Recess week

2nd March 2013.

It’s interesting how sometimes the days feel so intertwined that it seems kind of pointless to keep track of the exact dates. But there are always some dates that somehow mean a lot more to you than the others and they just strike you hard when they arrive. This is one of those dates for me. A year has passed by so quickly and quietly, between now and then, a lot has changed so much so that it makes it difficult to believe that I’m living the same life. I tend to discredit some memories because I like to feel in control of my life but deep inside, something that I remain grateful for is still swirling around every now and then.

This week is the recess week and while people kept themselves busy with the studying, projects and papers, I decided to really put the recess back in the week this semester. It has been a really memorable recess week, I think I have experienced and learnt quite a bit in a fun way.:)

1. Mahjong.
I played mahjong on Monday with Yukito, Ronald from hongkong and Alex from the Netherlands. This is the second mahjong session I’m having with Yukito, earlier this semester, I played mahjong with him and a group of hkust exchange students. It’s interesting how mahjong tiles and rules differ for different places. Singaporean mahjong has the most number of tiles, we play with 8 flower tiles and 4 animal tiles, they allow the players to score points easier. Hongkong-style mahjong only has the 8 flower tiles and the Japanese mahjong has neither the flower tiles nor the animal tiles. Rules-wise, the Singaporean mahjong is almost the same as the hongkong-style mahjong but the Japanese mahjong has a really different way of scoring points.

So this time round, we made Yukito teach us the rules of the Japanese mahjong and we decided to play Japanese mahjong with Singaporean mahjong tiles. Because the Japanese mahjong doesn’t have the flower and animal tiles, it was quite some fun to set our own rules and decide on what to do with them.:) It was also Alex’s first real mahjong session, prior to this, he has only played mahjong on the computer. It was fun, even though I’m still not good with their point system, I really like their ‘lucky draw’ tile, the neat way in which they arrange their tiles and ‘riichi’ – an easy yet exciting way to score a point and win the game.

2. Sailing

DSC_0759 DSC_0760
I joined some USP people – Jonathan, Dorothy, Joshua and Jishnu for a 3 days sailing course at the Changi Sailing Club. It was very fun, I can’t believe it’s over. The travelling itself was quite intense for me, I took about 2 hours 15 minutes to get there from my place. We learnt how to tie the various knots, rig up the sailboat, launch the boat, sail the boat, rules of the sea and man overboard in 3 days. We had a couple of pretty intense situations and that was probably why we picked it up so fast according to the coach Rohaizah. We were caught in a thunderstorm on the first day, two of them lost control of their boats, capsized and drifted pretty faraway; we had a morning without wind and we just drifted with the currents on the second day; we had pretty strong monsoon winds on the last day so we had to focus a lot on balancing the boat. I found myself in a couple of situations that I felt quite alone and lost: I hit the jetty and couldn’t seem to make my way away from it; I capsized and lost hold of my boat for a while; I hit a yacht and couldn’t get away from it because of the strong currents and slow wind speed; I was caught in the no-go zone in the direction of the wind and spent some time wiggling my way out of it.

Overall, it was a nice experience, it’s so nice to pick up something and get a license for it in 3 days in the middle of the semester. I especially like the long cruises that we took to Pulau Ubin to see the kelong and the shipping region. It may sound odd but I actually miss being yelled at by a coach in the rain because it reminded me so much of the good old hockey days. It was also very nice to get away from the city and float on the ocean even though admittedly the Singapore sea is disappointingly dirty. I love to hop over to the other side of the sailboat when I do a tack or gybe and duck the swinging boom, it’s quite exciting.:)

For a couple of nights just before this sailing course, I woke up in the middle of the night, feeling lost and empty, unable to sleep again. It was quite strange because when dawn came, that feeling quickly evaporated and I felt normal in the day. When I was sailing, sometimes that same feeling came back to me – when I sailed towards a target and a big wave or strong gust of wind came by and knocked me off the course, then I arbitruarily set a new target for myself and aim my bow towards that object. Sometimes this happened more than once in one course of sail. My life situation right now is kind of similar to that I guess, veering off course because of some external factors, then setting a new goal for myself while discrediting the old course that I was originally on. Since I got into the university, my priorities, interests and dreams have changed numerous times. I know I don’t want to lead the typical Singaporean life, but there’s a lot to choose from. I wonder if I’ll veer offcourse soon. Oh wells.

3. After Dark – Haruki Murakami

I also found some time to read a book. After Dark is quite a typical Haruki Murakami’s book, there are several things going on at the same time (some of them don’t quite make sense) and after reading, the reader would still feel that there are multiple questions that he didn’t bother to explain why. Some of his books leave me feeling frustrated but I really like this one. I especially like that transition between dark and dawn, I don’t stay out late so much so when I read this book, it really brought back me back to that time when I was caught outside in the middle of the night with a couple of friends in the most happening part of the city in the day. We were sitting outside a shopping mall and the only person with us then was the 7-11 cashier. When dawn came that day, I looked at the people rushing around differently. It was a strange little feeling that is hard to put into words. Not the right date to think about this.

Time to hit the books!

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