Monday, October 24, 2005

Restraining My Laughter

I watched the detective comedy, WHITE CHICKS on a flight to Holland last year. Seated by the aisle, I could see the adjacent passenger watching the same flick.

The movie was such a riot that my friends and I couln't stop laughing throughout the movie. Oddly, the movie wasn't inducing a single laughter from the adjacent passenger (maybe he was plain bored). As a matter of fact, he glared at us when we started laughing. Half the passengers on board were probably watching
White Chicks but no one else seemed to be having a good laugh. Were they restraining from bursting into laughter? While I had a good laugh on the plane, I found myself behaving differently in a similar situation back home.

With public buses outfitted with TV Mobile, commuters get to watch episodes of JUST FOR LAUGHS and CANDID CAMERA.

Being a captive audience, I soon found myself looking at the screen to kill time. Some gags were genuinely funny but I could not bring myself to laugh out loud.

A couple of strangers seated opposite me were restraining themselves too. It's almost like stifling a sneeze with your face going into a slight spasm.

I figured I restrained myself from bursting into laughter because I was afraid of public scrutiny within a confined space. The plane may also be a confined space but chances are you won't get to see the same passengers ever again and one could relish the anonymity and laugh out loud. And in a cinema with the lights out, you can laugh your head off with everyone else. Laughing loudly in public transports seems like a taboo.

Imagine the person seated beside you bursting into laughter intermittenly.

And if you are one of those who become flushed easily and are slow in 'recovering' from a laughter, it's going to be pretty awkward too.

Meantime, when faced with a predicament as such, I'll switch to nap mode.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Travel Tips

Updated on 10 September 2008: Amended grammar for German dialogue. Thanks to Michael Wirth for pointing out the mistake. Danke!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Tales Of A Lone Adventurer

LIFE is a quest, very much like playing Dungeons & Dragons. You set out alone and eventually for most people, they will meet someone else and form a party. I'm one of those destined to walk this Earth alone and there are penalties for lone adventurers.

There was an occasion when I arrived at the cinema at the eleventh hour. The choice seats were gone and I had no intention of craning my neck at the front row. Then I spotted two empty seats at the back. But the box office attendant shook her head and said those were couple seats and offered to plonk me somewhere upfront. I waved a "no thanks" and walked away.

Eating at hawker centres could be problematic as well. Most hawker stalls require customers to provide their table number so they can bring their orders to them. On crowded days, this was a problem. The lone adventurer ordered his dish at a stall and pointed at a table five meters away with two empty seats. Immediately the hawker went:"Your table what number?" I walked over to verify and returned to inform the hawker. Then the hawker replied:"Your place got people sit already!" I turned around and saw a couple occupying those two seats. The girl sat down to reserve the other seat while the guy went to order their food. Nearer the stall, no one was leaving their table soon enough for me to provide an alternative. I remained standing until I was handed my plate of food. And only after wandering for 5 minutes did I manage to find a seat.

Lone adventurers are also more prone to random encounters (read Monster Magnet). Once I was having lunch at McDonald's when a middle-aged lady asked if she could share the table with me. I nodded and continued eating. Five minutes later, the lady's true form manifested before me and words praising The Creator oozed out of her orifice. My Level 3 Haste spell kicked-in instinctively.

The lone adventurer shall now tell a tale of his most recent encounter. After collecting my camera from the service centre, I went to a nearby hawker centre for a drink. One moment I was sending an SMS, and the next, a man stood before me as I looked up. At a glance, he reminded me of Jin from the TV series, LOST. The man introduced himself as someone in the advertising field. He politely requested to join me at the table and for me to spare him a few minutes. Having just collected my camera and being in a good mood, I beckoned him to have a seat.

The man explained he was doing a survey for a new product, 'soon to be launched in the market'. He wanted feedback on the design and packaging. I was wondering what product it could be. Perhaps a new MP3 player. Saving my breath, the man told me his product was a men's perfume. Somehow, I could smell trouble but I maintained an open mind nonetheless.

Rummaging through his duffle bag, the man whipped out the following and placed it on the table (I've reproduced the bottle and packaging as best as I can remember. The imagery on the packaging was obtained from another site but it is the exact image used):


With lightning fast reflexes, the man grabbed the bottle and sprayed on my hand. Before I even had time to react, he asked me what I thought of the fragrance. Containing my urge to shape-shift and maul him, I replied I do not use perfumes as I have a sensitive nose. The man gave me a blank look. I added that even then, I could still comment on the packaging. The man was all ears. I had no issue with the design of the bottle (although I could have sworn I had seen a similar design before) but the packaging design was begging to be decimated by Level 40 Heaven's Strike.

"Do you know who this person is?" I asked, pointing to the packaging. "It's Arnold", he replied. I explained that the brand name was inconsistent with the imagery used. There's no way a cigar-chomping Arnold (what's more, an action movie star) was going to pass off as an icon of romance. The man was quick to reply:"But Arnold isn't an actor anymore." I retorted:"But putting a governor's face on a perfume packaging doesn't convey love and romance either."

The man went silent for a few seconds, then he gave this reply: "BUT...somewhere between an actor and a governor, you could find love."

Thankfully, I made a successful saving throw against rapid grey matter decomposition. I went on and told him that as a consumer, I wouldn't be convinced to buy the product. "But this perfume is made in Paris. Perhaps the French see Arnold as romantic", the man exclaimed. "But you're marketing the product in Singapore", I replied. The man went silent again. Reaching for his duffle bag again, he whipped out two ladies' perfume bottles and made an offer:"Story Of Love will soon be sold in shops at $89.90. But if you purchase one now, it will only cost you $19.90. Plus, you'll get these two ladies' perfume free." I reminded the man the I do not use perfumes and I had already provided the feedback he wanted. Looking dejected, the man thanked me for my time and walked away.

The lone adventurer gulped down the remaining sugar-cane juice and went on his way...

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Sight For Sore Eyes

Boy was I glad to see my digital camera in action again (after an optical unit transplant) at the service centre.

Service with a smile, delighting me always :)
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