Long Time No Sea
Yes, this is what mugger-toadery does to you.
Loads happening to boost the ascent of Singapore in Monocle Magazine’s Liveable Cities Index*: the Singapore Writers Festival 2011, Fashion Film Festival 2011, Archifest 2011, Voilah! French Festival Singapore, crazy pre-Halloween parties, friends’ poetry readings/DJ gigs, Diwali/Deepavali celebrations etc.
(*See however Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics – A Critical Examination of City Ranking Studies, a thesis on the arbitrary nature of any such “Quality of Life” survey.)
But before all that sitting around and/or talking and/or eating and/or drinking, after being cooped up like battery hens, studying for exams, we needed freedom of movement and fresh air. So snatched a scintilla of sunshine in the inter-monsoon season for some stand-up paddle-boarding (or paddle-surfing)
inon the waters off East Coast Park. Not much instruction needed:
1. Position self on sweet spot on board.
2. Start from kneeling position.
3. Paddle with palms facing opposite directions, palm of upper hand facing you.
4. When standing up, ensure feet are shoulder-width apart, at sweet spot, and knees are slightly bent. Upper hand should be on T-handle. Do not stand up rod-ram straight.
5. When falling, try not to konk own board or paddle.
6. After falling into water, leave paddle and retrieve board first.
Terribly uncool for surfer dudes but the best we can make of the half-decent waves in Singapore, themselves allegedly sometimes created by container ships chugging along on the horizon.
Mana Mana Beach Club (facebook)(1212 East Coast Parkway, Area E, Car Park E2, Singapore 449886) was a nice place to rent SUP boards (i got a Starboard): a spacious cafe (with a swimming pool next to it so parents can have their beers while watching the kids), a retail store, a good stock of wind-surfing and sailing craft, and showers with hot water. Excellent when you have to head to shore because of lightning over Bedok Lighthouse.
The last proper surf i did was a few years ago, off Seminyak in Bali. Haven’t had much water time since then except the lovely 5 days/4 nights onboard a Beneteau First 40.7 yacht for RYA competent crew certification with Keppel Bay Sailing Academy and
blissful Saturdays spent off Raffles Marina and Changi Sailing Club waters bantering with boating instructors while practising for my PPCDL exam (powered pleasure craft driving licence. Was extremely pleased to have passed on first try with a perfect score for theory and 0 – 3 points (fierce examiner:”does it matter exactly how many points?!”) deducted for practical, since swotting for it was so fun and, err, smooth sailing).
O for continually salt-encrusted nostrils…
It is interesting that the early Jews saw the sea as a place of chaos and evil, so much so that the Book of Revelation could describe the new creation (after this heaven and this earth have passed away) as having no more sea (Revelation 21:1). Metaphorical, thankfully, like the rest of Revelation – part of John’s vision.
The scariness of the sea included the existence of a sea monster called a leviathan. Whether or not said sea creature was a whale, the Psalms celebrate God’s God-ness by acknowledging that he created everything including the leviathan and even that great sea creature depends on God for its existence:
Here is the sea, great and wide,
which teems with creatures innumerable,
living things both small and great.
There go the ships,
and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.
These all look to you,
to give them their food in due season.
When you give it to them, they gather it up;
when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
when you take away their breath, they die
and return to their dust. (Psalm 104:25-29)
and despite the helplessness of the Israelites in face of such a creature, God its Creator can destroy it easily:
You divided the sea by your might;
you broke the heads of the sea monsters on the waters.
You crushed the heads of Leviathan;
you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness. (Psalm 74:13-14)
It is in this context that God asks (taunts!) Job if he thinks he should be able to understand everything that happens in the world, even if it happens to him. He can’t, because he’s not God:
“Can you draw out Leviathan with a fish-hook
or press down his tongue with a cord?
2 Can you put a rope in his nose
or pierce his jaw with a hook?
3 Will he make many pleas to you?
Will he speak to you soft words?
4 Will he make a covenant with you
to take him for your servant for ever?
5 Will you play with him as with a bird,
or will you put him on a leash for your girls?
6 Will traders bargain over him?
Will they divide him up among the merchants?
7 Can you fill his skin with harpoons
or his head with fishing spears?
8 Lay your hands on him;
remember the battle—you will not do it again!
9 Behold, the hope of a man is false;
he is laid low even at the sight of him.
10 No one is so fierce that he dares to stir him up.
Who then is he who can stand before me?
11 Who has first given to me, that I should repay him?
Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine. (Job 41:1-11)
And God has harsher words for Job’s comforters, who arrogantly assume that they know why Job is suffering and why so many bad things have befallen him – surely it is because he has some hidden sin he hasn’t confessed! Surely it is because he needs to repent! They think they are God who knows all things and this universe is a closed-box which operates on simple cause-and-effect. They fail to reckon there is a real God who actively “interferes” with his world and unilaterally (yet perfectly) makes his own decisions about how things are to be.
A much huge-r God than the imaginary idols humans make up in their idle moments.