Sheila and LS
Peter is not working today. I got him to fetch me to town to get some things done right after an early lunch. It looked like it was going to rain but when we reached Little India, the sun was shinning brightly. After settling my affairs there, we went to meet LS at the City Bayview Hotel. LS, a Malaysian currently residing in England, is back here for a holiday. He has been a quadriplegic for twenty two years. Sheila, his caregiver for seventeen years now, accompanied him on his trip here.
We shared about our lives and our disabilities. LS was very vocal about the lack of basic facilities catering to the needs of the disabled community here. Transport, access and public awareness are foremost in his mind. It was an eye opener talking to him and Sheila especially when they talked about the rights accorded to the disabled in the United Kingdom be it from the government or the NGOs.
Forward – Published by the Spinal Injuries Association
LS had problems moving around here as there is no specially adapted van with lifts that can accommodate him in his wheelchair. Pavements were without ramps and were not built to give access to wheelchairs. Those that had oftentimes were obstructed by haphazardly parked motorcycles, carts, lampposts and fire hydrants. Sheila had to push him on the road most of the times. Wuan and I have experienced that when we went exploring the Inner City a few months back. It was a harrowing experience with traffic speeding by just a couple of inches from us.
We agreed that a lot can be done to improve the plight of the disabled here. I have seen the gradual improvement in the basic amenities for the disabled in public areas and buildings. However, the provision of such facilities is not at par with the speed of our nation’s progress. No wonder most of the disabled are left behind in our race to be a first world country by the year 2020. Apart from having limited job opportunities, we have problems with infrastructures that were built without giving much consideration to the needs of the disabled.
Before parting, LS presented me with the June edition of a magazine called Forward and a CDROM titled Moving Forward 3: A Guide to Living with Spinal Cord Injury that were both published by the Spinal Injuries Association. I left the meeting inspired by his doggedness in promoting the rights of the disabled in the United Kingdom and his determination in providing the impetus for the disabled community here to recognise our rights and to press the case with the powers that be. He may be less physically-able than me but he certainly made that up with his tenacity and fortitude in advocating for the rights of his peers which in all honesty put me to shame.
Sinfully yours – Chee Cheong Fun
On our way back, hunger pangs struck since I had an early lunch. Peter and I stopped at Genting Coffee Shop in Island Glades to get something to eat. We both had wanton noodles which was unexceptional. He then ordered popiah which was even more insipid. In a moment of rashness, I ordered a plate of chee cheong fun. This is one dish I had tried to avoid because of the copious amount of shrimp paste and fried chilly paste. The stream of people ordering it was enough to make me throw caution to the wind. This is one of the better tasting chee cheong fun although I have eaten much better ones. Wuan is going to nag me for this. I am sure of it. Ah well, the price to pay for my indulgence.