You know how there are some words in the English language that only Singaporeans would know what it is, words like ‘void decks’ and ‘hard court’. This is a story only Singaporeans can empathize.
Two Sundays ago, I took my visitors from KL to the MacRitchi Tree Top Walk. As we were exiting the gate from the suspension bridge, a blond woman approached me and asked the direction to the MRT station or bus stop. Huh? In the middle of a primary forest in MacRitchi? I looked at her: dressed in folded-sleeves-buttoned-down shirt, a skirt and a pair of leather sandals. I shouted to my guide, a friend who frequents MacRitchi, and asked if he thought the lady might be able to walk to the park entrance at MacRitchi Road. He looked at her from top to toe and shook his head. ‘Definitely not. Better to go to the Venus exit,’ he advised.
I suggested she walked with us and perhaps I could dropped her at Novena MRT. She agreed and we walked together. Mikaela (don’t know the correct spelling but its a Finnish name) is Danish and had been in Singapore for three months. She is an architect and was invited here by NUS to help do the university town planning. As she had lived in Sri Lanka before, she did not encounter any cultural shock while in Singapore, not even when she tasted durians on her first night here. We chatted like old friends.
As we walked, my phone rang. Mike’s face appeared on my iPhone screen. He had not followed us but stayed back at the Venus Road entrance to shoot macro. I knew he was hurrying us as it was almost time to pick Aaron from tuition. I answered immediately with, ‘Almost there soon’ and hung up after his ‘OK’. Mikaela looked at me in amazement and amusement. She had yet to get use to this way of talking on the phone, no hellos, or pleasantry. ‘It’s like a sms with voice, but I am getting used to it,’ she remarked. I laughed and conceded that I am often rude and abrupt on the phone.
Yesterday on the drive to pick Aaron from piano class, my phone rang as I had expected. Aaron would usually call and I would answer by giving him my location so that he knows he must come down quickly. I’d usually shout ‘U-turn’, or’ Yusof Ishak’ etc.
So as usual, I picked up and without hesitation answered, ‘Hard Court’ a few times. I didn’t hear Aaron’s ‘OK’ on the other end. Instead, a man’s voice, hesitant and unsure, said, ‘Hello….mmm…hello?’ Oops! It was Aaron’s teacher. Then horrified, I realised instead of ‘Hard Court’, could he have heard other obscenity like ‘Hard C***’?
You tell me!