BBQ @ YK’s: Eight Years of Friendship

 

There is one saying that goes: “If a friendship lasts longer than 7 years, psychologists say it will last a lifetime.”
(Image: EmilyQuotes)

Well, for this group of friends, most of us are already on the verge of celebrating our 8 years of friendship in the upcoming month. Time really flies.

Stefanie, Elyssa, Junwei, Yong Kang and I first met when we were allocated into the same class during our first year at Ang Mo Kio Sec. That was a good 7 years and 11 months ago. Back then, we were all tiny ones (maybe apart from me, thanks to my size) who were being thrown into a new environment. It’s somehow like placing a home-grown tiger back into the forest.

Ok, maybe my analogy doesn’t make any sense at all – like it has always been.
For the past 4 years (or so, I think), we’ve been organising gatherings with this group of ex-classmates-and-current-BBFs every year. And without fail, we will find ourselves BBQ-ing either at Yong Kang’s house, Stef’s house or at East Coast Park. I still wonder why did we even had it at ECP few years back when we could organise it over at someone’s house where the BBQ pit is readily available as long as booking is made beforehand.
Maybe I knew the reasons back then. But obviously now I don’t.
For this year, we were glad to have Ashley (Stef’s boyfriend), Sheri and her boyfriend Justinn joining us. I always love it when the group expands to include mutual friends and boy/girlfriends. We are probably waiting for one of us guys to get attached and bring their girlfriends out to join in the fun.
Since this year’s BBQ gathering is held in December, one day before Yong Kang’s birthday and a couple of weeks before Jun Wei’s birthday, Elyssa, Stef, Sheri and I discussed and agreed that we should celebrate their birthday together that day.
BIRTHDAY UNDER THE RAIN
Apparently, the weather is not on our side because the sky was casted with dark clouds and we knew that a rain was imminent. Yet, we carried on to start the fire despite the early signs of catastrophe the impending downpour. At the same time, Elyssa who was bringing the cake has not arrived at. By the time, she arrived, I had to escort her under the rain – taking the wrong route because I forgot that the other entrance is located too far away.
It was a sudden heavy downpour that resulted in 1) Elyssa and I being stranded in the rain and, 2) the fire that the guys set up had been extinguished.
We called Sheri to bring us umbrellas so that at least one of us will be sheltered. In the end, I braved the rain and ran back while trying to avoid slipping along the way because apparently, none of the two umbrellas that were brought to us could be shared among two people. I suggested to the girls that they carried each of the umbrellas while protecting both the cake and my hand phone along the way.
The funny part is that the umbrella Elyssa was holding onto, wasn’t strong enough against the rain. The umbrella flipped on its side and caused her to be drench.
As soon as I reached the shelter that the rest were at, I stared at the pathetic state of the BBQ pit.
“The fire looks damn pathetic.” I joked.
“There is one part that is still burning.” Justinn, trying to console us.
“It is going to go off very soon.” I remarked.
Indeed, the fire did not survive the ordeal. 6 out of 6 fire burners were extinguished. There goes the effort.
“At least we are at a much better state compared to the angmoh at the other side.” Yong Kang tried to make all of us feel better.
We walked past a group of Caucasians, who were already BBQ-ing their food, while we were on our way to our pit. At this point in time, we were all wondering if their chicken wings were drenched.
I swear we are a bunch of sadists.
I was really famished since I kind of skipped lunch because we thought we’ve overestimated ourselves again. From past experience, be it at Swee Choon or during past BBQ sessions, we tend to over order/prepare the food. In the end, all of us felt like we were all pregnant – with food.
I quietly suggested to Elyssa that we should celebrate their birthday first, let them blow the candles and we can munch on the cake first before the rain cleared for us to resume our BBQ activities.
It took us quite a while to prepare because I’d had to distract them from looking towards the direction of where the cake was being prepared. The wind was rather strong that the candles that I lit were being extinguished immediately.
Just like my dreams.
Once the candles were lit, Elyssa held the cake up while I tried to use both my palms to cover it to prevent any wind to go near it. Thank goodness that both Yong Kang and Junwei were back facing us.

 

The birthday songs echoed the area instantly.
 

 

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!: Featuring the two birthday boys, YK (left) and JW (right)
REMINISCING THE PAST
Not long after we finished the cake, the rain stopped.
Thank you very much.
The birthday boys got back to work by trying to restart the fire while Justinn and I volunteered to go to Seletar Mall to top up some charcoals and plastic forks.
 
We spent the next few hours BBQ-ing and reminiscing the past. We talked about how we used to be last time, how JW, YK, Ely and I used to be in the same group for some science project, how Stef and I used to talk on the phone for 2-3 hours straight. Up till now, I am still amazed by my ability to chat over a long period of time. I may have short-term memory, but I could still remember those nights that I would paced up and down my house, chatting with Chairperson Stef over the phone. Back then, there was no whatsapp, no Telegram, no nothing. I was still holding a Nokia phone because iPhone has just been released for only 2 years and I am still a noob in the latest technology trends. Back then, relationships amongst people tend to be closers because we actually converse with one another. I can’t remember the content of all of our night talks about I really miss those times because there are something that just can’t be replaced.
I remembered questioning both Justinn and Sheri how they got together. It’s like very gossipy but hey, I also need to know the love story of my friends right.

 



8 YEARS AND GOING STRONG: I am sure that the group is going to become bigger and bigger as the year goes by.
(From left: Elyssa, Sheri, Justinn, Junwei, Yong Kang, me, Ashley and Stef)


We even attempted the Mannequin Challenge




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SPECIAL MENTION: MOMO

I can’t end this post without mentioning YK’s dog. His name is Momo. He was the first one to greet me the moment when I stepped out of the elevator. You can bet that how taken aback I was when a dog just came from out of nowhere and start ‘attacking’ your feet.

He got to be the most active dog I’ve ever encountered. He just kept circling around you and tried to lick your feet. If you played with him, there are chances that he might ever try to lick your face.

 

SOME KISSES PLEASE: Ashley interacting with Momo. I swear this dog just love to lick everyone.

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Farewell to Teenage Years: How Is It Like Being a 20-Year-Old (Part 2)

(This post is part of a series. You can read Part 1 here.)

The release of my O Level results had been a bittersweet one. On one hand, I was glad that I managed to graduate from secondary school but on the other hand, I just seem to not able to imagine a life where I won’t be able to study together with those group of friends I used to share the classroom with. As much as I don’t like it, I’d still have to face the fact that we were going to go our separate ways in our academic life, but we will continue to make an effort to meet up every now and then so that we will keep the friend-ship sailing.

What’s ahead of me for the next three years is something that sets me thinking. It is three years of decision making, hit and misses and lessons learnt. To be very frank, these were the three years that shapes the way I am right now, as a person. Although my academic life has not gone what I’ve expected it to turn out to be, but I really did not regret the path I’ve took thanks to the friendships that I’ve forged along the way and the support I had around me.

2013 – The Year of Transition
Upon receiving my O’ Level’s certification, I went on to further my education at Serangoon JC. I could still remember on the first day I was there, apart from Wan Qing, there’s barely anyone I know there. What was running through my mind back then was that, “Damn it, I am now in a new environment, everything just seems so strange to me. What am I suppose to do now?” I was lost and confused but at least I knew there was still someone from Pedoro who I will still get to meet on almost all school days.

Orientation has been terrible because I did not think I would be able to immerse into the school culture and make friends with the people there. On the first day after we were all allocated to our class, I found out I got into a class with only 4 guys. Never in my life prior to this had I experience such a majority of girls in my class. I admit I used to laugh at the neighbouring class back in Secondary School that it contains “too many female population”. I think Karma used this opportunity to hit back.

It used to be that most of my friends are guys, and if we put it into ratio aspects, it’s an overwhelming number of guys. I mean, if you take a look at the previous post, you will see that most of the people featured in it are guys. 

But ever since I moved into humanities and arts course, the male-female proportion changes and it changes a little too much.

From the start, I didn’t believe that I’ll get along well with my classmates because I was very much stuck in the past. I didn’t really want to socialise because I was afraid that I might become a little too close to my new friends and start to forget about those who I have spend a longer time with. I don’t know why I had that thinking back then, but as I looked back over the past three years, I think that even though I have forged new and close friendships, my relationship with my “older” friends did not deteriorate. 

After just a short 10 months with the school, I managed to make a lot of friends – especially those from my class and from the other arts class. Maybe because my role as a CG rep, coupled with me being in a rather weird subject combination (which always resulted in me having to go for H1 Maths and H2 Chinese (CLL) lessons all by myself), has helped me to gain more exposure and know more people as a  result.

It’s like from being a CG rep, I get to know the other CG reps from other classes, like Phillippe, Karis, David and Daryl, etc. While from H1 Maths, I get to know people like Kang Ngee, Siyinn and Pheobe, etc. And at H2 CLL, I get to know Ashlyn, Teck Ching, Zichao and Sun Jie, etc. It’s nice to be going around alone acquainting people in the process.

THE GNC PEOPLE (from left: Teck Ching, me, Ratna, Nicole, Wanlin and Finzi): Although it’s usually Ratna, Nicole and I who were always hanging out at Good News Cafe (GNC) in between lessons, but the rest tend to join us every now and then.

SR DRAMA
SR Drama is an important part of my life and one of the most memorable part. It is the second reason why I actually doesn’t mind enrolling into SRJC again if I have the ability to turn back time. The support we get from the CCA is huge. We are like a family and we really take good care of one another.
The club would put up a play annually where we can sell tickets to our friends and family and invite them to come and watch us perform. I could still remember we spent just around 2 months or so (I think even lesser) to come out with a script, characterisation and fine tuning our acts. It was a rather quick yet fun process, despite having to go back to school for rehearsals almost every day during our holiday. Despite that, it is all worth it.
I really want to thank Ms. C and Mr Tsui for all the coordination works and their advices. They were there almost every sessions to cheer us on and give us feedbacks on how to bring our performances to the next level.

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The show couldn’t be possible also without the rest of our fellow Dramateers. I am really appreciative to have my seven ‘deadly’ princesses: Donna, Jishna, Shafa, Denise, Kheng Yin, Yap Qi and Zainur. Of course, and not forgetting Neesha who was there everytime to guide us along. Oh, and also Zhirong, who acted as the waiter that symphatised my plight after witnessing the ordeal that I have to go through.



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Apart from ‘Seven Deadly Princesses’, I was also involved in another play. The other play sets in a school, where a newcomer was introduced to her new classmates. I swear that if I were to have classmates she encountered in the new learning environment, I will probably:
1)    Join in the fun and be as eccentric.
2)    Give up and time to quit school once again.
I acted as William Pang, or like what he said, “you can also call me WP”. From this sentence, it is evident that my character is a staunch supporter of Workers’ Party. Everything becomes more clear when he started to criticise the government – in a satirical manner. I somehow believe in the theory that this role was tailor-made for me. I am not saying that I am a vocal critic of the government, I just love to be satirical – maybe that’s the outcome of me watching too much political comedy like Stephen Colbert. Furthermore, William is a damn ‘beng’ character, who will be squatting at one corner, with his sunglasses on top of his head, while sucking on his lolly pop, pretending that it is some sort of a cigarette. He is the most localised person out of the entire play. That was the same comment that fellow dramateer Joseph made about me back then. I think if we were to meet up again, he would still make that same comment.
The reason behind this is that I am the most ‘Singaporean’ out of all the other dramateers. Everyone spoke, or at least attempted to speak, in perfect English. And then you have me, communicating with these English-speaking elites in perfect Singlish. The fun part is that they could help me in improving my English while I taught them conversational Singlish. That’s what Ah Bengs do.
Although I might be a little culturally different from the majority of them, but this makes the entire club looks and sounds culturally diversified. We might be different, but we shared the same interest in acting and in writing. Of course, I will choose acting over the rest of the work.
Thespian 2013 is my last theatre appearance as a ‘first-line actor’. Although I performed for Love97.2FM’s 21st Birthday show in 2015, but I was only just a calefare. After which, I embarked on a hiatus in theatre acting. From the day the curtain closed at our last show till today, it has been a good 1268 days. Although I miss acting, I miss the stage, but I don’t think it will be any time soon before I return to stage production.


NAMASTE: Annas and I during one of the pieces for Thespian 2013.
REUNITED (from left: Yuen Wei, You Jun, Aik Peng, me, Joseph and Ziyi): Me during my visit back to SR while the rest were preparing to receive their A’ Level’s results.

After I left JC, I received a message one day in a request for manpower to help out at Thespian 2015. Since my batch has already graduated with their A’ Level’s certification, we returned as mentors and alumni to lend the club a hand. Although I hardly recognize anyone because the juniors who were performing for that year’s Thespian joined the club the year after I departed. Thankfully there were Zhirong, Kheng Yin, Joseph and Donna (just to name a few), I managed to feel the familiarity of the environment. It felt like 2013 all over again.
Together with Kheng Yin, we took charge of a play – a play that we were both acting in two years back.
“Seven Deadly Princesses.”
There is no more Eddy who took too long to get comfortable with his fellow actresses but there is a new Allen (the main character) in the form of Ernest. There is no more Donna, Jishna, Shafa, Denise, Kheng Yin, Yap Qi and Zainur but there is Haysia, Jesslyn, Rachanna, Shirin, Shiying and *sorry there’s this girl whom I can’t remember her name*. Oops. There is no more gay Zhirong but we got a gay-er Fairuz as the waiter.
It was fun working with all of them to be very honest, although I need to admit that I needed more time with Ernest to bring the best out of him and to make sure that he interpreted the character much better than I did.
I remembered how I was rushing between school and SR in order to get to the rehearsals on time and the whole list of notes that I’ve made so that I could give them suggestions on where and what to improve. The comforting part is that these kids took all of our suggestions seriously and that is one great thing about the kind of attitude all of us have in SR Drama. We love to constantly improve ourselves. We take in suggestions that are helpful to us, we provide suggestions to our fellow mates and together, we improve as one.
On the day of the actual performance, although I was down with flu, but I dragged myself to SR (and that’ll be the only time) in order to catch these kids perform. Right before the performance, I was actually really really excited, I could feel my heart palpitating – just like when I was at the backstage in 2013. I felt like I was the one performing instead. I was nervous because I really want to see them performed to their very best and show the rest of the school what they are capable of.
By the time the curtain closed an hour and a half later, I almost teared. The reason is simple: All the dramateers, regardless of the pieces, have showcase their very best. That moment, I felt proud of them. The thunderous applause from the audience is one of the most satisfactory sound I have ever heard in the past 20 years of my life.

2 ALLENS AND THE NEW 7 PRINCESSES: Me and Ernest with the rest of the new 7 Deadly Princesses.
ONE BIG FAMILY: No one is going to doubt this fact. (Taken in Little India after our reunion meet-up last year)

1SR06, JCFC & The Muppets
I think for those who’ve been reading my blog and have a relatively good memory, I think I talked about my academic life in SR before. I once wrote a post entry regarding how I felt during my early days there in the college. It’ll be quite repetitive if I were to talk about how I felt lonely and helpless during the starting phrase of my new academic life. I am sure I sounded like a spoilt recorder.
Despite my calamitous 10 months trying out Pre-U education, I feel contented with the process. I could not recall how many people we had in total in 13-1SR06, but 10 of us are still in contact until now, celebrating each other’s birthday, having random KTV sessions or dinner meet-ups or even going to church together when there’s some major events (I mean apart from Peish, Mish and maybe Clar, the rest of us will probably join them for church service when they invited us over to attend some special church service at Heart of God).
It will be quite a long story if I were to explain how the friendship comes about and how I ended up becoming the only ‘opposite gender that blended in too well’. Some of the friendships, if we were to think about it now, are rather improbable back then. I shall quote from my Dayre entry from 13 Nov 2016:
“Actually, like what I’ve told Viv just now, it is kind of unbelievable that both of us can actually be talking, meeting up almost every week and sitting down for dinner together. I mean three years ago, I won’t expect that we could be so close because she is sort of like my senior (although yes she is hahaha sorry Viv) and there’s probably this seniority gap between us. And I think we weren’t even in the same clique. Well, many things happen over the past years that shape the thing it is today.”
My friendship with Vivian isn’t the only one in which I think sounded impossible 3 years back. I shall leave another example: Wanlin. Wanz was in the same secondary school as I was, and it’s like we knew of each other’s presence but we never held a single discussion before. I seriously think that we had walked past each other back at AMKSS without greeting each other — that is because we don’t know each other yet. Well, fate has other thing in mind for us. Both of us ended up in the same JC and the same class and that was when we started to interact. Initially, she is just someone who doesn’t really matter to me but now, she becomes a bitch a friend, a close friend who mattered so much to me — just like the rest of my closer groups of friends.
In February next year, it will mark the 4th year of our friendship. To be honest, I really didn’t expect our friendship to last this far. Despite our packed schedule, we still try our best to make time for one another – even just a small meetup for a meal during one’s birthday. It becomes to the point where birthdays become incomplete without celebrating with them.
We’ve been through many ups and downs, and just when I thought I would lose contact with them the moment I left JC, I was wrong. I am jubilant that I was proven wrong. Over the past 3 years, I felt as if I haven’t left SR. Since last year, it becomes like a tradition to countdown to the New Year together. They are like the last people I’ll meet for the previous year and the first people I’ll meet in the new year. It’s an unspoken promise. We start the year together and end the year together.
Being the only guy in this clique, although I might sometimes felt ostracised from the conversations – especially when they were talking about make-ups and relationship problems (I only know a little in such topics compared to the rest of them and for relationship wise, I don’t think I am the correct person to give sound advises). Despite that, I’ll sit alongside them, listening quietly to their conversation and secretly judging them observing their thought process and also, the knowledge of make-up. Like what Viv said, I doubled up as their ‘temporary boyfriend’ (of those who are single, obviously) – well, which isn’t a bad thing because hey, I’ve got all the pretty girls.
I feel that once everyone found their perfect other half, I can be relieved of my duties. I think I should assume the role as their guardian angel before their permanent guardian angel comes along. I have a dream, a dream that I could continue to live and watch each and every one of them walking into the wedding ballroom together with their destined partner.

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Yes, I know I made myself sound too great to be true but that’s what I think my duty is as a friend. In fact, I’d like to see everyone I know – whether from this clique or from Pedoro or from my lower Secondary clique – I can’t wait to see them settling down with a family. I really would like to imagine if we got the chance to meet up 10 years later (when we are all 30 year-olds), maybe their other half and even their kids could join us and it is going to be a very grand affair.
SMILES (clockwise from left: Yap Qi, Clarice, me, Nicole and Wanlin): It’s only smiles when we are together.

SUPPORTIVE (from left: me, Michelle, Peishan, Wanlin, Yap Qi and Nicole): We make sure that when one of us (in this case, Wanz) has a performance, we will go down and support!

BIRTHDAY (back, from left: Vivian, Clarice, me, Nicole, Yap Qi; front, from left: Michelle, Wanlin): We also make time to celebrate birthdays — taken during Mish’s birthday this year.

CANDID MOMENT (from left: Peishan, Michelle, Charmaine, Yap Qi, Nicole and me): That basically sums up our relationship ya?

BLESSED: Didn’t expect them to wake up so early to celebrate my birthday this year.

If I were to choose my greatest takeaway from my JC life? I think Queen Nic deserves the crown. I couldn’t end this post without mentioning her. She’s probably the only one who will write me a long letter every time during my birthday and I admit I love receiving letters from her. She is like one of the best friends you can ever ask for, although she can be a real bitch.
She is the person I could count on when I need a place to stay when my house is undergoing renovation works. Back in August this year, my entire flat underwent renovation, all the dust is making me really unwell so I asked Nic if she could let me stay over at her grandma’s house (which is vacant), but then, she invited me to her house instead, because she said “I rather you stay at my place than at my ahma’s place also”. Damn sweet right?

Furthermore, you can’t find anyone who will stay awake until 0330 in the morning to help your group out with what supposedly OUR own group project. Just in August this year, she helped my group proof-read our slides and giving us suggestions on how to improve on it — slide by slide. Where can you find such friend? 


THE ORIGINAL GNC GANG (from left: Nicole, Ratna, me): These are the people whom I spent the last half of my JC life with.

She is currently enjoying her holidays in Taiwan now at the point of writing, which I really think she deserves this break. Sometimes I just feel bad for not being able to help her while she is struggling through the ordeal that she is currently facing. I read the Dayre post, ‘witnessing’ her struggles yet I am helpless. I failed as a friend, let alone being one of her closest male friends. I just hope she will survive this ordeal and become that cheerful girl I used to know.
Nic, if you happen to read this, I just want to let you know that when it’s time to enjoy yourself, go ahead and enjoy. It might be difficult for me to tell you not to think about things that makes you stress or unhappy, because I can’t control what you think. However, what I can do is to tell you: Look, you have a very strong support from all of us. No matter what happen, you can count on us as a pillar of support. We might not be the best psychotherapist, but we can be your happy pills. I admit that I am not very good at words, but you know what I mean. We will still love you for who you are.

On the 11th November, 2013, I left SR officially and I start embarking on the next phrase in life.


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