Monday, November 29, 2004

Wow. Came home after midnight again. LTC duty was more fun than I thought. Started with going to Beach Road to pick up camo paints for some of the night walk characters manning the event stations along the way.

The Army surplus stores on Beach Road are great places to get outdoorsy equipment and cool militant fashion accessories. NS men resupply their disposable items here, get their tailoring done, and get non-standard items that look great though not necessarily field-approved.

The shopkeepers here reflect a savvy approach to total retail. Alongside the gung-ho looking shops draped to the max with field equipment and military apparel there are other shops selling female footwear, hair accessories, women's clothing, and if I'm not wrong, even ladies' headgear. This incongruity is puzzling at first, then I realized that guys in the market for army stuff tend to bring their girlfriends (and wives) with them. The women in tow are another potential market to exploit, so why not?

Me, June, JY and HP squeezed in Amy's car to get to MOE's Bhatera Campsite. For a campsite it's quite a nice facility. Cool-looking open-air stilted longhouse concept housing about 10-12 occupants each. Apart from having to sleep on mats on a hardwood floor (which actually isn't so bad) the place is quite comfortable. Our crew were not overnight stayers, though.

Our job was to role-play scenes from LOTR at certain designated stop-points during the night walk. Amy, Victor, Lena and I were at the first station and it fell to us to set the story for the night walkers to get involved in. Amy, the storyteller, narrated the history of the Ring. Frodo, played by Lena, appeared on the scene chased by an umm... orc(?) played by Victor. Victor had taped strips of garbage bag to the poncho he wore and with his face in camo paint he looked like a half-hearted sniper. But with his bent-over, shuffling gait he looked evilly animal-like in the moonlight.

I had the fun job. I was Strider coming to Frodo's rescue. Initially, the idea was to engage the orc with a flaming torch, but whoever prepared the torch was overenthusiastic with the cloth wrap and the amount of kerosene soaked into it. On a test lighting, the torch quickly became a raging inferno in my hand. Burning out of control (the torch, not me) I had to drop it and it took an entire bucket of sand to put out the flames. I had to settle for a stick with 2 glow-sticks taped to the end. The flames would have been dramatic, but we weren't prepared for an orc barbeque last night.

I also had to select a few of the night walkers to continue the walk simulating walking or visual disabilities. It took the night walkers some time for their imaginations to kick in. They had to discuss what they needed to do to get to the next station with their handicaps. I could tell what was in their minds was 'let's get this over with,' rather than 'oh, a game! Let's play!' Sad thing about our young these days: they tend to get serious over the wrong issues. Sigh. I guess it's the way we train them from young. Instead of the healthy immediately rendering assistance to the needy, they have a discussion over the rules of the game, job descriptions, task allocations, and the committee can't make a decision to save their lives. In this game, as in life, the fun actually lies in 3 little words: Just Do It! Thank you, Nike.

Other stations involved John and Thad squatting half-naked by a puddle playing Gollum's 2 personalities and getting bitten by ants and struggling to maintain character despite the discomfort. JY, HP and alumnus, Natty, were elves, faces painted with the glitter cube stuff June bought from the Body Shop in the afternoon. Other alumni played the roles of Shelob and Sam, and Gurmit was, of course, a convincing Gandalf thanks to his convincing beard.

2 cars drove out for supper after the debrief. Same company in Amy's car; Jeeves and guest, JJ, in Vince's. We descended on The Prata House, Thomson, where JY got the cheese prata she'd been craving all afternoon. June and I had a plaster and a kosong each and split a milo dinosaur. Considering that the rain was so terrible in the afternoon that it looked like waves crashing over the railing into our balcony and our staircase became an impressive waterfall into our void deck, prata made a nice end to a muddy, squelchy, slippery night walk.

5 groups to entertain last night, another 5 tonight.

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