Funny green world
LOST in the confusing hallways of a large and very complicated residence, C. Y. Chong is desperate to find a toilet. He opens a door at random and finds himself in what looks like a lived- in bedroom. A door on the far side next to the bed seems to hold the promise of a bathroom, but Chong is nervous of making a social blunder.
“What if the owner comes back and finds me doing my business?” he worries. But the situation has become critical. He moves fast to find relief, all the while conjuring up fears of what will happen if the Her Majesty the Queen walks in? The Queen didn’t walk in, but it wasn’t such a crazy idea. Chong was in Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth’s London residence.
Five minutes earlier, Chong and his colleagues had been personally instructed by His Royal Highness Prince Philip to turn up for a meeting in exactly 15 minutes. HRH insisted on punctuality. He had given the group precise directions through the corridors, but Chong’s urgent business had caused him to lose both the group and his way. He made it, eventually.
What was he doing wandering around Buckingham Palace? He was attending a World Wildlife Fund meeting in the days when Prince Philip was its international president.
Life On Planet WWF is a unique autobiography. It consists of a collection of very short stories that CASEY Watson is a pseudonym for a former British schools behaviour manager who is now a specialist carer fostering children with painful pasts that have made them particularly troubled. While she knows about children with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, eight- year- old Phillipa, who suffers from the syndrome, is a unique case. “Am I ugly, Mummy?” are the first words Watson hears from Flip, as Phillipa calls herself. Flip’s life so far has been horrific but all she cares about are her looks – or so it seems. Watson shares in this book how Flip tested the limits of fostering for her and husband Mike. AUTHOR Rod Nordland is, and has been for many years, The New York Times bureau chief in Kabul. In the course of his work, he has seen the strictures and, in many cases, the recount dozens of unexpected, bizarre and amusing experiences, with anecdotes about things that happened to Chong in his 20- plus years as finance director of the World Wide Fund for Nature, the global conservation organisation.
Chong got the job after asking to be fired from his former employment as senior finance manager at what was then the second largest computer manufacturer in the world. He had decided to take his severance pay and seek greener pastures. Just how green, he was soon to find out. At the beginning, he clearly did not realise just what a short step it was from a Swiss office abuse, that Afghani women endure in daily life but always stayed uninvolved, as a journalist has to be. Then he heard the tale of Zakia and Ali, a young couple who had fallen in love despite tribal and religious differences, despite social mores and village customs. Nordland becomes entangled in their lives when, in attempting to capture their story, he helps them go into hiding – and they are still hiding. This is Nordland’s story about an impossible love that has continued in the face of all odds. THIS book is an original collection of stories, centred on the theme of loss and isolation. The characters play out fragmented relationships in various European cities, with the narratives moving all over, from rented room to darkened apartment, hitchhiker’s roadside and even to a Barcelona nightclub. Invoking Nietzsche Irish author Rob Doyle dwells on the ecstatic, the desperate and the uncertain in stories full of booze, sex, books and passion. to a tropical rainforest. He had settled in Switzerland for several years and wanted to stay on, but he also wanted to find a job that offered something different from his previous employment. He got his wish in ways that he could never have anticipated.
His story begins on a beautiful summer’s day. He was cruising the roads near the waters of Lake Geneva in his “petrol- guzzling Jaguar” when he noticed an ugly, grey, box- shaped building, with two flags flapping in the wind in front of it. One of those flags had the familiar WWF Panda on it. It piqued Chong’s curiosity and he wrote to “PAIN is the common language of the human experience,” writes pastor and author Jon Weece in his latest book. “Most people I know are fluent in suffering. They speak it, but they don’t understand it. One of the ways people begin to heal is to sit across the table from someone who can say, ‘ Me too’.” In his book, Weece tries to show that God understands the pain humankind suffers and can help people handle their pain. FROM political analyst and author Robert Kaplan – twice dubbed one of Foreign Policy magazine’s “Top 100 Global Thinkers” – comes a love story. It began when a young journalist visited Romania in the 1970s and fell for that dark, largely ignored part of Europe, developing a fascination that continued for 30 WWF to see if there might be a job opening for him. One thing led to another, and before long, he found himself on a Monday morning parking his politically incorrect Jag by the ugly grey building and making his way to a horrible little cubicle that was to be his office as WWF’s new finance manager.
After three months, he was promoted to finance director, in which position he had a lot of what he calls “non- financial experiences”.
Chong’s stories range from resisting a shakedown by corrupt immigration officers in an unnamed African country, to pointedly being handed a Mont Blanc pen by United years. After visiting the country again three years ago, Kaplan offers this part history, part memoir, part travelogue that looks at how Romania has come to occupy the place it now does – a tourist hotspot as well as a country that is vital in understanding the threat that Russia poses to Europe today. Nations director- general Kofi Annan as a silent command to take notes in a meeting with Chinese officials in Beijing. Along the way, he meets wildlife that ranges from intelligent forest ants teaching their young how to follow the line of march, to magnificent forest elephants gathering at a waterhole.
Chong’s recollections are as varied as they are entertaining. He travels the world to help WWF’s national offices with their finances, and he cruises high society to raise the funds for conservation. He meets personalities that range from Britain’s Sir David Attenborough – who has brought nature into millions of people’s lives through television – to New Zealand’s Sir Edmund Hillary who, with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, was the first to conquer Mount Everest in 1953. Chong also meets beggars and witchdoctors, and more European royalty than most of us have ever heard of. All in a good cause: to save the Earth as a living planet.
Datuk Dr Mikaail Kavanagh worked for WWF- Malaysia for 26 years, including 16 as the CEO, having started as a volunteer in Sarawak. After retiring from WWFMalaysia, he spent a further six years as Special Advisor to the tri- national Heart of Borneo programme on behalf of WWF International. He is currently active in gasifying waste biomass to produce green energy and valuable biochar, as well as advising governments and corporations on biodiversity issues. IT’S the way of the world to want something for nothing – to want to eat everything without affecting health, to want friends’ attention without thinking of how much attention we pay them. But you can’t get something for nothing. And so it goes with prayer, says John Eldredge. In this book, he discusses different types of effective prayer and how life with God is a partnership, one in which everybody does some work.