Thursday, November 24, 2005

man united 0 villareal 0

on watching "8 simple rules" and seeing them celebrate Thanksgiving, I suddenly remember that indeed tonight, 4th Thursday of November, is thanksgiving in the US. and suddenly all the memories flood back to 23 Nov 2004, where I spent thanksgiving in my Singaporean friend's Singaporean friend's apartment, 10 minutes walk from Chinatown in Manhattan, New York, where there was both the traditional turkey and the traditional mee siam and chicken rice (traditional here is used in 2 senses of the word). and i remember how my friend had invited the clique of us 3 - as a group of 4 - to her fren's place - later the group of 4 became a group of 5 - and we also met her other singaporean friends, many of whom were working and living in new jersey and had made that drive to new york.

sigh. so fast 1 year has flown. on that night, i was so happy because the moment i stepped into the apartment, with its asian decor, smell of singaporean food, and the singaporean accent, even with the turkey and red wine and everything, it was like coming home to a nice 4-room HDB flat, what with its TV-set, and seeing a catered buffet on the table waiting for you. that night i was happy because it was the first genuine singaporean night i had had since being in the US for almost 3 months by then, now, exactly a year later, i reminisce about the US experience; at that time, the weather had started to get quite cold, and the milestones came at the end of each month, end of October was Halloween, where the 4 of us (but mi fren got lost because there was a crowd of 20000) donned on masks, me of a duck, my friend with a vampire's cape, and another fren who dressed up as a skeleton bride - and walked about 2 km along 2nd Avenue from 8th Street to 23rd Street, and we saw all kinds of costumes - from 1 who dressed up as a terrorist with an airplane stabbed into his costume, to people walking on stilts, to people who dressed up as animals, to cross-dressers, to people who dressed up as John Kerry and George Bush, cos Halloween 2004 happened to be just 2 days before the presidential elections.

the presidential elections was spent watching TV at another friend's place, where we had a cookout, and i also invited my irish american fren along. And then the next milestone was Thanksgiving, the end of November, then Christmas. Christmas Eve was at my friend's place. We had gone to Chinatown in the morning to get all the food, and then the afternoon was spent watching the movie Phantom of the Opera, before we gathered at my friend's amazingly beautiful hotel-like apartment, on 66 Street (Lincoln Center), where New York's equivalent of the Esplanade in name, but superior in grandeur, is. amazing that she paid only about US$100 more per month for the rent than I did, and that includes internet and utilities! And we had a great christmas eve dinner, of chicken, vegetables and rice, and we guys didn't do the cooking so we washed the dishes, then after that the 7 of us went out into the cold (it wasn't snowing, but i remember last year the snow came late, and we waited until the morning of Dec 21, 1 pm, before the first mound of snow fell on New York). We took the subway down to 59th street, (Columbus Circle), and walked down 5th avenue, 7th avenue all the way to 55th street, to look for a church where we could attend Christmas eve service. The service lasted till midnight exactly, Christmas Day, and then my friend asked me to see her home, all the way back to 66th street, and we went into her apartment and sat down there and talked for 5 hours. A guy and a girl sitting in a hotel apartment lobby on Christmas morning, having a rendezvous for 5 hours! (don't worry, she's got a bf). Ironically, across the Pacific, 13 hours ahead, the tsunami was just about to strike.

The next milestone was late January, where I went to my friend's place to bake cookies, and stayed the night there, while there was a snow blizzard out, and we ordered chinese takeaway, part of the american culture, and the university had warned that they would close school if the snow blizzard did not let out, and after dinner we spent the night talking about how we could use cosmetics to improve my appearance. then chinese new year, when at my hostel we gathered at the 3rd floor to have steamboat, but it was steamboat with 3 singaporean chinese, 2 taiwanese chinese, 1 mainland chinese, 1 indian, 1 cameroonian, and 1 moroccan. then the end of february, when we had my birthday dinner, ordered malaysian takeaway, just the 4 of us, and ate cheesecake at midnight in my room. oh, how the memories come flooding back! i have no fotos, cos i'm not a foto-taker, but such things are not so easily forgotten.

heidegger says that the objects around us help us acquire a sense of identity. this is true. we cannot forget even those mundane objects that we come into contact with every day, and they become more significant when we move away from them. the hostel i stayed in, the room number, walking up and down from 110th street to 118th street, the school buildings, the subway at 42nd street, 110th street and 116th street, chinatown, the shop where i bought all the 叉烧酥 and egg tarts, the US$4 barber shop that also played mahjong along the quiet chinatown street, the dirty chinatown market, the elaborate new york cinemas, the beautiful theatre where i watched the first musical - 42nd street, the lousy theatre where i watched Avenue Q, in which mi fren and I won the lottery to get 1st-row seats at 1/2 price and which pushed Phantom of the Opera from 2nd to 3rd place with les miserables rooted still in 1st place. According to Avenue Q, when the guy says, "come", the girl takes the "e" out and insists on "com-mitment." the addition of "mitment", with the hard and cutting "t" sound takes the bite and excite out of the short and sweet allure of the monosyllabic and flat "come". the classrooms where i received my stress, the chinese lecturer who 1st rejected my thesis proposal and later took a foto with me when i graduated (Prof 卢小波), the kitchen where i learnt that you can boil chicken to cook it, then leave it in the pot to roast without adding oil to give it taste (and save oil, money and fat), the gym where i lost 9.5 kg by going 2-3 times a week, the pull-up bar machine in the gym...

reached singapore singapore time may 20, it has been just about 6 months since i've come back, where i've begun my next phase of life in Singapore, how, my dear self, do you think these 6 months have been? 4 aspects - conscription liability, finding pple to teach, finding a church to settle in & a new group of frens to belong to, and doing my part in the family - how far have I come? ...university life is now something to remember. wish that those who still have it to experience will cherish it. when reality transits to memory, does it really move from tangible to intangible? No, I carry them with me, so they still remain steeped in reality, an inseparable part of me, rooted in my identity?
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  • 2 Comments:

    Blogger Pope @ David said...

    Wow! How quickly more than half a year has passed since you came back to SG..
    I always enjoy your accounts of your experience abroad.. very insightful and immersing~

    Never celebrated Thanksgiving myself, but Fishball's been as good as any meaningful get-together I've had so far :D

    Hope your preparations for M@D-camp are going well :)

    9:54 AM  
    Blogger issy said...

    hey eugene..gosh ur so young and have accomplished so much..=)

    1:23 PM  

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