Monday, August 16, 2010

Singapore Blogs

Singapore Blogs – Part 1

Singapore is a great place – lush green vegetation, industrious people, very law abiding population. And people are so courteous that transactions are always pleasant. Where you can take a taxi ride without the mortal fear of being ripped off by the cabbie. Where if you dropped your wallet in a crowded place, there is a good chance somebody would find it and return it to you. There is a nice feel good factor about the country. For me, I have deeply personal reasons to be connected to Singapore, as you can see from this Blog, written about a dozen years ago. Read on!!

The first thing to hit me, as I stepped out of the air-conditioned interiors of Changi airport into the city-state of Singapore was this thick, sauna-like air that I could have cut with a knife. It fogged up my glasses and the cab driver, who was ushering me into his waiting taxi, found it hilarious.

“This (is) Singapore, luh.” He explained to me in his Singlish (= Singapore English), as he drove off to the Westin Stamford/Plaza hotel, which was to become my home away from home for many, many years.

The second thing to hit me, later that day was quite literally a broom that was sticking out of a janitorial push cart. It was my fault – I wasn’t paying attention. I was too busy hanging around the Raffles City Mall (actually the bottom floors of my huge hotel complex) to get a feel for the place.

“Sorry, sorry” apologized the janitor, who was pushing the cart from bathroom to bathroom. “Very sorry, luh”.

I said no problem and gave him my confused tourist look. He was perhaps in his early twenties and definitely looked very Indian. On an impulse, I introduced myself.

“Hello, I am Ramesh, Indian, but living in America. I am here on business and will be staying in this hotel for a couple of months. You speak Hindi, Tamil?”

He spoke Tamil and his name was Suresh. “I am a local Singaporean.” he extended his hand hesitatingly.

After some initial small talk, I proposed “Say, how about some beer when you are done with your work?”

“Can, can” He replied in the affirmative. (can can = yes yes)

Not only did he show up promptly, but also brought a janitor-friend, Ashok along

“Ashok dance oso (= also) very good” Suresh introduced his friend to me..

By the second beer, we had not only broken the ice, but were beginning to be really comfortable with each other. They were friendly, fun and easy to relate to. But mostly, I was really enjoying the novel experience of being with utter strangers from a completely different socio-economic background, in an alien country.

They were very impressed that a fellow Indian, such as myself, could actually be staying in ‘their’ hotel where they were working as mere janitors.

“Didn’t study good in school, luh. When I was in P5 (= Primary Five, fifth grade) never go to school every day. Dat is why become janitor. My sister, she finish O level” Suresh explained, somewhat regretfully.

Not that it mattered to me whatever hell their profession was. I was so glad that I managed to get some ready company, that too so soon after arriving in Singapore. No wonder we started hanging out together after work right from that day.

They also took it upon themselves to orient me to their country and came up with tidbits and information about Singapore. (some of which patently wrong and prejudiced)

“In Singapore you do only two things luh, Shopping and eating” they would try to explain in their folksy style “Dat is why Malls and Food Courts full of people always.”

I learnt from them that Kopi Tiams are twenty four hour restaurants. And that Te Tarek is actually a name for Malaysian-style tea, where they poured the beverage from glass to glass (much as they do in South India) I also got to know their favorite eating joints (“Newton Hawker Center, best”) Every minute was a new experience for me and each dose of wisdom dished out to me was a revelation.

It was on the third or the fourth day of my Singapore stay that I got to meet, Nagarani, Suresh’s sister. A plump woman with somewhat stubby legs and a large, pleasant smile, she was older to Suresh by not more than a couple of years. She said she worked in Watson’s, (a local pharmacy chain), in Bugis. And yes, she was single.

“Don’t like my name, luh.” She told me with a big smile “Sounds like Bodoh. (= dumb) Call me just Rani”

Yes. Even I preferred the name Rani.
Singapore Blogs – Part 2

My hotel was quite exquisite, with all the trappings of modern hospitality. Me and my colleagues from the USA were given ‘Preferred Customer’ rooms on the sixtieth floor, with our own exclusive Club, where alcohol flowed like rivers and food piled up like mountains during the Happy Hour. My room itself was a kind of a suite – with delicately cut and arranged fresh flowers, a basketful of ripe, juicy fruits, drapes that went up and down at the press of a button and at least two dozen towels of various sizes for my drying pleasure. Massive breakfast was served in one of the exclusive dining halls, overlooking the sprawling city, permeated by whiffs of piped music (including, sometimes, A. R. Rahman’s music) Of course, there were occasional, minor inconveniences – like the time we had a mock water supply drill – when they stopped water supply for an hour, just to get a feel for such an emergency should Malaysia ever decide to cut off water to Singapore

Although I had planned to work through the weekend – rumors were that our competition was going to launch their product in two weeks – I had to call it off because of some Supplier problems. With time freed up and itching to explore the city some more, I decided to call up Suresh and gang on my newly acquired handphone (handphone = cell phone) and see if they were free to hang out somewhere.

“Today not going office-ah?” Suresh asked me to make sure and suggested that Orchard was a nice place to goof off. “You come yourself. We come ourself. Can?”

I stumbled my way through the MRT subways and met them in Orchard. Rani had come along too – in fact, right after our introduction, Rani became a regular member of our gang and took part in all our outings and activities. She was the most animated of the whole gang and did most of the talking. She would come up with all kinds of sociological observations about Singapore – she knew that I was hungry to know more about Singapore.

“In Singapore, most girls want to join Singapore Airlines as Flight Attendants, luh” she would inform me about the country’s warped new generation “O they want to go dance in Vasantham Central.”

“What is Vasantham Central?” I asked.

“It is the Tamil TV channel, luh

We went into huge stores like Takashi Maya – some as huge and just as glitzy as the big stores I had seen in New York and Paris. They showed me a shop that exclusively only sold condoms. They talked about the biggest theatre in Asia being in Singapore, biggest bookstore in Asia being in Orchard. The biggest this, biggest that – biggest almost everything in Asia was in Singapore, if you believed them.

And Rani stopped by at every single sidewalk shop and checked out the merchandise.

Dis T shirt very nice. Dis, guy one o girl one??” she asked the hawker trying to find out if the T shirt was male’s or female’s.

“Girl one girl one.” – the hawker.

“Girl one, ah? Nowadays guy one girl one same same luh

“You want o not?”

“Don’t want. Don’t want. Oso, look, Uncle, dis shirt spoilt orredy“(= already)

I remember staggering into an all-you-can-eat place for lunch. A buffet place with a catch - that you have to finish off what you take in your plate. You leave stuff on your plate, they will fine you an amount equal to the food you wasted. Can’t say I ate too well over there.

I had to excuse myself that afternoon and get back to the hotel because I had an appointment to meet my e-friend Devagi Sanmugam for high tea at one of the hotel restaurants. Devagi is a remarkable individual and an authority on Singapoe-Indian cuisine. A cookbook writer (her recipe for crab rasam is supposed to be the ultimate), a food critic and a cookery teacher, she also ran her own spices factory. In fact, she gifted me several packages of her own masalas for me to take home to India – and later I made history by becoming the first Desi to take masalas into India, in a bizarre case of reverse transportation of Indian spices.

Barely did I bid Devagi a goodbye and reached my room, the concierge informed me that I had some visitors. It was just Rani and gang.

“I am damn curious to see your room,” Rani explained why they came “Dat is why come now. Don’t mind luh.”

She couldn’t believe how decadently luxurious my room was and wasted no time in thoroughly inspecting everything in sight. She opened the closets, tried out the sparkling white robe that was there, checked out the shower faucets, walked into the balcony and bit into the mangustan fruit. And finally lay on the bed.

“Close the TV Ashok” she ordered about, so she could savor the moment . “Off the TV now”

Suddenly she got up and saw my laundry basket filled with my neatly ironed clothes.

“Laundry free o what?” she asked.

“Not at all” I replied “In fact, it comes to nearly a hundred and fifty Sing dollars a week. It is daylight robbery. They charge me two dollars to wash my socks. For that price, I can buy a new pair every time.”

“Why don’t you go buy them then?”

“Because my company will rather reimburse the washing costs, but would not pay for new socks.”

“Six hundred dollars a month!!!” she was still in shock “No luh. From now on, I only wash clothe. Give dirty clothe to Suresh and I wash, iron. Don’t waste money luh

I tried to dissuade her that she was only saving my company money and not me personally. But she was stubborn. That’s how I got myself a brand new laundress.


Singapore Blogs – Part 3

My factory was in a locality called Ang Mo Kio and it was a very modern and wonderfully neat production facility cranking out millions of disk drives under exacting conditions. (The canteen was a god-awful place though, lousier than even my Ohio State dorms or my IIT Kanpur mess ) Slowly and slowly, my work was getting ramped up and I was getting back to my hotel later and later. Still, somehow the laundry deal with Rani kept going smoothly..

“Yesterday I wash orredy" Rani would tell me enthusiastically and ship them out to me through her brother. And she absolutely refused to take any payments from me. Sure, I bought her an occasional lunch and a dinner. But her time and efforts were worth much more.

The following Saturday, we decided to check out some temples in Singapore – not that I was religious, but my new-found friends were super-religious and really wanted me to see the temples.

Our first stop was the famous Mariamman Temple, right spang in the middle of Chinatown. There were many ferocious looking figurines – gods, goddesses and demons – with several hands, each clutching a deadly weapon. My friends proved to be good tour guides. .

“We have ‘thee midhi’ (=firewalk) every year, luh” Ashok explained “Suresh oso pierce mouth and walk on fire”

I was told that it has now become a tourist spectacle. Even the yard where the firewalking takes place has an arena like feel about it, with double-decked observation gallery like in ancient Roman coliseums.

By the time we finished a couple of more temples, we were already in Little India. We made a beeline for the famous Komala Vilas – easily one of the finest South Indian vegetarian restaurants in the world – and pigged out on their palate-tickling food and capped it off with ‘rose milk’

The next day I decided to surprise Rani and Suresh and stop by their house. Their apartment was nestled in a jungle of apartment buildings somewhere in Toa Payoh After a bit of hunting around, I knocked on the door. It was opened by an old lady – their grandmother. I said a meek hello. She gave me a strange look, but guessed who I was, right away. I could see Rani and Suresh in the background. I tried to walk in. The old lady suddenly freaked.

“,Sappaathu sappaathu (= shoes) No shoes inside the house” she screamed.

I quickly retreated and dropped them off in the verandah. The old woman still gave me dirty looks.

And wash your feet before sitting down, boy. You call youself Tamil.don’t know these o what?”

I followed her instructions with a weak smile. She then gave me a glass of water.

“Drink, boy” she insisted “This is Tamil culture. Supposed to drink at least water when you go visit somebody first time. Don’t know this oso?”

I flushed it down.

Dat old lady, never mind, luh” Rani was all over me. “What happen? How come you decide to show up? Why you never tell? Suresh, on the aircon (= airconditioning) please!!!”

We stepped out of the house and wandered all over Bishan Mall. I took the MRT back to my hotel (and washed my feet upon entering my room!). Late in the night I was exchanging text messages with all of them. God, I never sent a single piece of text message in the USA. But Singapore thrives on it.

‘Good night,. 143. came the final message from Rani.

I phoned her and asked what 143 meant.

“You looking for trouble, izzit?” she giggled on the phone “You do that – you act like bodoh, I whack you.” At once I figured out what 143 meant. Ouch!!

Singapore Blogs – Part 4

The hotel and the Raffles City Mall were so huge that it was a world within a world. It was crowded to the max any hour of the day – almost as if every Singapore citizen was required by law to go through its portals every single day. I remember holding the massive door open, out of courtesy, to let a few people go through and when I finally let go of it, at least two thousand people must have passed through it. They had some sort of a cultural festival going on most evenings in the Mall and the place got even more jampacked those times.

But the mother of all crowds showed up for the National Day. Our hotel offered a spectacular view of the Padang (Parade ground) and of the parade. Rani and gang came over bright and early and we grabbed the vantage points in our Club room. Columns upon columns of soldiers, dressed in various uniforms, marched stiffly to the sounds of bugle and horn. They all looked like toy soldiers from where we were perched. There were all sorts of military gear paraded around for everyone to see – although half of them looked like tow trucks. There was even a Chinese lion dance on the side. The grand finale was a group of loud jets flying in formation, spewing a trail of plume. Rani was like a child, refusing to let go of the window, even after the last squad of soldiers disappeared.

We ate in one of the Malay restaurants in the hotel itself. I had Rojak and some dessert called Ice Kacchang, (a mixture of crushed ice, syrup and nuts – guaranteed to give a sore throat five minutes after you eat it). I even tasted a bit of durien pudding – durien is a huge, thorny fruit, much like our jackfruit and is so smelly the government has banned people from carrying it in trains and buses.

In the night we decided to hit an Indian nightclub called Minnalae. Since there were too many of us boys, Rani invited one of her girlfriends Anita to join us to lend our group a bit of gender-parity. She however warned me about Anita..

“She is a Bengali, luh” she explained. (The Singapore Tamils call all North Indians Bengalis) “Dat girl, Anita, work as telemarketer, Cannot trust luh. And careful. She is kay-poh (= bad) and she steal boys like dat. Bad girl, like dat. Gossip always, like dat.”

If she is such a bad girl, why did she ask Anita to come in the first place, I asked Suresh.

“Because she and she are frend frend” was his bizarre explanation.

The two girls sat in front of the mirror, applying make up. They were certainly very excited.

“Ramesh, you very good in dance, what?”

I gave them my stock answer about looking like an orangutan in heat when I try to dance.

“When I was in school I go dancing every week” Rani explained “Ashok dance so fast, never stop, not even when I ask. I try hard oso cannot do luh”

Then it happened, much to everyone’s surprise. Rani stepped away from in front of the mirror, like a woman possessed, tossed the make up kit on to the bed and blew her top off.

“I don’t look good. I look like a pig. This foundation not even staying. It is coming, coming. I hate”, bursting into tears.

After a few moments of stunned silence, Anita walked up to her, calmed her down and helped her with the make-up. Rani then disappeared into the bathroom for another eternity, trying out the three dresses she had brought along. When she finally emerged from the bathroom, her face had bloated up, her make-up in shambles. She was seething. She ran toward the bed and collapsed on it.

“I am so fat and big – like mama pig. I try three dress orredy. Red dress oso don’t fit.” She was sobbing. “Anita so pretty. I no looking good. I am so ugly. I am no coming. You go luh. You go”

There was an embarrassed silence everywhere. I have never seen Rani to be anything but chirpy. I thought I should give her a pep talk and cheer her up. I asked everyone else to get out and wait at the lobby. I walked up to Rani and put my hand on her shoulder.

“Rani, actually you look real good.” I kind of lied to her “This red dress is gorgeous. I am sure a lot of guys will give you looks. You are just hard on yourself”

“No, luh, go dance with Anita. I stay in the room and sleep.” She wouldn’t stop. “You know something? I never work in Watson. I don’t work anywhere. I never have job. I simply told so you like me.”

“It doesn’t matter to me whether you have a job or not. You are a nice person and that’s what matters”

It took me nearly fifteen minutes to sweet-talk her into coming and for her to touch up her make-up. We took a cab up to the nightclub. It was crowded to the hilt and we had to wait. When it was finally our turn, we pushed open the huge door and trooped past the sentries. It was like walking into a thermo-nuclear explosion. A sea of humanity was gyrating away to ear-splitting music – ear splitting Tamil music – and confusing stroboscopic lights.

Suresh, Ashok and the girls lost no time in jumping into the dance floor and spinning around. As advertised, Ashok was pretty good and a number of strange girls were trying to dance with him. I was happy to simply stick to a chair and guzzle beer. Song after song, the tempo never seemed to slow down. The disc jockeys too mixed it up – right in the middle, they even slipped in a 1950s song and the dancers went absolutely wild. I remember Rani walking up to my table, grabbing my hands and dragging me to the dance floor and making me dance with her for a couple of songs. She was back to being her usual cheerful self.

.After much dancing, boozing and eating, we returned to our hotel, as totally wasted human beings. They stayed over in my room for the night. Since the girls slept on the bed, I lay bundled up in a sheet by the balcony door. In spite of all the reservations Rani had about her, Anita did not do anything nasty and Rani herself enjoyed the evening greatly – her ill-fitting red-dress notwithstanding. She came up to me and said a big thanks.


Singapore Blogs – Part 5

We did all the touristy things in Singapore – Sentosa Island, Bird park, Crocodile Park, Night safari – you name it. All said and done, Singapore is a treadmill of a country. No matter where you go, you are still there.

With time dragging on, me and my gang of friends decided to foray into neighboring countries. Our first visit was to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We boarded a luxury bus and went through a scenic highway. The Malay version of A. R. Rahman’s hit song from Roja was playing in the background. The multi-storied bus station of Kuala Lumpur was one of the most confusing structures that I have ever seen. Somehow we navigated through it. We visited the Petronax towers and so forth.

“No Tamil hotel here what?” Rani asked and just to please her, we searched and searched until we came across one - Gomathi Unavagam - a tamil hotel alright, but a Tamil hotel in that part of the world meant a Malay-Tamil restaurant serving Singapore-tamil dishes like Nasi Goreng, Nasi Lemak, Mee Goreng and so on – not exactly what you would get in a restaurant in Chennai.

We next visited Batam, Indonesia. We stayed in a cozy hotel and simply hung around the city. In the marketplace, over boom boxes we heard strains of what else, A. R. Rahman music.

Everywhere we went, we found the loudest guys in public to be the Americans, followed by the Desis. The local population barely spoke above a whisper, in comparison

Our final trip was to Bangkok, Thailand. I had accumulated enough frequent flyer points to get free rooms in the Sheraton, even including the extra cots for the extra people. Due to the quirks of designing Time zones, we found that we arrived in Bangkok earlier than when we started out in Singapore, local time-wise.

It was the height of the Asian economic crisis. (remember Asian crisis?) The hotel was almost empty and we had a nice room in one of the upper floors. The staff was fussing over every little need of ours. We could see (although mercifully not smell) the river by our hotel and look at all the boats causing massive traffic jams in the river.

“In Thailand you sin in the night and propitiate for it in the morning” advised a friendly hotel staff. “So, go visit nightclubs and then temples in the day time” The same man tried to strike a deal with me the next day to smuggle Viagra for him the next time I came to Bangkok and split the profit with him.

We took a fun ride in the tuk tuk – vehicles much like our tempos and share autos. We took a day long guided tour – stopping first at the many palaces and temples. We then saw a soccer match between elephants. (they were more flexible and athletic than me!!) Next we, the tourists, were shepherded for a crocodile show, which turned out to be little more than someone beating the crap out of a crocodile. Finally, the bus stopped at a non-descript fake jade factory, forcing the captive passengers to go in and spend some money on something they didn’t need.

Rani, of course, succumbed to the temptation and got herself a fake necklace made up of worthless plastic. I offered to pay for it, anyway.

“This is a bargain for you, sir”. The salesman explained to me “I am giving a hundred baht thing for a mere fifty bahts. Don’t tell anyone that Thonchai sold you this piece for so cheap”

Yeah, right. I am going to forget your face in two minutes and you worried that I might cause a stampede of foreign tourists jumping over each other to buy your lousy fake gems?

On the flight back, I decided that I should buy Rani a real necklace.


Singapore Blogs – Part 6

Next Sunday, we decided to hang around Little India area (or what is known as Teka by the locals). As always, I overslept, trying to get rid of all my week-long stress brought on by production problems and confusing failure analysis results. On top of this, I had to move to a different hotel room, because according to Somebody’s rule,,long term guests could not stay in the same hotel room for more than thirty days.

They were all waiting for me at the Teka market. We decided to eat the Kalyana Bhojanamu (‘wedding feast’) at the Andhra restaurant. My friends were describing the compulsory military service that all boys had to go through in Singapore and how the parents and kids cry on the first day when they dropped the kids off at the camp.

“In a year, kids become man, luh” Ashok explained.

They talked about Suresh’s twenty first birthday celebration, which took place in the Void Deck of his block and how he got himself a chain with gold key. Apparently, twenty first birthdays for boys is a major coming of age ritual in Singapore.

They showed me Haneefa textiles – the most auspicious saree store – they emphasized; the world-famous Mustafa shopping center where they sold watches by the ton.. We even had some snacks at the Mustafa canteen and met a Chindian (Chinese father and Indian mother) friend of theirs working there. We also walked through a mini red-light district in that neighborhood. They showed me an old Indian style flour mill (the only one in Singapore, they vouched) and an Indian style barber shop. That was a Sunday and so there were throngs of Indian immigrants piled up on the streets.

“Every Sunday, it is holiday for them, luh” Suresh explained “They all come to teka and meet friends.”

That was when I surprised Rani by telling her that I was going to buy her a gold necklace.

“Really o what?” she couldn’t believe it. She made minor protests and said I shouldn’t do this. I persisted.

“It is for all your hospitality and making my Singapore stay so enjoyable. It is for all the time you spent with me. And mainly, it is for washing and ironing my clothes for two months.”

We quickly arrived at one of the jewelry stores in Little India. The saleswoman (Auntie Tan) was trying to sell us the most expensive necklaces.

As usual, Rani tried on practically every single necklace in the store.

“Auntie Tan, Dis chain not costly what?” she would ask “I like dis one oso.”

Finally, at the end of the day, she made her selection and I paid up. Auntie Tan tried to sell us some more jewelry and offered us juice. But we escaped from there. The necklace was beautiful – and Rani wasted no time putting it on. I have never seen her that happy. She was walking around like she was the Big Queen of Little India.


Singapore Blogs – Part 7

My work was winding down in Singapore. The mass production was transitioned. Still there were a few unresolved problems. But the factory should take care of most of them. I was scheduled to leave Singapore next week. I decided to go to Suresh’s house and bid their parents and grandmother a farewell.

We decided to grab a bite in Ramu’s Curry before we went to their place. We ordered Chicken Set and Mutton Set and Roti Prata Ramu spread banana leaves in front of us, and cranked up his boom box (yes, A. R. Rahman music!!) Theemun Achar (cucumber salad) and Oodan Sambal (shrimp sauce) and morsels of several side dishes were geometrically arranged on our leaves. A ton of rice too was dumped and I had a tough time trying to use a fork on a banana leaf!!

“I like Oodan sambal luh, Dat’s why go eat every day” Rani explained her taste to me. Her new necklace was such an eye-catcher that it was sticking out.

We reached their house. As usual, their parents were not there. Only the grandmother was there. This time she didn’t offer me anything to drink.

“Boy, that necklace was lovely” she told me, as she rocked back and forth in her chair .I waited for her to say something more. She did.

“I know you like Rani. Rani too like you boy. I am happy. Rani’s parents happy. Nagarani and us want to come to India next year, talk to your parents and ask them permission for her to marry you, boy”

What?!!? I was blown away.

“Wait, grandma. Whoever talked about marriage? Rani and I are just friends. Isn’t that the fact, Rani?”

“What friends boy? You go Bangkok, you go everyday with her. We allow like dat. Only because you tamil boy from America”

“But Suresh and Ashok were also around all the time. We hung around as a group.”

“You want to be alone with Rani?” the grandmother shrieked “Never. Boy, never. In our family we don’t leave girls alone with boys. This is Singapore, not America.”

“This is a big misunderstanding. I like Rani. But that doesn’t mean we are in love”

“You from America. You rich. You pay hundred over (= over a hundred) dollars for hotel.” She continued spouting “We oso can, boy. We damn capable. We give gold and silver for wedding to make you damn happy. Tell your parents.”

“No, no” I stammered “I have absolutely no interest in marriage now. I am sure you can find a nice groom for Rani right here in Singapore. She is a great girl.””

“Why you so stupid, Rani?” the grandmother turned her ire to Rani “You washing so many his clothe every day. Every day”

There was an eery silence in the room. At this point, Rani who had been quiet the whole time, got up and turned to her grandmother.

“Stop it, grandma o I am going to scold you” She breathed fire and then turned toward I was some kind of a villain “So, Ramesh, you don’t like me, izzit?”

“Of course, I like you. You know that. But we were not behaving like we were interested in marrying each other.”

“Stop talking luh” she sobbed. “you guys all same what? Don’t want to talk to you anymore. I feel one kind luh.”

“No, no. I really like you. Listen to me.” I stammered, trying to reassure her. “But she had already disappeared into the bedroom, leaving only a trail of sobs behind. ”

"You know what happen luh?" Suresh tried to explain to me. Sure I knew. I knew enough. I knew enough orredy. I quickly got up and after staggering for a few moments, I said a bland goodbye and barged out of their house and retreated into the womb-like confines of my hotel room. Good bye, Rani.

Singapore Blogs – Part 8 Epilog

As somebody pointed out to me later, Rani’s tale is a typical colonial love story – where the Prince comes visiting from a far-away land and falls in love with a commoner girl in the colonial territory, carries on a fairy tale romance - only to dump her and return to his native land after a week. Two and a half months, in Rani’s case.

Following my somewhat disastrous first visit, I made many more trips to Singapore – and through all my trips, I stayed close to Rani and gang - yes, we did make up..Over the years, Westin Plaza hotel has become Swissotel. They have now built a nice underground mall under City Hall. There are now MRT lines to Little India and to Changi. In these years, Suresh had tried his hand at starting a push cart lunch stall in their favorite Newton Hawker Center. But it didn’t pan out. Ashok had a stint as a Security Guard in a building, but that too didn’t work out. I was the ‘angel investor’ for the three of them on a wedding make-up business they tried to set up, but that too fizzled. I have lost contact with them, now that I have returned back to India, but last I heard was that Suresh has gone back to being a janitor and Ashok was working as a multi-purpose errands man at a large European populated condominium.

And Rani?

She is still looking for her Raja.




At Monday, August 16, 2010 7:46:00 AM, Blogger Nappinnai NC said...

Oh My God, such a boring article! I was almost about to puke when i read 'shrimp sauce'...I have to have 'scotch' to shake it off.

I liked the 'condom' part, though. Hey, Viagra works only if the guy is sexually stimulated! Otherwise the pill will not give erection :-)

143??? All the youngsters who come up with this type of 'f***ing' shorthand terms should be kicked left & right. 143 can also mean 'i hate you, i f*** you, i kill you, i miss you, i damn you and so on'

Poor Rani. She, being 'academically' uneducated might not have known ''He's Just Not That Into You!'' On top of that guys are jack asses. Better to break a person's heart in the very beginning rather than after many encounters. That's what i do with guys!

You better write something real and hilarious of Jay Leno's standard to compensate for this...

At Monday, August 16, 2010 8:48:00 PM, Blogger Thaths said...

Bit into a Mangoosteen?! Have you ever tried that, Ramesh? They have a pretty think skin that are hard to cut even with a knife.

At Sunday, January 02, 2011 7:52:00 AM, Anonymous asian swingers said...

Nice information about Singapore.I will definitely travel Singapore in future.


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