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Writers, Do You Write At Coffee Places?

Today is Writing Wednesday on this blog, and having been holed up at home for a few days trying to write, I’m taking off to write outside. Writers writing at cafes and restaurants is a romantic notion ever since Hemingway did it in Paris, and of course others have done it before and since.

To me, the appeal of working in a cafe is watching the world go by whenever I raise my head from writing. Singapore is such a melting-pot of cultures–the three native races and then the scores of foreigners (I’m one myself)–that it is possible to come up with quirky, unusual characters.

Sitting at a (strategically-located) coffee shop I see all types–doddering, super-old Chinese aunties in their flower-printed, full-sleeved shirts and trousers that were in fashion during WW II, tall American rugby-player lookalikes carrying the grocery for their dainty, petite Chinese wives, the “ah-bengs”–young Chinese teens sporting dyed hair, tattoos and body-piercing, Indian ladies in sarees and gold jewelry with multiple shopping bags chattering in loud, Tamil-accented English as they rush past, school kids with untucked shirts, bunking classes to watch the latest martial art flick from Hong kong playing in the cinema hall above, uniformed cleaners pushing mountains of toilet paper on small carts, pretty Malay women in black headscarves held up by dazzling brooches.

I suppose some of them spot me watching from my small white table in the corner coffeshop— papers, notebooks, laptop, pens, cell-phone, teacup, tea bag and bread crumbs all around— hair tied in an oily bun (I find I write better when dressed for comfort rather than good looks) looking them up and down as they pass by, and pretending otherwise!

I guess, as a writer, though I’m part of the humanity around me, I’ll always feel a little of the outcast, or the observer. I may wallow in the mud of life like a buffalo or a hippo (ugh, right!), but at the end of the day, I’m the bird perched on the buffalo’s back, picking at things, taking notes, always taking notes.

Today, author JC Martin asks me a few questions, so please head over there after you’re done reading this post!Also if you’re here for the #writecampaign challenge, my entry (No 111) is here.

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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