Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Patrol Totem.

I miss D.

Especially this period when she is also travelling on business in a country where Singapore mobiles do not roam. I am only able to reach her in the hotel late at night. Unfortunately working the factory assembly job plus the pizza delivery leaves even sleeping time a little scarce. And I am usually asleep by the time she gets back late to the hotel.


***


And my only comment about that teenage kid who wrote in to The Straits Times about skydiving being too dangerous as a recreational activity for Singaporeans.. I wish somebody would shove him out of the open door of an airplane in flight.

I am not being sarcastic here. I am serious. Perhaps we should take up a collection to buy the kid a tandem jump ticket - where you get strapped to a tandem instructor and get to hang out of a open plane door with the icy winds howling past your face and nothing between you and the ground thousands of feet below you. And that terrifying seconds where you hang in nothingness, your heart beating so hard your chest feels too small, and your rational mind blanks out from the fear - just before you fall into nothingness with your brain screaming - and then everything falls into focus, if just for a little while.

I used to dismiss skydiving as a crazy activity for people who have too much money and not enough sense. My perspective changed totally after that first tandem.


***


The reader comments (and emails) on the events of the last two posts have given me food for thought and I promise to address them in a later blog entry. For for now, I want to write about The Patrol.
"You want to take those speed bumps a little slower?"
"Why? It's a 4x4 isn't it?"
[ conversation while being jostled about by C totally ignoring the speed humps ]

Yes, I finally got to drive that piece of machine that I have read so much about. And I did not hit anything with it either. Mounting the kerb when pulling it along the road does not count. Then again I could have run over a small animal with that huge truck and not even feel it!

Have been meaning to blog about my visit to C over last weekend but between the factory job and the pizza delivery job and trying to get enough sleep, there has not been much time left over.

Well, we started by getting drunk on a case of beer and a bottle of vodka. Totally shitfaced - as they term it. I ended curled up on their floor sleeping in front of their big heater. After migrating from the couch (where they were nice enough to dump me - to the toilet to throw up), I figured the comfort of warmth overrode the discomfort of sleeping on the floor. C and her SO did not stay sober for too long either. I think I was still intoxicated when we woke up in the morning. We did not get our act together until late afternoon - the next day!

It was the first night in weeks that I have had a good sleep without being buried under heaps of blankets. They have a very nice warm house with everything - even indoor plumbing (gasp!). Those two have set up a very comfortable place indeed. And very cozy in a very utilitarian, functional sort of way. A simple no-fuss sort of living. The sort of home that I would love to be able to set up here.. oh, is my envy showing?


And I have seen, touched and driven The Patrol which she has blogged much about. And in a strange way I find that I connect better to that couple by understanding The Patrol, rather than the standard superficial stuff that usually is used back in Singapore to define a person. Where they studied, what they studied (what is C's and her SO's education in anyway?), their family background, where they work, what job titles they have, how much money they make, what certifications they have, what exotic holidays they have taken, what luxury consumer items they have (or have not).. all these information items may tell you about them - but it tells of nothing important of them.

We talked a lot before, and as we were getting plastered. Some of it was (and still is, to me) probably quite incoherent and fragmented. However thoughout the entire evening and night and following morning, it felt like a private door into their world was closed to me. Or more like hidden to me. It felt like watching a light and shadows out of focus through a piece of crystal glass at an oblique angle. You are aware there may be something there, but it is just so out of focus that you are just not sure if it is your mind playing tricks on you.


The next afternoon, they were generous enough to show off The Patrol and we go for a drive by the road running by the ocean.

And watching them (in turn) behind the wheel of that old beat-up diesel truck which has over 400,000 km on it.. listening to the unspoken smiles as they drive, the held-back but still visible wince as I hit the kerb, a which which they quickly covered with a lighthearted comment, the concern for the slightest rattle or irregular sound from it, the panicked under-the-breath curse as C thought she sideswiped a structure going through a tight drive-through for a snack, the practised ease working through the heavy gears.. and recalling their telling of the work they have done on The Patrol, the way future disposable income has been budgeted for more work on it ("$400? We could fix the diesel injectors with that!"), the radio equipment spread around the house, the antenna sitting in the back yard..


The Patrol may be just an old diesel truck, but The Patrol is much more than a diesel truck.

It is the physical manifestation of a dream. The material representation of a quest. A totemic symbol.


***


It is not my story to tell, but I am glad and thankful to have crossed paths with The Patrol before The Big Journey. Because after The Big Journey, everything is going to be very different. And it will be nice to be able to look back and have a reference point to be amazed at how far they have travelled. Not not just in physical distance either..

I look forward to following their preparations, and hearing/reading of their roadtrip stories, and visiting with them to be amazed at how they are changing. It is going to be (and is already is) one hell of a story. Not my story to tell, like I said, but I am fascinated and honoured to know of it.


8 Comments:

Blogger C said...

After the big journey, there may be no more Patrol =( Going the way she's going, to keep her after that amount of beating up would pretty much need to replace every inch of her.

September 11, 2005 10:22 AM  
Blogger Venitha said...

You are NOT alone in thinking this 'skydiving is too dangerous' kid needs to be dope-slapped. The wackos who write in to the _Straits Times_ provide a great deal of entertainment.

September 11, 2005 10:03 PM  
Anonymous mel said...

thanks for the story abt the patrol,i like this hunk of metal already.

and i'm going skydiving in november.

September 12, 2005 10:13 AM  
Blogger Amazonian said...

duuuude... i feel for ya man... about missing d.... been there done that. not d. but j...

September 12, 2005 11:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So does everyone in Australia refer to you as a Gook? Here in singapore, everyone refers to me as an Angmoh.

September 13, 2005 6:25 PM  
Blogger KnightofPentacles said...

anonymous:

Not yet. Besides it is the wrong term anyway. You use "gook" on Vietnamese. The appropriate term is "chink" or "chinky" for the Chinese.

Had one of Liana/Jelts friends nickname me Chinaman. He was soundly embarrased when he accidently called someone by that term in a case of mistaken identity in a dark pub!

September 15, 2005 2:08 PM  
Anonymous John Tan said...

Congratulations on the job opportunity. With a steady 9 to 5 routine, you should be able to plan clearly for the next big step. Rushing pizza orders hither and thither couldn't have given much time to reflect on your progress so far. Meet up with the local Asian/Singaporean community yet? You'll find your computer skills in demand if you know where to look. Check in on Univ of WA, they may need a tutor in the computer lab. Best of luck on your endeavors!

September 21, 2005 2:29 PM  
Blogger KnightofPentacles said...

john tan:

Still delivering pizza. I need to reduce my risk, should the day job not work out (touch wood!).

Have intentionally avoided the local Singaporean community so far. For reasons that I may blog about later after things settle a bit.

September 21, 2005 11:43 PM  

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