Friday, April 22, 2011

Objects: The Schoolbook

When I was about 9 years old,I had a rather strict class teacher named Mrs Lim. She was a petite, squat lady with short hair and thick glasses. Her clothing was rather old fashioned i.e. 1960's-cut dresses, flat shoes. She'd walk really fast through the corridors in a stomping fashion in a great hurry.

Back in the day, we wrote down our tasks in an A1 sized note pad bound in brown paper which we called 'Exercise Books'. Depending on which school you were from, the brown cover had the school badge printed in black ink. When we'd finish one (which was quick as they were rather thin), we'd staple the end cover of the old book to the front cover of the new book to create a compendium of previous notes and exercises.

These would be carried in our schoolbags to-and-fro; uniform blue dwarves (that was the color of our uniform) hoarding sacks of potatoes to school. If any one of us students came to Mrs Lim's class without our homework, there'd be hell to pay. No one escaped from not bringing homework to class as she'd call us one by one to her table so that she could scrutinize our unearthly scribblings. It was rather terrifying.

"Tangkachi! What kind of writing is this? Like 'cacing'only!!" (Cacing meaning 'worms' in Malay)
"What is this?? You call this writing ar??!!!" *Slap*

Thus came a couple of weeks of holidays where I was quite happy to enjoy it at home not doing very much except watching video re-runs of the 'Never Ending Story' and annoying my sister. As all good things come to end, the days whittled away leading to the unenviable task of packing our bags for school. First thing to go was the exercise book which I'd worked very early on so that I could enjoy the hols. And since it was done some time ago, I couldn't recall where I'd left it. Panicking, I looked in every possible nook in the house, including under the couch, on the glass table etc. I just couldn't possibly go to Mrs Lim's class without my homework! After much scrambling around, I was resigned to my fate. It was a hot Sunday, that afternoon and feeling drowsy, I fell into a deep sleep.

I dreamt that I went downstairs to the living room to the low glass coffee table looking for my exercise book. This time with a sure feeling, I found it - sitting right under my mom and dad's papers.

It was late evening when I woke to this revelation. Exactly as my dream instructed, I went down stairs and into the living room and lifted the stack of papers on the glass and table.

Lo and behold, there was my brown exercise book.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

On the Starting Line...

You are standing at in the crowd, fidgety, crackling, fiddly. You've been here before - around you are the familiar sight of men and women in tights, garbage bags ponchos, GPS tracking gadgets, sweatbands, isotonic drinks belts. One or two even wrapped in their national flags like Supermen in the midst - albeit with trainers on . Some are stretching their legs, flexing muscles, shaking their arms loose. Some are talking and chatting - with friends which they've travelled all these miles to get here with , or with someone they happened to be standing next to.

" Are you running on your own?"

"Yes, I am. Looks like you'v done this many times before?"

"Oh this is probably my 5th"

"Wow - when was the last one?"

"The last was in Florida - a bit different from this one"

"Impressive! All the best to you!"

"And to you too!"

After this brief and single exchange with a total stranger, suddenly you feel a strong caramederie with everyone - "Yes! We are in this together...We're going to brave this 42km....May the Force be with us!" There's no mistaking the feeling of anticipation and excitement in the air all felt by these starters on the line- young, old, men, women, big, small, tall, short - the combined energy is unlike anything experienced so far. No matter how many times its been run, no matter where it may be, every single marathon is unique and once in a lifetime. And there's no doubt that anyone who's running, no matter fast or slow, will end it a winner.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Cold Runnings

Have been running weekends lately in preparation of the Big One next weekend. It's been 4 years since my last marathon and frankly don't feel quite prepared. The last long run was 3 weeks ago at 30k, slogging at 8mins/km at the 20th km onwards. When I lug my kit to work, I don't look forward to the run home. Am not sure why the gradual change in my receptivity to running. Maybe it's probably an ego thing. I don't do well in group runs as I'm always trailing behind in the nether back end of the pack - most times beating myself up for not keeping up - psyches me downwards. I probably did better when it was a lone sport . Nowadays the more I run, the slower I get and saps the joy out of it. Someone told me I'm doing 'junk runs' where the training is not 'training me up', but instead 'running me down'.Probably true. This marathon, my only aim is to finish and won't be bothered with my times - it's after all not a race, but a marathon.