Saturday, July 23, 2016

Poster girls

"Congratulations, Sayesha! You've become a celebrity. Just saw your poster!" my neighbour sent me a message.

"Poster?? What poster?"

"The poster on the main road. Of you and some baby."


Then it struck me. Almost a month ago, I had entered some photos of Xena and me in a 'Joyous Smiles' photo contest organised by the community centre. The contest flyer asked for photos of smiling faces, and said that the selected photos would be part of a poster for the community centre's notice board as part of the National Day celebrations. Now the community centre isn't huge, and their notice board certainly isn't, and I could only imagine how small the poster would be, and how small my photo, if selected, would be on it, but I entered anyway. I have a HUGE collection of Xena's photos that Viv and I like to call our 'retirement plan' (in the sense that when we are retired, we will sit on our Joey chairs and pass our days looking at the photos on a giant screen).

So I'd selected some photos, one of a grinning me holding a grinning baby Xena, and a few more of just her as a very smiley baby, and sent them in. And then forgot about them till the message from my neighbour arrived. I asked her for details on where exactly the poster was because I was baffled as to why the poster was along the main road and not a tiny part of a tiny poster stuck on a tiny notice board in the tiny community centre.

She told me the details and also insisted that the baby I was holding was definitely not Xena. I laughed and told her that it was very much Xena and then sent her the photo to prove it. She seemed rather shocked at how much Xena has changed.

So we took a walk along the road that evening to check out the poster. Turns out it was not one poster containing all the winning photos. Instead, it was a giant banner with each winning photo arranged like a poster on its own! To my utter surprise, I saw not one, but five of the photos I had sent! Of course, there was the one with Xena and me, but they had also selected four of Xena's smiling baby pictures, which of course, had gone unidentified by my neighbour. So we took photos with each of the posters. Here are two of them.

I'd have thought that being on the humongous banner itself would be the contest prize, but as it turns out, they gave us 50 dollars of shopping vouchers too. Wow.

This one's for you, dad-in-law, who, whenever I get sceptical about entering contests, says, "Only if you enter a contest can you win it, no?"

Friday, July 08, 2016

One for the books

"Whatchu reading?" My neighbour asked me as he walked by. He's a friendly, middle-aged guy I often see around the pool or the gym, and he always stops to chit-chat.

I was sitting by the pool with my book. Xena was in the middle of her swim lesson.

"You're not going to believe it." I said.

He stopped, looking really curious now. I showed him the cover of my book.

"HO!" He said. It sounded like something between surprise and delight. Exactly what I expected.

I was reading 'The Naughtiest Girl in the School'.

Yes, that book written in 1940 By Enid Blyton.

That book that I happened to chance upon because of a crazy craving Viv and I had for Coffee Club's muddy mudpie the other day. It is one of our favourite desserts, and when we crave that mudpie, we are willing to travel across the island for it. Both the branches we were aiming for had shut down (no, not closed for the day, but shut down omg), but it was not a wasted evening. We found an open-cart book sale, and it wasn't just any book sale. A book sale that pretty much felt like someone had filled up a sack with my childhood and emptied it into the carts. Famous Five. Secret Seven. Nancy Drew. Hardy Boys. St. Clare's. Malory Towers. You name it, they had it.

And... The Naughtiest Girl in the School.

My dad had bought me the book when I was maybe six or seven. He even wrote on the first page, "To the naughtiest girl in the world". (Gosh that was SO NOT TRUE -- I was always the teacher's pet and the nerd of the highest order in each of the seven schools I attended.)

Over the years, I read the book so many times that by the time it was time for me to come to Singapore, the book was in no state to accompany me. It lay in a box with other tattered and yellowed books from my childhood that my dad refused (and still refuses) to part with.

But now, not only had I found that book, I'd also found the next two in the series. And it had brought back some amazing memories. Of how wonderful boarding school used to sound, with the lacrosse and the horse-riding and the tuck boxes and the nature walks and the school meetings and the midnight feasts. Oh, how appealing the strange foods that I'd never had before sounded -- scones and sizzling bacon and potted meat and treacle and cream cheese and marmalade and golden syrup and ginger beer. Heck, she even made boiled eggs at a picnic sound mouthwatering. In later years, I had a chance to taste many of these items and to my utter dismay, most of them elicited nothing more than a 'yuck' from my taste buds. (Except ginger beer, of course. Nobody say anything bad about ginger beer, okay? Okay. Especially my all-time favourite - Bundaberg ginger beer.)

Viv hadn't been sure about me filling up our recently-Konmari'ed bookshelf with these books, but I knew I had to. He had no clue about the joy they sparked in me.

I had two big reasons to buy them.

One, I want Xena to read them some day.

Two, I want them for myself. Right now, later and forever.