Saturday, March 18, 2006


For the first time ever, I have been called back to serve my country after I have ORDed so long ago.

I went for my first In-Camp Training 7 years after I took off the green and brown.

Other than the usual scramble before to wondering where I put my stuff such that I don't see it for more than half a decade, I was actually looking forward to the break in routine. Even if it mean rushing to make sure everything is done and handed over, AND that means not very much sleep at all.


In a way, it would be good to see how the rest of my camp mates have gotton along over so many years. It'll be interesting to see other new people. AND it is good to take some time off to actually think about the things that I have to think through. And I have several on my mind.

When I was down at the camp, watching the new batch of botak boys preparing to run the Standard Obstacle Course, a thought struck me. Why is it that all the Singaporean men have this love-hate relationship with the this 2-and-a-half years of national service?

We hate the time we spend inside with a passion. Yet we can't stop talking about it. What's the one main gripe of Singaporean women about the men here?

That we can't stop talking about NS. That no matter how much we dislike it, when two or three males are gathered, the topic will pop up. It's only a matter of time. It is so much a phenomenon, and so persistent, that the ladies start to hate NS with a passion as well.

So why do we do that?

There are a few reasons I reckon. The greatest of which is this. Common Ground.

It is a common reference point for nearly every Singapore male can relate to. Your so-called lowest common denominator, the one thing that every Singapore male, or ex-male (case in point, Kumar, our national drag queen) can talk about. Like travellers sharing tales of faraway lands, or fishermen comparing their catch, or even women discussing make-up. It is the one thing that every man in Singapore can relate to.

It really is the time where everyone is created equal. Go back to reservist and it really is an interesting experience. In my platoon alone, there are 2 or 3 IT specialists, one hedge fund manager, one struggling entrepreneur (ME), folks in wireless communication, one chap in operations in Citibank. In the whole company there are people who have kids, people who have NO kids, people who are still studying and people who have worked so long school is another story lost in the mists of time. There are hokkien types who can barely speak English, and lawyers who can speak English and are starting to remember their hokkien. CEOs and corporate slaves. Everyone put their lives on hold and get called back to face a common "enemy".

And at the same time, what binds people together faster, than a common enemy and a common dream? An us-against-them mentality, too much free time, and plotting of a million and one ways to spend the time outside of camp or to "keng".

Put any bunch of people through these same circumstance, and see if they'll come out with a certain bond, a common identity, at least as far as that part of their lives is concerned.

Consider, if you had a link like that, if you'll unconsciously use it to invoke an instant connection and a surge of "inner-circle" camaraderie. Come on ladies, even you. Be fair. Make up, clothing, pedicures, manicures and hair stylists takes the place of NS in your lives as well, right? ;)


zlel said...

yes, and i spend so much time pretending i know what all the guys around me are talking about... *汗*

tadaxp said...

my! this is only your first!
for me, come 1st April 2006, I'll be free of any NS liabilities - no IPPT, no ICT, no mob; even go overseas also no need to inform MINDEF...

Vandalin said...

why do i suddenly feel like the first day of BMT all over again??

zlel - you can always volunteer... heh!