After a month of sweaty bus seats and heat rash and coconut in every entrée and stuffing ourselves silly forty-six cent lunches and Tamil temples and Kerala sunsets and Nepalese hats and ear infections and stolen cameras and recovered cameras and re-stolen cameras and body boarding and five dollar hotels and mosquitoes and relaxation, and a further week of wearing out our welcome in our friends’ spare rooms and eating at our favorite restaurants one last time, we’ve packed our bags and left India with slightly fewer possessions than with which we arrived (not counting the three extra suitcases brought back to the US full of wicker crafts and indigenous arts and massive custom Bollywood posters we didn’t want to drag around Asia with us).
And now we’re in Singapore.
Delhi is still on our minds and in our hearts. Walking around this strange city and seeing its unfamiliar people, we alight on Indian faces; we want to walk up to them and tell them “We lived in India!” and be their friend because we’re seeing Singapore through their eyes as much as our own.
For the next two months, both Jenny and I will be volunteering for a charity here in Singapore as we hunt for jobs that, you know, pay. After a few missteps with the housing the charity provided (including a complete lack of electricity, a complete lack of furnishings aside from two mattresses, and a toilet located behind a locked metal grate in an abandoned adjacent storefront), we’ve managed to find a flat and unpack two of our four giant bags.
Because real estate in Singapore is so expensive, most homeowners tend to rent a room to boarders. So we’re living on the top floor of a government housing complex with Jimmy and Fiona, a Singaporean couple of Chinese descent whose kids have fled the nest to make room for the two of us plus Casey, a Chinese guy who we’ve seen for exactly one minute over the course of the last three days. A retired airport cargo worker, Jimmy drives a taxi when the mood strikes him; other than that, the couple spend their day fawning and fussing over their neighbor’s baby, Peter, who has the largest head we’ve ever seen on a nine-month old.
Jimmy and Fiona are determined to make us feel at home—so much so that they’re nearly smothering us. They follow us around the house, making sure we know where we can find forks and coffee mix and liquor and towels and ordering us with every other breath to make ourselves comfortable. When Jimmy came upon me standing up in front of the TV to watch the news for a minute, he forced me into his easy chair, forced me to recline it, and forced me to lay back; and when I got up after completing the minute I wanted to watch, the look of disappointment on his face stung me. So when we discovered that Fiona was making our bed and doing our laundry after we left for work, we decided not to protest. If they want us to be comfortable that much, who are we to tell them no?