Sunday, May 04, 2014

Unfinished Business

Nearly 4 days later, what I didn't do continues to haunt me. There is always next year, I say, but the wait is torturous—and even then, what I didn't do continues to haunt me.

I always take great pride in planning everything to the last detail, and having a list of things to accomplish. So when something I absolutely look forward to, make great preparations for—no, *extraordinary* preparations for—does not get achieved, firstly, I have myself to blame, and then I can point the finger at other things.

Nobody will understand, because no one has even tried. It is too easily dismissed; it is deep. What on the surface seems superficial, to me has become my sustenance. You know how after some time one looks forward to the same little pursuits, the highlights of every year? That's how it has become for me. And the worst part is, it is never guaranteed and the people are *never* constant. It's like your hometown; over the years, everything changes around you, and although you change as well, you are only hanging on to fragile memories which no one will care about.

I tell myself, it takes time—everything will pass, eventually. But the reality remains. The sliver of comfort I can take in this is that well, some things have already been decided for the future. But there is that bitter taste in the mouth: what did I come for—work? Why did I linger? Why didn't I get there faster? Why did I sleep in the day? Useless, it was. Why waste half the day? It's not the first time I've sacrificed for this, anyway. For them—anything! As the last legitimate event, why not pull out all the stops and then laugh about it afterwards? Too many things went wrong, too few things went well.

You could say, "Concentrate not on what didn't happen, but on what did." I tried. It backfired. Some things *did* go exactly to plan. But what *didn't* happen was so huge and so basic that it stares at me in the face every time I don't see my face. Because it is a personal choice, a personal plan, not fulfilling it gnaws at you slowly from the inside.

I now depend on a new but wholly antisocial event to uplift me. I hope it goes some way to mending the open wounds that remain. It is completely different by nature, so I don't expect closure at all. But if I plan my day, and take a step back and sense what is important, I may be able to heal some things. But nothing will compare to a hundred and thirty people over a fire by the sea.

In the meantime, what I didn't do will continue to haunt me.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

24 May 2011 1:15 AM

I Am

Fiercely Secretive


Irrationally so.

Do we need to make something known

If there is no need for it?

Do we need to say something

If it does not serve any purpose?


Monday, December 02, 2013

We were not on the same page

29 October 2013

A tension. Myself: a bridge, an 'awkward-lessening agent', reducing implied animosity.

Why the current dormancy? It should be a time of great fervency! We should be furiously debating and exchanging ideas!

Is this what happens when strangers meet to create? A cold, nonchalant ignorance? Is this professionalism?

If it is, I don't prefer it.

Most friction occurs when the intentions of a person is not the same as the intentions of the others. One tries to mould someone, but if they are not willing, nothing results. Even worse if they don't tell each other their true intentions.

But we have seen that if intentions align, magic results. Fierce loyalty. Fervent ardor. Selfless sacrifice. Without question. Without reward.

If we can form an organization with these very attributes—all passionate, with the exact same goal, and willpower to do it—we are three-quarters of the way there.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Night Cycling!!

Night Cycling!

This is an activity so niche, everyone has different ideas of it, each treating it in their own way. Some view it as simply cycling in the night, with all the bells and whistles so proper to cycling, but I regard it as a grand nocturnal adventure lasting till the next morning, with a loosely defined route you don't even have to follow and rules you don't even have to obey! It's about the journey, not the destination.

The first night cycling I ever attended, on the 23rd of December 2005, was a large affair, with 35 participants divided into two groups and travelling on a mixture of pavement and road (mostly pavement). There was no fancy traffic police or even a safety van tailing us ("Ain't nobody got time for that!") and as far as I know, the only administrative matter was the actual rental of bikes from the shop, which we got at the bulk price of $7, red lights included. We were extremely lucky that nothing serious happened. Travelling from East Coast Park to City Hall via Geylang, Kallang, and the Esplanade, with such a large number of participants (some of whom were not so experienced themselves), was no joke. The only mishap—namely, a broken handlebar—was treated with good ol’ duct tape and a dollop of confidence. By the end of it we felt like we had completed a marathon. Such adventure! It was a definitive experience by which all subsequent night cyclings were measured.

Myself, Nadiah, Nasyiba (binti Sahari ;), Yazid, Ira, Gabriel, Idham. And behind the camera is Hasyim =)

This time we were a smaller group of 8, still more than 4 (thankfully), but much more manageable than 35! (Previous night cyclings had averaged only 4 attendees out of more than 10 invited.) The unique thing was that each of us didn't know more than 3 other people in this group. We had decided to open up the activity to any friends as may be sporting enough to join in. Therefore the rest were unknown to us, being friends of friends. Socially awkward, yes, but the good nature and sportsmanship amongst ourselves mitigated the awkwardness somewhat. After settling the rental of bikes and a short supper at Burger King, we began at about 11.30 PM. We headed towards Fort Road at the beginning of East Coast Park.

Sudden roar of Malay kompangs by the sea—perhaps there was going to be a wedding tomorrow!

Just before Fort Road, we stole into an underpass and magically emerged near Jalan Daliah on the other side, in order to avoid the tiresome road crossings at the ECP/Fort Road exit. After inflating tyres & purchasing drinks at Esso we set off in the direction of Tanjong Rhu.

And so night cycling begins in earnest!

Ira nearly got knocked down by a taxi entering the carpark.

I executed a nearly flawless curb jump, much to the chagrin of the rest, who didn't have time to follow suit because I suddenly turned into the kerb.

We soon reached Gardens by the Bay East. Now this is a lesser-known sibling of the popular Gardens by the Bay South, the one with all the supertrees and whatnot. Gardens by the Bay East only contains undulating meadows and little lakes and 'natural' streams—a Botanic Gardens Part 3, if you will. And it is absolutely dark, too! We nearly fell into a lake crossing bridges without railings, my goodness.

That treacherous bridge without railings.
The bottom of Benjamin Sheares.

Marina Barrage, Gardens by the Bay South, the Helix Bridge and finally we were at the 'black' 7-Eleven at Marina Bay Sands opposite Avalon, so-called because the signage is back-lit, creating a silhouette effect. Quite classy.

We reached Sentosa at 2.00 AM (just as planned!) and sought to explore the island a bit. It was quite chaotic, though. Resorts World Sentosa was not built for cyclists (or for that matter, the wheelchair bound) and so we spent an inordinate amount of time circling the place, trying to get somewhere. Finally with advice from Gabriel we climbed ramps and slopes and ultimately went up in a lift, coming face-to-face with the Merlion.

Short break at a convenient 7-Eleven nearby; everybody couldn't tahan, super hungry. Then up a zig-zag ramp in complete darkness, aided only by our night-vision. We ended up behind Mount Imbiah, and from there an excruciating 10-minute climb up a gradual slope to the front of the building.

Then disaster struck!

Gabriel's gears broke! The metal piece attaching them to the rear dropouts gave way and simply split clean into two, leaving a tiny bit of metal still bolted to the dropout. We tried to fix it using cable ties taken from various parts of our bicycles (the girls' hairpins and needles were extremely useful in undoing them) but after barely a moment's cycling, they loosened. Gabriel had to propel himself with his legs all the way to Palawan Beach 7-Eleven, looking absolutely ridiculous seated on a bike with legs flailing.

There we purchased a dishcloth and borrowed a penknife from the cashier. A kind fisherman lent us whatever cable ties he had and two rolls of duct tape, and we managed to string everything together in a sustainable fashion, only needing Gabriel to adjust the derailleur every few minutes or so to keep the chain on the right track. The only drawback of it was that he was restricted to the 'granny' gear (read: lowest gear) behind. Well at least he'd have no trouble climbing slopes.

It was now 6 AM. Three hours wasted on this most unfortunate occurrence. Since it was already morning prayer time for the Muslims, we headed towards the mosque opposite Vivocity, using one "heck of a shortcut" back to the Merlion, as Hasyim would put it.

Nadiah's chain came off at the entrance of the bus park. Whilst fixing it a bus suddenly appeared out of nowhere and swerved into the bus park, nearly hitting us in the process! Crazy bus driver.

And there I was wondering what the name of the mosque was. Wak Tanjong lah, Wak Temenggong lah. Actually the full name, as written in Jawi script at the entrance was Masjid Temenggong Daeng Ibrahim, Johor Darul Takzim. My Jawi was not so bad after all! #achievementunlocked

We rode back by the safest way, which was exactly the way we came. Gabriel's gears held up excellently. It could even correct itself if the chain came off, after lots of rattling and clicking. Thank God for the cable ties!

By the time we reached the end of Gardens by the Bay East, I could see signs of zombification. According to Arshak (an associate of mine from the DMIT Club), when you're suffering from lack of sleep, two things can happen: either you become super tired or you're super high. Both were apparent. Idham, having cycled his own bike from Pasir Ris the night before (and had to cycle back there later!), looked ghastly pale. Hasyim, on the other hand, was yelling at the top of his voice! His headphones lent little credence to the fact that he was singing along to an MP3 player.

Eventually we reached East Coast Park. We stopped at a shelter just before the bike shop to clean up the cable ties around the damaged derailleur and make it presentable. The plan was to simply return the bikes and not say a word. I mean, it wasn't our fault! Nothing was lost, only wear and tear caused by a lack of maintenance. I got back onto my bike to cycle to the shop. It was then I heard a curious squeaking sound.

My rear tyre was flat.


What the—? Of all things to happen at this time?! We resolved to walk the short distance to the bike shop. Lucky we were nearly there!

Hasyim went first, followed by myself. The bike shop man didn't notice the flat tyre. I handed him the red lights we detached from the bikes to get the cable ties, saying that they "came off". Gabriel rolled his bike in. The man glanced over the bike.

"This one, spoil ah?"

He eyed the derailleur, peacefully wrapped in its cocoon of duct tape. Our hearts froze.

"Yah, a bit, can fix one." I tried to be as calm as possible. Gave him the receipt. He took a look at it. The girls returned their bikes one by one.

"Okay," he waved us off.

We made our escape!

I half-expected all the shopkeepers to come running after us (brandishing pitchforks and knives), demanding some explanation, but nothing of the sort happened. A huge sigh of relief.

We bade goodbye and good luck to Idham who would continue the long arduous journey back to Pasir Ris where he came from. By now he was half-alive. Gabriel would take a straight bus home. As for the rest of us? A McDonald's breakfast!

It had been a night of highs (literally), and lows. We climbed Imbiah Hill, crossed treacherous bridges, tore down slopes at great speeds, and fixed the most unfixable of mishaps. Never mind! One learns from experience. We may've been caught unawares now, but we sure as hell will be ready in the future.

Next time, we shall come prepared!

38 KM!!


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What if NightWalk…?

This post was begun on June 22, 2011 at 10:11PM and I only decided to post it today, after a dawning revelation.


"........the NightWalk is cancelled!"

–ICT FOC 05/06, May 17, 2005 at 2.50AM, after Battle Royale finished.

And so begins a question of What If... "What if NightWalk was not cancelled? What if it piqued my interest early on? What if I had time to document and know everything about the school before I took part in FOC 06/07? What if—?"

After more than 10 NightWalks, looking back on this, it is a shame—an extreme shame, that I didn't go through it in a virgin FOC setting, when I was completely unfamiliar with the geography of Singapore Polytechnic. Once you become familiar with the twists and turns, the idiosyncrasies of the location, the fear of the unknown lessens. Therefore the best time to experience a NightWalk is when you don't know the place well, which means: when you are a freshie!

But it just goes to show how the ICT Club FOC Organising Committee placed great importance on the campers' welfare. They'd rather us sleep properly than be tired. Then again, NightWalk shouldn't have been placed after Battle Royal. We freshies were dead tired ("A NightWalk? At 2.50am?!") and daylight was fast approaching. I wonder what the NightWalk committee felt then, when the momentous decision was made to cancel NightWalk. Everyone must have been disappointed. Nevertheless, what's passed is past. We have since learned from our mistakes, and now DMIT Club never puts two major night activities in the same night for FOC.

Today, SP is a different place. The school management is more privy to the great interest in NightWalk. But they are taking it in a negative way. Sometimes the rules are relaxed, and NightWalk goes on as usual. But the main sentiment is one of disapproval. I don't know whether it is because of students' carelessness, or conservative thinking amongst the management.

In terms of carelessness, noise is an issue. Screams at night draw calls from residents to the police hotline, which in turn alarm the school management. Conservativeness dictates that all activities must end by 11pm, and resume at 7am the next day. Even a NightWalk. Which is rather ridiculous to me. The most recent ruling recommends that all camps be held outside school, including Orientation Camps. Honestly I don't know how an Orientation Camp is to be held without the Campus in attendance.

There is also renewal and relentless renovation. Previously forested areas with a foreboding presence are cleared to make way for some newfangled study corner. Old buildings are bulldozed without mercy. With sparse commemoration. I still haven't got over the loss of our dear MLT2 and Childcare Centre, and probably never will. (Abit sad.) But to the builders' credit, a sinister path has been cut through the hill where the old Childcare Centre once stood.

Due to the presence of 3 (!) construction sites in SP now, the FOC of 13/14 shall have its sleeping quarters at Terror Sea campsite in Sembawang. I had once asked before, why not try a NightWalk in the campsite? We could do with a refreshing challenge. But once you do it outside school, they will never know a NightWalk is possible in SP. Therefore I stand resolute in the idea of continuing to do FOC NightWalks, specifically, in school. Campsite NightWalks can wait till ICE camps etc, where campers are mostly students already savvy with the school terrain (where a NightWalk would be on familiar, comforting territory) and wish to have a different experience in an unfamiliar location.

"Hold steadfast to our tradition of NightWalk in SP, whether outdoors with ample effort to ensure darkness and isolation, or in conjoined classrooms with tons of partitions."

Rest assured that the tradition will continue.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Amazing Race! (ICT FOC Day 2; Part 2)


MAY 17, 2005 AROUND 10 AM

Later on we gathered in the T19 Foyer (or Lobby, as some prefer to call it). We were instructed to form radiating lines around a yellow pillar. Then we were told to feel sleepy. All of us stood with eyes closed.

Suddenly someone whispered in my ear, "Psst! Open your eyes! Come!...Just follow!"

I was led all the way to FC6 on the 2nd floor, where I hid. It was fully lit, although there wasn't a soul there, save for the painters and cleaning uncle (who were all wondering what I was doing there.) I waited.

The cleaning uncle came and asked for one of the remaining brunch set meals. I assented to his request. The sight of me hiding in that corner evidently amused him.

Finally my team found me! We went back to the foyer to get our first Clue.

And so we went to the Moberly, untangled ourselves; to SP CARE, where we created a cheer even the Game Master forgot; to the Childcare Centre, where I was blindfolded to find something, and where the Clue led us outside campus (finally!). Something about an immobile Mercedes, we headed to Orchard towards its suspected location, courtesy of Timothy. The Race began, proper!


In the MRT train Mark did his sleeping thing again whilst standing holding onto a handgrip.

Nous arrivons! We discover that Cherokee is ahead of us by one road crossing.

We had to pass long pieces of food from mouth to mouth. Not for the more hygienic.

The Next Clue led us to the Orchard Geodesic Dome (it's *Not* a golf ball), and we used anything we had to knock down some stubborn drink cans. The Game Master didn't cover the gaps on the sides, though, so the Stray Items Collector was kept busy. I should have brought a longer umbrella, so I could hit more cans.

Then to Lucky Plaza, where we searched for people and blew up condoms. The general public was amused.

Our next stop was the Istana Park. Halfway along the journey there, we stopped to repose ourselves. Half of us went to an Old Chang Kee stall to eat, and the other half went to a nearby building's toilet. Some of us did both. (The building was the Heeren.)

Then Hi-5 passed us!

We quickly gathered ourselves, then ran like the wind to get ahead of them. Luckily our group could run for prolonged periods.

We managed to get ahead of them, separated only by a busy street. There were already some groups at the Istana Park pit stop. After performing our cheer, we had "ICT FOC 05/06" and our group name branded on our arms. Then one member went into the fountain pool to retrieve our next Clue.

To the Fort Gate! We brought the house down with our rendition of "She'll Be Comin' Round The Mountain".

Then to Clarke Quay, where we wasted time counting windows. I don't understand why we had to do so; we could've just asked the receptionist inside that MICA building. We had to cross the road countless times counting the different coloured windows. The hidden ones tested our patience. If we wanted to see them, we had to cross to the diagonally opposite side of the nearby junction (marked in the illustration below by 'X'). But that junction only had one crossing--to the other side! The other three roads had no pedestrian crossing (typical of chaotic roads in the city.) We had to cross at another traffic light further down the road, once we crossed to the other side at the junction.

There was a traffic policeman controlling the junction at one point. During those times, whatever the policeman ordered, we did. Though the traffic lights seemed perfectly all right to me, we followed his instructions. I resisted the temptation to dash across the road even when the green man was visible, since the policeman knew better. Some tried to disobey him: a taxi nearly ran over him as he tried to halt traffic. Well, it *was* rush hour.

We had been there for an hour: from 6.30pm to 7.30pm. One hour counting windows! By then it was twilight. The Final Clue led us to the Esplanade. We were told that we were in 5th position, out of eight. It was a slightly comforting fact.

Unfortunately all of us agreed to walk there. That was because we didn't expect such a great discrepancy in location: the place *wasn't* the Esplanade, but 750 metres further than expected, and not even included in our Singapore Map and Transport Guide (inexistant location!)

By the time we got there, we were so tired we couldn't even give our cheer. Well, we didn't have to. Some time was given for rest. Then we did some silly charades game. Finally we were given another Final Clue: go back to the Polytechnic! Whichever team gets there first wins! (Of course some other team already got there first--we were in 5th place, remember?)

Thus we and some two other teams took the most direct form of transport to get back to SP: the bus 106, whose stop was conveniently nearby. We certainly didn't want to walk the 750 metres back to the nearest train station.

Blazerz, Fire, and the third group (certainly not Cherokee or Ozone) waited for bus 106. It duly arrived.

Our entrance was a sight to behold. Even the ez-link card readers were not ready, the bus having left the Marina Centre Bus Terminal just before this. Everyone wanted to get in. In the end there was standing room only. There were so many people, it seemed like we chartered the bus.

Members of the public who boarded the bus after that were equally surprised. Our profuse apologies to those who were looking forward to a nice good seat on the bus.

We arrived at SP, did our cheer, and were promptly crowned 5th (as expected).

End of the Race (How 'Amazing'!) at about 8.30 pm.

We showered and waited in our bunk for the next Event, the Shim Beauty Pageant. Whilst waiting, we played games and held amiable conversations within ourselves and several OC members and GLs.


View more images from ICT FOC 05/06 here:


Friday, January 06, 2012

Darkness. | Silence. | Isolation.

A NightWalk is a Journey
on a Marked Path
through Buildings or Areas,
Alone, in the Darkness,
with Props and Scares.