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I have come to a clinic without an appointment, and have been warned by the matronly secretary that I have to be prepared to wait. So here I am, all armed with my notebook and will fill the hours by filling the notebook, I guess.

Singapore mornings are crisp and beautiful, but most people here do not seem to have the time to enjoy them. Not being a regular office-goer myself, I do not have the poker-faced attitude of most commuters who simply tell the driver their destination and are lost in their newspaper, cellphone or ipod for the rest of the ride.

Since I often smile at people, I smile at the taxi drivers as well, and they immediately come to the conclusion that they have found themselves a good listener. I have heard several dozens of life histories of taxi drivers, some of them genteel old men who say they drive taxis to keep from being bored, even tho they don’t “really” need to, women who drive taxis to keep up their lives as single mothers and today I met a taxi driver who is actually a magician!

He declared in typical Singlish: “Today your lucky day! I the only magician in Singapore who drives a taxi!” and then proceeded to show me various sleight of hand tricks with coins and rubber bands at each traffic light where we came to a halt:)

Since I nodded and smiled at everything he had to say and replied “I’m sure you are right..” he told me in his nasal Chinese drawl:

You got sweet face, you know, not angry waan, not like most people lah. They angry all the time lah, never have time to listen!

I reached the clinic and am now sitting surrounded by people with faces absorbed in their papers, magazines or pattering away at their phones(Singaporeans love texting, and do not make as many calls), and realize that indeed the people around me do have grumpy faces…not that any of them is in pain, they are plain self-absorbed.

But maybe all that is just a front, because every time I look up from my writing, I meet eyes that get hastily turned away.

They must be wondering what on earth I could be scribbling into my notebook. But I don’t mind, I have got the post for my blog, and this is not the first time I have been writing at odd places at odd times!

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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  • damyantig says:

    Katie, I am glad you came by, you actually know exactly WHAT I’m talking about:)

  • damyantig says:

    Radvixen, I liked stopping by your blog, and thanks for coming by here. Yes, we do need more smiles around this world, too much negativity as it is!

  • katiesmith says:

    You bring so many memories back for me:))
    I LOVED the taxi drivers in Singapore, and had many interesting conversations with them…I meant to write them down as part of a series but stupidly didn’t.

    And you are spot on about the gorgeous mornings and the officer workers oblivious to it…

    Thanks again, it’s lovely to see it through your eyes;)

  • Radvixen says:

    Haha! Reading this post really made me laugh. True enough… that’s how they go when you get into a taxi in Malaysia or Singapore.

    I suppose thats how people in developing/developed countries are nowadays. I see it all around me. All self-absorbed and don’t know how to enjoy the little pleasures in life… and dont smile AT ALL.

    Thanks for the comment on my blog 🙂 . Keep writing.