Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Busy Busy Busy

Classes have started.

I'm incredibly happy to be back in school. Santa Clara University is certainly a cut above the only other university I've attended - both in terms of student resources and quality of teaching.

I can honestly say that, while I'm overwhemled, the sheer opportunity of the place is exciting. I'm currently looking into possibilities I never thought possible - internships, externships, writing, working part-time.

All this mixed with the sobering realisation of how naive and sheltered the legal profession in back in Singapore - it's motivation for me to work that much harder, and learn what I can here.

Oh, and I got a picture of my Constitutional Law professor's pong pong Golden Retriever. Will upload it in a few days.

Monday, June 27, 2005

IPO Announcement

I am proud to announce that Almost Infamous has been listed as of June 26 2005 approximately 7 pm Pacific Time.

:fiddles around with blogshares:


You mean I can't speculate in oil derivatives, lose a fortune and repay 33 cents to the dollar on my oustanding debts?!

You mean I can't announce a merger, inflate my stock price, post records losses, then subsequently announce that the merger was a big mistake and drop my original name from the company?

You mean I can't use questionable accounting methods and tactics to manufacture a power failure to drive my profits up?

You mean I can't speculate in Nikkei derivatives, lose a fortune and...oh...wait...

This sucks! Where's the fun in listing your blog?

Disclaimer: This entry was intended to parody real life events. has no intention to speculate on derivatives of any kind, announcing mergers, use questionable accounting methods or tactics.

My Weekend Off

Having completed most of the setting up chores, and left with a day before school starts proper, I took a quick drive down to the Berkeley Marina. I received two recommendations to head there - one from Don the Technician, the other from...I forgot who.

Wat a view it was.

I drove right to the end of the Marina, where the Fisherman's Pier was.

Humans aren't the only fishers here

Fisherman's Pier is 3000 feet of fishing heaven in San Francisco Bay. That's 3000 feet of useable space - the entire length of the Pier is actually 3.5 miles. From the Pier, I could see San Francisco, the Bay Bridge, and the Golden Gate Bridge - shrouded in the summer fog this area is famous for.

Golden Gate Bridge in the Background

I arrived at the Pier at about 1 in the afternoon and damn near froze to death. The sea wind (I hestitate to call it sea breeze) blasted away relentlessly. I found out later from a former boat salesman, John, that the Bay has some of the best sailing available in the world - as evidenced by the many sailboats I saw.


Worried that my toes were going to turn blue and fall off, I headed for land as fast as I could. Hoping to catch more glimpses of the sailboats, I drove down to the berths.

Oooo...many sailboats

I had never been to a Marina before in Singapore. To my best knowledge, those are exclusively private affairs - very much unlike the one here. Hence, I ogled at pretty sailboats until I felt like leaving.

One thing about Berkeley Marina though - it was also connected to a small nature preserve where bird watchers liked to congregate. There were nearby barbecue pits overlooking a sheltered bay area as well. Familes gathered around in idyllic bliss.

And there were squirrels!

My good friends know that I've a barely-concealed obsession with things cute and furry; the fluffier the better. Here in the Bay Area - EVERYTHING is pong-pong and fluffier than what I am used to. Including the squirrels, which I like chasing around.

Don't shoot me please!

Needless to say, I was damn proud getting this shot of the squirrel. I've tried several times to get a squirrel close up, but none were as good or close up as this one.

All in all, a nice lazy afternoon spent doing boh-liao things - for the first time since I got here.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Been There... the T-Shirt!

I learnt a valueable lesson today - never make a boast you can't keep. Yes, I went to Google today. No, I'm not about to write in detail about it.

Because friends are more valueable than any boast I can make.

Jay was a class act. He was responsible for the wonderful lunch I had, he was responsible for the cool T-shirt I now own and he's one of two friends have who live here. Because I can't endanger Jay's job by any inadvertent disclosure to detail that I can make, I will write only that the details don't matter.

Sounds self-contradictory? Not so.

Think, if you will, of Rodin's statue "David". Imagine that you own this coveted statue. Like many others before you, you know have the opportunity to study, in detail, the many nuances of Rodin's masterpiece.

Assuming that you got every detail right, would you have duplicated "David"?

I argue not.

There are many terms for this quality. The French call it "'je ne sais quoi". The fashion industry calls it the "X-Factor". Houduins call it "mojo". Sportmen call it the "110%". Businessmen call it the "Midas Touch".

I have a simple term for it. Greatness.

Like all forms of greatness, the details are mere symptoms, not the processes by which greatness is acheived.

Today, I've witnessed greatness. I did not think it possible for greatness to exist in the corporate world, yet today, there it stood, a complete success story, there in brick and mortar, flesh and blood.

And now that I've witnessed greatness I am now ever more determined to find my own greatness. For that, I thank you, Jay.

Friday, June 24, 2005

I Did It!

To everyone who says the US Driving test is a piece of cake, I can only say "I hope you choke on that cake." Reason - no matter how easy a test is, it only takes one circumstance beyond your control to really mess things up.

Wednesday was the most awful day I had since I got here. I failed my driving test first try. Sadly it wasn't my fault. Some idiot driver cut into my lane while I was making a left turn. He approached from my blind spot, so I couldn't see him - leading to tester intervention which was an immediate failure.

I think the tester took pity on me, because he offered an unscheduled test the very next morning. I thanked him profusely. The rest of that Wednesday left my nerves in very bad shape - because all I could do was wait for the test next morning, and speculating the consequences of failing a second time.

Thankfully I didn't. I passed it this morning. Joy! I immediately rushed out and bought a nice second-hand Civic. I know I probably got gouged, but I don't care anymore. I got my license, got rid of my rental and drove off with my Civic, all in one day.

My Ah-Beng Car

I'm so relieved. That was the very last item I had before school next week. I can now spend my weekend in peace - and I shall.

I'm heading to Google tomorrow! With a camera!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Movie Meme

Got tagged by Slinky a while back - but was too busy angsting over my move that I haven't followed up on it. So here it is.

Total Number of films I own on DVD/Video

Probably in the hundreds. God bless JB.

The Last Film I Bought

Sin City. Watch it. It's GOOD!

Five Films I Watch A Lot/Mean a Lot to Me

This will sound strange but....


The Chinese version, not the Dustin Hoffman version. At the risk of sounding cheenah, I so totally -get- the movie. From a story version on flawed anti-heroes, to cold calculating heroes, to the very essence of a chinese hero, the movie told one story with a flawed first person narrative structure that doesn't often work in movies - except this one. Add that to gorgeous cinematography, beautifully choreographed action scenes and actors that know what they are doing!

Oh. And it had Donnie Yuen. That man is a legend. Get him some good parts please!


Forget Saving Ryan's Privates and The Thin Red Line. If there's a movie that ever potrayed the dehumanising effect on war, this is it. It was heartbreaking to see the elder brother take on mission after dangerous mission just to get his brother out of the draft and into university. It was more heartbreaking to watch him lose his purpose, then his humanity.

Okay, so it was melodramatic, and quite OTT towards the end, but if you EVER had siblings you love deeply, I guarantee this movie will pull some tears from you.


I love anything by Guy Ritchie, but I think this is my favourite of his works. Edgy and fricking hilarious, it makes Pulp Fiction look like a lame retard. Not to say I don't like Pulp Fiction. I just like Guy Ritchie films so much more. The dialogue is just nice and tight, and the humour wicked.

Oh, and who doesn't like Brad Pitt and Vinnie Jones? I mean really?

The Incredibles

Another family-oriented movie. I loved this one especially because it had so many layers that appealed to me. The kiddy stuff, the animation is great. But the scripting was so excellent that it dealt with very adult stuff in a very understandable way. Another tear-jerker from me was when Mr Incredible yells out in frustration "I'm not strong enough!". God knows I've been there so many times, and I don't know a single married man who hasn't felt that way before.

A Better Tomorrow

I'm sorry. It had to be done. The grand-daddy of all HK gangster movies. The movie that made Chow Yuen Fatt a legend. The story that taught me all I need to know about friendship (and yes, I do realise how screwed up that makes me sound).

'Nuff said.

Tag 5 People and Have Them Put It In Their Blog

Linda Chia (cos I want her to keep writing)
Edward Yong (cos I know what he's going to write)
Gloria Ho (cos I don't know what she's going to write)
BigFuck (cos I know this will piss him off. :D)
One Little Twit (just coz!)

Things On IM

Edward: I just thought of a brilliant name for an all-male gay choir...."Tutti Fruitti"!

Me: Why? Cos "Queen" was taken?

It had to be done. Forgive me.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Reaching Out

Mr Brown's fairly recent article about Instant Messenging got me thinking. Sure, as a veteran of IM to pass away dreary hours in the office, it's great fun. However, it's taken on a whole new edge here, 8000 miles away from home. It's no longer a luxury.

It's a need.

As romantic as the notion of leaving home and pursuing your dreams is, there is very little romantic about homesickness. It hits you hard. It hits everyone who leaves home. It's that lurking feeling in your gut, that little parasite in your brain that asks "What the hell are you doing here?". It's a natural thing. I am just thankful that I was not brought up macho-shit, and have no qualms about expressing my feelings - I think that a different upbringing, one less well-adjusted, would have broken me.

Still, one MUST find ways of coping with homesickness. I've mentioned an aspect of this in my previous blog entry - keeping busy. I say with some authority that this is mere denial. Sooner or later, you feel a need to renew a connection with home.

That is where IM comes in. Today, I had my first Skype conversations. The previous days where I had my computer hooked up to the Internet had been first marred by the inability to get my sound card working, then by a fried chipboard. In days before this I had to rely on my trust phone and Singtel roaming connection to keep in contact, then by silent webcam.

I can't quite describe the feeling of seeing your family lined up in front of the webcam. It's exilarating. It's a small window to their lives, a faint connection to home that, despite distance, refuses to die. More important, that lurking shadow of guilt over roaming charges just vanishes. One is more willing to speak freely when one does not feel like he has to compress everything in as short a time as possible. IM, for me, in the form of MSN and Skype, made this possible for me.

We talked a lot, my wife and I. She expressed her fears on her scholarship. I tried to reassure her as best I could. She brought Junior in front of the webcam. Junior looked slightly perturbed, but was a real trooper.

I promised my wife and my technophopic mother to wake up early in the mornings to speak to them. I am only too pleased to comply. Leisure and family, for me at least, has merged into a happy muddle.

For a while every morning, at least, I can quell those nasty voices in my head.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Father's Day

There's something about being 8000 miles from home that makes everything at home rose-tinted. Even my dad.

Make no mistakes. I love my dad to bits. He's just very...undemonstrative. Were he a Roman, he'd have rised through the ranks with great ease. So when I got off the phone with him after talking to him for a full 15 minutes, I was suprised to say the least.

I've often claimed to be very much my mother's son. I didn't realise how much of my father's son I was, until one week ago.

I wrote in my previous entry about my various trials since getting here. I cannot say I've been unaffected by them. But as I plod on regardless, I realise depths I never knew I had. What patience and silent resilience I have, I inherited from a man who worked his way through school, and carved out a good life for himself with his bare hands.

So, as I spend my first Father's Day so far away from my old man, I can only thank the gifts he's given me, and continue my best wishes for him.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.

The Neighbourhood

I realise I haven't actually shot many pictures of the neighbourhood I now live in. Suffice to say, it's suburban heaven. I'm less than a block away from Willard Park. It's a beautiful open space. On weekends I can see families having picnics and playing ball.

Willard Park

Playground at Willard Park

The thing I love most about my new neighbourhood is the fact that, while it's suburban, it's not uniform. I see buildings made of wood, brick and concrete. I see apartment buildings (like the one I live in) and beautiful 1920's style housing, like this one.

I've taken to walking around the neighbourhood a bit during lazy warm afternoons. Apparently it shows - my mom claims I've lost weight during my inaugural webcam sessions yesterday. Then again, this is my mom - who takes every bit of weight loss personally.

My wife, of course, claims the webcam is flattering.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

T Plus One Week - Serendipity and Other Things

One week ago, I set out on a life-changing journey. I flew to Berkeley to set up a little apartment. As promised, here's the story.

The Plane Trip

Amidst a tearful farewell at the airport, I left Changi Airport Terminal 2. At my farewell was Nick, Dawn, Edward and family, and my own family. In a rare display of emotion, my mother burst into tears. I comforted her as best I could, and as I walked into the boarding area, I didn't turn back, as I had promised myself.

The first part of the plane trip was uneventful. I helped myself to as many movies as I could cram in a 6 hour flight to Seoul. In front of me, a pair of people were talking loudly. I assumed they were old friends and kept to myself. My own wounds were still too fresh.

After a short stop at Seoul, a situation developed. Seated beside me was a family travelling to San Francisco. The lady beside me looked disturbingly like my old company's head of HR. Beside her, on the opposite aisle seat, was an old lady, head leaning forward, looking rather green around the gills.

I soon found out that they were flying from Korea, after visiting their family. They were apparently related to some Korean star whose name I just could not remember (It wasn't Wong Bin). While relating to me the tale of their family visit, I found out that the old lady on the other aisle seat was, in fact, the lady's mother, and she had just undergone a liver transplant. A while later, the lady asked the crewmen for a row with empty adjoining seats.

For a brief moment, I recalled my own crying mother at the airport.

I volunteered to move to the row in front, with the two chatting people. I figured that they wouldn't mind - they had each other for company after all. One of the two chatting people in front, a young lady, ducked into the center seat. She didn't mind sitting in the center, she said.

It turns out that I was mistaken. The two of them just got to know each other on the plane. Strangely enough, they were both headed to Stanford to attend the graduations of their significant others. I introduced myself to them, and we spent the rest of the 11 hours chatting like old friends. One turned out to be tres chic, the other turned out to'll see.

Jay is singularly -the- most unassuming man I've ever met. He had just returned from a business trip from India and wanted to suprise his girlfriend at her graduation. When probed further, he revealed who he was actually working for.


You heard me. Google. -THE- internet company. The mighty giant slayer.

I found out so many things about Google from him. Like how Google actually functions as an in-built calculator. How they serve lobster and steak at the cookhouse at the office.

In the course of our conversation, I asked him where else has he worked. His reply blew my mind even more.

NASA. Yeap. That organisation that launches people to the moon?!

Christina, my other row-mate, was equally interesting, though for different reasons. She's a happy, bubbly, Indonesian girl working for GIC (insert gah-men joke here) and anxiously awaiting to see her DSTA Scholar boyfriend Nigel. She talked at length about how her future in-laws (once Nigel -acutally- gets round to proposing) are the best-est people in the world, and how sweet Nigel was as a dude.

But Jay was, of course, tres chic. Cos he worked for Google.

Needless to say, Christina and I relentless badgered Jay about Google. I think it was equal parts nice-guy and just to shut both of us up, but Jay was nice enough to invite us to lunch at Google. So yeah, I'm gonna visit Google in a week's time. Is that cool or what?!

As we were about to land, Christina gushed about her future in-laws, and how we should really check them out. I stayed around. Jay must have rushed off, since I was slowed down by immigration and baggage issues so badly.

Here's the really freaky part.

When Christina finally introduced her future in-laws, I saw a middle-aged lady who looked -so- familiar. I couldn't quite place it. With that nagging thought in my mind, I left the airport for my rental car.

A few days later, when I called Christina, I asked tentatively if she went to Convenant Community Methodist Church. When she replied (more like gushed) in the affirmative, she handed me over to her future in-law, Aunty June.

It turns out that June was the organiser of a Sunday School class at CCMC - a place I hadn't returned to in over 10 years. I taught there 10 years ago when a girl I was pursuing at the time was there. And June remembered me, because the girl and I helped direct a Christmas play where we auditioned literally dozens of people until we got the perfect Shepard - Neville, Nigel's elder brother.

The really freaky part is - the girl that I was pursuing at the time is also in San Francisco. I don't have her contact, but I know she's here because my old Drama teacher told me.

The First Night

When I arrived in my new apartment, it was cold, bare and lonely. There was no furniture, no comforts of home, no grumpy brother and father, no nosy mother, no hyperactive wife, nothing. That awful first night, I broke down and cried. I missed home so badly. I called home in hysterical sobs.

My wife calmed me down that first night. She had been through it before during her undergrad days. I finished the phone call feeling tired but much much better.

The Next Few Days

After that awful first night, I resolved to beat back my homesickness. I went into a frenzy of decorating and stocking up. I bought groceries, crockery, furniture, everything. I assembled my own TV Rack and office chair. I understand now why people tell me to keep busy while I'm here. Every blow of the hammer, every assembled piece of furniture would beat back the loneliness just that little bit more.

Notice something wrong with the TV Rack?

When I was assembling this TV rack, I got three pieces back to front and hammered my index finger. I'm glad it's still holding up my big-ass TV. I usually watch the Comedy and Sci-Fi channel on it now.

The days that I spent could best be described as "two-steps-forward-one-step-back". Everything I did seemed to be unduly complicated by issues. My power transformers broke down and I had to get new ones from Oakland Chinatown. My cable connection was so bad that I had to call in technicians to adjust the frequency before I could get a signal to get internet access. My driving test was cancelled because I didn't get some document from the car rental company (which no one told me about, or even mentioned in the least until I was at the test centre). When setting up the bank account, I had to try three times because of inadequate documentation.

Slowly, but surely, though, my life and lot here got better. I present to you now, the fruits of all my labour.

My computer desk

After my fiasco with my TV Rack, I decided to get someone to install this for me. Don, the assembly technician, was more than helpful. We had a long conversation about places to go in Berkeley, things to eat, places to visit. Don was another interesting guy. He was a former soldier who served in Desert Shield, and spent his time after his service making deliveries as a UPS trucker. His knowledge of the area was nothing short of awesome, and his furniture assembly skills put my own to shame. He has 4 beautiful teenaged kids and he is a good man.

My Kitchen

I am especially proud of my kitchen. It's the heart and soul of my apartment, more so than my computer desk. I cook my meals here, and have been since the second day. I have a wok, a pan, a rick cooker and a microwave. I've a well stocked spice cabinet, and food enough for 2 weeks in the fridge. I'm so very proud that I managed to set this kitchen up from absolutely nothing in such a short time.

So here's the report card of my previous week. It feels like it's been a year, and I still have many things left to do, but I think this is a pretty darned good start for a week.

I'll be blogging again regularly now that I've got my connection. For those of you loyal enough to still be reading this blog, God bless you. All two of you. :D

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

T-Plus 5 Days

Still in an US$3/hour cafe, so I can't type much. I get my cable connection in two days. When I do, I'll write about the hundreds of stories that I've accumulated in the very short time I am here.

Suffice to say, they involve long-forgotten people from my past, tres chic new friends, a throbbing finger from having hammered my index finger (literally), a funny-looking TV Rack, and the pain of not having a California Driver's License.

Akan Datang. Be back in a day. Promise.

Monday, June 13, 2005

T-Plus 3 Days - Still Alive

I'm alive. It's been a rough few days but I'm alive.

I'm at an internet cafe at the moment. Won't get my connection till thursday, so no anecdotes till then.

Just wanted to drop a post to let everyone know I'm alive, I'm okay, and I really really miss home.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

T-Minus One Day

This will be the last post I'm putting up for some time. Tomorrow, I format my hard-disk, delink it from the house router and start afresh. I solved my data transfer problems with an external hard disk fresh off Sim Lim today. Lunch was a pleasant affair with Edward and Gloria. I picked up my new glasses and got a new pouch for my toiletries at Isetan. I'm well ahead of my packing schedule.

Tonight, I had dinner with friends I've not seen in ages. As usual, the non-practioners arrived way before the practioners. One of my friends got married last month without inviting us. Another got attached. A third's getting married next June. And I will miss all of this.

My wife, attending the dinner, asked why I was so depressed after tonight's dinner. I replied it was because I wouldn't be seeing them for a while. She quipped that it will be no different from usual - they would be extremely busy anyway, and I rarely get to see them more than once or twice a year. I didn't reply.

This time I knew things were different. The possibility of seeing them made their distance seem somehow closer. The reverse is also true. Too soon, I'll become something alien and foreign to them. For a person that prides himself on the support networks he's cultivated, it's painful to be seperated from it.

I've freed myself from the drudgery of burning CD's tomorrow, so I'm having dim sum with my mom - just the two of us. I asked my brother along, but he refused, citing his usual practice of having only one meal a day. I look forward to lunch tomorrow. I know that my mom needs to cope with me not being around.

My mother has not slept in days - and I know the reason why. My mother does not sleep at night because she tortures herself with the impossible question of not knowing whether she would have lost me today if I had gone 10 years ago.

10 years ago, I drew strength from my brother and my mother - my two pillars of strength. Today, I'm not sure who draws strength from whom. Some days I return, exhausted with dealing with my job, I look at my brother, mother and wife, and wonder why I am still here, still drudging half-assed through the same system that drove my mom to success, my brother to dejection and my wife to complicated courses of action.

10 years ago, when I asked to be sent overseas to read law, she could not because her company was undergoing restructuring, and she might have lost her job. She didn't tell me the truth of course, and tried to paint the picture that reading law in Singapore was a superior course of action - persuasion out of pure ignorance and desire to shelter me from the uncertainties she was going through.

It wasn't. And for years I resented her. Until I learnt the truth and faced the uncertainties for myself. Then I could no longer resent her.

I can't say for certain this day why I still have so much of a need to go overseas. Perhaps it was regret for this lost opportunity 10 years ago. Perhaps it was a desire to get away from here, to escape this institutionalised madness. Perhaps it was a challenge I set myself 10 years ago to be the best man I could be, and still am not.

Perhaps it was all three. Perhaps it was none. Equal parts bravado and doubt, courage and sacrifice, hope and dejection.

I know that if I turn back on Friday, I'll never have the courage to leave. And if I never leave I cannot love them any more than a mirror can love the true face of the image it reflects.

When I return, I return as their son and brother ought to have been before the disappointments, the envy, the broken dreams. Before the gradual bleed of the soul, the slow rot of the spirit. Before all the compromises. Before all this foolishness began.

I return to them whole because I will have tried, for myself - and that is all I ever needed.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

T-Minus 2 Days

Got my power transformers today. It was suprisingly easy. There's one apparently dedicated to the X-Box and I got the one for my computer from Sim Lim. I even had enough time to check out some books from Sunny's and get some World of Warcraft time in today.

I've managed to get everything that I -can- pack into boxes already. Some other things I -can't- pack (like my PC) because I still need them for day to day use.

Almost got over my cold - the remnants still trouble me, but not as much.

During dinner tonight, I struggled with peeling my own apple skin, as I always have. Not that I can't do it - I just can't do it well, efficiently or neatly. My apple slices would always end up misshapen or wrong-sized. My mom, fighting back tears, insisted on peeling the apple for me. She said she wouldn't have a chance to do so for a long time.

My need for independence lost out to letting my mom do the little things she can to manage her sadness.

I left for teh with my friends at night. During teh, I spoke to one of my friends interning at the Straits Times about the recent...mistakes made by the Straits Times vis-a-vis bloggers in general. Though I suspect little will -actually- be done, it felt good to do the right thing. Sadly, feedback in Singapore, like many other Asian countries, have to be done by carefully placed words to the right people.

Very much like letting my mom peel the apple, actually.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

T-Minus 3 Days

I packed all my clothes today. It's a revelation to discover all the clothes you own can be stuffed into one suitcase.

I have my X-Box and computer left to pack. Oh and my bed linen and towels and such. So far, I've packed away a bunch of steel bowls, plates and some chinese cooking implements that would be a hassle to find there.

It's weird. I don't feel as excited as I thought I would. It's just task after task after task. Today I bought jeans and a sleeping bag, got my hair cut and made new glasses. Tomorrow I settle my life insurance matters and check if I can get power adaptors for my X-Box and computer. Day after, I'll say my final goodbyes to good friends. Thursday I stay home and burn my precious files and music to CD and ship them off.

I guess this cold I'm nursing doesn't help either. Oh well.

Off to bed, and if this cold doesn't get better by tomorrow I'll go get my system nuked with penicillin again.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Code Name: Ah-Seng

The Note

Something stank.

I checked my calender. Yeap. Three days since my last shower. Still, that didn't explain the note on my table.

"Meet me behind Hideout if you want to crack the conspiracy.


I silently cursed my luck with cool nightclubs. I had to play this carefully. If I got anywhere within 7 steps of Hideout, that would mean the end of my cover.

But for a chance to crack the conspiracy? I had to risk it.

I took a swig from my hip flask to steel myself. As always, I cursed my alcohol-intolerant chinese genes as I swallowed the mouthful of teh-o peng. That did the trick.

I had a bad feeling about Hideout. In my line, you learn to heed your bad feelings. Especially when they involve chio-bus. And Hideout had chio-bu's aplenty. Which made me all the more suspicious. From experience, there were two possibilities:

(a) Missionary was telling the truth; or
(b) It's time to get my annual STD test done again.

I eliminated the second possibility almost immediately. The doctors did mention that, thanks to the antibiotics, my rashes were clearing up well.

It had to be the first. Missionary had to be telling the truth. Which means I had to go.

God help us all.

The Meet

The alley was dark but clean. A part of my brain reminded me that this was Singapore - dirty alleys were illegal, and hence could not exist. I shook my head and took another shot of teh-oh peng to clear it.

I thought I had left that behind me. Apparently not. The BCG scar still itches, and my head's not been clear since the day I shook off Gah-men conditioning. Apparently, the conditioning's deeper than I had ever expected.

All the more reason I needed the answers. And the answers were right in front of me.


Missionary flickered in and out of existence. It was most disconcerting. One moment he was standing before me. The next he just disappeared - and I couldn't even remember why I was standing behind Hideout.

I knew a little about Missionary, save that he was a high-ranking civil servant and gay. His little flickering trick was the interaction between two contradictory proclamations - he exists because a minister once acknowledged the existence of gay civil servants. Yet he doesn't exist because Singapore refuses to acknowledge the existence of gay lobby groups, gay rights or gay-dominanted media. Missionary now exists in some terrible in-between world of existence and non-existence.

I once asked Missionary why he calls himself Missionary. His answer - Deep Throat was illegal in Singapore. Apparently, I was not the only one bearing scars.

I summoned my courage to greet him in the Forbidden Tongue.

"Eh, Siao Eh, Hor Bor?"

Missionary hissed a crisp Brit warning "Are you mad?! You'll bring the MDAMen on us! You have no fear of being censored?"

I sighed. You can take the civil servant out of the gah-men...

"Okay, fine. What do you have?" I leaned casually against the side of the alley.

Missionary responded in hushed tones, "Do you know about"

Before I could give my usual smart-alecky remarks, Missionary cut in with bitter undertones, "Nothing. You know nothing."

Missionary looked shaken. I stirred. A salty fellow, Missionary does not frighten easy. "Watch out, old chum. It's a trap. There's a mole deep in the Resistance. His code name is Ah-Seng. Watch out for him."

"Ah-Seng? You mean....James Seng?! It can't be! No one would be so dumb to give a person a code-name that's his actual name!"

Missionary smirked bitterly, "No one, except..."

Of course! How could I be so stupid! We know who we're dealing with - to expect originality from them would be foolish!

Missionary dropped a second bomb on me. "I think Ah-Seng's a construct. A droid. A robot specially designed and programmed to infiltrate the Singapore blogger community. I have evidence."

Okay. That -was- a little far-fetched.

Missionary rambled, obviously agitated. "He has to be a robot. He has to be. What kind of a flesh-and-blood man speaks in HTML?!"

I blinked. "Actually, I know lots of geeks who talk like that."

Missionary looked nonplussed. "Ah, but how many people only leave the house when World of Warcraft servers are down for maintanence?"

I facepalmed. "Dude. I do. In fact, I'm here only because it's a Tuesday, and the servers won't be up for another 2 hours."

Missionary was just about ready to launch his retort at my snarky comment when he cocked his head to the side and yelled to me, "The Silencer! He's found wait, he's still tracking us! Run! I'll try to stall..."

The "Eh, you yell like that, confirm kenah track down one!" died in my throat, hushed deader than Singapore's opposition parties. I saw the pool of red spreading in Missionary's chest. Spurred on by my survival instincts and my du-lan-ness of being deprived of laying verbal smackdown, I ran in the direction of Hideout.

If the Silencer had one weakness, it would be his like for Hideout. He would not risk it shutting down. But could I get there in time?

I knew I was doomed. Cos you know, I only got D7 for my Track-and-Field CCA.

-To Be Continued-

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