Sitting at the next table over is a group of possibly Russian men drinking beer in the middle of the afternoon, playing cards. They’re using the thin paper stock of an airplane issued deck, or maybe it
came free with a cheap, unrelated purchase. Further along the row of rickety tables is an Indian gentleman with slicked-back hair and an American accent, even further still, a Buddhist monk and a couple of English chavs. The monk is not drinking.
Smoke in the air, with the sounds of so many different tongues it would be pointless to call them foreign (on whose behalf but my own?), it’s a scene romantics and film critics might fall over themselves to
identify as belonging to another time and place, Morocco in the 1940s maybe, Blade Runner’s hybrid America perhaps — given the hide and seek aromas of nearby Asian cooking and the aggressive buzz of neon — but also one that many of us take for granted here in Singapore.
A beggar approaches and manages to fleece a few dollars off those present. I am invisible to him. The monk numbly declines.