Thursday, 24 May 2007

The other side of Siva

Let's start this off with a bright smile and delve straight into it. =)

Today was kind of special. The museum had Prof Rost and his wife Ann to grace the day. They were taken on a special tour around the exhibit and into the storage rooms of the museum. This is where flexibility of presentation comes to play.

Knowing our museum to be heavily biased towards the animal kingdom, Siva made the obvious note to Prof Rost who agreed. I guess for a plant expert like him, it seemed quite unfortunate that it should be so. After all, I believe his passion is pumping strong as he's currently working on bacterial infections on grape plants even after 35 years of retirement. I guess Prof Benito Tan whom he met earlier in the day, would be able to speak on plants and their development the entire day.

Coming all the way from California, they were introduced to our astounding biodiversity of South East Asia. It was like training for the museum guides all over again. I guess our stories were intriguing judging from Ann's response. It was kind of surreal seeing it unfold and I kind of spaced out when Siva asked me the same question he asked when I saw him in the morning. Sometimes.. My mind just goes blank. It was embarrassing but he helped me out of the hole he dug for me to fall into anyway.

Which fits the title of this blog. Siva can be strict at times, always wanting precision and to be on your tippy toes. Yet, he's soft side shows inconspicously in many ways.

Besides helping me out with the death date of the King Cobra, I saw another soft side of him when he took out the first specimen he was taught to preserve. I guess it's special to him the way it will be to Danliang and I who are going to preserve a baby croc tomorrow.

Also, the fact that he never leaves us out of the tour by including the smelling of the preservation room in the VIP's tour, kinds of makes it less dreary to walk around in the freezing storage rooms. Many stories of biodiversity and even history of Singapore were unfolded before Danliang and I. It was almost back to secondary school heritage tours around Singapore listening to tour guides ramble on about history. I guess this shows only the fragment of the knowledge our otterman has.

The tour ended soon but discovering another side of Siva lasted longer. As he was reviewing our day and work, Prof Ng came and gave him a last minute notice that he had to leave in 20 minutes time. He seemed a little lost, if I may say so, yet calmly finished what he was teaching us. Done with us, he finally had 15 minutes to come up with a 30 minute talk.

It was amazing just standing there looking at him go.

He sifted through old slides, typed a skeleton of points he was going to cover and pretty much was able to go after downloading it onto his mac laptop. Amidst calling for a cab. And you wonder why some people say men can't multi-task.

Just a little something I found out today, Siva actually adopted not one, but FIVE cats during the SARS period. Talk about angels in your nightmare. These cats were being culled and blamed for the panic that settled in Singapore. There isn't much to be done against the culling then so this Samaritan took in cats. Even when he was more of a dog man. Two have unfortunately passed on, but three beautiful cats remain. Check them out in his blog!

Now that's more than enough of soft sides for the hard brain regiment he constantly puts Danliang and I up to!


Sivasothi said...


Yeah Thomas Rost and his wife were nice, right? And also there was Magdalen from CFA/NUS Museums.

The talk at NTU went off well, with me editing, inserting and changing up to the last minute!

I regret not dragging you guys along, though, for Prof Leo Tan was there and when he talks, its magical!

Sivasothi said...

It wasn't the first specimen I preserved (and now I wonder which one that is). We have to handle each specimen the tender loving care to minimise damage. So I might have looked sentimental but I was just being careful. Think you were similarly careful with the baby croc today.

Ruo Yu said...

Yup. Although Mr. Yeo did most of the handling part, it's still special to be so close to a reptile that's been and evolved through the age of dinosaurs..

Ivan Chew said...

Mister Siva is a veteran at giving talks. He prepares talks in the cab. He rehearses for talks subconsciously. He can give talks in his sleep.

Ruo Yu said...

Yea, I believe he can actually do that. =P