Saturday, May 9, 2009

Keeping In the Company of Strangers

I am alone in Singapore, in so many ways. I have documented this before. However, I rarely feel lonely. I miss my family, sure. I miss my lifestyle in Australia, of course. That said, I am finding that in different parts of my day, I speak with a couple of regular strangers, people who I may not even know their names, their backgrounds, nothing. Yet, they are indeed my companions, even for just a passing moment.

First up is often Qwek, this tiny security lady who frequents our apartment blocks, making sure that the barbecues are left clean, the tennis courts are properly books, and no one is walking across the putting green in high heels (it happens!). I met Qwek when I used the barbecue one night without appropriately booking and paying my refundable deposit. Despite meeting me because I was a rule breaker, Qwek immediately warmed to me. I made sure that, since that day, every time i have walked past the security office, I have given a wave, or I have gone in to ask her about her day. She does not speak strong English, but I really like her infectious smile and her motherly concern for me.

Then I have the 7 Eleven lady down the road. I do not know her name, but she was one of the first people who i met in Little India. Each time I walk into the 7 Eleven, to grab a bottle of water or a daily paper, she makes sure that I have had breakfast. If I havent, she is quick to suggest a banana or yoghurt, or a range of other 7-Eleven delights. I have even begun to get a smile out of the boy who works there at night, who i suspect is her son.

Last but certainly not least is Murugesh, the large, friendly Indian man who serves at Ananda Bhavesh Restaurant on Syed Alwi Road, Little India. I see him every second night, when I come in from work to have my vegetarian indian meal for SGD$7. He has slowly introduced me to the indian cuisine, dish by dish, one night at a time. He now knows that my regular dishes are the South Indian set, North Indian set and the Naan Set. Either way, he never fails to ask me whether i would like my regular mango yoghurt drink or my lime juice.

I do not know these people, but they are an important part of my day. It is as though they have become my family in small way. It is nice to know that I can choose to go somewhere in the city of strangers and be asked how i am by someone with a familiar face. It goes along way in a place that is so incredibly unfamiliar.


  1. Loved these pics and story about your week and the people in your day. It was very good and interesting.Mum

  2. kateonthebike.blogspotMay 9, 2009 at 7:14 AM

    Those costumes were lovely, would love to have sen them. Mum

  3. I love how you actually get to know these people! I have been told that I seem to have a permanent scowl on my face when not with friends or family, and it makes me most unapproachable...