THE DAY AFTER the news filled with Hilary Clinton’s pneumonia diagnosis, I found the Al-Salaam restaurant closed. I looked up and down my local stretch of Changi Road, wondering where else I could get some breakfast roti, and quickly gathered this wasn’t a normal Singapore weekday. A large crowd – Malays, Indians, Arabs, others – was leaving the local mosque. A hawker centre was dense with patrons eating noodles with conspicuous unhurriedness. Families strolled along a canal leading down to the beach.
By some intangible but unmistakeable change in the air, I sensed that today in Singapore was a public holiday. I briefly contemplated my ignorance and its implications: look at me, passing through foreign countries, engaging superficially, talking a cosmopolitan talk yet (evidently) utterly removed from everyday fundamentals of life. Still, I was simultaneously struck by how much Changi Road’s collective vibe this morning – happy, languid – seeped into me, a mere visitor,... Read more
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