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Writing about Singapore and Donatella Versace

I was at a shopping mall in Singapore yesterday, waiting for my friend at lunch. The open restaurant is by the pool, with a nice smattering of what is called “Western food” here……..everything from Bangers and mash, Caesar salad to Tagliatelle.

As I sat watching people walking into and out of the restaurant without walls, I took to making notes of them. Here is what I wrote:

Old and tired European couple, probably Italian, lots of solid gold jewelry on the wife, a gold chain on the old man. Nursing red wine after their lunch.

Middle-aged American man, a youngish Singaporean woman, two American Singaporean boys. The whole table had ordered burgers, other than the mother, munching salad.

Balding man in his thirties, shoulder-length curly hair, Latino. Probably waiting for a woman, cos he has a whole load of shopping bags with him. A tall beer glass on the table. Looks like he’d like to smoke, but he’d be very foolish to smoke inside a mall in Singapore.

Three women, probably in their thirties, engrossed in gossip. Sipping their iced lemon teas once in a while.

Then my friend came in and I stopped taking notes.

But my eyes did not stop taking people in as they went by, around the fountain, up or down the escalator. Letting life pass you by as you sit at a public place just watching people, making mental notes, is good fun.

My find was the stout Chinese woman possibly in her sixties with desperately kohled eyes on a plump, botoxed face. In a loud printed Versace dress, carrying a monogrammed Chanel tote and bags of make-up from Dior and Aigner, she was my image for the day. Not to mention the three-inch teetering heels which made her stumble as she stepped on the escalator. Reminded me of that other old woman, Donatella, just a fleeting bit.

Donatella Versace

I wanted to walk up to the dowager, offer to carry her bags, and give her a hug. Don’t try so hard, I wanted to say.

Of course I did no such thing. I merely filed away the image for future use, and continued to chat with my friend. Somewhere inside I felt a little sad, but my eyes were peeled for that next interesting sketch of our ludicrous human existence.

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 next literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and was published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 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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  • damyantig says:

    Cara Ely, Ecco ti correggo:

    When I traveling by train or airoplane I like to notice every little thing
    When I travel by train or airplane I like to notice every little thing

    I use to travel a lot ,
    I travel a lot ,

    Ma come sei brava, hai scritto cosi bene:)….sono contenta che posso vederti qui ogni tanto!

    Ho scritto di Singapore stamattina, visto che gia’ conosci tutto, dimmi che ne pensi….

  • elybessy says:

    I’m sorry, airplane-airport.

  • elybessy says:

    I agree with all of you, I also like to observe people. When I traveling by train or airoplane I like to notice every little thing about my fellow- travellers; their faces, dress, way of talking and so on.I try to think the occupations of each, their temperament. But the judging of people from appearences is very difficult indeed and I think the average woman’s observation of individuals is probably more acute than that of the average man’s. I have acquired a habit of looking at people because I use to travel a lot , above all during the long lay-over in airoport and I think it’s a good or funny way to spend the time.

  • damyantig says:

    LBW, you are welcome.

    Whisperedsweet, I am obsessed with Italy, I think I am going to die of excitement when I finally get there. Thanks for the link.

  • lactatingbookworm says:

    That’s cool. I live in boring monocultural suburbia and it was nice to have a glimpse of a foodhall v. different to the one at my local mall.

  • I went to Italy a couple of years ago with the people I nannied for– love them to death! We spent time in Milan, Turin, and mostly Venice. We also spent afternoons in neighboring countrysides. We were there near a month. Beautiful! I wrote a little about Venice:


  • damyantig says:

    I people watch all the time. Sometimes drives my hubby nuts.

    Divine is the word for it!

    When I am REALLY bored, I even do it on paper. Is good for story ideas and characterizations. But mostly, the answer is, no, I don’t take them down in a notebook:)


    I’m glad I made you smile:).When did you go to Italy? Tell me all about it!

  • One: You make me laugh.

    Two: I love taking notes.

    Three: When I was in Italy I couldn’t stop watching people.


  • mar says:

    You’re really observant…Did you take note as in on paper??? I watch people around me and take notes too – but mental notes only. 🙂

  • indigobunting says:

    I was ever so briefly in New York City last week, and I sat on a bench in Central Park people watching. It was divine.

  • DarcKnyt says:

    If there’s anything more fun that people watching at a public place, I have no idea what it is.

    I always thought I was a keen observer of humans, but my wife is much better than I. she catches some amazing factoids. 🙂

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