Written by: Shao Yu Jin
Edited by: Gerald Lim
A holiday romance can be one of the most exotic and exhilarating experiences of your lifetime. The fascinating strangeness of an unfamiliar place; the freeing from the shackles that are the mundanity of everyday life; and those mystically charming eyes of the one you meet. If it somehow works out, then that’s a fairy tale come true. If not, you’ll at least have some exciting stories to tell.
Such are the powers of a foreign place. Your problems just seem much smaller when you’re so far away. You want to find yourself somewhere that is the polar opposite of work life, where all there is to do is smell the air, listen to the ocean, indulge in a Hakuna Matata lifestyle, and let nature and beer take over. We all desperately need that in this hectic world, which is why Iguana is much more popular a holiday than Berlin. As foreign and exotic as places go, Newton Food Centre certainly isn’t anywhere near the top of the list. But with the lectures and the tutorials and the project meetings and the routine panic at the dawn of reading week, we’d still gladly take it.
Let’s start with the bus ride. It’s called Bus Supper after all. Unlike the shuttle buses, which often times have the population density of an ant colony, or the SBS buses, which require much gold, touring buses evoke the fondest of memories. It is the gateway to relaxation. Our experiences of travelling have conditioned our minds to associate a touring bus with beaches, hotels and restaurants. Their seats are leathery and substantial, there’s an armrest to fiddle with at the aisle seats, and it’s the ultimate vehicle for looking out a window philosophically or falling asleep. However long the journey, it always promises to be an enjoyable one. It was quite a pity that the journey from school to Newton wasn’t longer, for us to take full advantage of having a touring bus. But what little time we had on it certainly was a refreshing improvement from looking at notes and security footage of lectures.Then there was the food. They all say to find the best food in Singapore, hawker centres are your best bet. Not to discredit any Michelin-starred haute cuisine restaurants that present their food in manners inspired by Andy Warhol, but it is quite brilliant what some hawkers can achieve with nothing but a banana leaf, some dead sea animals and a bit of sambal. Which was why we soon forgot it was supper and instead embarked on a full-on, many-course dinner. Not thirty minutes had passed and many, many an oysters, stingrays and squids had already given their lives for our gustatory pleasure. Of course, hawker centres won’t be complete without waiters distributing their menus and promoting their stall with the conviction and salesmanship of Jordan Belfort (aka The Wolf of Wall Street). So whenever we decided to take a casual walk around the place, wishing to take a break from all the eating, we ended up with three more plates of stingrays and clams. To complete the night was, of course, the beer. It was the first stall that the more experienced of us rushed to, requiring numerous beer samples and demanding more discounts, exuding confidence and street credibility all the while. Since it’s only out of school that beer can become part of our lives, we never really see the other side of many people. As the night progressed, the smile some of us wore became directly proportional to level of alcohol consumption. We talked with more gusto, dared explore conversation topics more juicy, and denied more firmly that we had low alcohol tolerance. Towards the end, there were a few whose expression was downright ecstatic, with their faces glowing with red-hot, reasonless happiness. Past midnight, it was doubtful we still vexed about the deadlines and the exams. At this point, it does sound like I’m condoning beer consumption, so to balance this paragraph out: drinking is bad. The bus back was filled with a very stuffed, slightly-drunk but hugely happy crowd, so everything that was pleasant about the bus ride there was amplified. Luckily, when we arrived back at school, we had had too much to eat, drink and talk about to remember that we were back to reality. So we went on with the night, and left the worries and fears for the next morning.