I told my clients I'd be at the bus terminal at 9.30 am as their bus was expected to depart at 10 am. But as early as 8.20 am while I was still at the pasar tani, Jah called me to inform me that she was already at the bus terminal. I told her I'd meet her as soon as I finished my weekly pasar tani routine.
Shila had told me the night before that she and her daughter couldn't join the trip as she was not feeling well. So there were 2 extra tickets. When Fuzi arrived with her children she wanted to buy one more ticket as she had her son's friend tagging along. But since I had extra tickets with me she didn't have to buy any.
After briefing them and leaving them some money (MAC was to reimburse them for their bus fares and per diem, but most of my clients being the ‘pokai’ type, I had to advance my money first and later claim the whole amount from MAC.), I went off to run some other errands before attending a wedding invitation in the afternoon. It was almost 2 pm when we (my mom, my sis and I) made a move to go to KL.
When we got to the Ipoh toll, there was massive jam on the other side of the divider - yep, for the traffic heading north, the queue to the Ipoh toll was as far as to the Simpang Pulai exit! That’s about 6 kms! If any of them were going for a kenduri, they'd be really hungry by the time they reach their destination. Worse, if there was a groom amongst those stuck in the jam...
Thank goodness I was heading the opposite direction so I reached my brother's house within 2 hours as usual.
About 7.30 pm I left my brother's house to go to One Utama where MAC's International AIDS Memorial Day was held. I got there within 10 minutes. AND THEN it took me another half an hour just to get a parking space! I was almost on the verge of giving up and instead of following the 'more parking' sign, I followed the 'exit' sign. It was then that I finally found myself a space good enough to park my car although it wasn't a proper parking lot. I wouldn't have done that under normal circumstances as I'm the 'by the book' kind of person. However that night as long as my car did not block the paths of any other cars in any way, it was good enough.
Obviously by the time I got myself to the main entrance of One Utama (new wing), the events for the IAMD with the theme "Never Give Up Never Forget" had already started. For the first time, the event was opened to the public. There were already so many people around I had trouble looking for familiar faces. Then I saw someone waving to me - it was Jah, and right beside her was Fuzi. The kids were busy being entertained by the balloon man.
Anyway, first thing's first. I had earlier requested from MAC some slides on HIV/AIDS for us Buddies to use during our talks. So I had better look for the particular guy first. As I had never met him before, I had to ask around. Apparently he was the co-emcee.
After getting the requested CD, then only did I start walking around looking for more familiar faces. I did see the MAC president, who was my classmate way back in school, but she of course was with the guest-of-honour ie the Deputy Health minister and so I didn't want to disturb her then.
Before the speeches began, there was a showcase by a group of people living with HIV.
This was followed by the speech by the MAC president and then, the deputy health minister. Then came the candle lighting ceremony. After the lighting of the candles and the guests walked back to their seats, I had the chance to get hold of the MAC president. Her first reaction when she saw me was, 'Eh, where were you this morning during the AGM? We wanted to vote you in as exco member!' And my immediate response to that was 'Tu pasal I tak attend...'
Speech by MAC president
Speech by Deputy Health Minister
Anyway, kids being kids, the showcase and speeches did not interest Fuzi's children. They were hungry, but being totally unfamiliar with the place, Fuzi and Jah didn't dare go anywhere to buy food. So I accompanied them to look for food for them to buy, although I wasn't familiar with the place either.
After they got some food, I accompanied them back to where the event was to ensure they didn't get lost at the shopping complex. Then I left them there. MAC had arranged for transportation to send them back to the hotel where they were staying. I figured I'd better make a move soon in case I forgot where I parked my car and needed some time to look for it… but naaah… going back was a breeze…
But just like last year’s IAMD, somehow many of my clients tend to contact me during IAMD. Mrs. K’s daughter sent me a text message on Saturday to inform me that her baby sister was discharged from the hospital. Yesterday Shila contacted me to say she had not taken her medication for 3 days because every time she swallowed something, she’d vomit. Then this morning while I was still in KL, Maria sent me a text message telling how depressed she was and that she needed to talk to someone. And as soon as I got home this afternoon, I got a text message from Mrs. K to say that her baby girl had to be hospitalized again.
I haven’t called any of them yet. I need to get some rest myself first… tired lah...