Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Fantasy Kingdom

Fantasy Kingdom

I made my way down to Fantasy Kingdom (thanks to Trond, for the tip), expecting to be overwhelmed in the land where kitsch went to die. Strangely enough, it wasn't that bad - I think Sentosa (and just Singapore, in general) had primed me well.

It wasn't as crowded as I had expected, and the space wasn't that large at all. Many rides were closed, evident from the weeds and grasses that had grown over the control booths and steel beams. Still, a fair number remained opened for business. I was tempted to give the solo roller-coaster a try, but I guess I just wasn't in a risk-taking mood that day.

Fantasy Kingdom

I planned to return to the long stretch of highway built on an embankment cutting across Ashulia lake. It seemed absolutely beautiful when I had passed it on the way to the Kingdom. Empty chairs and food stalls dotted the side of the road facing north - it looked promisingly peaceful.

Ashulia

I was wrong, though. The crowds emerged along with the impending sunset, and I soon felt as if I was back in Dhaka, squeezing my way through streets that were never wide enough. With every lewd stare and catcall, things just got worse and worse. I couldn't speak, couldn't say anything. Anything I uttered was deemed hilarious and just turned me into more of a circus act. I felt utterly exposed. Twice, I shoved men who pointed their camera phones into my face. One laughed, the other got scared and mumbled something about how he was actually not aiming the thing at me.

The only brief respite I had was when I climbed down the embankment to watch some boys swimming and performing various acrobatic feats. I turned my back to the main road, where there was already a sizable group just standing around watching me, and tried to pretend I was alone.

Ashulia

I felt relief when the sun finally set, thinking that the darkness would make me less noticeable. It didn't occur to me that others would think the same way.

The first hand reached out and barely grazed the side of my pants when I was walking past an exceptionally narrow stretch of road. If it hadn't been for my bulky camera bag limiting access, the hand would've gotten a lot more than a handful of cloth.

I was startled, and was walking far too fast to have broken my momentum in time to know for sure who did it. I didn't slow down, didn't look back, but mentally prepared myself to not let it happen again.

Sure enough, barely five minutes later, when I had already reached the other side and was so close to getting a CNG and going home, another hand reached out from right behind me. He didn't just get a handful of cloth.

I swung round. There were two men behind me, and both stared right back at me, expressionless. I grabbed the front of the shirt of the man nearer to me, yanked him closer, and slapped him hard across the face.

He was stunned for a moment, and started babbling angrily. I honestly have no idea what he was saying, but it seemed to me that there was no apology hidden amidst those words (was he trying to protest his innocence?) and as he started to raise his voice again, I slapped him a second time.

I didn't really know what to do, at that point. I couldn't argue with him, I couldn't yell, I couldn't tell the people around me what he did. I didn't know the words. So I turned around and walked to the nearest CNG, got in, and left.

On the way back, it occured to me that this was the first time in my life when I had intentionally slapped a person. I'm sorry to say that it felt good.

1 comments:

ghimlay said...

sorry to say this too, but way to go.