By late last night, K and M, two delegates from Pakistan who are also here for the MUN asked if they could join us on today’s plans. K is in the same committee as I am and is very experienced as far as such competitions are concerned and I have been in touch with him, bombarding him with doubts as and when they occurred to me, for almost a month now. Naturally, we agreed. More company and new friends are always welcome. It was decided that we would head to Universal Studios. I was super excited.
S and I woke up around 9 and got ready to head out. Breakfast was simple (toast with a variety of spreads, one of which was peanut butter 😀 😀 😀 and cereals with milk) yet satisfying. We then started walking towards the Farrer Park, the nearest metro station, which is a good ten minutes walk through Little India. Halfway there, there was a drizzle which quickly accelerated into a torrential downpour and before we could say ‘WTF man, now? Really? Why God why? Should we run down to the metro station anyway? Nah, we’d get soaked. Lets wait here and see if this stops anytime soon..’, the rain thinned down to a drizzle again and we quickly made our way to the station. We headed to Harbour Front, where we met K and M. One thing about metro stations in Singapore is that they are always a part of a mall. Like yet another shop in the mall. And yes, there are that many malls. By the time we reached Level 3 of Vivocity mall to the Sentosa information centre to catch the Sentosa express which would take us to Universal Studios, the rain continued to worsen and we were told that some of the attractions would be closed and that in case of a thunderstorm, there was no refund either. None of us felt rich enough to risk our 72 S$ for half a day of dodging the rain in Universal Studios. So we decided to head to Singapore Zoo instead.
On getting back to the MRT, I approached the Customer service desk to ask which station we had to get off at for the zoo. I was very impressed when the guy at the counter gave me a two by four inches white paper slip that had in black print, the details of exactly which station to get off at, which station to change lines at and which station to get out of and which bus to catch to get to the zoo. Respect. In fact, all of Singapore functions as efficiently as my father and is as organized as his desk, in his study, back home.
Meeting K and M
And so, the four of us took the bus to the zoo. I was meeting K and his friend, M for the first time. Both are bachchas, in their second year of engineering. K is hilarious. He makes the funniest of observations and says the most insane things that even made S guffaw. M is a very sober, good boy who blushed when K told us that he was engaged and that they call him Dulha bhai at college because he always wears a full suit to college, come rain or sunshine. M was wearing a a black shirt with a bright yellow Hawaiian print. So that and K’s tendency towards the absurd totally got us comfortable and familiar with the two. Now, K is one of those guys who roams around with his camera and takes pictures of everything. And he kept wondering why we weren’t taking as many pics. I must confess, that I am a major photo-whore. But as S and I observed, around S I sober down and hardly take any pics or get any taken. What a waste. Anyhow, it was good that K and M were enthusiastic about clicking pics, we got a few good ones today.
The bus reached Singapore Zoo and from the various packages available, we opted for the one that gave us tickets to the zoo and tickets to the flyer (Singapore flyer on Marina Bay) as well. We decided to spend the entire day at the zoo and try the flyer later this week, as the tickets would still be valid. Now, I am not a very see-animals person. Hell, as a kid, I hated animal stories. But I loved this zoo. The highlights of the zoo were :-
1. Splash show – A seal called Sam that had us dumbstruck with its antics. Video available on request and fulfillment of one wish that I ask for.
2. Zebras – Unlike Zebras in India, these Zebras were well fed and had the sexiest butts I’ve seen on an animal yet. Maybe the stripes made their butt look good. But boy, they had a glow about them and had dangerously beautiful curves. BBZs is what I named them. Big, Beautiful Zebras. Look at those behinds.
3. Lion – Majestic. The lionesses were a bit tame though.
4. Gorillas – Smart as hell. And the baby gorilla was adorable.
5. Lunch – We got a very nice vegetarian biryani meal and were happy when it came loaded with a whole lot of vegetables. Now that’s something both S and I enjoy.
K was having vegetarian as well as he does not trust the meat here even if it proclaims itself to be halal. M vanished somewhere and when we enquired, were told that he had gone off to eat chicken from a halal chicken stall and was sitting somewhere else at a table beyond our sight owing to our ‘vegetarian sensibilities’. While that was very sweet of M, S and I could not stop laughing our heads off. S and I are the kinds of fraud vegetarians who would pick the chicken pieces out one by one and eat chicken biryani as vegetarian biryani. The Lipton ice tea serves so much better here than it does in India. K had ordered one too and was saying it sucks. And when there was about a few sips left in his glass, he looked at me, confused, and asked ‘Should I be swirling those huge lemon pieces in the glass, around, for flavour?’ Turned out he had not stirred it and had been drinking what is effectively sweet water and had been making a face, wondering how I could be drinking mine with such unbridled joy.
6. Pygmy Hippos – S had seen then when she had come to Singapore Zoo as a kid, with her parents. Clearly, the baby pygmy hippos she remembered had grown up now. Bummer. Ugly.
7. Loads of pictures. K’s mad poses are the best. I also recorded the entire length of the Splash show on video. K and I also went around lusting at everyone’s cameras. Everyone seems to have a DSLR here. Bleddy.
8. Asian babies – Are the cutest. No wonder everyone is adopting them. Porcelain skin, black eyes and black hair cut in the cutest cuts, I tell you, if there was a cuteness contest among babies, the Asian ones would win it hands down. K wanted one of those to take back home. While he surreptitiously tried to click pics of the cutest ones, thankfully, he didn’t go up and ask for adoption.
9. K has the weirdest notions. He thinks all Chinese know martial arts. He thinks McDonalds in India don’t use cheese and milk products because cow is sacred to us and we don’t eat anything that the cow produces or anything milk based. S patiently explained to him that it is because our cuisine is so milk-centric, that we value what the cow produces more than the cow itself as a source of food. Hence, killing a cow is considered sinful, not eating milk products. After a few minutes of discussion on the topic, we gathered that K was talking about Jains and Jainism. Now those guys don’t even eat onion or anything else that grows below the ground, forget milk products. At lunch actually, while discussing how cigarettes are expensive in Singapore, on finding out that S smokes, K was very taken aback. He said she’s the first girl he’s met who smokes. M said there were girls who smoked in Pakistan, but not ‘officially’. K said ‘Yes, the ones who smoke officially, smoke everything.’ S and I caught each others eyes and sniggered.
10. The EZ link card is the easiest to use around Singapore. It can be used both on the bus and on the MRTs.
And then when we were done with the zoo, it was already late evening and we decided to get back. K and M were tired, while I wanted to go to this place that I’d seen back at Harbour front Centre (where we’d all met). We decided to split ways; while K and M headed back to their hostel, S and I headed to Harbour Front.
The mystery shop at Harbour Front that I travelled all the way back for
While quickly making our way to the zoo this morning, one shop had caught my eye at the Vivocity mall. My mind went ‘Is that what I think it is?? Fuck.’ I was thinking about it all day and I could not contain my excitement as S humoured me and we made our way to Harbour Front. We got lost multiple times in the huge mall. We stopped to eat yummy butter waffles and Singapore Cheese waffles at a small shop. The ‘Royal Blend coffee’, a black coffee, at the shop sucked though. I’m not in the habit of not finishing my food/drink, but this one was so bad that I let it be after a sip. With renews energy, we marched around the mall and finally traced our way to the shop. It was called ‘Build-a-Bear Workshop’.
Now, I am not the sort to go gaga over soft toys. The only soft toy I have been semi-attached to in recent times (that’s the last ten or so years) is my teddy bear with horns and a tail, and called ‘Ghatotkach’. I gave him away earlier this year. There was something about the very idea of making your own teddy bear and personalizing it that caught my imagination and fancy. I was thinking about it all day and was super excited. I’ve never been as excited about anything else in recent times.
So, while Angie, the shop assistant asked the standard question of ‘For you or for someone else?’ in her Chinese accent, she didn’t quite expect me to say ‘For me.’ And this was how Angie guided me through the ritual of teddy bear making and personalizing.
1. Choose me – You get to choose what kind of a teddy bear you want. It is just different types of teddy bear shells (like a teddy bear without the stuffing). I chose one called ‘Coconut cream’.
2. Hear me – You get to give a voice to your teddy bear. The messages come recorded as sounds in a heart shaped plastic which is put into the empty teddy bear shell. While the messages range from ‘Happy Birthday’ to customized messages and Angie was showing me the ‘I love you’ voice message, I chose to go for the simple heartbeat. It isn’t exactly a message, but it if you press it and put your ear to it, you can hear heartbeats.
3. Stuff me – So, while Angie held the bear, I had to step on a pedal which stuffed the bear with cotton stuffing. Angie would stop and make me hug the bear at regular intervals to make sure it was stuffed right enough to be perfectly huggable. And then, when the stuffing was done, she picked a silk heart and initiated the ritual. She made me touch my eyes and touch the teddy’s eyes with the silk heart (so that it would see my perspective), touch my nose and touch the teddy’s nose(so that I promise to cuddle it always) and similarly touch my lips (so that it would keep all my secrets, lips sealed), tummy (so that it would feel loved and have a warm fuzzy feeling) and forehead (so that it would be as smart as me) to its. I had to then touch my heart and touch its heart, hug it and make a promise that it would be my number one friend no matter what. Then, I had to hold the heart in my palms, rub it between them while making a wish and put it into the teddy bear. Its own personalized ID number (to trace it if it is lost and if it is returned) was put into the teddy as well.
4. Stitch me – With the heart beat thing, my wish in a silk heart and ID code inside it, the Teddy bear was then stitched to make it whole and presented to me to hug and cherish. No prizes for guessing what I wished for.
5. Fluff me – I was given a brush and had to hold the teddy bear under a blast of air while I combed its fur to fluff it and groom it. I swear, I had to bend quite a bit to reach the kid sized tables.
6. Dress me – Now they had everything available for the bear. Right from Satin underwear to bride and groom dresses to Jedi and Darth Vader costumes to Cop costumes to Army outfits to Graduation robes to every fucking thing you could think of. Not only inners and clothes, also foot wear and accessories like bags, sunglasses, et al. I chose a red silk panties, denim skirt, White tshirt with a ‘Harley Davidson Motorcycles’ logo on it (killer!) and a pair of Brown boots to complete the biker babe outfit. I was sorely tempted to add a pair of aviators, but they were quite breakable.
7. Name me – I got to name her. I named her. And I was given her Birth Certificate by Angie. Angie then made me lift my right hand and take a solemn pledge swearing to protect and cherish my teddy and treat it as my best friend.
8. Take me home – And I took her home.
I was quite taken by how Angie did not once waver from anything but a very indulging expression through out the entire process. I don’t think she has many 22 year olds popping into her shop wanting to do this, too often. I think somewhere she realized how excited I was about it and it was really nice of her to guide me through the entire process like she would a five year old. Though I varied between giggling and blushing through out the entire deal, I was very happy that I got to do it. And for once, I can truly say this about a soft toy – I love it!! I wish such things had been there when I was a kid, I would have been equally thrilled. I hope I get to take my kids to such places sometime. There’s something so magical about it. If it got me this excited, I wonder how much more of a big deal it must seem to a kid.
I am now the proud owner of ‘Valkyrie’, the biker babe. It cost a bomb, but I can’t believe I have a teddy bear with me which looks exactly as I’d want my teddy to look like. No pink, no frills, no bows, no pearls. Wow. And if I press the heart inside and put my ear to its heart, I can hear heart beats. Totally worth every bit of it.
And thus, the day came to an end. We headed back to Little India and had a dinner of Mushroom pasta from this Chinese place which also sold a blue-black, squid something that looked quite intriguing. I would have definitely tried it had I been non-vegetarian.
I’m so not a ‘cuddle your soft toy’ person. And yet, Valkyrie is sitting on my lap as I type on my Macbook and I don’t seem to want to let go of her. Tomorrow is the registration for the competition and I’ll be meeting all those people I’ve been debating with and talking to online for nearly a month or more now. Big day ahead, got to get some sleep.
Good night. 🙂