Finally, I’m not on Youtube. I’m not browsing for more info on Fahrenheit. (But I’m listening to their songs, still.)
Finally, a… content-filled post. I hope.
Got a surprise call from Ken this morning while I was working my arse off. Our conversation went something like this:-
Ken: Hi, is this Susan?
Me: … (don’t tell me it’s another bank tele-sales person) Yes?
Ken: This is Ken Lai.
Me: … (speechless).
Ken: Er, you remember me?
Me: Ken Lai. Etel.
Ken: YEAH! YOU REMEMBER?!
Of course, you idiot Ken Lai. The Etel days that I spent with you guys were the best, EVER, in my 28 years of life. How can I forget that?!
It has been ten years. How time flies…
Before I even know of Etel the lanshop in the pre-renovated Marina Square, I used to hang out in the Pro-shop of the bowling alley in Marina Square. And Ken was working in that tiny Pro-shop at that time. I still remembered I used to go there with Jasmine (babyelite), Lily and Jeff almost every week. We sat there, eating takeaway McDonald’s or Long John Silver’s, listening to some English songs over the radio (I still remember Britney’s first chart-topper – Baby One More Time – being played again and again over the radio at that time), chatting about bowling, school, boys, and whichever topics that came to our minds.
Then, Ken quitted his job at the Pro-shop, and went over to the lanshop just opposite the Pro-shop to work. At that time, that lanshop, Etel, was always full of youth bowlers who went there to get their weekly dose of Counterstrike action. Eventually, even Jasmine and Lily started playing it. And it was them to introduced me to the game. Aaron was the one who kinda finally “influenced” me to play it.
I wasn’t kidding when I said I had once spent 90% of my time there for a few months. I went there in the morning (sometimes even before the shop was opened), stayed there till the shop closed. Because I knew Ken, and eventually knew Terence (another guy working there), and the fact that I was a “regular” customer, they always charged me super duper cheap for lounging there for the whole day.
I still remembered going to the NTUC at Marina Square (did you guys even remember about that NTUC?!) to buy a cheap packet of fried rice for lunch almost daily. And a cup of bubble tea per day was like, a must too. Sometimes I would buy a packet of Hershey’s kisses for Ken and Terence as well, for being so nice to me, always making sure I had a PC to play on, and charging me so cheap for a whole-day usage.
And I’ll never forget Terence being there to take care of me when I was very sick once, when I was there at the shop. He knew I wouldn’t go back home to rest, so he made a space at the back corner of the shop to let me rest, and even went to pharmacy to buy me a bottle of mineral water and a box of flu panadols. I wanted to return him the money but he refused to accept. That kind gesture was something I had never expected from a friend. I still remember the whole incident, very vividly. Terence!! Where are you now?! I wish I can meet up with you some day to thank you again for taking care of me that day.
And of course, how can I forget [MsC]? By the way, did I get the symbols right?! We changed so many variations that I couldn’t remember what’s our final tag was. XD MsC stood for Marina Square Clan. Cheesy, I know, but hey, that was the first Counterstrike Clan that I’d joined! And the first major tournament which we participated in was CPLAsia, organised by Aaron.
And it was also in Etel, where I got to know a lot of CS players… including some whom I still kept in contact (somewhat) now – Misato (always my kor =D) and Sue (aaaahh! My first “mei”… XD). Jasmine and Lily excluded, since I had known them before I started gaming, anyway. =P
And it was there (technically it was there, though the actual medium was the Internet) where I got to talk to Andy (a.k.a. Lordpain) who was then the head of paGn (Pan Asia Gaming Network), and subsequently he invited me to join their committee and be an official Counterstrike paGn server admin. It was during my first visit to their office that I realised Misato was actually a guy… -_-; (He went around telling everyone on the net that he’s a girl!!!! And I believed… -_- )
Eventually, due to some unhappy encounters with someone in MsC (was it Shawn??), I left the clan. And subsequently Etel went under and my favourite lanshop closed down… and a year after that, Marina Square went under major renovation and became what it is now… Despite the total facelift, I can still vividly remember where Etel was, where the old Metro was, where the old NTUC was, where the old Best Denki was, and the exact location of that bubble tea shop which I used to frequent…
A few times, at the current Marina Square, when I had tried to make my sis recall where Etel was, I actually burst into tears while pointing out that NTUC was there.. I used to buy fried rice there… Bubble Tea was here… Carpet shop was there… I always had to passed by it to get to the ladies… Foodcourt was down there… escalators up from Food Court was bowling alley and billard room, then Etel was just almost right before the entrance of the bowling alley… I don’t know why, but I just got so emotional while pointing out the phantom shop locations to her, because I remembered the old place so vividly…
It was because of this place, these people, that I got to know what’s gaming, what’s Counterstrike, what clans are all about, what friendship is all about, what brotherhood is all about. I moved on to Khabal, which was set up after paGn kinda went dormant, and had my second best times there, spent with people like Leona, Vincent, Shinji, Roland, Misato, Alvin, Danny, Terence, Psy, Tabitha… That’s another chapter of my life.
Watching clans come and go was a very common thing back then. Clans formed, disbanded, then reformed again. “Brothers ” and “sisters” sticking to each other, friends standing up for each other, sportsmanship among competing teams/clans… that’s the best thing that I’d witnessed back then. Coming from schools that encouraged nothing but cut-throat competition, it was really refreshing to see that there could be such bonds and friendships among these people, these exact people whom the society then thought were “hooligans”, whom they thought were “ah bengs and ah lians”.
Honestly, these old school gamers gave me a different perception of bengs and lians. True, they yelled expletives when they got head-shotted. They banged their mouse and pointed their middle finger at the monitor. They smoked, they spoke in English with Hokkien vulgarities. But they are the ones who are most loyal towards their friends. And… I don’t think they had picked fights that often. At least I didn’t see any throughout that few years when I was part of the gaming community! XD
Ahh… I had digressed.
Anyway… Etel. Ken Lai. Terence. Jasmine. Lily. Aaron. I don’t think I’ll ever forget them. Ever. They’ll always be a part of me and my memories, because the time that I had spent with them were the happiest.