Thank you for all the birthday text messages, even for that “Happy Birthday Old Man” message. Honestly speaking, I am not that old! Above is some of the pictures I have taken for my unplanned celebration. Just click to enlarge and mouse over for caption. Caption from left to right, top to bottom: (1) My 9th oil painting, (2) My roti prata lunch, (3) If you see this landmark, turn right!, (4) If you see this sign, congratulations, (5) That seafood place, (6) Our dinner, (7) Cynthia was happy with her food, (8) Me too and a secret sign that only Cynthia knows.
I love celebrating birthdays. Be it as mine or others. I cannot think of any date that is more important than one’s birthday if we for once think about ourselves and not being overly patriotic or zealously religious or hopelessly romantic. I was used to have this tradition of buying my friends (then-colleagues) a buffet lunch on Roti Prata. It was really fun. Imagine having like 10 people on one table and forget about asking everybody what they want. On average each person eats about 2 to 3 Prata so I would just order randomly like … 5 mushroom cheese, 5 banana cheese, 3 egg and onions, and etc. Of course I always over ordered (what a good host I was eh?) and one time, I consumed 5 pieces of Prata. No kidding.
Those were the good days. A day before my birthday this year, I had an idea. I wanted to meet a friend of mine for breakfast, another friend of mine for late breakfast, then another one for lunch, another one for coffee, another one for high tea, and finally one more with Cynthia and I for dinner and possibly a movie. Turned out that calling up people at the last minute could be a logistic nightmare and since I woke up feeling lazy, I discarded my idea and just went with the flow.
When the clock struck 12am, I managed to finish the transcript of all my 10 songs and have them as something that are “band friendly” (the end result is something like this for half a song). I really should have done this years ago. It only took me 4 hours to complete this task and like the task of “looking for a job”, somehow I just never got around to do it. Just when I have started putting effort into it, the task is over before I know it.
Inspired by how (not very) long it took to finish the transcripts, this morning when I woke up, I wanted to paint. Many friends have asked me what happens to my hobby of oil painting and my standard answer was: my pool of inspiration has momentarily run dry. Knowing that my life will turn normal after I start working, I wanted to paint something. Just anything. Cynthia has been asking me to paint some of her soft toys so still life it was.
I have become rusty in oil painting, I have to admit. The first object took me forever to paint (see image 1 – left to right, up then down). And when I got down to the second object, my palette was filled with different shades of brown and all of a sudden, I began to see light and darkness. The end result was not that great – though Cynthia loves it. Hopefully my next oil painting will be better.
Halfway through my painting, I looked at the clock and realised that it was too late to call any friend of mine for lunch. Just before I finished the painting, Cynthia messaged me that she would be leaving office at 2pm in order to celebrate my birthday. Hooray! I quickly finished what I set out to do this morning and I pondered upon doing something special for my birthday.
An idea came into my mind and I warned Cynthia promptly of a crazy idea I have without telling her what this idea was exactly.
Before I could execute this idea of mine, I needed food. For the love of Roti Prata, I followed my tradition and have three this time (see image 2). While Cynthia was taking a taxi home, I drove to Thompson Plaza and changed for some foreign currency. By 4pm, we were …
… heading to Malacca.
I always love Malacca. That is where Cynthia and I first started dating. And we both love road trips – an unending road listening to our favourite music (we had Hilary Duff, Avril Lavigne, Scissor Sisters, Linkin Park, Rihanna, and Tiesto). It is amazing that most of the time, we just enjoy each other’s presence without being compelled to converse. I did not speed. Malacca is not that far anyway. I wanted to dine at one of our favourite seafood center where they serve baked seafood and our challenge was to find the place.
Malacca has changed quite a fair bit in this 10 years. The roads are a lot nicer and because of the change in landscape, we had a tough time finding the seafood center. We have a post-it documentation of how to get there. Basically, leave the highway at Malacca exit. Keep going straight and at the junction between a petrol station and a hospital, turn left. At the junction when another petrol station is seen (see image 3), turn right. Head all the way straight and at the T-junction, turn left. After a good distance, all we needed to do was to turn right …
… but somehow, that junction has disappeared. We retraced our route and found that right turn that was earlier than we anticipated. We drove through a village (with a sign “Bukit Durian”) and at the T-junction, we saw the “Ikan Bakar” sign (see image 4) and we knew we have found the place (see image 5). See footnote for a better direction.
I remember that seafood center was used to be a lot more crowded. Perhaps it was a weekday or perhaps the new road system has confused the living crap out of everybody, the center was almost empty. There were many stalls and we just picked one in random. We chose our dinner (see image 6) and before long, we had our baked seafood right in front of our eyes (see image 7 & 8).
By 11pm, we were back in Singapore. It was certainly a special day for me. Driving out of Singapore – even for that brief moment – allowed me to see things in a wider perspective. One of my friends asked what tonight’s plan was and he offered to light the candle for me. It may be one of those “mid-life crisis” as he pointed out but it was certainly one of those “spur of the moment”.
I in particularly love this spur of the moment.
Footnote: To get to that seafood center, exit Jasin Melaca (just 1 or 2 exits before Malacca). Head straight for 6km and then turn right. After another 8.8km, make a right turn. Travel for 9.9km and then make a left turn. Drive for another 3.6 km and then turn right, immediately turn left. Head straight and the seafood center is just in front.