I sat at the coffeeshop downstairs yesterday morning. A coffeeshop in Singapore is not like the coffeeshops in the United States. It is not air-conditioned or modern. It is a rustic gem. Only a few are left relatively untouched by Singapore’s race to mini-superpower status.
I’ve always wanted to go to Paris and sit at a café. It is all Sabrina’s fault. Sabrina’s pretty much my favourite movie of all time for the longest time now.
For months, no longer than that, a year, I sat at a café and wrote nonsense in a journal. And then it wasn’t nonsense. I found myself in Paris.
Lines like these, combined with a soothing soundtrack, etches in my mind the utopia that is found in the proverbial greener grass.
Here I am, sitting beside a rather busy road at 7 in the morning. Across the road a hole half a mile deep continues to get dug. A spiffy new train station is to be built there. In a corner of the coffeeshop a deranged man talks to himself. He does this every morning. I order my breakfast, half-hoping that if I wished hard enough, I’d find myself sitting along a river in Paris. Doesn’t happen.
Breakfast arrives. Roti prata (Indian bread) with curry on the side. As I sink my teeth into its flaky crust a slow transformation takes place. The hole in the ground and the deranged man stop being items on a complaint list and become characters in my mental explorations.
Who brings the deranged man here? When does he leave? Who are the foreign (mostly Bangladeshi) workers who toil all day and night, depriving me of good sleep? Where are their famlies?
For all my life I’ve sat at coffeeshops like these, never really seeing things with a tourist’s curious eye. And suddenly it was not nonsense. You could say that I found myself in prata and a bowl of curry.