December 27, 2013
This year was a little bit different from the last. Whereas my Christmases in London have always involved the English tradition of eating and drinking all day, watching telly, and sleeping in, this time I woke up at the crack of dawn to volunteer for Crisis At Christmas.

Crisis are 'the national charity for single homeless people' who work very hard to end homelessness by campaigning for change, providing education, employment, housing, healthcare...basically all the things we privileged people take for granted. The shelter, in a confidential London location, welcomes homeless people out of the cold and as guests provide them with a place to sleep, shower, eat, medical treatment and beauty services, among many other things. No one should be cold and hungry on Christmas Day. Many people felt the same way because about 50 people showed up for my shift (8am-4pm). I met a Malaysian girl who studies and lives in Cardiff who came down to London for the day just to volunteer. I love meeting selfless people, it reaffirms my faith in humanity!

The 'Malay' on my badge refers to the languages I can speak. I considered adding 'Mandarin' but I'm not fluent enough, and I did want to add 'Elvish' but outside of Tolkien fandom it's not very practical.

My volunteer buddy was Diana the red-nosed reindeer. Half the time we were on admin or guard duty, with a lot of quiet moments (hence the selfie-taking) but the other half we were on our feet and running around. During our eight hour shift we took on the roles of fire marshals, receptionists, IT technicians, guards, and entertainers (I sang carols and she was my hype gal).

My rockstar moment, seeing my name on a poster. Misspelt but a fine moment nonetheless.

I caused an incident with my singing, a reminder that the little things we do without thinking can deeply affect other people. A guest came up to me and was very upset that I sang Amazing Grace because it had a lot of personal meaning to him. 

In fact a lot of things that we thoughtlessly do can affect some of the guests because of the terrible ways they've been treated. Diana walked into a bathroom and a guest was startled to the point of distress. Later we found out that guests who've stayed at other shelters are regularly attacked, and they feel safest at Crisis because we guard them while they sleep. I carelessly took a photo of a drawing and the guest who drew it got very paranoid. After that I put my phone away and stopped taking pictures of anything. 

I was told of a homeless man from came in covered in third-degree burns because a group of horrible drunks thought it would be funny to set him on fire. I was so depressed and filled with impotent fury! It's one thing to pretend to be deaf when someone asks you for change. But how can anyone attack a helpless person just because they're drunk and think it's 'funny'?! People are disgusting. Those sociopaths need to be locked up and have the key thrown away.

Because of the way some of these people have been treated, little things like smiling at them, holding their hand, wishing them Good Morning had the most profound effect on them...their faces light up and they're so happy to be not be invisible, to be treated with kindness, and to feel like human beings again, or so I was told. I was about to go to the shops when a guest begged me not to leave him and to promise that I'd come back...I felt really sad! Happily a lot of the guests are well-adjusted, happy, hilarious people---I was the brunt of merciless teasing from many of them---which heartened me to think that with all the love, kindness, and hard work Crisis and their volunteers put in can and have made a difference.

A thank you note at the Crisis centre. A reminder to count my many blessings, and to help in whatever way I can for people who are less fortunate than I. Volunteering made me feel good (I felt useful) and sad at the same's the strangest combination of elation and upset. But if I can make someone feel a bit better, a bit happier, a bit more like a human being than I am happy to do it. 

Please try and give your time to charity, shelter, or cause. A bit from you can make so much difference to someone who has nothing. 

After my shift I went home to freshen up before joining my Romanian gypsy babies for Christmas dinner at their Fulham townhouse. 

Can I just say I love the Eastern Europeans?! Everyone in that house---Russian, Romanian, Georgian---are bat-sh*t crazy. Welcome to The Real Romanian Housewives of Fulham! Here's an oxygen mask, watch out for all the crazy spores in the air. Don't breathe them in! All my life I've felt like an outsider; I'm not demure enough to be Malaysian, not ambitious enough to be Chinese, not prim enough for the English. But I am insane enough to be Eastern European! I have finally found my people! Numa numa numa hei!

'Anything you do Romanians will do better' The tree was heaving with ornaments and the pretties trinkets, it was a wonder it could stay upright from all the weight.

Pretty festive lights, which I like to imagine that Kate and Han strung up themselves by doing acrobatic flips around the tree carrying miles of fairy lights. 

Oh hey it's the Wizard DJ!

One does not simply push a wizard while she DJs! Watch yourself Chris Brown!

Kate doing ballet. Surprisingly graceful given how much we've drunk. I've also learnt that the best dish to serve to a basic bee-hatch is shade. A ball of shade. Like a shade falafel. You take some shade, roll it up in a ball, and THROW it at them. Shade. Ball. THROW.

If you're nice and the Romanians like you, you get to be served pie instead. Much tastier than a ball of shade.

Salt and pepper balls all the way from Zanzibar! #outofAfrica

I love these pies, I eat way too much of them and I've come to associate them with the Nasi Kangkang gang.

My new favourite pudding; chocolate, coconut, and poppyseed cake with hot custard! Second helpings!

No amount of Photoshop can rescue the hideousness that is my face in this picture.

Oh wait, let me try and improve it.

Much better.

The deceptively innocent-looking Julia and her friend who loved me so much that they locked me in Julia's room and swallowed the key because they didn't want me to leave. Haha! I was trapped in there with a life-sized cutout of some dude from One Direction. "I don't want to be in here with Harry Styles!" I screamed. The door unlocked "THAT'S NOT HARRY STYLES THAT'S (some dude I can't remember, Thompson Louie or something)! I don't love you anymore you're free to go now BYE!" Ahahahahahahaha!

A recital from Alex turns into interpretive dance.

"That sh*t is bananas, B-A-N-A-nas"

This is what exhausted on Christmas Day looks like. Flushed face, bloated, lipstick chewed off, and buttons straining.

What up Ziggie Smalls?

More interpretive dance.

Oh hey, now there's three of you!

I think this might be my favourite moment of the night!

Vasili (is that how his name is spelt? I have no idea. So I'll just call him Fusilli, like the pasta, because I love pasta) is an amazing opera singer. He puts his heart and soul into his singing, as we can tell. Close your eyes and give me bone.

So we're being treated to an operatic rendition of Frank Sinatra 'My Way', and it's all very intense and emotional even before Fusilli starts acting it out. Then he sits down next to Julia without missing a note and of course she whips out her phone, takes a selfie, and Snapchats it for posterity.

I have seen the selfie, and it is better than the Pope selfie.

Not content to leave the singing to the professionals, Alex, Kate and I sing every Disney song we know. I terrify everyone by doing my schizophrenic duet in which I sing BOTH male and female parts, switching voices seamlessly. There is an amazing video on my phone of me acting 'Part Of Your World' reprise with me as Ariel and Julia as an unconscious Prince Eric but my lovingly stroking her hair makes me look like a that video will never see light of day.

Han displays her musical talents by playing piano with her butt. Cow and Chicken h-h-h-homage!

And nearly brings the house crashing down.

Quite literally.

Baby G and Mama G, the original Real Romanian Housewife of Fulham. Do not mess with her and her Romanian intuition. She WILL throw you a ball of shade.

Babooshka the baddest granny there is. I was rapping like a boss, everyone was beyond impressed but not her. She yawned loudly just as I dropped "B*tches ain't poppin', google my ass, only time you on the net is when you google my ass". Granny's been there, done that. During desserts she poured wine into a bowl and nonchalantly dipped her cake into it. Babooshka be bad to the bone.

Merry Christmas from the Nasi Kangkang gang! Romania loves you. And I love Romania. I love all Eastern Europeans, they're crazy. My people!


1 comment:

  1. Merry Christmas!
    I happily accept you into our Eastern European circle, you certainly fit right in ;-D