IT'S CHRISTMAS AGAIN finally, this week, folks!
Each year, I make it a point to visit at least one shopping centre in the city. This is so that I can imbibe the mood and atmosphere of the season going around everywhere, in order to make my Christmas complete.
Even though it's mostly to window-shop, checking out malls and shopping complexes has become a personal "traditional must" over the years.
And it has to be done before Xmas Eve, in order to make everything right.
Last Wednesday was supposed to be THE DAY.
I had picked out Mid Valley Megamall in Kuala Lumpur, this time, as my choice.
It's not really hard to see why.
They have the most exemplary santa clauses, in my opinion. And best of all; they are available all around the year - and not just during Xmas.
Mid Valley is the only shopping centre that I'm aware of, which provides assistance for wheelchair customers - starting from the car park.
All you have to do is to drive over to their underground designated disabled friendly lots - and honk!
If you are lucky, you would be greeted by a great big Santarina, sporting on an even bigger smile, as she helps you park your car.
She is one of the security santarinas (and santas) in the mall to open the barrier chains meant to keep able bodied drivers out - and disabled drivers in.
Next, from your mobile phones, you have to ring the customer service santas or santarinas.
And, they will be down with you in a jiffy with your "sleigh" (wheelchair or "Power Shopper") - courtesy from Mid Valley. A power shopper is an electric scooter-like, small vehicle (like an electric wheelchair) to help disabled shoppers get around the mall.
No need to rush getting yourselves out of the car and into the wheelchairs and power shoppers!
These customer care attendants possess loads of patience and smiles in them. They will not only take you to where you wish to go; but will return anytime if you are facing any difficulty. Just ring them again, and they will escort you back to your car.
The only thing lacking in Mid Valley's bag of Xmas goodies is that they don't give free parking for disabled drivers.
I've suggested this to the management on a few occasions.
Who knows? They just might decide to play an even bigger Father Christmas and start doing exactly that over in the next 12 days of Xmas. Every help given to disabled persons will go a long way to make our lives better.
But, back to my main story, now.
At the last minute, I wasn't able to make my trip as scheduled to Mid Valley, because things suddenly went wrong at home that morning.
My three-year old service canine Zhar, my Dobermann, had the runs during the previous night. Because it persisted, I had no choice but to abruptly change my plans for the day.
I was also a little under the weather myself, to be honest, and could feel an insidious infection about to come along.
For a dog that takes care of me every day by picking up things and carrying them for me securely with his mouth - from keys, drinking bottles, TV remote, mobile phone and more - I had no heart to leave him at home by himself.
Suddenly, our roles were reversed. For once, with me in my wheelchair, I found myself being his caregiver for the day.
However, Zhar refused to be pampered.
Despite being exhausted by the diarrhoea, my Dobermann kept insisting on helping me as usual.
My personal Santa-on-all-fours, would rush forward to help, every time I needed to pick something up. But he couldn't - and didn't understand why he couldn't do it as quickly and energetically as before.
But there were other Saint Nick's in line who were also very helpful.
A friend whom I shall call "St Michael", who traditionally gives me Christmas lunches every year, was scheduled to meet me at noon on that day. I called him hours before our meeting to cancel our appointment.
Seeing that he was a very busy businessman - and it being the end of the year and all - I thought that he might be annoyed over my last-minute cancellation, upsetting his other plans.
Instead, he not only totally understood my situation, but promised to reschedule it again before Xmas.
Another appointment during tea time on the same day also had to go. It was a first time meeting with a British woman animal activist.
"I understand completely; get well soon to your doggie and you," she responded in her Short Messaging Service (SMS) within minutes of my message to her.
The kind Santarina even went as far as to message me back, the next morning, to ask about how Zhar and I were doing.
My medical doctor - as well as Zhar's veterinarian - also played jolly santas when I needed them most.
They kept in close contact with me to make sure that man and canine were doing fine. They armed us with the right professional advice and medication to, not only fight off our respective bugs, but also to prevent them from bouncing back.
My best able-bodied pal, Andrew Martin, was at my door at the end of the day. He had a mop and some cleaning stuff in his hands to perform the necessaries.
With so many real life Saint Nicholas' "Ho Ho Ho-ing" around me all day long, Zhar and I don't have to worry about not having the perfect Xmas this week.
And I wish you all the same, too.