31st August 2004. 47 years of Malaysia's independence.
What happened a day before, you might ask?
A few days earlier, a close friend of mine, Cassy, invited me over to her birthday party. So, on that day, after classes ended at 17:00 Malaysian time, this is what happened:
1. Walked all the way back to my apartment (reached there at about 17:30 or so).
2. Took a shower and a change of dress (done by about 18:00).
3. Dashed to the nearest LRT station (Sri Petaling) and took the train down to Masjid Jamek (got there around 18:30).
4. Found that the Masjid Jamek's 2nd interchange was shut on one end of the road, so I had to get to it from the other side (done by 18:35 or so).
5. Took the train down to KLCC, and the Mandarin Oriental hotel, where Cassy was waiting. (reached there by 19:00).
One word: VA-ROOM!
Fastest effort I've ever done.
As for the events after that, well....I enjoyed a buffet dinner at Biba's Cafe in Mandarin Oriental, with Cassy and company. Lots of great stuff, but special mention goes to the cod fillets and the pasta I had (with beef bolognaise and carbonarra sauce to boot).
Later, we adjourned to Cassy's room, where some of us spent time playing with her X-BOX (most of the guys went wild over DOA: Extreme Beach Volleyball) and Wayne's PS2 (King Of Fighters: Maximum Impact. Mingnon Beart is my NEW Athena...^_^;;). Some of the others went sight-seeing near KLCC, just to kill time before 23:00.
And then, it came. The final hour when Malaysia would be celebrating her 47th year of independence, and when Cassy would be a year older. We waited for the final ten minutes. The atmosphere was tense. Everyone was waiting for the fireworks to come up.
"10....9....8....7....6....5....4....3....2....1....HEY! Where's the fireworks?" said Cassy, a disappointed look on her face.
"There's going to be a riot in Malaysia if they forget the fancy lights this season," she added, a bit disappointed.
10 minutes later, after some patriotic songs from the crowd gathered round the KLCC (which we saw on national TV), we heard fireworks alright. On the WRONG side of the hotel.
Which caused us ALL to rush out from our room on the 23rd floor, board the lift, and stop at the 3rd floor. And, of course, run out to watch the dazzling display. Never thought you could make firework hearts. First time I ever chased a fireworks display in my life. Magnificent stuff, albeit a bit deafening.
That over, we took the lift back up, and then Cassy got a call from her Mum, a few rooms away. The birthday cake was ready for the birthday girl, but we weren't going to make it easier for her to JUST blow out the candles. Oh no!
Her best friend (I think) stuffed one candle into the cake, and Cass had to pull out the candle with her teeth! Of course, two people (her younger sister being ONE of them) dunked her INTO the cake a little, so once she finally pulled it out, she painted their faces with the chocolate icing! Heh.
Later, some of us went clubbing, while some of us stayed in Cassy's room and played off the X-BOX and the PS2. I was with the latter crowd, of course. After a while, she came back from the club, a little exhausted, and collapsed on the couch until 3:00 a.m. or so. That was when we noticed that the air-conditioning was faulty, so we had to call the repairman to fix things up.
Of course, she told 5 of us to leave momentarily while the guy was coming up, so, at about 4:00 a.m., strange sounds could be heard skulking through Mandarin Oriental's hallways.....the Chicken Demon was on the loose.
After a while, we finally got word that things were OK, so we headed up. That night, we all slept in one room. Yep, that's right. 10 guys and a girl, all splayed out in odd positions throughout the whole hotel room. Except that Cassy had rights to the bed, or some of it, at least.
Got up at 8:00 a.m. As I later observed, it looked like a murder had taken place. I mean, there was even a "corpse" in the corner. Of course, yours truly was also not immune to that situation.
Rushed back to Bukit Jalil after a slight adjustment to my hair, and came round here to get a few things done. Should've stayed for breakfast, though.
All in all, it was the finest day of my life. A day I get to be young, for once. It's an experience to remember, and it's something that reminds me that I'm still human, no matter how much I try to deny it.
Thank you, Cassandra. Thank you for your kindness.