I have attended my first Tenants and Owners Committee meeting of the apartment complex in which I reside. I was invited to become a member a few weeks back by the manager of the complex - the ubiquitous Mr. Tan. I refer to Mr. Tan as being ubiquitous because he appears to be everywhere. I do not spend much time outside my complex yet whenever I arrive home from work - and often when I depart for work early in the morning - there he is.
Mr. Tan seems to appear from nowhere. I am quite often startled by his sudden appearance. He always seems pleased to see me though and I thoroughly enjoy his company. Our relationship started in a fairly stormy and confrontational encounter last Chinese New Year. It commenced with an altercation that I had with the Security Guards of my condominium when I dared to eat the decorative mandarins that were put out in celebration of the Lunar New Year. I have described this whole saga in a number of earlier pieces that I wrote titled, "Forbidden Fruits', "The Kangaroo Court" and "Taken" so I will not drag up the debacle again.
Suffice to say the matter was amicably resolved.
Mr. Tan and I have had a few debates on a variety of matters since that initial encounter but these have always been resolved in a friendly and polite fashion and with great mutual respect and civility. We also share a common foe in a tenant who lives in the complex whose name is Jens. I have also described some encounters that I have had with Jens in previous articles so once again I will not elaborate further here. I will however emphasize that Jens is a border-line psychotic Danish monster who is very disrespectful to both Mr. Tan and myself. He is a very heavy drinker and he often mutters crazily to himself as he lurches around the grounds of our apartment building. He calls everyone he sees, "Modderfokkers'. Jens is quite deranged.
He both amuses and terrifies me.
I informed Mr. Tan that I would be delighted to join the Tenants and Owners Committee. I advised him that I would be honored in fact. I had no idea whatsoever what was involved but my first participation was this evening. I have just returned. It was a hell of a laugh.
The meeting was held in one of the complex's function rooms and I was a little late in arriving. I have been very busy at work in the past few days dealing with the horrific smoke haze that has enshrouded Singapore. This smoke haze is due to the massive burning of forests that is going on in Indonesia. The pollution has to be seen to be believed.
It is choking and it is disgusting.
As I walked into the function room I apologized for my tardiness. Mr. Tan leapt to his feet and rushed to shake my hand. There were seven other people sitting around the table and they were all Singaporeans. I was the only Ang Mo in attendance.
An Ang Mo is a white man or a white woman. It's literal translation is actually "red haired" in the Hokkien language. This is a bit strange but many things in Singapore are a bit strange. However let me point out that I am most definitely not a ginger. The term is used more broadly now to describe caucasians and it is slightly derogatory. I don't mind as I do derogatory a fair bit. It is my thing and it is second nature to me.
Formal introductions were made. On the Committee were four Tans - two of whom were a couple. There was also a Mr. Sim, a Mr. Lim and a bloke called Howard. They all seemed very nice. I asked whether any of the Tans were related. Apart from the couple who were married none of the others were kinfolk. Tan is a common name in the Chinese community. It is the equivalent of Smith to we Westerners.
The main and in fact only agenda item for discussion for the Tenants and Owners Committee was the issue of whether to get the complex painted. This discussion has apparently been going on for some months. From what I could gather everyone seemed to be in agreement that the exterior of the apartment building needed painting but no one wanted to pay for it. This presented a quandary. It was agreed by the Committee members that we would give the matter some further thought and we would discuss it again next month.
When the Building Manager Mr. Tan asked if there was any other business to be discussed none of the other Tans, the Sim, the Lim or Howard had any. I was keen to make an impression as a new Committee member so I suggested that there perhaps needed to be some additional Rules for the communal Swimming pool.
I was being facetious. Our Swimming Pool has more than a dozen Rules. These are posted on a number of plaques that are prominently placed on the pool surrounds. I have taken a photograph of the plaque and have included it in the beginning of this article. They are hysterical and I have broken all of them.
"I am concerned that there is sometimes too much splashing that goes on in the pool" I offered up to the Committee.
A number of the Tans nodded their head in agreement
"After the horror pooing in the pool event last month I am also quite concerned that we have not specifically stated in the Pool Rules that this is not allowed"
All around the table now nodded their heads in agreement. We appeared to have consensus on this matter.
A poo was found in our pool last month. A very large one. I witnessed it's discovery by building management and described this event in an article titled, "The Floater". I informed the Mr. Tan who-is-the-Building-Manager that I suspected that the culprit was the lunatic Dane Jens. He was subsequently formally interviewed on the matter by both Building Management and the police. He has maintained a furious denial on the defecation.
"I also think it would be wise to specify in the Pool Rules that dogs should not be allowed to swim in the pool" I suggested.
I have never seen a dog anywhere near the swimming pool but I thought I would throw that one out there.
"Cats either" the man name Howard chipped in.
That caught me by surprise but I recovered quickly and nodded my head in furtive agreement.
"Nice one Howard. Well said"
He grinned in delight.
The lady Mrs. Tan who I assumed was charged with taking minutes of the meeting was writing furiously on a notepad.
"I think that there has also been quite a lot of swearing in Scandinavian languages going on near the pool that should be banned. There are after all quite a lot of children who use the pool who should not be exposed to such depravity. We should ban that for the sake of morality and ethics"
I knew that I might be pushing the envelope a bit on this one - but I was on a bit of a roll and couldn't really help myself. All of the Tans seemed to be in agreement though and they were again nodding their heads in silent affirmation.
"OK then. All those in favor of updating the Pool Rules to prohibit splashing, pooing, swearing in Scandinavian languages and dogs and cats swimming say 'Can'" I proposed.
"Can" all four Tans said in unison.
"Can" the two Sims and Howard piped in a nano second later.
"All those against say 'cannot'" I demanded.
Not a cannot was offered.
"I shall arrange for new posters to be printed immediately" Mr. Tan the Building Manager announced. He seemed genuinely delighted that there was an action item that had resulted from the Meeting.
We all disbanded not long after that.
It was a hell of a fun meeting and it was much better than the normal mundane ones that I attend at work.
I am very much looking forward to seeing the updated Pool Rules plaques and attending next months Tenants and Owners Committee.
I can't wait in fact.