Thursday, November 24, 2011

12 step programme

I'm on the first step of the 12 step programme - well, of the 12 staircase programme. The unfortunate thing about checking my luggage at Singapore airport is that they weighed it, so I knew I was trying to shift 18.9 kilograms worth of wheeled suitcase up 12 flights of stairs.

I swore a lot this evening, but there's no point abusing a bag. It's like trying to be assertive with an unhelpful chair.

I should have been more assertive in Singapore this week. Last night I was stuck behind slow moving Frenchmen, blocking the pavement as they walked along, two abreast, smoking. Eventually I had to push past them, as they ambled through the cool night.

And today, walking to Raffles Place MRT, a woman smoking flicked her cigarette ash without looking, right over me. I was in too much of a rush to have a stand up shouting match in the street, but really, this isn't the ultra-clean, regulated Singapore I was expecting.

"Auntie!" I should have cried. "Aunt-tee, what are you doing? That is bad untidy, la, why you not look what you doing? You should be paying more attention, is it? Why you flick ash without looking? You not got no manners!"

But I didn't. I rushed back to the hotel and took a taxi to the airport, leaving the nicotine-inflected city-state behind.

Taking seat A1 on the plane home was a fairly good thing to do, as I got to peer out of the window and get a good view of Hong Kong International by night. With humanity invisible on the apron, just airplane after airplane floodlit and plugged into the building, it felt like we were trundling around the set of a science-fiction film, not returning to immigration controls in another city-state.
I got to be more assertive now I was home. I blocked the onrush of passengers from the back of the plane; like Petain at Verdun, ils ne passeront pas. Being first off the plane and onto a waiting bus was almost literally the least I could do.


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