Car Service Centre, Act I
What was supposed to be a routine car service became not-so routine when they found a failed brake fluid pump, along with worn brake pads and faulty windshield wipers. After more than a year, my piece of Pauper's Plastic made a return appearance. I needed liquid cash, and if my fate involved being entombed within the wreck of my car, it will not be my fault.
While waiting, another customer joined me in the waiting room. Without the buzz from my morning coffee, I revealed details about myself I'd usually keep from strangers (like, where I came from, my age, etc). When I told him I wasn't attached, he asked, "Are you, like, gay?"
Him being a stranger, I forgave him. Nobody challenges my sexuality and comes away unscathed.
"Come on, no shame to admit it if you are."
Man, was he pushing it. Is this how members of my community engage in conversation with people they'd just met? Forget 2007; if this persists there will not be a single good day - let alone a good year - to set foot in Malaysia.
Car Service Centre, Act II
Later, when I was alone, I read a copy of The Star. It was yesterday's, but I didn't mind. When I reached the Citizen's Blog section, I found that a few self-righteous individuals just painted over fifty-five million bloggers worldwide, including yours truly, with a really broad brush. So what if all we cared about was the speed of our Internet connection? You'd be mad too if you're not getting what you paid for, which was what many users of our glorified narrowband service had to deal with. And it's not as if we're totally immune to disaster.
I was relieved to be able to continue on to my destination: Bandar Utama. It was the first time I'd used the Damansara-Puchong Highway totally unsupervised. I reached there in no time, and I didn't even get lost.
Launch of Write Out Loud, Ikano Power Centre
I heard about another book launch, and was intrigued; among the names were faces I wanted to see (like Alexandra, whom I've heard about from Irene), so off I went. Again, I was early, and again, I forgot the details of the event. I had the date, time and general venue correct, but... where exactly was it? I connected the dots and headed to what was probably the largest in the chain of Popular bookstores in the country.
After the launch there was a short reading session involving some of the contributing authors, among whom were Her Majesty Boadicea, who'd read her contribution, an abstract piece of prose with a misleading title. She later cajoled me into buying a copy, effectively backing me up a wall. I'd just come from servicing my car; any purchase I'd make from that point onward required serious thinking.
In the end, there was just no denying Her Majesty's will.
Returning with my newly-purchased copy, I spied Irene, who had come to "surprise" Alexandra with her unscheduled presence. I chatted briefly with Ted Mahsun, and collected a few signatures. My request that Alexandra use that timelessly endearing line, "Thanks for buying the book, YOU CHEAP BASTARD!" was politely turned down. How disappointing.
A real surprise (not like Irene's) was the business card given out by Karen-Ann Theseira, captain of the Write Out Loud (formerly known as The Book Project) project. Turns out she has a day job. I did recall someone saying, "If you want to be a writer, get a job that doesn't involve writing."
Meatballs at IKEA Restaurant
The ladies were hungry, and there were plans to eat at the IKEA Restaurant. I gatecrashed the gathering in my typical fashion; I was hungry, too - and I had an unsatisfied curiosity about Swedish Meatballs. New tastes, and a chance to expand my social circle. "Killing two birds with one stone" should be in my résumé's Skills section.
Apart from Alexandra and Irene, there was Kat, also another of Irene's friends, and a friend of Kat's as well. Both have blogs, apparently, but I wasn't in the mood to ask for URLs then (I had meatballs in my head). We did have an interesting conversation, where Kat's friend, Z (wonder if he knows V?), demonstrated an unusual level of maturity and intelligence.
Where did I go wrong when I was growing up?
From Alexandra, I learned about an old schoolmate from my days at Penang Free School. She didn't say anything about a funeral, so I assumed that he must still be alive. The guy was a regular at the school's Chess Club, which I joined only to pad my school testimonial. I'd sign the attendance form and let him or some other club member whup my ass in less than fifteen moves, before leaving for my Malay language tuition class. Besides, I had no patience for the game.
This year's going to end on a peaceful note for me. See you all next year.