Sunday, 2 January 2011

Mt Vernon, Singapore

A belated New Year greetings to one and all. I've been so quiet over the long weekend. Reason was, I was away across the causeway in LeeKuanYew Land. The ever spotless red dot where life moves around like clockwork. Not all the time anyway but most of the time.

I was in LeeKuanYew Land for two reasons: the first was for the annual chess match between Malaysia and Singapore and the second was for me to meet up with my old friends.

Regarding the chess match, it was time for Singapore to play host. So there were about 50 of us who appeared eventually at the Stansfield Residences One. Fantastically posh name but it cannot hide the fact that it is only a hostel. Hostel for whom? We don't know. We didn't ask. We were provided with this place to stay and so we stayed and played there. And earlier, before we had taken residence in this hostel, this place had also been the venue of the Singapore Chess Festival. So it had been pretty busy for the organisers of the Festival, of which the Singapore-Malaysia match had been part of the programme.

I suppose the hustle and bustle of the Festival in the past week meant that few people bothered with the revelation that right next door to the hostel -- well, not exactly "right next door" to the hostel because there was a school acting as a buffer -- but anyway, almost right next door to the school was .... a columbarium.

That's right, you read correctly. A columbarium. The Mount Vernon Cemetary Columbarium. So travelling along these two roads at night, Vernon Park and Mount Vernon Road, proved both depressing and creepy. Downright spooky. I wonder how the Singapore Gurkha Contingent's camp could be located there directly opposite the cemetary. I mean, do they ever see anything bordering on the unexplained? Especially those doing guard duties at the Camp. All they do is to stare out from the Camp and look across the road at the niches. Mmm, maybe that's why the place is restricted and heavily fortified at the entrance. Can't be too careful, can they? Brr, even just writing about it gives me the shivers.

So anyway, we were all staying at the Stansfield Residences. Actually, this was not too bad a hostel. I shared a room with a chessmate. And we shared a connecting bathroom with whoever were in the next hostel room. The only problem with this arrangement was that nobody could lock the bathroom from the inside. You could be doing your business inside - the quiet one (defecating), not the noisy one (bathing) - and someone may jolly well walk in from either door unexpectedly. Maybe that's why some people take up singing in their baths. But warbling has its drawbacks. Don't sing and you risk someone walking in on you; sing and you risk losing your reputation. Either way, you cannot win. Not to mention waking up the nearby dead too, with your vocal cords at full throttle.

Just for the record, this was a fruitful trip for the Malaysians. We won; we beat the dastardly Red Dots fair and square, reversing the results of last year's match in Kuala Lumpur. Sorry, ah, if you are a Red Dot, but don't take it personally. They weren't "dastardly", but they lost the match to give us the bragging rights this time around.

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