By ZAIN HD
LAST Saturday afternoon, 10 gun-wielding persons stormed a traffic jam on Jalan Bukit Bintang in Kuala Lumpur, and engaged in a quick 30-second battle. Their arsenal of choice – water guns.
I watched the battle unfold merely metres away, and was glad I was part of the team behind the latest RandomAlphabets project.
It all started sometime in June, when the urge to do another flashmob struck. The last one we did was in November, which was a flashmob in support of Unicef’s campaign against child abuse where about 150 of us “played” hide-and-seek publicly in a shopping mall.
As that was becoming a distant memory, I found myself continuously asking, “What’s next?”.
I’ve wanted to “attack” a train for a long time, perhaps organise a flashmob or a guerilla event in a moving train. I was struggling with that idea, but couldn’t find a strategy that felt right – until the image of a water gun lit up the light bulb above my head.
Instead of developing the idea with a close group of four or five peopleas usual, I invited about 20 people to hear me out. Shortly after the discussion began, all that was left of my original idea were the water guns.
As we went along, more and more people came on board as the plan got tighter and tighter.
What we weren’t prepared for was the level of sophistication that was building up towards the execution date.
During our weekly meetings, we broke into groups – a two-car team, a video team, a fighter team and a roaming group that was in charge of security and logistics.
When we regrouped, we’d discuss new proposals and explore how they could work and make the project better.
The idea was that 10 fighters would storm a traffic light when the cars were stationary. Our concern was how to coordinate the participants, and ensure their safety if the cars started moving. We decided to find a way to make sure that the drivers stayed put for at least 30 seconds so we could execute our flashmob.
So, we planted two of our guys dressed up as construction workers (think gloves, yellow helmets, fluorescent vests, hidden walkie talkies, a heavy duty rope and a long broomstick from my kitchen) to do whatever they felt was necessary to stop traffic. Two hours before we were meant to execute the flashmob, or ‘showtime’ as we call it, we were doing dry-runs at an obscure carpark in the Changkat Bukit Bintang area. There were some hiccups and strained nerves, but the group was committed.
At 3pm, after five dry-runs, we left the carpark and the rest is history. I’m not going to spoil it for you, so wait for the video that should be on YouTube in about two weeks.
The water gun fight flashmob was RandomAlphabets’ 18th project since its inception in 2008.
There are a few things that I have learnt from planning and organising these projects. It alwayds start with an idea, and it is not easy to get over 40 people on the same page to visualise and develop the idea that was so clear in your head. But that doesn’t mean that you should give up on it. If people didn’t their ideas and make them happen, then we wouldn’t be enjoying many great works of arts and science today.
I have also learnt to have faith in the abilities of a small group of committed people to execute ideas, no matter how elaborate. Anthropologist Margarate Mead said it best, “Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.”
I don’t know if what we did will ever change the world, but the small group of committed people at last Saturday’s water gun fight changed the mood at a typical Saturday afternoon traffic jam.
Our inspiration came from watching videos online of people in another continent doing something vaguely similar. It’s as simple as that. And now, who knows what inspiration others might draw from what we did. That possibility, is enough for me.
q Zain HD has inspired many Malaysians to join in the fun of participating in flashmobs through his RandomAlphabets projects.