Saturday, March 20, 2010

BRATs -- Day Two (14/3/10)

At breakfast, Sing is King (minus a certain unnamed member who apparently fell asleep in the bathroom while taking his morning bath) finalised our plans. My half of the group -- Sean, Pau Ling, Sharannya, Ken, Kelvinder, Greg, and me -- were covering Muntri Street and Love Lane, whereas the second half -- Han Ming, Aishah, Stephanie, Aminah, Isaac, Keeshaanan, and Sharm -- were covering Chulia Street and Stewart Lane.

Before we were released, we were given a talk on the streets we would all be visiting, what to look out for and all. For Sing is King, it was rather disheartening: "The group that's doing Chulia Street...there isn't really much there. It's a trading area, so they don't have time to talk to you -- they're busy running their business. Anyway, it's Sunday, so most shops will be shut. You all just walk around and see what you can find la." For other groups, there were things like 'secret society headquarters', 'metal recycling shop', and 'very old kopitiam with very nice wan tan mee', which didn't help our moods.

Nevertheless, we headed off to our assigned roads, hoping to meet some interesting people and uncover some story-worthy places. I'm not too sure about the latter, but the former, we definitely did.

Oh, before I start, we saw this sign on Chulia Street as we were making our way to Love Lane:

Me: Either the guy's name is Ken, or he has really bad spelling.
Sharm: I hope the guy's name is Ken.

Anyway. As the lady who gave the talk had told us, most of the shops were indeed shut. On Love Lane, we spotted a non-seedy-looking low-cost lodge called Old Penang Guesthouse with two middle-aged mat salleh men (David and Alan, we later found out) sitting outside, shooting the breeze. Out of what was probably sheer desperation, the seven of us marched in there and began interviewing people -- my first few non-prefect-related interviews!

That was our article.

On Muntri Street, we went into two temples, taking photos and interviewing the caretakers. The second temple we went to had there really beautiful stone carvings on the outside walls and pillars, mostly of dragons and warriors.

They were imported from China, the caretaker proudly told us, and were put in in 1995, when the temple was renovated.

And that was our soundslide.

At lunch, we were all given an allowance of RM10 and allowed to eat whatever we wanted. (Char kuey tiow and ice kacang for me, om nom nom.) Sing is King members reunited, and we exchanged stories over lunch. Their story-sourcing trip had been far more eventful than ours, it seemed.

They had been walking down Chulia Street when they came across a young Indian man dancing. He looked rather bedraggled, as though he hadn't had a bath in a while. Maybe they were staring or something, because, quote Han Ming: "He just suddenly screamed 'Eff you!' at us...just not 'eff'. He didn't say 'eff'." As they hurried off, Han Ming glanced back at him and was given the finger.

Also, they met a very friendly la mian man who let them sample a bowl of la mian for free. When they asked for his name and age (to be used in the article), he very proudly whipped out his I/C and showed it to them. Suddenly, his wife appeared and started screaming at him -- literally -- for letting them eat for free, as well as showing them his I/C. Before things got even uglier, the BRATs quickly paid for their la mian and left.

Sigh. All we got was a Myvi nearly taking the door off a Wira when the driver of the latter opened the car door without first checking for oncoming traffic. This happened outside a temple, btw.

Oh, also, we found out that Greg, our senior BRAT, is seventeen, the same age as me. We didn't believe him at first, and he had to show us his I/C to prove it. Gosh, I thought he was twenty, thereabouts.

I was squatting a little, but he really is super tall. Greg's more than six feet, and still growing!

On the way back to the hotel, I stopped to get the sugared nutmeg strips and nutmeg slices in syrup that my mother and sister had been bugging me to buy. My group had to wait for me -- sorry, guys! (Fun fact: After lugging home 2kg of nutmeg strips and 3 packs of nutmeg slices and getting syrup leaked all over my clothes and the inside of my luggage bag, my mother informs me that it wasn't the brand of nutmeg slices that she wanted. *facepalm*)

After getting cleaned up, we all headed back to the ballroom to get started on our assignments. Unsure as to how to start off my Old Penang Guesthouse article, I picked up the day before's Star Metro that was lying around and flipped through it. God must have been smiling -- nay, beaming -- down at me, because I came across an article that gave my then-unwritten one the elements relevance and timeliness, things that make news news.

As we worked on our assignments, Ivy announced that she would be reading our submission essays and calling out names, in order to "link the essays with the faces". Gulp. Unless I'm very much mistaken, she only called out a few names, the two of which I remember are mine and Kevin's. Hmm.

We went for dinner and played a game or two, then settled down for a short talk on social media by Mr. Niki Cheong. 'Mr.' because, to quote him, he "get[s] paid to give talks like these, okay". It was a bit of an eye-opener, to be honest -- there were some sites I'd never heard of before, and I thought I was fairly active on the Internet.

It was back to our assignments then, which we passed up ('handed in', more like -- 'passed up' sounds too much like school) at midnight, our deadline. It had originally been 10 p.m., I think, but Sharm was kind enough to stay up with us so it could be extended. And how did we repay her? By making her literally scream at us before leaving the ballroom and going to bed.

Felt quite bad about that, and I still do. Really sorry, Sharm! If it helps, I'm definitely a fan!

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