Monday, June 29, 2009

Catch that boat!

Just last week, EP and I attended a friend's wedding, held at a hotel poolside. It was quite a lovely place, nicely decorated, good-looking setting, and a stage where the groom (and his friends) eventually performed a couple of songs, much to the delight of the evening's crowd.

We knew the groom back from the days in the NUS Guitar ensemble, where we used to be a member of (and where I still teach as a part-time tutor) and though I cant say we know him very well, we'd at least kept in contact (as we'd a group of common close friends, also from the club) and even travelled overseas more than once together. So it was nice to be invited and to see him ending his bachelor days for good. Also, it provided another opportunity for old friends to catch up and talk about our lives, our work, our kids, and what have you.

In our table of 11, there were 4 married persons (including EP and myself, and 2 other guys who did not attend the wedding occasion with their wives) whilst the remaining 7 were all single - and available. It struck me that the "single's group" were also the ones still very much active in the guitar club (possibly with the exception of one gal, but she still kept in regular contact with the rest as well). Most of them had graduated at least 3-5 years ago (which means they either hit their 30s, or are getting very close to ), have good careers and (in my opinion) are interesting and attractive people. Yet, none of them were attached - at least not to my knowledge.

It felt to me that there might be a link - between the fact that they have all remained so active in the guitar group, and the fact that they have not been able to get hitched. (haha, some of them may scowl at me after reading this blog, but hey, it's just my opinion, so too bad =P )
In a way, having a group of friends with common interest and whom you are comfortable with to turn to and occupy your time every weekend - be it over a guitar practice session, or an overnight mahjong game - seemed like the perfect substitute for going out on a date and spending time (and money! haha) with a romantic partner. Afterall, it's much easier to be with people you are so used to, week-in-week-out; furthermore, you can totally "be yourself", and not over-analysing over what you/your partner say, what you wear to go out, possible rejections, embarassments, uncomfortable and awkward moments - all of which are common worries and emotions associated with courtship/dating, especially in the early stages of the relationship.

I even have a suspicion that even if a romantic spark does occur within this group, they (ie. the individuals involved) would still find a way of extinguishing it, just to maintain status quo and not risk upsetting the nice equilibrium that has been established for so many years. Of course, that's just my speculation, and given the fact that the group is mainly made up of guys, the chances of that (read: any romantic relationship) occuring is pretty minimal. Still, that's how I felt the group dynamics has evolved into.

Don't get me wrong, this group of friends are amongst my closer group of pals - since I am a self-confessed classical guitar freak - and I have nothing but fonds feelings for them all. In the unfortunate scenario that this group of guitar enthuaists decide to leave (or even disband) the group -however unlikely it is for now- or stop playing guitar altogether, I would definitely for very disappointed and sad. So to me, in a way, having things stay status-quo is really not a bad thing.

However, clearly I wish for them to also "move on" with other life priorities, and that means not just in their work & career related aspirations. Normally, I wouldn't consider myself an "ultra-traditionalist" when it comes to family/social matters, but I still believe that in our Asian society context, building a family is an important part of our lives. And the first step in building your own family is to find that special "someone" to start the building process with.

By always taking the "safe" route and staying in one's comfort zone - e.g. keeping to the same group of friends in every weekend's activities - it diminishes one's chance of meeting that special "someone". And much as I'd love to witness some spark within this group of friends, I have to admit the probability of that ocurring seems remote, at least for now.
Given that each week, after the hassle and tassle and/or the mundane weariness of our weekday jobs, we'd only have so little time to rest and relax (weekends flashes by in an instant, don't you think? ), it is true that any attempt to participate in new activities - which inevitably leads to expanding one's social circle and contacts - must also inevitably lead to a greater or lesser extent in withdrawal from one's usual activities, and some people believe it will thereby result in an erosion of the friendships and bonds. Taken to its extreme ,the end results can be pretty devastating and sad (as proven by someone whom I once considered a "good friend", but who has since left our cohort without wanting to leave behind so much as a trace and a contact).

But it doesn't have to be that way, does it? Much actually depends on how one manages one's time, and I definitely believe that if you have passion for doing something, it will not matter if you 'transit' from being single to being attached, married or even becoming a parent.
The same can be said of friendships.

Conversely, by choosing not to take that important first step ( which often takes you out of your comfort zone) or simply by procrastinating for too long, you may just miss the boat and the golden opportunity to find that someone special.

You'd never know when the next opportunity in life will come along....

Friday, June 26, 2009


I was at China Square Central during lunchtime today, and had a small "discovery" there. I found that there is actually a congregation of toys/figurine shops at this shopping centre. You know, the sort that sells figurines from all sorts of areas - Star Wars, Final Fantasy, Gundam, Transformers, etc.. you name it.

It was certainly an interesting walk for me - definitely an advantage of lunching alone (all my colleagues had to work WAY past the normal lunchtime, and freezing as I was in the office, I had to get out before my fingers can't move anymore!) - and as I wandered along the shops, I found this particular one which sells OLD (some can even be considered antiques) toys. They actually had a few of those hand-held video games way back from my days in the 80's! Well, in truth they cant really be called hand-held, since they are fat, and rather bulky, and so they are normally seated on the table where one can just bang away at those primitive looking buttons (unlike the ones which came later, which were truly portable). One was a "Space Invaders" kind of shooting game, and the other one looked like "Donkey Kong" type. Seeing these game machines really bring back fond memories...

Another item that caught my eye was this coin deposit container, in the form of Mickey Mouse (one arm raised in a waving gesture). I used to own that exact coin container when I was a kiddo! (My brother had a Donald Duck one as well) I kind of recalled that I dropped it one day and it broke, causing quite a bit of tears and fuss for the next few days. Boy, that must've been like 30 years ago....

The thing is, memories from so long ago fade with time, and cameras in those days as nowhere as ubiquitous as they are today. My dad used to have this old, black-coloured camera, which I loved to play with as a kid. There was a rotating kind of dial on the top, which you had to wind up somehow, in order to prep the film for taking the shots. The camera felt heavy to hold, but it was exactly the weight (plus the sensation of pressing the firm snap button, which produces a solid "click" sound!) which made the device feel really solid and impressive - unlike some of the toy-like plasticky but supposedly high-tech cameras in this era.

Anyway, I'm really digressing too much.

What I was thinking of was that - back in those days since cameras were not so prevalent, we'd only have photos of really big, important events (like some big family outings, overaseas trips, etc.) to reminisce over. Beside thoses images, all we have are valuable memories, stored away in some part of our brains, waiting to be evoked by some special encounters or events in our lives.

The seemingly random walk I took (in China square Central) today just happened to be one those things.

How curiously wonderful!

Monday, June 22, 2009

A morale dilemma?

Had an "encounter" earlier this morning, as I was making my way to the office for work. I was trudging along the rather crowded walkway near the Raffles Place MRT, my mind still a 'blank' - which is normally the case, as I've yet to fully wake-up yet, at this stage =P - when out of the blue, this ah pek stopped me in my tracks and asked me, "Do you speak English, Mister?".

I was a little taken aback. Firstly, as mentioned, I was not really in an alert state of mind early in the morning. Secondly, to be suddenly stopped in the middle of the path by a stranger is seldom a very welcoming feeling (well, unless that "stranger" happens to be an attractive looking lady, then perhaps.. hahaha). And lastly, he spoke pretty decent English! * this ah pek dressed like any other of those uncles who'd frequent the neighbourhood coffeeshops. Those you'd normally try Hokkien as a first attempt at any conversation*

After the momentary shock, I replied a tentative, "ya....."

And he said, "Can you give me some money for coffee or tea? I havent had breakfast...."

At that point, I did contemplate just reaching for my wallet, and fishing out a $2 note and hand it to him. Afterall, $2 isn't a lot to most of us, and should be sufficient for a simple breakfast of tea and eggs (maybe). But then, my "Singaporean" (cold, logical and most importantly, "just-follow-law") persona took over, and I thought, "this ah pek doesnt seem to have any sort of disability, handicap and certainly doesn't look ill. Furthermore, he's not asking for a bus fare home, which would seem a better reason to ask for help from strangers on the road. He's asking to be given money to be fed. Shouldn't his relatives be doing that? And isn't what he's doing tentamount to begging - which by the way, is an illegal act in Singapore."

Within those 2 split seconds, I retracted my hand and shook my head in a curt manner, before walking away briskly. I dared not look back.

As I continued walking, my mind was swimming with thoughts of, "why didnt' you just give him some money?"

But then, that would not be right either, since I'd be "encouraging" betting - in a way. Not to mention, it's not as if he's a disabled person or something, cos he sure looked pretty fit and healthy to me....

Hmm... should I or shouldn't I?