It was great meeting those diehard karaoke 'kakis' again after a two-month absence. Many presumed we went for an extended holiday abroad.
Little did they know I was wallowing in self-pity at home; wheezing, sneezing and coughing, croaking my way in a world devoid of scent and aroma, and getting on everybody's nerves.
Poor Pak Abu. I know he missed his weekly dose of Broery and Ronald Keating and Eagle, among others. And singing alone at home is so lame, compared to belting 'em out with friends.
The karaoke session at the RLC is held weekly, every Sunday from 7pm to past midnight. This is because the club doesn't have a dedicated karaoke lounge; instead it utilises one part of the bar where professional singers usually perform on weekdays.
Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club (KLGCC), however, has its own karaoke lounge with a reasonably good (but sometimes cranky) sound system. The lounge opens daily from 5pm to midnight, except Sundays.
Comparatively, RLC is more systematic in its approach. In RLC, if you want to sing, you write down your name and membership number on a white board provided.
Then you jot down your choice of song on a slip of paper and pass it to the DJ. Yep, they have a dedicated DJ even though the session is only once a week. You may bring your own CDs if you so desire.
The system is fair and orderly. The DJ announces your name when your turn arrives and you step to the front to sing. You are allowed one song per turn.
In KLGCC, you write down your choice of songs on a slip of paper and pass it to one of the two waitressing staff on duty.
Unfortunately enough, the duo have to do everything - taking orders, delivering food, making and pouring drinks, serving members and guests, clearing up, attending to the till, taking in song requests, keying in song codes, managing the karaoke console, delivering microphones to patrons, not to mention coping with alcohol-intoxicated customers.
Small wonder they always manage to get the patrons' singing turns screwed up, much to the latter's chagrin. We too had been at the receiving end a couple of times.
The system, haphazard at best and unreliable at worst, depends on the memory of the staff to remember whose turn comes first.
It works well when there are less than six patrons to attend to, but goes haywire when a large group of people descends upon the place.
This usually happens when there are private functions like dinners and parties at the club, where guests adjourn to the karaoke lounge for 'happy hours'.
Because KLGCC is not strictly a members' club, there are plenty of walk-ins patronising the place. In fact, many regular patrons of the karaoke lounge are non-members.
In KLGCC, each person or group is allowed two songs per turn and this again gives rise to a lot of complaints by some patrons.
Imagine, a single patron gets to sing two songs, a couple also gets the same, so is a group of eight people. Trouble usually begins when a group (usually those with one drink too many) demands more songs.
Why the management does not consider placing a fair and workable system as well as a specific personnel to oversee the karaoke function, beg answering.
Whether a patron is a member or a guest is beside the point. It IS a karaoke lounge after all and this complaint is nothing new. Is anyone listening?
To me, karaoke is a good way to let off steam, to destress and relax. Whether you sing off-key or you croon like a pro make no difference; you get a hearty applause all the same!
I am glad my 'vice' is limited to just club karaoke with a bunch of like-minded old foggies. We may never win any singing competition, but heck, we certainly know how to enjoy ourselves!