Remembering the Words of My Grandma

Singaporeans males have to enlist and serve the army. It used to be 2.5 years during my time. I believe it’s 2 years now. Assuming you have passed a physical fitness test (comprising of pull-ups, sit-ups, standing board jump, shutter run, 2.4km run and something else which I have forgotten) before being enlisted in the army, you start off with basic military training (BMT) which lasts 2.5 to 3 months. After that you are sent to an army unit, usually for further training.

Within the army, there’s an unit called the music and drama or something like that. This unit include the army’s military bands. It does make sense when you think about it. Bands have graced presidential visits, parades, etc. Anyhow, on one of the Saturdays during my BMT, I was informed that I could go for an audition in “a camp in Orchard” to see whether I’m good enough to join the army’s military band. I was ecstastic that I’m given the wonderful opportunity to be part of the band for the remaining period of my national service.

I reached home from the army camp, told my grandma about the great news, took a shower and left home to catch a cab to get to the “camp in Orchard”. I told the cab driver to head to the camp in Orchard. He was hesitant and needed the specific place. I couldn’t tell him the exact place. He said he wouldn’t know where to go then. I left the cab feeling very upset. There goes my chance of being part of the band! I will be dispatched to an army unit where physical training is demanding and be depressed for the rest of my life!

I reached home and started literally banging away on my piano as a way to cope with my emotions. My grandma asked me what had happened. She said to try again, with another cab driver. She might also have mentioned that there’s an army camp in “Tanglin” which might be the one that I’m looking for. Assured with her words, I caught another cab. This time, the driver was cheery and said that the camp that I have in mind is “Tanglin camp”. He drove me there. I reached the correct venue, went for the audition, impressed the army band director enough with my sight reading skills and the rest is history.

I often think back to the gentle and reassuring words of my grandma. “Try again.”