Gallivanting again

Monday afternoon, back in the regime. Dhal and japati sit weightily in my stomach post company lunch with Kez. A cappuccino courtesy of the Cafe Coffee Day machine sweetens the aftertaste, my fingernails are stained yellow. However, the regime is different now. Alex hopped off on his travels last week leaving me relegated to a seat behind a new wave of trainees that have commandeered our usual workspace. A sense of change in the air, I feel like mother India is done with me, chewed, chundered and spat me out, and I don’t much feel like outstaying my welcome. It has not long been like this, but its been a long time coming.

The fortnight after Amritsar I didn’t travel, I guess the downtime with our 6th Kapoor was entertainment enough. I recall an Fbar night somewhere in there, Mimi’s first night back in the city, a Saturday night house party in Gurgaon, standard ladies night in UP, Machan meal on Friday with a couple of Sri Lankan guys and on to Mo’s Reggae Raja at Cafe Morrison before retreating to Hex Tax. A Delhi house party on Saturday and a double movie marathon to recover on Sunday. Kapoors business as usual. Then along came Monday and Alex’s final family dinner turned into extended family. And that was it. Alex fled on Tuesday morning and I disappeared a few hours later.

I have been gallivanting again. Another impulse decision on the strength of a weak job prospect, I packed off to Singapore on a whim, the second time in almost as many months. This is how it went.

Wednesday 23:27 Touched down 6:30 in the morning. Not much sleep on the flight but Kingfisher were as accommodating as always. Booked into the familiar Frankel Hostel and took a much needed power nap. Awoke to a potbellied American sealing duck tape around the gaps of an unused door. The eccentric says he is an ex-navy officer come property developer who now resides in Jakarta married to the queen of Indonesia. She has five mansions in Jakarta and he lives in the third biggest. It’s impossible to take the guy seriously, especially given he is staying in a hostel, but he does have a rather conspicuous Jade ring on his right hand. Late morning I had breakfast at the corner restaurant and took off to find the offices where I will be interviewed tomorrow and Friday. A brief stopover at City Hall to see the harbour, then back to the hostel. Jas canceled plans for ladies night so I took dinner at a hawkers in Bedok market and sat watching a Mandarin flick over a beer.

This trip was always a risk taking venture. I’m not on holiday, I’m shopping for a job and there’s a good chance I’ll come back without one. Even so, it won’t be wasted. The second time I’ve passed through the city this year, I feel very acquainted. That’s what I enjoy the most about my travels, really getting to know a place and it’s people. It’s another dot on the map where I know I can safely retreat, another pocket of familiarity in the global village.

Friday 15:53 The interviews took place yesterday and today. Yesterday was more of a “warm up,” a company I’m not so interested in but a prospect worth pursuing all the same. I spent the first part of the morning, breakfast at the bakery outside Kembangan MRT and straight to the company’s office. The remainder of the morning and early afternoon I spent looking around a Buddhist museum on the top floor of a temple and lunch in China Town. Back to the hostel to cool down in the comfort of the AC. Early evening I ventured into Little India, a place avoided on the previous excursion for obvious reasons. Yet I needed something to do and this seemed like an option.
Little India was exactly that. How curious it is that a culture so strong can be pristinely preserved in a bubble inside another. Indians, mostly guys, anywhere and everywhere loitering in the street and lying on the pavement. Bollywood movies and Hindi music splurging out of smoke filled corners, cars ruling the road with their horns and people walking right at you. Of particular note, the mass of men jostling for attention outside Western Union. A handful of security guards are prudently placed to retain some force of order, this is Singapore after all.
A brief snack in a vaguely Indian mall and I’d had enough of all things India. Back to China Town, where I can breathe. A spot of shopping and perusing while I wait for Jas to cop off work and meet her at the hawkers close to her place for a midnight drink and a natter.
This morning was a similar routine. Breakfast at the bakery and a 10:30 interview. This time I am much more interested and the interview goes well. They have asked for an answer today so I took a few hours to mull it over. I grabbed a cab to meet Jas for her lunch break before coming back to the hostel. I’ve decided already, will call in the next hour. The details are yet to be worked out, so it’s still tentative. But it looks likely I’ll be setting up shop here in June. This evening, dinner and a few celebratory drinks with Jas. I think I’ve got what I came for.

Monday 15:27 Saturday morning we both took it easy with a lie-in. Walking around in the humidity of this city just seems to destroy you. Early afternoon Jas picked me up and we met an old friend of hers for lunch in a local hawkers and a beer in a “British” pub. Afterwards Jas and I head to China Town to pick up some Chinese tea, souvenirs that I never got around to procuring last time. Then we catch a film, Clash of the Titans. After dinner in a Thai restaurant we finish the night over a beer in Red Dot, our first evening outing when I last came with Alex.

Sunday afternoon in Singapore

Sunday we took lunch in a mall by the esplanade, a brisk walk until the humidity got too much and contemplation over an iced tea by the Merlion statue. Time got away from us and soon it was 3pm, back to the airport via the hostel. The flight plan was less than convenient this time around, arriving in Mumbai 20:55 local and leaving for Delhi 6:05 the next morning. With nowhere to spread I snoozed in my seat until the gate opened at 4, boarding at 5. I slept the two hours to Delhi and now I am exhausted. The pre-paid taxi from the airport was the same old, driving in all manner of rage when I refused to pay the toll charge included in the fare (as always). So exasperated by the traffic he squeezed motorcyclists off the road and catalyzed a minor accident knocking one guy off his bike. He went off in Hindi when he realised I wouldn’t tip him extra, but soon figured it was useless and drove off in a storm. The usual rude awakening back in India, I don’t see myself doing this many times more.

It’s convenient for me that things feel like they are wrapping up here now, nine months is aplenty for me. I need a month of downtime with the family before I move onward, leaving a fortnight to bid goodbye to my family here. What a journey it’s been, I’m simply at a loss how best to end it.


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