Thursday, March 7, 2013
How Prince Lupus Gained His Royal Title; Also, The Arming of a Tyrannical Regime
Rangoon, Burma: Birthplace of the famous Prince Lupus
I realized recently that I neglected to explain fully how Prince Lupus came to have such a regal name. It begins with my first meeting of the Captain James Massimo, in fact, and involves much international intrigue, two Burmese military coups, and the arming of a tyrannical regime with stolen weapons:
I first met Captain Massimo in Singapore when I was a young 14 - a runaway from the Singapore International School in fact. The Captain caught me trying to steal a jade figure from his pocket, and took an instant liking to me. Within a week of learning his exploits and hearing him speak, I decided I wanted to join his crew (he had 2 other men aboard at that time). He agreed. My first sail with the Captain was through the Strait of Malacca headed for Burma, Rangoon specifically.
It was an educational, though largely uneventful, journey for me. I began to think that setting out with this notorious (even then, in his youth, he was well known) pirate of ill-repute wasn't to be the adventure I imagined it to be.
However, when we arrived in Burma, I realized the country was filled with perhaps too much adventure for my tastes. While in Rangoon, I was fired at more than 20 times, hit once with buckshot, slashed with a bayonet by a officer of the French Foreign legion, and arrested for impersonating a state official. I will go into greater detail at another time...
The most important event that took place during our time in Burma, however, was the meeting of Senior General Saw Maung, who was, at one time, a close friend of Captain Massimo's. Saw Maung had taken over Burma in a military coup in 1988... unfortunately (for both us and him), Maung himself had just recently, not days before our arrival, been overthrown by yet another military coup orchestrated by a Senior General Than Shwe. It was a very complicated series of events, of which we found ourselves directly in the middle. We tried several times to speak to Saw Maung, however he had apparently suffered a nervous breakdown, and believed himself to be the reincarnation of an 11th century Burmese warrior-king.
Being an associate of an overthrown leader obviously does not put one in the good graces of the one who did the overthrowing. Nevertheless, the Captain found a way to avoid the wrath Than Shwe, and profit at the same time, by brokering an arms deal with the new Senior General... smuggling weapons through an overland route from either China or Vietnam, I was never certain which exactly. Either way, we did make a tidy profit from our misadventure in the end; and more importantly, survived.
How this all relates to Prince Lupus is that Saw Maung's wife had a prized collection of several purebred Korean Jindo Dogs. A very valuable breed outside of their native Korea, since they were highly illegal to export at the time. Indeed, she treated them as such when her husband was in power, lavishing them with the finest food and comforts. In fact, the matriarch of this group of dogs was named Yeowang... which means "Queen" in Korean.
When her husband was deposed, the Saw family, obviously, lost a great deal of their wealth and influence. At or around this time, since the previous leader's wife could no longer afford to keep her prized dog's kept behind large walls... Yeowang, the highly prized purebred Korean Jindo... found herself impregnated by a local stray.
Witnesses say that the stray who impregnated Yeowang was an infamous local dog commonly called "One-Eye", who was the alpha male of a local pack of feral dogs. His ugliness was legend in the area, and that ugliness was second only to his supposed cleverness... which included once climbing onto a rooftop of a local store, then jumping onto the head of emerging patrons, so that they would drop their food, which he would then steal.
Needless to say, the Captain loved this story, true or not, and offered to pay Saw Maung's wife nearly any sum for the pups. She was so disgusted at having her prized purebred Jindo sullied by a feral dog - a notoriously hideous feral dog at that - that she wouldn't even discuss it. She was, in fact, so ill at the thought, that when the time came, and the pups were born, she had one of her servants take them to the river to drown them.
It was only due to a stroke of luck that the very servant sent to kill the pups also regularly bought opium from the same den the Captain sold it to. He stopped to ease his mind for his coming duty, and was intercepted by the Good Captain and I. We expropriated the pups, took the most handsome one, and gave the rest to the local children.
And such was how Prince Lupus acquired his name, being born the son of a Queen in Burma.