Friday, September 28, 2012

Brief encounter

My wife got the afternoon off, and went to drink wine. I had to stay at the office and fend off balls of scrunched up paper that my boss flung at my head to relieve the tedium.

At 5:45, I fled the office and headed to Chinatown, where my wife was in the hawker centre with a friend and two men I'd never met before. One was a short, quiet Filipino; the other an intensely voluble Chinese guy, who kept telling us over and over again that he'd worked in the Marco Polo hotel and could show us some good food.
It was admirable, the way that no conversational topic could resist him driving it back to the hotel and some good food. An impending marriage? A promotion at work? A trip to a far-flung place? A newly announced pregnancy?

All subjects dissolved, as he told us again about this great food at a restaurant where he knew the owner.I was hot and tired and worried about packing for tomorrow's flight to Hong Kong. I didn't really want to be sitting at a wobbly plastic table in the heat, but I tried gamely to struggle on, and sooner or later we ended up at a Thai restaurant.

I looked at the ants scurrying across the table. I think I recognised a few from our apartment. There's never swarms of them, just three or four, like guerilla scouts, threatening the insect onslaught to come.Once again, we were told about the Marco Polo hotel.

I suppose if you meet people that you have nothing in common with, perhaps it's easiest to fall back on something that you know a lot about: yourself. I wanted to tell everybody about Bill Bowerman branding boys with boiling hot keys (say that fast a few times) and accidentally spending thirty five years sniffing glue, but I couldn't get a word in edgeways. (I'm quite dumb, really; I got to the end of a biography of a man who's dead, and felt sad when he died at the end. I'm not sure what I was expecting.)

The food was good; a Thai green curry with vegetables in it isn't one of the most exotic things you can order in Singapore, but I had no complaints, apart from even the 'not-spicy' version not being calibrated for my weak, weak fallibility to spice. Having been told a hundred time how good the food was, I'd expected ... Well, I don't know what I'd expected.

Went home, past the enormous silk pineapple (a euphemism made real, I'm sure), packed, got ready to pass out.


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