Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Episode 1: In Principio

As you may have deduced from this post, I am alive and well in the UK. Not many people came to see me off at the airport. Only five, to be exact, and they included both my parents and my godparents. Can't say I was all that disappointed or surprised, since to be frank, I'm not the sort of person who inspires tearful farewell scenes at the airport. I am sufficiently self-aware to realise that. Anyway, many friends I would have expected to have been present had entirely valid reasons for being absent. For example, Shirley was in Cambodia. Admittedly, it would have been swell to see you guys just before I flew off, but I was too excited about finally flying off to be all cut up about you guys not being there, so no need to feel guilty about it! I made it a point not to look back once I'd stepped through the sliding doors. Guess I just felt that looking forward was more important than looking back? Lot's wife turned back and look where that landed her. I was a bit nervous about flying alone for the first time in my life, but thank God for Changi and SIA. If there's anything I will miss about Singapore, it's the efficiency, particularly when considered in relation to supposed developed countries. More on that later! Spotted Katie and Wayne in the departure hall, and Jason came over to say hi because someone sending him off knew my godmother. Or something like that. I ran into Natalie Pryke and Ken Cheng while boarding, so we chatted a bit while waiting in the queue. I didn't manage to get an aisle seat, but it worked out in the end, although I felt so bad every time I made the elderly man seated beside me get out of his seat.

As for the flight, I personally think Economy Class in the A380 is overrated! It's supposed to have more comfortable seats, but I actually felt more squashed than usual, although that partly had to do with the bulging laptop bag that I shoved under the seat in front of me. Took quite a while to figure out how to plug in the headphones, as I couldn't see the holes without bending forward ridiculously far, so I had to work by trial and error. Mostly error, which wasted some of my time. I took a listen to The Ting Tings' album, which is actually pretty good. I recognised 'Shut Up And Let Me Go' because it was the opening theme for First Class, sort of like how I realised Sam Sparro's 'Black And Gold' was the song used in the Skinscast. I also caught two-and-a-half movies: 21, El Orfanato, and the first part of Sex And The City. 21 was cool and sort of inspired me to play blackjack seriously. Counting cards sounds like it's so easy to do, but I'm sure in practice it's tremendously difficult to reach a level where one can make a living out of the skill. El Orfanato (The Orphanage), directed by Guillermo del Toro of Pan's Labyrinth fame, was a fascinating Spanish film about a woman who goes back to live in the orphanage that she grew up in. She brings with her her HIV-positive adopted son, whose imaginary friends soon invade the tranquil life she has created for her family. Ultimately, the ending is bittersweet, as the woman dies, but is in a sense reunited with her son, taking care of him and his imaginary friends, who are actually the ghosts of her former fellow orphans. There are repeated references to Peter Pan in the film, specifically casting the woman in the role of Wendy, as someone who needs to revisit her childhood in order to unravel the mystery behind her son's disappearance. It was an interesting film, so I'm glad I caught it. As for Sex And The City, although I didn't finish it, I thought it was funny, though not having seen the series, I couldn't really identify with the characters. Sarah Jessica Parker has a disturbingly girlish voice for a woman of her age!

Getting through immigration was a stark reminder of one of the things I'll miss most about Singapore. The efficiency! I waited in line for more than an hour to do something which usually takes around 10 minutes in Singapore. Ridiculous much? Anyway, I got through, collected my luggage, and joined the huge group of Singaporeans in the arrival hall. We didn't have to wait long before the Orientation helpers spotted us, although it took slightly more time for us to be actually on our way to Warwick. Didn't take long to get my keys to Westwood, and I must say that the room's decent. It looks like a mid-priced hotel room, if you need to visualise it. We'll see how it goes after three weeks, then I'll decide if I want to apply for a transfer to Heronbank. Didn't really do much for the rest of the day. There were campus tours, but I didn't really want to go for them. I did sign up with the other Singaporeans for some day trips to Oxford and Coventry, on Thursday and Friday respectively. There was rock and roll dancing at the marquee, so I went with the other Singaporeans to check it out, though I was among those who fled the moment they asked us to get on the dancefloor. So I ended up walking back to Westwood with Sarah Soon and Shen Ting. Yeah, that was pretty much how my first day in Warwick went. Not bad, all things considered, and I don't really miss Singapore, so to all the naysayers who were telling me I would, I still don't believe you. I will be honest and post about homesickness though, if I ever experience it.