In typical Asian fashion, three generations of my family live together, crushed into in one medium-sized apartment. But we knew this situation could not last forever.
Well, a change has finally been made. From now on, FOUR generations of us are squeezed into one apartment.
My children went to a place called Dog Rescue and adopted a small, yellowy-brown mutt. I took a look at it. "It's a mongrel," I said. The kids asked: "Is that good?" I nodded. "Definitely. The finest breed in the world."
Having signed the paperwork, the children and their mother cheekily went off for a long weekend holiday, leaving me in charge of the newest member of the family.
I called friends for advice. "Make sure it pees and poops in your flat," said one. "If it does, that's a huge compliment. It's telling you that it feels at home."
This news amazed me. That's a compliment? When the Queen finally invites me to Buckingham Palace, should I pee on her throne and poop on her two-hectare Persian rug? Will she delightedly knight me with her sword? Or swing the blade at me at a different angle?
I dialed a veteran dog owner for a second opinion. "No. Make sure it DOESN'T pee or poop in your flat," she said. "Otherwise your home will look like a dog-toilet for ever more." Hmm, I thought: so, no change there.
In the event, the animal took one look around the interior of my apartment, and then energetically threw up on the carpet.
I took this as a sign of excitement, rather than a criticism of my interior design skills, since a visiting French designer once described my apartment as "parfaitement hideous", which is French for "a perfect hideaway".
The following day, I went to see the experts at Dog Rescue who said that the dog had a mild illness called kennel cough, from which it would recover. On the way home, I bumped into a buddy, who also told me not to worry. He said: "It’s no big deal. I also feel like throwing up when I go into your apartment." What would our lives be like without warm words of assurance from our beloved friends and companions?
Three days later, the kids came back clutching a newspaper. In it was an article which said that the family of the US President Barack Obama had adopted a dog at exactly the same time as we had. There was a picture of Mr Obama consulting the dog on the subprime mortgage problem. (You're thinking what I'm thinking: FINALLY, he is getting good advice.)
"Will the newspapers interview our dog, too?" the kids asked.
No: our dog has requested no publicity, I said. Interestingly, the article said that Mr Obama was being criticized because he had got a rare breed of pedigree dog, instead of taking one from a shelter.
"But you said our dog was the best breed," the kids said.
I replied: "It's true. Mr Obama's dog is a pedigree. But President Obama himself is a mongrel, just like you, me and our dog."
The dog showed his enthusiastic agreement with my argument by throwing up on my shoes. I decided to take that as a compliment.
MEET THE GANG: Continuing our occasional series in which we feature members of the lively gang who feed funny ideas and comments into this pocket of absurdist humor, we today have a far-flung gentleman from the Caribbean. Christian Fardel, asked to send a photo, first sent this one, shown right. (In case you don't know, it's a picture of your columnist, cleverly doctored. Actually, Fardel, I only ever wear black lipstick.)
And below you meet the man himself. He is in the aviation industry, but I'm not sure exactly what he does. Fardel, I imagine you are NOT a pilot or an air traffic controller -- you have too much of a wild sense of humor for that sort of job, surely! Maybe you run the airport or an airline?