Sunday, June 05, 2005

Stranded!

Saturday evening was like a nightmare!

After spending the whole day in a water theme park (strange that I work near the best dive sites in the country and my work friends would opt to relax in the artificially generated waves and heavily chlorinated waters of a water theme park -- it was fun though) I was thoroughly exhausted and just wanted to stay at home and rest. We were very lucky. It was bright and sunny the whole day despite the weather forecast of heavy rains due to a big typhoon that veered off its course. We were not on the direct path of the typhoon but it was still expected to rain. At around 6pm I was already home and I thought I should buy something in the supermarket for dinner. A whole roasted chicken sounds just about right (I was going to eat the leftovers the next day, honest. I wasn't going to eat it all *wink*). When I was queuing up in the checkout counter it began to rain. That's not enough to describe it however. To say that it was like a dam bursting would be more appropriate. It poured unrelentlessly for the next 10 minutes or so and I couldn't even go to my car about 2 meters away without becoming fully drenched to the skin. I heard snippets of conversation from those that just arrived that portions of the main road was slowly flooding. I lived just a couple of minutes from the grocery but I needed to go further down that road for about a kilometer or so to reach a U-turn slot since all the intersections were closed off -- part of a traffic control scheme that was meant to improve traffic conditions by doing away with traffic lights. For me however, this meant that I will have to go through the flooded area twice so I can go back to the house. Knowing that the conditions might get worse, I braved the rain and proceeded to navigate the semi flooded streets hoping that my car wouldn't stall. I passed through the waters keeping the car on first gear all the time and hoping that the water wouldn't go through the exhaust. So far so good! On my way along the street I encountered an unusual sight. A column of water about 4 feet high is seen spouting from a manhole in the middle of the road! At first I thought I nearly bumped into something (visibility being very poor because of the heavy rains and the poor condition of my windshield wipers). If the drainage system is backflowing that much water pressure then things will definitely go bad very quickly.

When I was about to do the U-turn, I noticed that the cars going to the opposite direction was at a standstill. And then I realized that the waters at the other side was now waist deep! So here I was stuck in the U-turn slot with the rain still pouring from the sky like crazy. Only the big trucks and busses braved the waist deep waters. I mentally kicked myself for not waiting at the supermarket (I was more concerned with the dressed chicken - of all things) then I could have gone home by going counter flow to the traffic very close to the shoulder. I'm sure the traffic enforcers wouldn't mind. After all they were nowhere to be seen. I think they were taking refuge somewhere dry and warm.

After about 5 minutes of maneuvering, I managed to inch my way out of the U-turn slot with the help of a soggy plainclothes traffic enforcer (or at least I assumed him to be one, he could just be a good Samaritan trying to untangle the jam) I was able to go a different route but almost all the alternative routes ended up in a flooded area. The rain came so sudden and with such volume that the draining system couldn't cope. I ended up beside a fried chicken joint and as luck would have it, unbelievably, somebody was actually foolish enough to leave the store and face the traffic jam. Seeing my opening, I immediately parked on the space he vacated in case he realized how stupid he was. I'd rather spend my time eating at a fast-food store than sitting in my car in a traffic jam any day. The torrential downpour actually lasted for only a couple of hours but the water it generated was enough to bring traffic to a standstill about twice as long. After tasting almost everything on their menu (at least once) I finally decided that it was time to leave (mental note: if your stranded someplace without a decent toilet it's not a very bright idea to overeat). The main street is still not moving so I ventured to the alternative routes once again. I finally found a passable route (which was flooded waist deep earlier but is now only about a foot deep) but the problem is that everybody seems to have thought of using this route too. We began inching our way (well the word "inching" may be an exaggeration but what do you say when you move a foot at a time? "footing"?) home and what was supposed to be a quick trip back home became a long journey due to the circuitous route we took. I finally arrived at around 11pm dead tired from the ordeal and I couldn't think of any other time I was so happy to see the bathroom. And the chicken?... I felt a special bond with that chicken since I felt we went through a lot together. And well, let's just say that it was the best tasting roast chicken I had when I cooked it for lunch the next day.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Poolside Dinner Party

I did not participate in the activities on the second day (it was a videoke challenge - yikes!) so I just stayed in my room and played WoW the whole night. But on the last day, it was free food and that changes everything hehe. I purposely arrived what I initially thought of as a little bit late (so I could start with the eating and skip most of the pre-dinner program nonsense) but as it turned out I was still early. I really couldn't figure out this being fashionably late thing at parties hehe. I ended up helping the organizers string flowers for leis and man the entrance booth and distribute meal stubs. The venue for the dinner party was outdoors at the poolside and they constructed a stage across the center of the pool. A colleague was busy placing floating candles and flowers in the water. I feel sorry for the pool boy. He's the one who will clean up that junk afterwards.

The whole event wasn't so bad. The food was mainly grilled stuff (fish, chicken, pork) and assorted fruits. I think that they served far too few food for the number of attendees but hey that's just my opinion. I just love fresh coconut juice. OK I'll admit that some of the programs were nice. The kids from the residential compound had this dance number and it was entertaining hehe. I left around the time when the food was starting to run out (all they had left were boiled corn) and a little girl was doing a solo ukulele performance much to the delight of... err... her parents I suppose (I suspect that the rest of the audience weren't too thrilled).

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Movie Marathon and More Balloon Twisting

The committee for the employees club decided to go all out this year. Instead of having a one night club party where we have free food and live entertainment, this year they opted for a 3 day bash with various activities lined up. The first day will include the kid's art exhibit, a kiddie bingo, movie marathon and a mini fair. The second will be a singing contest and the third night will be a poolside dinner party. I was informed last week that I will have a booth during the mini fair. It seems that the kids liked my balloon animals so much (I have made them in previous parties) that they were requesting me to do a repeat performance.

I bought a bunch of balloons and a new double action hand pump. I couldn't find the balloon twisting book I got from my niece so I just tried to recall how to make the figures from pictures.

Yesterday was the first day of the fair. I started setting up the booth at around 1730H. Beside me was a booth selling compost fertilizer, a booth selling home made ginger extract and a snack bar grilling hotdogs. It was an outdoor event and they installed a tarp on the playground in case it rains. They installed a huge canvass by tying it to two trees which would serve as the movie screen using a digital projector. It was still very bright so they decided to do the kiddie bingo first. I have started out making some animal shapes and some of the kids started to approach my booth. Somebody announced on the PA system that the balloon booth is now open and soon there was a very long queue of impatient kids coming from my booth. I suppose the compost fertilizer booth or the ginger extract booth did not interest them a bit. I was alone in the booth and soon I was frantically trying to meet up with the demand. I was churning up pigs, dogs and bears as fast as I could. The line thinned out when they started playing bingo but there were still a handful of small kids who were more interested in the balloon figures than playing bingo so I still have a lot of backorder to fill up. It also rained so at that point we were huddling inside the tarp so we would not get all wet. I noticed that some of the older kids were not too interested in having balloon animals though. I think they were undecided if they should get one since their peers might think it's uncool. The movie marathon started shortly after. It was Star Wars episodes 4 through 6. Revenge of the Sith just played in the local theaters a few weeks back so they thought it might be a good idea to introduce the old series to the newer generation.

I got a few unusual requests like doing a balloon giraffe but unfortunately I didn't know how to do that much to the disappointment of the little boy who requested it (I suspect he just watched Madagascar). Some of the requests I could improvise like requests for flowers, dragonflies and balloon hats. One little girl requested a balloon sword which was very easy to improvise. When some of the kids saw what she was holding though, everybody wanted a balloon "light saber" even the older kids. Soon the line began growing again because of the demand for this new figure (which was thankfully easy to make) until I finally ran out of balloons to inflate. I though my work was done so I started packing up but then other kids approached me and asked if I could "change their pig into a sword please?". So I spent another half hour or so untwisting pigs, bears and dogs into disfigured balloon light sabers. Soon most of the kids were not even paying much attention to the movie. They were too busy playing mock light saber duels with their ex-balloon animals. Feeling tired I went back home early and grabbed something to eat. 2 more days to go... *groan*