I was never into cartoons as a kid, but I liked Pingu. A stop-motion clay animated series, in which everyone, including Pingu, his mom, dad and friends, simply babble. There were no fully-formed words, just some incoherent sounds, which seemed perfect coming out of the malleable soft mouths of the adorable penguins.
I am not sure if it was the series or the episodes on Planet Earth, which had me fall in love with the flightless birds. So much so that, two years ago, when I visited Ocean Park in Hong Kong (you can read about my visit here), I had just two things in my agenda. One was to ride in the Flash and see the South China sea upside down. Two, was to check out the penguins exhibit, probably stand close to them, and maybe just feed a few.
Too much of a dream. But then, what’s life without its dreams.
So I dreamt. And like all dreams that are fed enough faith, this one turned real. I underwent a short class by the zoo volunteers, then slid my legs into tall white boots, black pants, and slipped on a large black and white coat, and over-sized glasses. A penguin camouflage.
Next thing I knew, I was walking along a waddle of penguins, lost in their squawking and braying. I saw Pingu in the shortest one in the lot, and fed him an extra dead fish out of a smelly bucket. As it rafted away with its family, I felt a mix of nostalgia, love, innocence, and calm. I was 10 again, ready to start my homework, after an episode of Pingu.