Sunday, September 14, 2008

A-smuggling we will go...

We keeping delaying the start date of our life of crime. Call it a lack of imagination.

There's a bit of secret background that you need to know about Pa: He has long hoped to rear chickens. Some people hunger for a Ferrari or a fine watch. Maybe your secret dream is to pilot your own yacht. Pa just wants to be able to have a little brood of chickens, enough to supply the family with breakfast eggs and the occasional roast bird. And he wants Sonny to grow up with a similar familiarity with these feathered friends.

There are two obstacles to this bucolic idyll, however. First, we live in a condo where the keeping of pets is tightly regulated and where loud clucking and cock-a-doodling would likely trigger mass unrest. Second, after a regional outbreak of bird flu, Singapore did away with pet hens, so that there is simply no supply from which to begin an illicit brood. We went as far as identifying a half-way home for drug addicts that had an impressive flock of Siamese midget chickens. These were especially quiet birds that might have gotten us round the problem of noise. But as we were swooping in for the final purchase, the government got there ahead of us.

We're now trying to decide how best to bring in chickens from across the Causeway. We know of friends who've been able to coolly stroll through Customs with squirrels concealed in belt pouches, but the problem is that squirrels are pretty much voiceless whereas even young chickens emit cheery peepings. Had we a car, we might be able to conceal two chicks in the boot (but then again, there might be an unacceptably high risk of injury or death). It hasn't helped that the scourge of global terrorism has seen the introduction of scanners and stricter checks. While our research is incomplete, it is likely that being caught smuggling fowl would land us in jail, or at least guarantee hefty fines.

Pa is increasingly resigned to the fact that, barring a relaxing of rules, his chicken dreams won't be hatching for a while. Pitifully, our home is littered with chicken-substitutes like a piggy-bank that looks like a (rather dim-witted) hen, a chicken radio, a chicken wind-up toy and so forth. Sonny sports rompers overrun by little chicks (though they could be ducklings). And as he grows up, the little fella can expect special excursions to wet markets in Malaysia so he will have close-up exposure to various types of chickens. All preparations, of course, for that blessed day when the fetters of fate are shattered and the chance for a coop finally opens up.

Cluck-mania? Pa has a dream...