Singapore

a backlog of summer posts

It is difficult to collect my thoughts after a neglectful summer on an unscheduled haitus – many, angry at being ignored, reveal themselves only fleetingly, and some I have lost all together. There is an element of escapism to it, naturally; over the past year, I have found myself too ready to leave my feelings alone. Beyond that, too many things seem insignificant, too few things noteworthy enough, for public records. Even the important things are too important to see the careless light of day, clumsily vivisected for an impassive audience.

It is turbulence, what’s stopping me from writing, I think – or cataloguing, I should say.

The summer has been experiential, for the lack of a better word. After first year ended with a whimper and two days of an English summer were spared me, I stopped over in Singapore for a week and then spent a month in Beijing teaching English at two English-immersion summer camps. Then it was three weeks of leisurely (read: aimless) gallivanting around bits of China (just saying China sounds misleading because it implies a geographical coverage I didn’t even come close to achieving), before a very unanticipated return to Singapore – for what has turned out to be a mind-numbing month.

I had Grand Plans to talk about all those weeks but (as usual) those will have to be realized later. Instead, I have a collection of minor events to detail, just to ease me back into … introspection.

1.

When I went for my follow-up appointment at the eye clinic for that pesky little corneal ulcer thing, I had to wait four hours for a 15-minute consultation. The mostly elderly patients there were grouching about it the entire time I was there. An old man kept asking if it was his turn, and eventually seemed to reach a breaking point. He grumbled at the nurse and told her to cancel the appointment because he was leaving and never going back, in a very petulant tone of voice. The nurse was unfailingly professional, and offered to reschedule. He said no, she didn’t have to, because he was never returning. The people around him looked on with a vaguely interested air; I didn’t look up, but I turned down the music from my laptop so I could follow the conversation. I found it very amusing, for some reason. The man got up but didn’t actually leave the waiting area, despite threatening to, at length. Other patients, greying couples, started speaking to him reassuringly, almost deferentially, which seemed to appease him somewhat. They commiserated together in grumpy tones for a substantial period of time, and then another woman  eventually persuaded him to sit down and wait the final three or four patients, since he was already there. He sat back down.

I sat quietly outside the consulting room for much of the wait, typing away on my laptop. It helped immensely that there was Wifi. The doctor had a very annoyingly uninformative, almost patronizing way of speaking – her idea of explaining was to repeat the same sentence intermittently (“There is no infection”). She also prescribed me a cluster of minor procedures and medications for an unrelated, supposed issue with my eye about excessive oil production.

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2.

It took me about ten days after I arrived in Singapore before I dragged myself back to windsurfing. I’ve partially analyzed this to a ridiculous social anxiety; apparently, I thought the staff at the windsurfing centre won’t recognize me and will prevent me from renting the boards. (Even though I have the membership card and everything.) Also I didn’t want to surf alone and then fail very publicly and end up stranded atop a conveniently placed rock in the middle of the sea that appeared from nowhere. Or fall on a jellyfish. Mostly I was a pussy about it for over a week.

Then I kicked myself and went because it was a blazingly sunny day. Of course, the moment I arrived at the club, it started pouring, in the pocket of sky right over the club. No lie, it was sunny everywhere except over the club. Fortunately, the staff members did remember me, which was rather gratifying. There were also quite a few experienced windsurfers out there (you can tell from the sails – also practically everyone would be experienced compared to me !), so I felt a bit safer.

I did end up getting myself stranded in the middle of the ocean, though. That was awkward, and never happened even last year when I first. But funny in retrospect!! One of the staff members came for me in a kayak, and tried to guide me back to shore, but I was too tired and unable to maneuver myself back in the winds and waves. He took over instead and I got to kayak myself back to shore! (In front of all the pros, of course.) A few of them were really nice and said encouraging things; one helped me bring my board in to rinse off.

It was a really long two hours on the water. The conditions were rougher than I would have liked for my first trip after a year’s haitus, so I ended up falling into the water quite a few times, feeling rather than a complete beginner. The moments I caught the wind at the right angle was glorious, though. The funny thing is that I should have had an easier time returning to shore than leaving, because the wind was inshore (so one could just ‘run’ with the wind back to shore but one would have to zigzag against the wind to leave the shore), but I could only zigzag further and further into the middle of the sea, where all the terrifying large tankers were. The waves were slightly intimidating as well, around 0.4-0.5m.

There was the good kind of ache after, except I was seriously sore the next day. And the day after that. And the day after that. Rolling out of bed was painful.

I do so miss the sea. Maybe I’ll settle for the Farmoor reservoir’s cold comfort at Oxford this year.

3.

I passed an enjoyable six hours or so at the OUMSSA chalet. I had more fun than I expected and it was clear that much effort had been invested in the chalet, which was very appreciated. The events were interesting and unique (especially the WLIIA segment – love that program), and it was great to unleash my bitchy side for the main event, but it was the late-night conversations a bunch of us had in one of the rooms upstairs (seasoned with some flavored vodka, courtesy of yours truly, of course) that made the night meaningful. I appreciate that most of the freshers seem like engaging and decent individuals, and I seem to have hit a minor jackpot with my own ‘family’, at least given all my past experiences with the uncanny ability of buddy systems to pair you up with the one individual in the entire cohort you won’t ever voluntarily speak to.

4.

Practically a week after I begin this post, I end it on a consumerist night spent on furbishing my newly acquired iPhone 4/S – can’t tell which one it is. It is a pass-me-down from my dad, and marks my first foray into the smart phone era. I have downloaded a bunch of lifestyle apps I have been lusting after for ages, with the fool’s hope that they would be the panacea for my lazy, mediocre and unproductive existence … I just hope I don’t lose it within two weeks, the fates of my previous two new phones.

It’s far too late to deny the imminence of the new school year. Adulthood/the second year of university seems a little daunting. It is all packing and prepping for the next few days, however – my flight takes off 1.35 am Tuesday and I want to finish journaling my summer by then.

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