Friday, September 21, 2007

My Very 1st Trip

Singapore joined the Federation of Malaysia on 16th September 1963. That year I was still a Sec 3 student of Victoria School then located next to the Jalan Besar Football stadium.
Towards the end of that year my late father, a typical Chinaman who spoke no English, had requested for me to accompany him to Kuala Lumpur. He had started a specialist roofing business and managed to secure a potential contract in the Malaysian capital with William Jacks & Co.
He needed me to act as an interpreter and translator at meetings as he only spoke Cantonese and read Chinese.
We departed by train from Tanjong Pagar Railway Station.
It was my very 1st train experience and also the one and only
overseas journey I ever made with my father
. Perhaps as a token of his appreciation, he presented me with a Parker pen just before the trip. It could have cost him around $ 8, a big sum in those days. And we were not well to do people. That gift surprised me as it was the most expensive present I had received upto that time. I proudly put it at my crisp shirt pocket.
The train soon got underway and our journey began. I felt terribly excited and even exhilarated leaving the safety of our beloved shores for an adventure to the unknown. The train picking up speed moved very fast, swaying from side to side. Not long after, I had to go to the loo.
I found the loo which had an opening through which you could actually see the rushing tracks beneath. Then disaster struck!
Just as I was hovering over the opening, the train rounded a bend and went over some bridges, swishing from left to right. I was suddenly jolted, nearly losing my balance. I saw the Parker pen fly out from my shirt pocket right into the latrine opening. That was the last time I had seen my pen. I had not even used it yet!
And I wondered what and how I was going to tell my dad, sitting pensively at the nearby cabin. Much of it was recounted in my radio interview recently, recorded at Media Corp's Studio in Caldecott Hill.
I was interviewed and featured on Radio Singapore International ( RSI ) 93.8 Live on the segment "Travellers Tales" by Yvonne Gomez, the producer, on 6th Aug 2007.
Those who missed it can still hear it. Just visit the site,locate the date and search it at Archives or podcasts.

ps: What unforgettable lessons did I learn from the pen incident?
1. Expect the unexpected in any situation.
2. Every piece of important thing must be kept in a pouch around the waist.
3. Carry inexpensive items when travelling where possible.

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