Sunday, January 25, 2009

9:46 pm

My NS experience so far

Disclaimer: If you want a detailed training schedule from me of what happened so far, look somewhere else. My commanders said blogging about such intricate details is a strict no-no by Mindef and is a "chargeable offence" relating to national security.

As you all know would have known, I enlisted on the bright morning of 7 January at 9.30am. I couldn't say I was walking into the unknown, after all I had my NCC Air experiences at AMKSS and Edmund's enlistment to guide me. It was a journey into the discovered depths of wilderness nonetheless.

Right from the start at the moment I disembarked the ferry at Tekong, all enlistees were separated from our loved ones. While they had a tour, we were familiarised with the oath of allegiance. That was when the reality of things suddenly sunk in. Civilian life was out, regimented duty for the country was in. Freedom curtailed, independence emphasised.

After the oath, I had my lunch with my parents. It was special, not because it was the expectedly delicious western food, but because it was my first meal on Tekong, my first meal as an NSF. The symbolism of this meal is difficult to appreciate if you have not been through it. SAF really made the right decision with this move.

Soon it was time to depart for 16 days of confinement on this eastern island. I had my haircut and equipment issuance on the same day. I still remember for everyday after that, I touched my spiky hair at least 10 times. Even now, I still touch it every now and then.

First few days was quite slack, lectures and light foot drills and all. Thankfully, I still remember the foot drill commands from NCC. They helped me to breeze through most of it as if it was a refresher course. One morning, we woke up earlier than normal for a special purpose. Yup, the SAR21 rifle presentation ceremony. Our "wife" so to speak. We were "married" early to create a sense of responsibility early on in training. But as time goes on, like a real wife, maintaining her was tough. Stripping/assembling plus solving "marital problems" are troublesome but fun once you get the hang of it.

Then PT was slowly introduced. A trial IPPT was conducted which I failed miserably.

Shuttle run- 10.1s
Standing Broad: 207cm
Sit-ups: 35
2.4km: 12mins 30s

Most of them a far cry from my last year's NAPFA results. But take them into context, we hardly had any recovery time in between days of intensive physical activities. I should do better after Chinese New Year. Training was pretty monotonous most of the time. Mostly packed with physical activities with the intensity progressively increasing with each passing day.

One thing I look forward to is the admin time at the end of the day. Chatting with my bunk/section mates really opens you up. Although my batch was mostly filled with JC students (and mostly top ones at that), there was no air of elitism involved. Most were fun loving and interesting to talk to. Behavior wise, they were quite refined lah. Partly because vulgarities is also no-no directed from the top-down.

The next thing was totally out of the blue, I had to have my first IV drip in my life within the first 2 weeks for NS. 4 days before I was due to bookout, I started throwing up. Reported sick and was prescribed some medicine. Threw up twice after lunch again. Was rushed to the medical centre on foot by my sergeants. The doctor there immediately put me on the drip overnight for fear of dehydration. Got 3 needles out of it and recovered the next day.

The worse is yet to be. On the next day, we had this mass vaccination programme. So I had 5 injections in less than 24 hours. What a perfect record for me to take home...

So on the 23 January, after counting down the numbers in our daily marching songs, we were due to bookout at 1630. We had a current affairs lecture as the last item of the day and everyone was cursing at it for delaying our trip back to our loved ones. But I did post a question to the Lieutenant-Colonel. Something along the lines of the Singapore military industry absorbing too much of our talented scientists and engineers away from the private sector for our own good.

At the end, the clap was deafening for the obvious reason. The funny part came when we were the last company to leave the lecture theatre at 1520. Our fellow recruits of Orion company were resigned for another hour's wait. Then our commanders gave us good news. Our departure time was brought forward. Brought forward to.... NOW!

We then followed our commanders and ran all the way to the ferry terminal. We didn't care if our heavy field packs were dragging us back, it was a run to our first taste of freedom. I still remember grinning at the earlier company Griffin who left the LT earlier but was now sitting outside to await their turn.

Soon it was back to the mainland at Pasir Ris MRT. Seeing so many people around engrossed in their lives, it really serves as a reminder how my life was 16 days ago. These 16 days have changed my mind in ways only those going through it will know.

Guess the first thing I did when my got home? Yes, my computer!!! A geek like me deprived of his computer/Internet and daily newspapers for 16days is hell. I had 16 days of newspapers waiting for me to read. Plus tons of TV recordings to watch. A notable example was Obama's inauguration speech. You really learn to appreciate all these more once you are deprived of them. Most of all my family, friends, Ying Yi and home cooked food!

Finally, Happy Chinese New Year to everyone!


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Came to life on 5 September 1990


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