’m so full of energy that people won’t be able to keep up with me. This extra flesh is here to slow me down, otherwise I’ll be running everywhere chasing after men!”
“Do men chase after you?” I asked jokingly.
“Of course they do. I’m happily married but men still keep proposing to me.
“Most of them have relationship problems and they need someone to confide in. For some reason, they like to talk to me. I think I should have been a counsellor instead of a school teacher!”
Laura paused before she said thoughtfully, “You know, the relationship between men and women is so complicated. Women worship men and call them, ‘Honey’ until they find out they have been lied to, and then they turn into bitter gourds! Men love women so much that they see them as their soul mates until they look at their credit card bills, and then women become devils with tridents!”
Laura’s enthralling conversation had turned the flight into something thoroughly enjoyable. I was also fascinated by the way people were drawn to her. By the end of the flight, almost half the cabin crew was standing near the aisle by us, laughing and joking with Laura. The passengers around us joined in the merry-making too. Laura was the centre of attention, filling the cabin with delightful warmth.
When we waved goodbye to each other at the arrival lounge at Hong Kong’s Kai Tak Airport, I watched her walking towards a big group of adoring adults and kids. Cheers sounded as the group hugged and kissed Laura. She turned around and winked at me.
I was stunned, as the realisation set in: Laura was the most beautiful woman I had met in my life.

- by Chong Sheau Ching

Courage In Each Step - Marian Lough's Story

At 52, Marian Lough is too young to be stricken down by Parkinson's Disease, a condition which debilitates the person physically, making bodily movements difficult. Although she's still in the early stages of the degenerative disease, she talks to CHONG SHEAU CHING about how it has changed her life, and how she keeps her chin up.

"I love Kuala Lumpur!" Marian Lough said excitedly, serving me a refreshing Marian's Cocktail - Ribena in tonic with a twist of lemon. "I love the smells and the wetness of the wet market, the side streets, finding things I've never seen before and talking to the locals.

"I just wish I didn't have to leave, " she sighed.

"I'll miss all my friends, and - this may sound strange - the mini buses!"

"I was on one yesterday, and the bus driver, who was puffing while carrying on a shouting match with the conductor swerved the bus dangerously at high speed. My knuckles went white from gripping the bars too hard, but I though to myself, ‘What a lovely experience!'"

And that just about sums up Lough's unputdownable spirit. Despite the difficulties she has maintaining her balance, she sees thorough the potentially crippling situation and finds joy even.

But the joy she feels inside is not registered on her face. Just smiling is big effort for people with Parkinson's. Their faces are mask-like and devoid of expressions. Blinking impairment makes them look like they are sharing at people. Emotional stress results in uncontrollable hand and leg tremors.

"I'll miss the apartment," said Lough, as she proceeded to show me around. Her apartment on Jalan Perumahan Gurney overlooks a busy, noisy street in Ampang.

"I have enjoyed my three years here tremendously. I prefer it to a big house in a quiet area, because I can see the life of a whole community going on around me from my kitchen window!" she said.

Kampung Keramat lies behind her apartment building.

"The kampong is extremely lively in the mornings and late afternoons.

Boys fly kites, people take splash baths near a well, and women pound spices on pestles. They slaughter animals in that clearing for Hari Raya.

When it rains, they cover their things with plastic sheets and banana leaves, and move things around as fast as lightning.

I can feel myself doing everything they do! It's amazing.
Pointing to the footpath near a mosque, Lough described her favourite scene of the day in her slow, soothing voice. "The man cycles to the mosque three times a day with his bike piled with boxes.

He parks near the banana trees, then changes into his sarong and goes into the mosque.

When he comes out, he sweeps the part with a coconut broom. He throws some rice on the path for the birds while a black cat cuddles around his feet. He's part of my life in KL!"



In Lough's world, everything, including those insignificant and depressing to others, plays a part in making her life worthwhile and intriguing. A repetitive event isn't boring to her, but a fresh episode of an on-going, life-sustaining process.

Her approach is a stark contrast to many Parkinson patients' gloomy and apocalyptic outlook of life. Instead of leading a subdued home-based lifestyle to minimize physical mishaps, she goes but all her way to live every minute as actively as she can.

"I often visit my masseuse and sometimes nap on the couch on her verandah. Remember that flood in the kampong several months ago? I helped her clean her house! It was so gratifying to be right there with the folks. I love every minute of it!" Her excited voice filled the kitchen with energy as she told me about other interesting characters in the kampong.

Lough proceeded to make some sandwiches, her hands trembling visibly.

But she refused help, despite the risk of cutting herself. I watched her as she worked and talked about the "wonders" she sees around her - which to us, are but everyday events. 

Her movements were in slow-motion and her conversation punctuated by many optimistic expressions such as "amazing", "lovely" "sweet" and "charming".

I realized, here's a woman determined to drive the disease away in her mind by focusing on the positive and God's many little wonders.

Originally from Auckland, New Zealand, she and her husband, Michael Lough, moved to Singapore in 1990 after living in Australia, the Pacific Islands, England and Scotland.

Trained as an educator for children under seven, she was involved in pre-school training and story writing in New Zealand.

She also served as the President of the Auckland YWCA, a committee member for the National Council of Woman's Organisation of Auckland, and a committee member of community-based welfare organizations such as Woman Line, a listening service for Maori women.

"I was always busy. If I wasn't working, I was keeping in touch with my big network of friends. When Michael got this interesting job in Malaysia, I said to myself, "I've got to see Malaysia. It's the chance of a lifetime."

The loughs moved to Kuala Lumpur in 1993. soon after, Marian began feeling her right hand and her arms and legs trembled uncontrollably when she felt tired and pressured. But she was too busy settling down to give the symptoms much thought. She thought the signs were caused by missing her piano and driving her car.
At a physiotherapist friend's urging, she finally went to see a doctor. 

The initial tests showed nothing, but Lough's concern grew after witnessing a fatal accident on the Seremban highway which left her trembling violently. She went to a neuro-specialist for more tests.

"I was shocked when the doctor told me I had Parkinson's Disease. I associated it with old people, and at 52, I was hardly old." She looked straight into my eyes. Her face was expressionless, but her voice spoke volumes about her frustration.

"It was difficult to accept taking pills for the rest of my life and knowing that my body wasn't functioning normally.

"I have to think before I can even smile - something I could do since I was a baby. But the most crushing bit was having to give up my love for traveling. I was devastated. Totally devastated."

"My disease changed the dream retirement plan we had been looking forward to for so long. We had planned to travel the world. I have always wanted to talk to people who live in exotic places and hold the children's hands. Now, we have to stay put in New Zealand so that I can cope with the advancement of the disease." Lough looked down at her hands as her voice trailed off.

"My daily life now is about dealing with pills. Pills. Pills. Pills. I dislike them but I've to take them. Staring on the pills was difficult. Morning sickness and my revulsion at the thought of the pills occupied my days. 

Sometimes, I felt like shouting, ‘Why me? Why me?' and throwing the pills out the window." Her eyes darted between the wall and me as her shaking hand brushed a lock of hair from her forehead.

"Once, I broke down and cried at a pharmacy counter because I couldn't see myself buying the pills for the rest of my life. I lived with tremendous despair for several months. Support from Michael, my children, and friends has helped me to accept it. Reading information on the disease sent by my children and friends also helped me to cope.

"When I was still healthy, I was so busy that I forgot that there was a whole world out there besides my own. I was uaware of the wonders. The disease made me more aware of my own mortality as it's something that I have no control over. It gives me a sense of urgency I've only one life!

"One life. One life. This is it. I won't have it again, so I have to get out there and live every minute of it fully."

Marian Lough was ill from taking her medication. At that time, she was reading the novel, Chasing the Monsoon. Inspired by the key character, who visited India alone despite a disabling disease, she courageously traveled to India by herself.

She interacted with all kinds of people including beggars and street people in the most unlikely of places. She wrote 50,000 words about her trip and sent her story to her friends. She has visited India twice since.

Writing has been her consistent response to life's ups and downs. A few months after she was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, she had a hysterectomy in which a tow-pound fibroid was removed with her uterus.

But rather than dwell on the miserable effects of surgery, Lough recorded the daily happenings outside her window and her interactions with patients and staff.
While recuperating at home, her notes blossomed into a humorous and touching story about her hospitalisation that story, she also sent to her friends.

Another way she coped was to draw energy from other people, Lough put an ad in a local newspaper asking for Parkinson patients and their families to gather at her house to form a self-help group.

Upon discovering a newly formed Malaysian Parkinson's Association, Marian joined them and became a committee member. She initiated a phone tree and regularly phones the members, including those who stay outstation.

Lough thinks lightly of the responsibility, even though she herself has to cope with the disease.

"Members feel more comfortable sharing with another member about the problems we face, such as constipation and depression. Sharing our experiences and laughing together is very important. A few mines of warm concern can mean a lot to people who are depressed and feeling hopeless. It's extremely satisfying to be able to give something to others.

"I tell Parkinson patients to stop thinking about what's wrong with them, and instead to do something they have never achieved before. At the recent farewell party given to me by the Association, a new member told me, "I'll never forget you. You are the first Parkinson person I confided in. Your positive attitude has helped me to cope with my disease.

"You see, life is about giving and receiving." She gave me another calm, reassuring smile.
"I love people. Everyone, old and young, dark and fair, big and small, like you." She patted my hand gently.

"I'll always have lots of things to do with people. Parkinson hasn't changed me very much except slowing me down physically. I can't walk as fast as before, but I can still get involved in may things. I don't want to hide in a corner and fade away."

She gripped my hand tightly.

Marian Lough has been writing more. Her letters to her friends in New Zealand entitled, "From My Window" describing the kampong events from her kitchen window, have been so well received that her friends copy them for their friends and neighbours. The letters have also caught the attention of a New Zealand museum.

Her series of children's books, published by Arus Intelek, are her best. They include Uncle Zainal And His Monkey, My Big Sister, and How Do You Go To School?
She recreated kampong and city lives through children's curious eyes, helping the readers think creatively.

Lough is an active member for the international Women's Association and the YMCA in Kuala Lumpur. She continues to keep in touch with friends. She listens to their problems, and tries to help as much as possible.

She introduces friends with similar interests so that they can expand their business, careers and hobby networks. She regularly attends the monthly Writer's Group meeting at the British Council.

As she listed her various involvements, I asked, "What about your future?"

She replied, matter-of-factly, "I will stick to my special diet strictly, drink lots of water, walk, and do qi gong exercises to stay fit. I will keep doing things, moving, thinking and smiling."

She paused, then said, "I don't know how the disease is going to progress and hot it'll disable me; I don't want to dwell on the future to much and let the disease become a fear.

Occasionally, I'm overwhelmed by thinking about how I'm going to finish up and how Michael is going to cope when I become totally dependent on him.

"When I go back to New Zealand, I'm going to resume my hobby of painting with my trembling right hand! And when I can't even do that any more, I'll find another way to tell stories.

"Michael's going to build a lovely one-storey house with doors wide enough for wheelchairs. It will not be just for us, but for my fiends on wheelchairs too.

"Oh, there are many, many things I want to do. There will be limits, but I hope I'll have time to do most of them." She pulled the kitchen window closed.

Suddenly, a light flickered in Marian Lough's eagle-sharp eyes and she threw the window wide open again.

"Look!" She pointed a shaking index finger at the dirt path in the kampong. "A rat. It is scurrying by that banana tree! Look! Look! A lovely kingfisher is swooping down! It's trying to follow the rat around! Wow! The clever rat is getting away!"