Sunday, February 28, 2010

On the Dragon School Reunion Dinner

My parents' fifth form graduation class to be exact, and their secondary school back then was called the Dragon School. It was one of the few existing secondary schools around in the district and only the brightest students were selected to continue fourth form onwards. Dad joined after form three as a border student, while Mum had been there since transition class. Today, students of that batch were high achievers, doctor, lawyer, pilot, educators, police chief, and even a minister.

Mum were already asking if I wanted to go since before I came back for the holiday. I said it was all up to her. She said she'd have to place bookings if I were to go. But even up till the day before the gathering, Dad were still not sure whether or not he wanted to go. He was scared of being asked to organize the gathering for the following year you see, he was called upon for so many years previously. And the final decision was only made on the morning itself when we came to know that we didn't have to pay for the food as the minister batchmates decided to buy everyone the dinner.

Apparently, this year seemed to be pretty special. They managed to invite someone special. They've got their teachers attending the gathering for so many years. But this year, they got in touch with their principal, who is currently residing in Chicago, USA. So when he was told about the gathering, he was very keen in joining, and so he was coming. Big shot indeed.

Sis and I were among the few children whom the parents brought along. We were shy you see, because when we first came in, a whole bunch of them were standing in a line at the entrance, shaking hand with Mum and Dad, as if we were walking on the red carpets. So, automatically, WE had to shake hands with them elders as well. Embarrassing. But later on only we found out, we weren't the only ones. The late comers even brought along their children who were married with kids. One even her younger brother's family of 6.

That aside, everything else went on smoothly. It was a buffet dinner. But hotel food, what could we expect right? It's not exactly a 5 stars hotel, so I didn't expect their food to be superb. But it was a pass for me. I loved their roasted chicken and fried vermicelli. Steam fish was nice, so were beef and the vegetable and the tofu. Although the sea cucumber soup was on the salty side, but otherwise the main dishes were fine. Cold dishes on the other hand, were mostly on the salty end. Too bad. Either ham originally are salty, or I haven't been eating ham all that much.

It was after all a buffet right? So I had a second serving, which gave me a lot of trouble later on. My slack pants was so tight it's causing me pain in the waistline. Ouch! And the bloatedness lasted for a few hours before my sudden rise of 3kg from the buffet dinner goes back down. Amazed? I was myself. I weighed before I went, and weighed again after I came back. 3kg of differences! *faint*

During the dinner, the organizer projected photos from their magazines. Old black and white photos. Very interesting stuff. There were photos of their activities back then, class photos, as well as those of the co-curricular activities. Mum kept on asking her classmate sitting beside her how could she get hold of that magazine, or at least the slides. It definitely would be of a lot of sentimental value. She kept on "Aiyooo"-ing throughout the night. On top of that, there were also those little statement by individual students. A motto and a brief description of the student. It took me 3 cycles to finally read Mum's. "To help others with kindness, and without expecting return." She "Aiyoo"-ed me after I memorized it. LOL. One thing that caught my special attention, there was a "Husbandry Club" back then in their school. LOL.

Later on, after dinner, selected people were asked on stage to give some short speech. The first was of course, non other than their principal who came all the way from halfway across the globe. The whole hall was silent. Assembly assumed, as how the emcee joked. But it was a very short assembly. He recounted how he felt when he first arrived from India, and how the locals helped him settled down, and how he finally blended in, and how he tell the stories to his students now in the USA. Very warming stories indeed.

After that, they asked the minister to go up the stage. And the story he told, was of how the principal changed his life. He was the son of a rubber tapper back then, and after form 6, he still helped out at tapping rubber. His parents were disappointed. He was without aim. But one day the principal sent him a letter, asking him to go back to the school to teach. Something like, "I couldn't find a temporary teaching job for you, but please fill up this form to come and report for duty." That was what drove him to the city, and got him some advancement, until who he is today. Very touching indeed. How a small insignificant gesture of his principal changed his life, as well as his family's.

There was a very funny encounter during his speech you see. While he was delivering the speech, the projector didn't stop showing the photos. So, when the profiles thing came up again, one of the gentleman at the back of the hall shouted, "Musa!", and that created quite some uproar at the back when the few guys were laughing out loud. The others in the hall turned to look at them. But that minister was very cheeky.

"Mr. Principal, know what, once a student, always will be a student. See, there'll always be people talking at the back when someone's talking in front."

The entire hall laughed for a full 2 minutes.

Finally, the dinner continued into some lucky draws. There were 7 hampers and 2 big "ang pows". None of us had the luck though. 4 hampers went to the teachers. Two to the family members who tagged along. And another 3 to the people of that class.

They finally had their group photo taking. That was when all these guests came in handy. I of course, handled the SLR. But embarrassingly, I didn't know how to use the first one. It was a Sony, with a Bokeh lense I think. That was why I couldn't get the whole group to fit into the picture. Until they ushered me to use the other one, a Nikon! The Principal's. Woot! Shot 4 shots for them. And then the other photographer passed me his Canon. Finally, Mr Principal passed me his digicam and asked me to take a video while the others who were operating the digital camera continued shooting.

Quite tensed really, having the whole 50 plus elderly looking at me working out that SLR. My hands were cold, and I was really hoping that the video that I shoot wasn't shaky. I swear I was trembling. I was really self conscious. I was wondering if my stomach was protruding, what's with the bloatedness and all.

But Mum told me later that night that she was so proud of us, both me and my sis. When the whole lot of them were up there, with their focus on me, that was her proudest moment that night. She said Dad showed-off all out to the maximum. LOL. Apparently someone asked whose kid was it, and someone shouted my Dad's name. And well, I didn't look bad at all! Both of them, and my sis, agreed that I looked really great in my traditional Chinese Samfu. Mum said I've matured a lot and looked better in this shirt this year compared to when I wore it last year. Aha!

Me? Of course I didn't notice, I was trying so hard not to embarrass myself with those SLRs. Didn't even heard what they were saying.

Rest assured, it was quite an enjoyable night. The camwhoring continued after that, with individual classes. Form 5C, 5D, 5E respectively. Dad was reluctant to take any photos at first. But after the group photo, his camwhore self finally emerge. He was ushering his classmates when they asked for all those from his class. Very funny indeed.

I know a lot of people dreaded this kind of gathering. Many would've the idea that we would all just go there and compare amongst ourselves. What are we working as, married already not, how many kids, what are the kids studying and all sorts. I was like that a few years ago. But now I suppose most of the kids are either in universities or completed studies. There's nothing to compare anymore. I'd have gotten bored of comparing.

No doubt, the kiasu-ness is there. But I've since last year came to one realization, why compare? Just be happy. It is after all, just a gathering. So what if I'm single? I don't have to be married to be proud of who I am. So what if I don't have kid? Having kids doesn't mean you're superior. So what if my kid are stupid? They're still my kid.

And I finally see Mum and Dad enjoying themselves that night. When no one are really comparing.

Or maybe, they still are comparing, but they're very much superior now. Married, 3 kids, all 3 kids in uni.

Or maybe, Dad doesn't need to worry about organizing this gathering, because they've found the organizer for 2 consecutive years.

Kiasu-ness. It never stops us.
Kiasi-ness. It keeps us alive.

6 Jujus:

Bengbeng said...

often i am in the position of having to pass my cam to somebody who has to take many pics using many cam. my heart omos stops until my camera is returned. too often i have seen cams being dropped on the floor etc. u did a good job coz ur mum was proud of u. that is all that matters

Reanaclaire said...

hey medie, i can imagine u looking very smart in that red chinese kungfu attire... once my brother also wore that during cny, we siblings have a good praise for him! Nice, very chinesey.. :) bringing u along to a reunion dinner sure brightens the occasion up! :)

Medie007 said...

Bengbeng, i wouldn't let anyone else use my camera also lor. cuz u know lar, so expensive and complicated one, most of the time they keep on looking at the screen and was wondering how come there is no display -.-"

reanaclaire, heheheheh i really love that kung fu shirt lor. it's been 3 years since i bought it but i only get to wear it during CNY. i would defintiely wear it to some special dinner lor. as much as i don't look chinese to many, i'm still very chinaman one lor. hahahahha

Gratitude said...

Eeeee you should have worn that samfu (plus paid for the bill oso? :P )at last week'd gathering, now that wld hv been a sight for sore eyes! hehe
+Ant+

William said...

Animal Husbandry? :P

the happy go lucky one said...

husbandry club? didn know got such thing one lolll...
so nice to make ur mum to b proud of u :)
and indeed it is very touching story. and im also a son of rubber tapper le, how come im not a minister yet? lollll...