Monday, May 28, 2007

Singapore, a Lion City? Please don't insult lions.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Please do not insult lions, by calling Singapore a Lion City. Lions are courageous noble creatures in the face of danger or any bully for that matter. If by calling Singapore a lion city, meaning Singaporeans are lions, you defamed all lions in Africa and India. If the lions could sue, they would have engaged the best lawyers and sued you for defaming their character!

A City of Sheep would be a correct name for those who people in that Island Republic of Singapore. Sheep as we know, have an inbuilt tendency to comply, turn here or that way, this direction of that and willingly permit themselves to be sheared for their wool or slaughtered without complaint.

This describes correctly describes all Singaporeans including their opposition leaders, even JB Jeyaretnam or Dr. Chee. Of course we can forget completely about the other opposition politicians such as Loh Thia Khiang and Chiam See Tong and the new entrant to the club, Sylvia Lim who doubles as a Penal Code Law Professor by going around the city giving law lectures free of charge.

More to follow. Watch this page. Have to rush home to study Gleim on "Airplane performance and Weight and Balance" for my forthcoming exam.

A very good Memorial Day Greetings to you. Today May 28, 2007, is Memorial Day holiday, where Bush remembers all the soldiers that died in Iraq and Afghanistan, wars that he himself started! What a hypocrite!

By the way, if you didn't know, I am a sailor. I first learnt sailing at Changi Sailing Club, received my skippers license and again obtained my Skippers license at Berkeley Sailing Club. I can sail any sailboat with a sail on it at sea.

The only thing I have not completed is to fly. Now I have already done my first solo on a Cessna at Hayward Airport, which was just 3 takeoffs and 3 landings at a left traffic pattern. My instructor was worried as always to let me fly alone. On my solo flight date, he sat with me in the aircraft up till the Hold Short line at Runway 28 Left, finally telling me just before he got off the aircraft that I will either land safely or he will read about me in the newspaper! He had a sense of humor. His name is Ikko Fukutake. He has since left California and is flying for Air Asia stationed at Kota Kinabalu. I believe he flies Boeing 737. Before he left California, he went to Florida to get a type rating on a 737.

On the day of my first solo, I had to radio the control tower stating "Hayward Tower, Student Pilot, First Solo, Cessna 767 Victor XRay with Charlie at Runway 28 Left. Request Take off for touch and go". Followed by Tower telling me "767 Victor Xray, taxi into position and hold" followed by "767 victor Xray, you are cleared for touch and go, follow left traffic pattern, stay below one thousand." (feet)

Strangely enough, once I was in the air, I discovered that there was hardly any other aircraft in sight. I then discovered that as a precaution, the tower radioed all other aircraft off the area until the student pilot had, that is me, hopefully safely landed, to give as much space as possible to the student, in case something unexpected happened!

As they do always, the tower called me on safely landing with "Well done, good landing". I believe they always say that to a student pilot on his first solo.

I expect to get my wings, Private Pilot VFR, this summer. This is the first step of flying where you are limited to fly when visibility is at least 3 statute miles and cloud ceiling not below 1,000 feet. After that, there is Instrument Rating, followed by Commercial and Certified Flight Instructor. For the moment, that is as far I wish to go.

Of course, after that one can get a multi engine rating, ATP (Air Transport Pilot) rating, followed by other type ratings for each particular aircraft. But since I am a lawyer by profession, and not intending to earn a living a a pilot, I need not get these additional licenses.

There is a small single engined prop aircraft Cherokee Bonanza which is reasonably cheap to purchase and which has exceptionally large fuel tanks. Although it cannot cross the Pacific Ocean, it is possible to fly from California to Asia by making small stops along the way, up to New York, New Foundland, Baffin Island, Iceland, Faroe Island and to Norway. From there there are enough small airfields for small hops across Europe to Asia.

If you recall, some years ago a Spaniard who happened to be disabled, flew from Europe to Singapore with the India Singapore leg by making a stop in Maldives, since India Singapore direct was beyond the fuel capacity for that Cherokee Bonanza. He was flying a Cherokee Bonanza. It was a great adventure.

I have a long way to go before I reach the skills of that Spaniard. But I have made a start. Like the good Chinese saying goes " A journey of a thousand li, starts with the first step."

I have begun. And I also have digressed. I got carried away. If I had bored you, I apologize. This is what I tell myself and to you. Achievement is easier than you think it is. All you have to do is get started.

Then what are you waiting for? Go on. Get cracking.

I know how to sail. Sailing is like riding a bicycle. Once you learn it, you will never forget it. Now I must get my pilots license.

I sometimes look back at my life sometimes in disbelief, wondering whether all this really happened. I had grown up in Singapore attended schools there, spent half my time dreaming of great adventurers such as Alexander the Great and so on. But to be fair to my parents, it was they who got me interested in adventure by telling me adventure stories like Sinbad the Sailor and Alladin and the Magic Lamb. As a boy, these stories had a great effect on me, and the saying that nothing is impossible was hammered into me. My father used to always tell me that I was the best. And I took that literally. And it is that feeling that made me do almost reckless things. Looking back, I was always a second timer. I never passed almost any exam the first time. I always had to do it again, although the 2nd time round, I always pass much better than those who managed to pass the first time.

I had to go to Europe for an education because I did not pass the A levels in Singapore and the government was not prepared to give me a second chance. In fact not passing the A levels in Singapore turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because then I would not have gone to Europe, I would not have become a lawyer, and I would not have managed to keep my spirit of adventure up till now.

And mind you, I did not go to Europe because I had rich parents who paid for my education in Europe. My parents were not rich and at that time, my father had died. I paid for my education myself by working at a Greek Restaurant while studying at Bradford College, Yorkshire, England. After I passed and got admission to University at Hull, I got a UK education grant which paid for my University and Bar education. And you wouldn't believe this. After I passed the Bar, I did not have money to buy an air ticket to return to Singapore. I went to my local Bank Manager at Midland Bank in Bradford to ask for a loan to by an air ticket!

The Bank Manager was an old Englishman. He said he had served in the British Army in Aden but had never been to Singapore. When he heard that I had come to him to ask for money to go back to Singapore, he nearly fell off his chair laughing! He asked me me to repeat the question, just to make sure! I confirmed that I was there in fact to ask him money to buy an air ticket to return to Singapore permanently! I told him that I had spent almost 7 years in England, banking with his bank, even though I was not such a great customer (lack of money), that I had passed the Bar, and was now going back to Singapore to make my fortune as the greatest lawyer, that I will become rich, and that the moment I begin to start earning money in Singapore, I will send him the money that he lent me, for sure, swearing by all the Gods in Heaven.

I think as an old man, he had sympathy for me, all the more so, perhaps because of my courage and even audacity to ask him such an improbable question! For that alone, perhaps, he lent me the money, threatening that he will not hesitate one bit, to personally fly to Singapore to locate me if I failed in my promise. True enough, when I returned to Singapore, within a few months I repaid him. He was a kind good old man. I can never forget him.

My life was quite an adventure. Singapore, Europe for 7 years, Singapore again for 10 years, opposition politics, coming to the US in frustration and protest, obtaining asylum in the US, passing the Bar, reinventing the wheel, and running my law practice Gopalan Nair Attorneys at Law in Fremont California successfully for the last 11 years.

This was a life. It was an adventure. And mind you, the adventure has only just begun!

All the very best.

Gopalan Nair
39737 Paseo Padre Parkway, Suite A1
Fremont, CA 94538, USA
Tel: 510 657 6107
Fax: 510 657 6914

No comments: