An article by guest writer Munira M. Yahyabhoy, Principal Physiotherapist at Physiotherapy Solutions. Refer to “About the Writers” at the end of the post.
I am a physiotherapist by profession and have my own practice where I treat patients within the comfort of their homes. These patients are unable to go to a physio clinic due to their condition and find it easier to be treated at home. That results in me having to drive around the island from one patient to another daily. To break away from this routine, I have developed a few hobbies.
My hobbies are quite varied from art to gardening to keeping pets. The article below gives a brief insight into my hobbies and how I went about cultivating them.
How it all started
I have loved to paint since I was a kid. I did a lot of art in school but never got the chance to get formal coaching. Since there were no online platforms such as Youtube for me to learn artistic techniques independently, I had to rely on other sources to cultivate my skill. I either read about the techniques or explored them on my own. This enabled me to get to a decent standard of artistic capability, but I was not able to reach my full potential, and that was achieved when I was lucky enough to find a good art teacher here in Singapore where I finally started learning charcoal art. Every time I picked up the pencil, I was transported into a different world, one that was far away from the busy life of a working mom with 2 teenage children. My love for nature is fleshed out in my art pieces, as most of them are of horses or flowers. I was really surprised with my first charcoal drawing of a horse and how good it turned out (if I may say so myself).
After working with charcoal and pastels, I tried water colors for a while. It seemed to be very easy at first but then I realized that mistakes in water colors are not easy to cover up, unlike in oil painting, where you just go over it with another layer of paint.
So these are my 2 water-color paintings that I have done so far.
After my stint with charcoal art and water colors, I decided to branch out and explore other more exciting methods. My next adventure was with oil painting, with the all-powerful Youtube being my Mister Miyagi, teaching me to wield both a paintbrush and a knife like a pro.
I was also intrigued by Pergamano, which is the art of embellishing and decorating parchment or vellum paper through the use of techniques such as embossing, perforating, stippling, cutting and coloring.
I also tried decoupage, which I learnt in Hong Kong while on a short holiday there. Dècoupage is the art of decorating an object by gluing colored paper cutouts onto it – in combination with special paint effects and decorative elements.
My profession itself can make my day rather exhausting, so trying to squeeze in the long hours needed to dedicate oneself to an art piece was rather difficult. Hence I decided to try my hand at looking after pets as I have always loved animals. This led to my husband and I getting a pet chicken (unusual choice, I know) from a place in Pasir Ris some 15 yrs ago.
She was pure white and we named her Margaret. Very soon we got a rooster to keep her company. She loved my daughters pram and laid an egg in it almost every morning! It would be amazing to see the chicks hatch and then for the mother hen (Margaret)to teach the chicks to move up to a safe perch on our mulberry bush every evening at sunset.
Our chickens also provided an opportunity for us to socialize with our neighbors, whom we didn’t know very well at the time. They began to approach us and talk about our chickens, and one of them even asked if they could get one as a pet! But our love for pets did not stop at chickens. We got a pair of Persian cats – the male is a pure persian cat called Mischief and the female is 75% Persian and 25% stray, called Shadow.
They became a star attraction for our neighbours who visited us. We have a new batch of kittens at least once a year. My kids have become experts in helping the cat to deliver the kittens, cutting the umbilical cord, separating the placenta… Things which other kids would never experience in a city like Singapore.
After a few months of getting to know our neighbours better, my husband and one of our neighbors came to this conclusion that we need to revive the “kampong spirit” in our neighborhood.
This decision coincided with SG50. So we decided to host a street party in celebration of SG50 where we got to know all our neighbors, introduced them to a few of our pets and had a great time!
But this was not good enough. We even decided to have a community garden of edible plants in the street of Jalan Baiduri. The plan eventually fell through but almost every house did plant a few interesting trees outside their house and cared for them. This motivated my husband and I to plant a few fruit trees. They include Soursop, Starfruit, Custard Apple, Wood Apple, Lemon, Lime, Chiku, Passion fruit, Papaya, lots of herbs, Cinnamon tree, Eucalyptus tree, Clove tree, Cashew nut and even Cocoa! We tend to all the plants on our own with a lot of help from google for all our queries.
Our family of chickens has expanded exponentially over the years. Every evening we have grandparents who live in the neighborhood bringing their grandchildren to feed the chickens outside our house and for photo taking sessions. We have occasions where there is a chick which is unable to hatch out of its egg and my son will carefully help it break out of its shell and survive. Then comes the part where he would dig the garden for worms to feed the chicks so that they get good nourishment!
We would love to add a whole lot more to our pet collection but for the moment, this is the most we can handle and take good care of!
The last of my hobbies that I have developed lately is the art of Japanese flower arrangement called Ikebana.
I am quite sure that gardening, painting and taking care of pets or for that matter any hobby is extremely therapeutic and would like to incorporate it some day in my practice where my patients can benefit from it, as taking care of ones emotional health is just as important as the physical need.
About the author
I was born in Mumbai-India. I lived, studied and worked there until I moved to Singapore in 1997 after which I got married and settled here. I have worked in NUH, TTSH and Parkway East hospital over the years and finally started my own practice in 2015.