Saturday, August 11, 2007

Post Alumni Dinner Write-up

The dinner didn’t start too well for me last night.

The invitation stated that guest should be arriving beginning at 7pm but at 6 pm I was still stuck at the office trying to square away the last things that I had to do for the day. I had called my friend who will be going to the dinner with me to confirm that he will be coming to pick me up at 7:30pm so I was really running out of time. Rushed back as fast as I could and took a quick shower before getting dressed in my borrowed batik shirt by 7:45pm. There was no sight yet of my ride so I gave him a call to check out what was happening. Turned out that he got stuck in traffic and had only reached home from work. He was in the middle of getting ready and would call me when he reached my apartment.

It would be close to 8:30 pm when he reached my place and we left in a hurry hoping that we would not be too late for the function. It was lucky that my friend had been to the Putrajaya International Convention Center many times before so he knew the way. If it was up to me to navigate the way then we night not even be able to find the place. Being that it was my first time being in Putrajaya, I had to stop my worrying for a while to take in the impressive layout out there which reminded me of Washington DC that I’ve seen in pictures. Unfortunately we were already running late so there was not time to take the scenic route.

We finally reached the PICC at about 9pm and luckily able to find a parking spot not far from the lobby entrance. When we got down the escalators to the convention floor, we met one of my table mates who happened to be one of the dinner committee members. He helped us find our table since we did not get to see the seating chart. Of course getting escorted in by a committee when the function was already under way meant we looked like a late comer VIP being showed to their table. Trust me to always be the one who was not only fashionable late but has to make the grandest entrance possible.

The guys at table that night was mostly those that I have stayed in touch with so we didn’t really have a lot to catch up with other than recent developments. We talked for a bit while waiting for the boring speeches to be over and done with. One advantage of coming later was that I skipped all the VIP speeches that would normally drone on for at least an hour at the beginning of the function. Unfortunately coming later also meant that I missed out on the starters that they served during the speeches. Good thing that food was served not too long after I came.

Food wasn’t anything to shout about. It was a nasi minyak set with all the trimmings all served in one go to each tables. Since I was watching what I take for dinner, I only had half serving of rice with a small piece of beef rendang and loads of the mix veg dish that they served. We caught up with everyone’s latest news while dinner which was good since we don’t really get to call up each other very often. When it came to my news, first thing that they noticed was the weight that I’ve lost recently (yay!) which I have to admit was a ego booster for me considering that half the people at my table were the jocks at school back then who have now let their bodies go to pot.

They had the Kombo RTM band playing during dinner which was OK considering most of the songs were oldies. One thing about these alumni gatherings is that almost no one was paying attention to the band as everyone was focused on catching up with each other. A few of us were mingling around from table to table trying to find people that we remembered from our time at school. Since there were 3 alumni’s there at the dinner, this was not an easy task but thankfully they put different colored napkins on each alumni tables so we knew which table were boys from our school. Saw some of the seniors that I knew from my monthly alumni gatherings as well as a few of my juniors who have all grown out of the gawky teenager phase I last saw them in.

I also got to see a few of my teachers. Some didn’t really remember me since I wasn’t that good in their classes especially all my Math teachers who were all there that night. Others recognized me immediately on sight because I stood out in their classes the year I was there. My old Form 5 class teacher, who was practically our adopted mother for our class that year, immediately asked if I was already married since it was the same question she asked every time I see her in these function. She said that every time she asked me that question, she is hoping that I would finally give her a different than I always do. I was also touched that my old English teacher asked me if I was still writing and if I ever finished the screenplay that I always talked about in her English class. I actually forgotten about that but I did tell her I eventually did write a screenplay but not for the story that we used to discuss about all those years ago.

As the night continued, we were also on the look out for the people from our batch from the STAR and STF schools. One of my friends in particular had got the news that his old girlfriend was coming to the dinner and he wanted to see if he could still recognize her after 17 years. Dragging me along to be his wingman, we went around to see if any of the STF girls looked remotely recognizable but of course this was next to impossible for us. For one thing, the last time we saw the STF girls from our batch, they were just girls who are now grown women who would definitely looked way different from they were 17 years ago. The other thing hindering us was that I was not the best person at remembering name and faces especially when the STF girls that we knew weren’t really on my high priority list back then for obvious reasons. Despite his efforts, my friend went home empty handed that night especially after we were told that the girls from our batch did not attend the dinner.

M. Nasir came on stage towards the end of the night and I’m guessing that he doesn’t get to perform at alumni dinner very often. It was slightly funny seeing him trying to work the crowd when all they were interested in was to talk to each other. Fortunately for him, the crowd warmed up to him especially when he started to sing his older songs which some of use remembered singing to when we were at school. I wondered if anyone warned him about how difficult the crowd would be. Those of us who are the products of boarding school might be able to imaging how the crowd was once they really got started. Suddenly all the titles and age difference went out the door and there we were sing along at the top of our voices like a bunch of 17 year old at a concert. It was good to know that the habit of reverting back being like the boys we were at 17 during alumni gatherings were not exclusive to my school’s alumni!

The night ended with the tradition of us taking pictures of ourselves with the dinner backdrop to commemorate the occasion. I had brought the camera that I borrowed from my mum but the batteries that I had in it went dead even after I charged it so I went away without being able to take any pictures myself. We stayed around to mingle a little more at the souvenirs stand before finally going our separate ways sometime around midnight. As I went past all the lighted buildings at the main Putrajaya road, I keep thinking about the fun night that I just had and how just by the act of being together with good friends can easily cheer a person up. I was also thinking that I would definitely want to come back to Putrajaya at night once I have my own camera to capture the architecturally interesting buildings that they have all lighted up there.

All it all, it was an evening well spent.

No comments: