Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Weekend Graduation

Last Saturday, I got roped in to accompany my mother to my youngest brother’s diploma convocation ceremony at Putrajaya International Convention Center. My father was suppose to go with her but his production schedule in Terengganu clashed with the convocation date so my mum was left with an extra invite to the event. So instead of wasting the other invite, I decide to go with them and keep my mum company during the function. First stop for us however was a shopping detour as my brother had delayed buying a dress shirt for his graduation suit until the night before the ceremony. Good thing that he was able to find a shirt and tie that he liked at Sunway Pyramid or else we would have to go around for a bit to find his shirt.

Saturday morning started really early as in 5 am early in the morning! The 3 of us had to leave Selayang by 6am to reach Putrajaya by 7:30am which was when the graduating students were requested to assembled. I can’t imagine how early the day would have started for people who lived further than us which I imagine would be there as well. A quick breakfast of coffee and donuts, we were on our way after making sure that my brother had everything he needed for the ceremony. He and my mum had already attended the convocation rehearsals the day before so they already had a checklist of items to bring.

Traffic was not as bad as it could have been and for an added treat, we took the SMART tunnel route to Putrajaya. It was a treat for me as I have never been through it before and I can finally check that off the list of things to do in KL. The tunnel was totally deserted that early in the morning so the journey was smooth sailing until we came out the other end near Sg. Besi air field. At RM 2 per toll entry, I wondered why more people did not use the tunnel considering the traffic we say on the other end traveling towards Sg. Besi highway.

We reached the PICC on schedule and proceeded to the meeting area at the ground floor lobby where my brother waited for some of his diploma course mates. I noticed that most of the people graduating that day choose to wear a suit and tie ensemble under their graduation robes rather than the more traditional Baju Melayu and Samping set. According to my brother they were given the choice to select either unlike the time I graduated from KPP where we were only allow to attend our convo in a black Baju Melayu and Samping attire. I guess that it made sense to do so then as we also did not have to wear graduation gowns and mortarboards in that ceremony. Come to think of it, the ceremony that I went to then wasn’t technically a graduation ceremony as I had 2 years still to complete after leaving KPP.

At about 8:30am, all guest were escorted by the graduating student to take their seats at the plenary hall. Our seats were way up on the 3 or 4th level so it was quite a ways up. The advantage of that was that it gave me a chance so see the layout of PICC for myself having only been on the lower grounds on my previous visits. The topmost floor where our seats were offered a great view of Putrajaya and the surrounding area. It was a pity that the sky was a bit overcast on that day or else I think we might even be able to see the towers in KL from where we were standing. From where we stood, we could also see the spot where they were setting up for the fireworks for the International Fireworks Festival that was starting later during that day. At first we were considering to come back after dark to see the fireworks there but decided against as we weren’t too keen to be stuck in the jam coming back afterwards.

Once we were in our seats in the assigned area, the ceremony begun with the graduates procession to their seating area followed by the college staff and dignitaries. There were close to 2000 graduates receiving their graduation letters for both diploma and degree programs on that day. Even with the shorten speeches from the top people from the college, the whole event took almost 4 hours to complete. This was a far cry from my KPP ceremony that took only about 2 hours if I recalled correctly. I guess my degree graduation at UW-Madison might take as long considering we had a big class the year I graduated. I’m just guessing since I did not attend my own graduation ceremony since I was too busy recovering for a bout of partying the night before.

I guess technically, I have not gone through a graduation ceremony myself. I was quite surprised at the amount of protocols surrounding the ceremony which I assumed was actually less then the more established local universities since they convocation ceremony dragged on over a few days. One that stood out for me was that there was not to be any clapping from the audience until the end of the ceremony when all the graduates received their graduation papers which I thought was a bit strange. I’m guessing that it made sense seeing that no one expected the audience to clap for every graduate that they called up individually to the stage. Audiences were also reminded to remain in their seats during the whole ceremony which quite a few choose to ignore causing some level of distractions during the event. Good thing that they were strict about not letting any children into the hall or else it could be worse.

Having sat in the auditorium for almost 4 hours, we both came out needed a bio break and refreshments. Being only able to get one of the two since the food were all taken by people who choose to leave the hall earlier than the should have, we decide to go down to the lobby to meet up with my brother instead to plan where we were to have lunch. He was already there trying to get flowers for his girlfriend who was also graduating in the same ceremony. Say what you may, the people selling those flower bouquets and graduation teddys even with the inflated prices did really brisk business on that day. My brother was just too late seeing that much of the offerings have been sold out so he had to settle for an overpriced bouquet of chocolates.

Then there was the picture taking sessions. Being someone who prefers being behind the camera rather than in front of one, I don’t really understand the need to taking numerous pictures of yourself for any occasion. I was standing there watching this one family taking pictures individually with the graduating person and then proceeded to take group photos with him. All in all they must have taken almost 70 pictures (I was bored enough waiting for my brother to finish with his friends to count it) of the same person at the same location. I guess so people really want to capture the moment on camera but the thought of taking that many pictures just sent me shuddering. I think I only took 1 picture at my KPP ceremony with my then girlfriend and it was just only because she wanted it.

When my brother finally got done with his pictures and friends, we decide to get a late lunch at the Alamanda food court before going back home at about 4pm. It was a really long day and I was really looking forward to end it without any more delay. I don’t think that I would want to sit through something like that again anytime soon if I can avoid it. Still it was not all a waste as I did manage to finish reading my copy of the last Harry Potter book while waiting for the event to finish. I guess it beats just lounging around the house aimlessly.

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