Daily Archives: July 25, 2011

XIX. the inception – the surprise within a surprise.

Planning a surprise proposal itself was enough to keep me busy. But I am a sanguine. And I am over-the-top. So I decided to also plan a surprise engagement cum birthday party for her.

Yes, the proposal itself was a private affair where she had all the time and space in the world to enjoy the moment. But I was sure she also wanted to celebrate this moment with close friends. Besides, it was also her birthday. So it made complete sense for me to throw a party immediately after she became my fiancée. Yes, I am justifying my decision, but it proved to be well worth the extra effort.

Hence, I made numerous phone calls to establishments like The Coffee Connoisseur (TCC) @ KBM, Simply Shiok @ One North, The Daily Scoop @ Holland Village and Haato @ Greenridge Close to enquire about holding the party there. TCC instantly priced themselves out of my consideration (and I wasn’t impressed with their service inflexibility too).

Simply Shiok had space constraints but the owner, Gladys, was kind enough to offer to rent the adjacent restaurant to create more seating capacity. I thanked Gladys for her effort but decided to turn her down because the cost didn’t justify the result.

Wei Kurk attempted to help me pull strings with the owner of Daily Scoop (they were former school mates). But we didn’t order enough ice-cream to qualify as bulk purchase so instead of dining in, I placed an order for eight tubs of ice-cream instead. Much to the dismay of my guests (but to my absolute amusement), I picked out four unique flavours and four even more unique flavours. I didn’t understand why people couldn’t appreciate flavours like Gingerella or Salted Mr Brown… But I digress.

Haato was another one who proved to be inflexible with their services. They refused to let me book the entire premise (even after their peak hour during dinner) unless I could guarantee minimum orders per customer. I wasn’t impressed and I wanted to rebel by getting my guests to clome the restaurant group by group and take over all the tables one by one. But I decided against it and ended up canceling my reservation.

Let me sidetrack here. If you are reading this and you own a café or restaurant, do yourself a favour and HELP THE MAN who wants to hold his engagement party at your place! Come on, he’s about to bring 40 people to your restaurant to create a positive memory there for everyone in attendance. It makes complete commercial, marketing and economic sense for you to host his party. Don’t you get it!?

I ended up throwing out the idea of holding the party outside and decided to scale it down instead. I asked Xianyi to help me book his condominium’s function room instead (which was more affordable anyway) and I decided to DIY this engagement party; I’d buy my own food, beverages, desserts, decorations and set my own theme for it. I was sure I could have done a much better job at throwing a party than those so-called food and beverage experts. Most of them didn’t leave me with any food for thought.

Three-quarters of those who were waiting in ambush...

Next chapter: the one mad week of errands.

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XVIII. the birthday that nearly ruined the proposal.

There weren’t many people who knew about the proposal. I wisely decided to keep it from her parents because I wasn’t confident that they could contain their own excitement and keep this secret from her, but I chose to confide in her brother, Xianyi, instead.

The reason why we couldn’t visit USS on Thursday was that we celebrated her birthday with her family on that evening. And the reason we deliberated for a week was that she was trying to arrange for an evening where her parents, brother and his girlfriend, as well as both of us were all available.

It was so trying that she had nearly wanted cancel the family dinner. And Xianyi, another unsung hero in this story, couldn’t intervene as much because he was supposed to help me keep it a secret. He skipped a school lesson to ensure that he was available on that Thursday evening for the family dinner, and missed a birthday (or farewell) party on Friday evening to ensure that his parents were home. More on that later but know that these are important pieces of information.

Normally, a boyfriend would pay special attention to his girlfriend’s birthday. But this dinner was so low-key to the extent that I forgot to buy a birthday cake on Thursday and had to trouble Xianyi to do it for me instead. My mind was focussed on one thing only – the proposal. I was surprised that Huiyi didn’t suspect anything from my lack of preparation for this birthday dinner.

Anyway, we celebrated Huiyi’s birthday on Thursday with her family at Peony Jade and this left Friday cleared for us to spend the day at Sentosa, as well as to have a private birthday dinner at Privé. Initially she wanted to dine at Lawry’s (and I had already made reservations for two) but I convinced her that Privé would be a better choice, simply because of location.

“Wouldn’t it be nice to have dinner by Keppel Bay Marina? I read reviews on hungrygowhere.com and apparently Privé’s got quite good ratings. Shall we try a new restaurant?”

Once again, she nodded and even told me that she had been to KBM a few times with her colleagues. I played along and told her, “Cool, then you can bring me around after dinner since you know the place better than I do.”

Now by this time, you might have realised that the original proposal plan had modified significantly, because she decided to take leave on her birthday to spend a day at USS together with me.

The original plan was to propose at MBC, then head to Lawry’s for dinner. But I had to throw that idea away, as well as the office surprise by her girlfriends. Why? Well, she wasn’t going to be at work that day! A major modification, but it was still fundamentally the same idea.

(I couldn’t get) Sunset by the (beach, so instead I got sunset by the) bay – check. I was good to go.

Next chapter: the inception – the surprise within a surprise.

XVII. the sunset on his screen.

Since it was pouring, the only thing I could capture on my iPhone 4 was the environment. Again, just like at USS, I took a surfeit of photos and videos to send to Gideon and Caleb.

10 minutes later, after I walked around to take as many photos of the surroundings as I could, I was mildly discouraged by the time I walked back to the hut. Seeing my semi-forlorn face, this man asked me what I was doing here. I explained briefly. I also told him that I had hoped to see the sunset. His response stunned me.

“Don’t worry, young man. This place has a beautiful sunset every evening. You can’t see it fully today because of the rain.” He assured me and brought out his handphone to show me his wallpaper as if to prove his statement to me. Of all images, it was a picture he snapped of the sunset at KBM. I smiled, thanked the Lord in my heart for this special arrangement, and easily mustered a whole-hearted “Thank you!” to this stranger. I took my final shots of the place and made my way out.

Yes, I had to endure the walk of shame all over again. I tried to wait for a taxi at the clubhouse, but there was none in sight after waiting for 15 minutes and I wasn’t successful in calling for a taxi. So I was left with no choice but to brave the rain and the 1.8 km again. I was determined to honour my word to the supervisor at the guardhouse, despite how uncharitable he was towards me.

And so, I fulfilled my part of the agreement, hopped onto a cab that exited the condominium, and made my way to my church in Bukit Gombak, where my cell group session was already underway. I found a modicum of comfort when my cell mates consoled me of the evening’s tragedy and applauded me of my enormous effort for the proposal.

Strangely enough, Huiyi couldn’t make it for cell that evening because she had a business function (an annual dinner and dance) to attend to. I guess it all worked out well after all.

Next chapter: the birthday that nearly ruined the proposal.

XVI. the walk of shame.

I seriously wanted to throw the umbrella away and just walk in the rain without a broken umbrella. At least there won’t be obscene flowery patterns mocking me every step I take. But my laptop bag was getting increasingly soaked, so I had no choice but to carry that token of shame for the sake of sheltering my equipment.

Mind you, it wasn’t a short walk. According to Google Maps, I actually walked nearly 1.8 kilometres from the guardhouse to my destination in KBM. I had to pass by a crowded bus stop during peak hour, cross Keppel Bay Bridge where I was completely exposed to the harsh weather, passing cars, foreign workers, high-end restaurants, a jetty filled with expensive yachts and a prestigious clubhouse with businessmen and women.

You have no idea how many times I repeated out loud, “Mind over matter – since I don’t mind, it doesn’t matter”. I had to hunt for every last ounce of lightheartedness and humour to infiltrate every fibre of my being. I think God’s comedic timing is second to none.

Best of all, when I finally arrived at the proposal spot, drenched in a mixture of sweat, rainwater and utter embarrassment, I saw no sunset because of the torrential downpour! But I think God placed an angel there to comfort me.

There was one man in the hut that I took shelter in. He was the only one there. And this stranger was fishing. FISHING – seriously – of all times and places – FISHING. I asked if he would be kind enough to help me watch my belongings while I explored the surroundings. Unlike the other Chinese man, this Chinese man readily agreed. I felt a complete sense of security (no pun intended!) as I left my Incase bag with him and moved to the pier at the end of KBM.

The mother of all anti-climaxes...

At least there’s some light at the end of the tunnel… This was indeed a walk to remember.

Next chapter: the sunset on his screen.

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