So, where are you headed off to? Oh a family dinner, and you? Ah, we’re headed off to the MRT. I watched as she stepped into a kia. As it whizzed past, I caught sight of a black hairband that tamed the curls of her hair. J caught on immediately and asked if I had wanted to ask her out. Was I that obvious or is it only because she’s female. They really are more socially tuned. But what did she make of it?
Starbucks. I don’t like sugar so I have a single espresso, no frills. She wants an ice blended mocha frap, tall. Do I want cream with that? I suppose she does. One headlight’s playing in the background, and I feel relaxed as Sunday evening dies sip by sip. Both of us are leaning forward, talking, sipping. Conversation feeds our hunger for connection, we discover that other people feel the same way we do, and we feel less alone for it. I don’t have an ultimate goal, I just want to balance my family and my job and church. I thought about it and thought that wasn’t too sloppy a goal, then I thought about what a good goal should be like, and I lost myself again. Maybe balance can be broken down further into the achievement of the 16 desires via church and family, in addition to one’s job. I let her do all the talking, “You didn’t think I’d be that deep did you …” I closed my eyes and let her voice mingle with the music. Her eye is red from the contact lenses, her irises artificially manga large, her skin distractingly luscious white. I crumple the straw wrapper into tiny bits and flick one in her face. She punches me playfully. The coffee runs out after two hours and we leave.
The train lurched and the large Caucasian man lost his balance and grabbed the pole. He laughed heartily and there was a twinkle in his eye as he made some remark directed obliquely to the woman in front of him, who was blank and mute in her Singaporean way. I smiled at him and the conversation started. The train really is crowded here in Singapore he began. He last came here in ’77 when they were still building that thing at the corner of scotts road and orchard road. (Tangs?) When he didn’t quite catch me, he would lean towards my ear to whisper. It must look odd, like bachata between two men of different race and age. I fell back on a conversational cliché, and asked what the difference was between Australian and Singapore. I wondered if I could be more original than that. He found out I was working in IT, oh they have a lot of those jobs in Australia. He said I was “turned on”, there was that twinkle again, his faded brown irises were set against a large wrinkly nose and freckly skin, and a moustache I was afraid would brush against my face whenever he leaned in. I was “turned on”, that he could tell from talking to me, so I should be able to find some job In Australia. Ask the embassy about visa 457, he winked at me. It almost felt like a leer. He works in oil and gas, stays in Loyang, loves the food here, I just had pork, fish, zhup cai at bugis. And he was telling me about his 100 acre farm in Australia. That’s something we don’t have in Singapore, Nature, land that rolls on and on into the horizon. Fishing and catching sharks and two snappers, then barbecuing it. At Bedok, I shaked his hand firmly and said I would think about visa 457. It was nice meeting you.