Garuda says...

The 88th Firebirds Gathering
(a.k.a. "Is that you???")

I have to admit that I was becoming very nervous when the day of the Gathering dawned. Oh yeah, and excited too. ;) On the way to Lake Gardens, we stopped to buy doughnuts at Dunkin' Donuts, where the cashier asked if my family are having a picnic (24, count 'em, 24 doughnuts!). My dad laughed and said yes, while all I could manage was a bright fake smile. Lady, you have no idea.

My worst nightmare came true: my family got lost in Taman Rama-Rama, where I had a near-death experience when I discovered that I had misplaced Spar's handphone number. What to do? Lady Luck (I shall sacrifice a lamb in your honour) was on my side that day -- I actually met Spar, Per, Bats, and Falk at the gates of Taman Rama-Rama! Spar was instantly recognisable by her red (heh-heh) hair, but it was quite a while before I could gather my wits together and get out of the car to talk to them. Cries of "Are you??" and hand-shakings soon ensued.

I met Gossy at the "pondok" where we were having our picnic, where she had artfully arranged bottles labelled "Chiggy von Rootbeer", "Lethal Lethe" and "25-year old Scotch" so that passing joggers could not help but see them. I noticed a couple of weird looks that day. ;) Bats handed out the tags (I still have mine!) and Per made us blow balloons to mark the direction the others were to go to get to the place.

After an enthusiastically-received round of CvRs and green meanies -- I won't say a word about the suspicious minty taste -- we settled down to wait for the others. I was getting fidgety when Kes, E, Blacky, and KF arrived, along with the pizzas Blacky had so thoughtfully provided. ;)

The day passed by in a blur to me, actually, punctuated by memorable snapshots. The introductions were pretty funny: there were moments of silence when we paused to assess each other, and stuff like "I expected you to be taller" and "So this is how you look like." FYI, KF does not look like a "dark Leonardo Di Caprio", nor should you believe the FBs' unflattering descriptions of themselves. And yes, Spar is related to Yoda. That's how she guessed that me and Falk would get lost in Taman Rama-Rama. ;) Bats' list of the Gathering participants and their respective (absent) spouses brought laughter, or in E's case, mortification -- "I don't like Don Henley!"

I really remember the food, and there was an abundance of it too. Pizzas, roasted chicken, fishballs, cheesecakes, doughnuts, buns, crackers, and Kes' potato salad, which can be described pretty accurately as mayonaise with bits of potato and veggies. :) After stuffing ourselves, we soon fell to smokin' and jokin'.... Well, only the jokin'.

Topics ranged from star signs and sci-fi to more serious issues relating to the squadron. After much talking, we managed to at least have a concrete idea of how the logo is going to look like. Jokes abound, though I'm sorry to say that the only ones I remember are not suitable to be included here. Gathering participants: Yes, it was the one about a certain Star Trek alien. ;)

Highlights: A Lieutenant and a Private re-enacting a scene from Hindi movies, and the same Private relating his recent, unwilling "gender change". ;D Killing them giant ants was not something I'm likely to forget for some time yet either. ;)

The photo-taking sessions were hilarious: Bats and Falk refused to budge from "attention" until dismissed by a superior officer (who happened to be me ;). Posing in front of the 8-shaped stone walkway was a spot of genius, while a hearty thanks goes to Blacky, who managed to charm a girl into taking our photos. :) Writing messages to JDLF was a cause of much teasing on our part to Bats on her "epic". You go, girl! ;D

I guess what I liked most about the Gathering was getting to know the Firebirds better. For example, I never knew that E has a bike, nor the fact that Blacks studied in USA's "cow state". ;D Turns out that Gossy is a lousy Medic in RL but has a heart of gold -- she actually offered a guy who was sitting in our pondok (and had been there from morning) some pizza. All in all, I'd say that the day went by way too fast. Here's to another Gathering next year!

Semper Fi!

88th Firebirds

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