Sunday, April 26, 2015

My Pen Pal

Anyone still remembers "Pen Pal"?  I think only those in their 40s and above are aware of its existence.  With internet comes email, Facebook, Twitter and the rest of the social media stuff and this thingy called "Pen Pal" which had been part of our growing up years has regrettably becomes insignificant anymore.

I was in my lower secondary school when I started to have pen pals.  It went on for few years.  It was the in-thing then.  During those days, many magazines targeting the young people would have a column which featured contacts of those who are keen to have pen pals.  One particular magazine was the Fanfare if I remember the name correctly.  Back then, such thing like spam was unheard of then.  Home addresses and names of those who wished to find pen pals were openly published.  Their hobbies and interests were also listed.  

At my height, I had quite a number of pen pals but I can only remember one in particular.  She is an Eurasian girl, quite pretty by my standard.  I still remember the school she was studying (quite a popular school then compared to mine, a neighbourhood school).  It was really fun and exciting to have pen pals.  We had to personally pen down our thought, write it nicely to impress the other party and then post out.  I used to keep all the letters from my pen pals and they are all girls.  I don't have male pen pal for obvious reason. Unfortunately, this form of communication is fast fading away as people either email, tag, whatsapp or whatever using modern mode of communication.  Sheepishly, I am now following the present trend too.  Back to the favourite pen pal of mine, that Eurasian girl.  We communicated quite regularly via letters.  She even mailed me her school badge which I put it close to me.  Each time, I would check my letter box for her letter and very quickly, I followed up with mine.  I had her photo too.  Did I send mine?  Quite frankly, I cannot remember now.  I was actually quite a shy boy.  I did not arrange to meet any of my pen pal and gradually, the interest kind of fizzled out.  So, no first date from any of my pen pal during my teenage years.  Let's get real, I was too poor to go on date anyway.  I was also afraid I would fumble with what to say.  Alright, the latter was the real reason why I didn't date any of my pen pal then.

Lastly, I hope my favourite pen pal, that Eurasian girl is living well.  She may not remember me now even if we happen to meet.  The platonic relationship among young people where boys are keen to know girls and likewise is norm with youngsters, me included .  "Pen Pal" is indeed an important part of my growing up life.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Cycling Is A Culture Here

Taking a leaf from one famous quote, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep balance you must keep going” – Albert Einstein.

Indeed, we must keep going in life.  That said, many people cycle for a variety of reasons.  In some remote areas, it is one integral form of transportation.  For others especially in affluent Singapore, it is chiefly to keep a healthy lifestyle – to each his or her own to say the least.  In recent years, we have seen a big leap with many people taking up cycling as an outdoor hobby and inevitably public roads have to be shared much to the annoyance of some motorists.  Notwithstanding, creating as much public awareness therefore remains fundamental in ensuring safety to all cyclists on roads.  “We have extensive park connectors now, why can’t these cyclists ride there instead?”, some motorists might have questioned.  Perhaps to a non-cyclist, a bicycle is a bicycle which should be off road.
There are many types of bicycle which have been greatly improved over the years.  Road bike or roadie as its name has suggested, it is built for cycling on paved roads.  The tyres are narrow & smooth and the frame is usually lightweight made from carbon material.  For a strong cyclist, he or she can hit a speed of 50 km an hour or more and therefore, it is posed risk of sorts to park users on park connector.  Granted no other options, road bike cyclists have to ride on roads. 

Another popular type is the mountain bikes which are built for trails or off roads.  The bikes are heavier than road bikes, the frames are usually made of steel or alloy material and the wheels are more durable and bigger to tackle tough terrains.  While mountain bike does not have the speed component of a road bike, cycling in a mountain trail requires good bike handling skills coupled with good balancing sense too.      

The cross between a road bike and mountain bike is aptly called hybrid bike which can be used on roads as well as off roads.  It usually has a straight handle bar and a straight upright sitting posture of a mountain bike but it has a thinner wheel unlike a mountain bike.  A strong cyclist can hit high speed on hybrid bike too.         

Cyclists come in many forms and shapes.  Some are leisure cyclists, preferring to take their time and admire the beautiful scenery while some are hard-core cyclists where hitting top speed is their ultimate dream.  While goals varied among cyclists, it is important for all to observe good cycling etiquettes.  Give way if you can; go slow if it is a busy road; keep left as always and overtake on the right; signal before changing course so that the person behind can be made aware of obstacles ahead and many more safety tips.  One who is a responsible cyclist will help to propel our little red dot into one safe cycling environment, be it on road or park connector.  Slowly but surely we will achieve that.  For now let’s build a safe and sound cycle culture.