Tuesday, September 26, 2006

HOMECOMING, AFTER 22 YEARS OF GOOFING OFF

Just received a note from a good pal...

Said he, 'I'm planning a trip home end of this year after 22 years....'

Wow!!

***** ***** *****

In early January 1980, yours truly set out from his kampong with a borrowed shirt on his back...

Destination: Singapore...

Reason: Was hired by Singapore Airlines to train as Cadet Pilot...

As if I was not lucky enough, Singapore Airlines decided to send me (and a bunch of goondoos) to Manila for the training...

But that's another story for another time...

Each day, we walked through the hallways at the Philippine Airline Aviator School...

An overhanging plate said something to the effect...

'Along these hallways walk the fine airmen of tomorrow'...

Anyway, we trained and managed to qualify (?) as commercial pilots with instrument rating...

However, fate was not to be...

The 1981 oil shock put a stop to the expansion plans of Singapore Airlines...

The company offered us a choice to return to our kampong to wait for the recall...

Or we could choose to work in the cabin crew department and wait for the opening in the cockpit...

All of us, over twenty guys, chose the later...

We had a ball of a time flying as flight stewards...

What more... we got to know what the heck hors d'ouvre meant...

We got to taste 'leftover' Dom Perignon before we poured them away into the sink...

Meanwhile, months passed... years passed...

The company could not go on making unfulfilled promises...

So we were offered student loans to study in the university...

We were to return to the airline after graduation...

Most of us took the study loans and headed to the US...

We graduated but only a handful chose to return to the cockpit...

Most remained in the US, with one each in Japan, UK, and Australia...

Needless to say, the colors of the passports changed as the umbilical cords with the mother country got severed one by one...

And then, this notice from my pal about returning home after an 'exile' of 22 years...

(Notice he mentioned 'home'...)

I made a trip home after a continuous absence of three years (was studying in the US)...

That was in 1986...

I could not recognized my home in Alor Star then...

Imagine the images that will run through my pal's mind when he hits 'home' (aka Kulim)...

Woaaaahh... 22 continuous donkheey years away...