At about 10:00 AM on Christmas morning, I woke up to one of the Brazilian friends I had made from my hostel. He was tapping me on the head trying to usher me out of bed. “Johnna, Johnna! There’s a French guy waiting for you downstairs!”. Being half-asleep, I had never been more confused in my life at 10:00 in the morning. French guy? What French guy? He decided to drop the joke because my blank expression would not leave my face and said, “You know! His name is Wine!”. He wanted to start drinking in the morning. I felt bad because I was the one that suggested buying a bottle to share the previous evening to wish them Bon Voyage.
I crawled out of my bed and got downstairs to the breakfast area. He had already had a couple of glasses while the other two were just satisfied with buttered toast. He insisted that I start as well because I paid for half, so I agreed to take a sip. I was not feeling it that morning and it didn’t go further than that.
I smiled at his bright pink face and recalled a joke we had between us. Even though he is from Brazil, his ancestors are not, which explains the reason behind his Japanese face. They were surprised that I was actually born and raised in Japan even though I have an American Passport. On our last night together, we took a group picture and decided that the caption should be, “Guess the Japanese”.
After we bid each other farewell in the afternoon, I was itching to get some alone time and start a sketch. I had already been in Singapore a couple of days and I had not attempted a drawing. I remembered seeing a lot of stores with tiny figures and souvenirs in Chinatown from last year. I decided to head down that way to see what I could find.
I walked around the bustling area, accidentally bumping into tourists and poles. I choose a place based on a few things, one of them being comfort. Will I be sitting down? Is it in the shade?
Around 2:00 in the afternoon, I came across a shop with relatively cheap food and a lot of open chairs. I saw that one table was in good view of one of the souvenir stands. One thing that I ignored was the “reserved for credit card users” sign. I got a dirty look from the waitress and she told me to sit in the chair behind me. I got defensive and tried to explain to this woman that I wanted to be closer so I could sketch. She didn’t seem to understand, but in a huff let me sit down. I felt like I had stood up for myself, but after a minute or two it hit me that I had been a bit of a jerk to this woman who was just trying to do her job. I had been like anyone of these tourists who think they are above the rules. I got up and changed tables to the seat behind me. I called the waitress over to order and apologize.
Without that move, I think my day would have turned out differently because that seat was reserved- for the nice people I would meet throughout the day.
Three Americans that were in their 40s sat down. They noticed I was doodling and apologized for sitting in my way. From there, we started a conversation that would end four hours later. We became friends and talked, joked, and laughed together. Max told me that he learned a joke from a local in New Orleans. “I bet I could tell you where you got your shoes. “ON YOUR FEET!” They told me that they enjoyed their Christmas because we were able to meet. I can say the same with no hesitation.
I was going to leave to prepare for my bus ride the following day, but I decided to stay and finish the watercolor. Shortly after, a group of Russians about the same age as the previous table sat down in front of me. Because of Christmas, the company workers get a half day off, and most decide to go and drink beer in the afternoon. By this time, it was about 6 PM and I feel honored that the Russians decided to spend their last hour and a half of corporate freedom talking to me.
They were a loud, boisterous group that laughed whenever I spoke. They had experience with Japanese people and explained how ridged they are in work. “They never break any rules. Rules are established by people, so people can break the rules”. We got a good laugh out of that. I thanked them with a copy of one of my sketches for the holidays.
My Christmas at the shop ended with talking to my final group of the day: Three French Gentlemen. They were around my age and we spent the rest of our time at the restaurant comparing False Friends from English and French. Even though I had promised myself that I would go prepare for the bus trip, I went dancing the rest of the evening at Clark Quay with my new French friends.
It was a great day, but the cherry on top of it all would have to be coming back home at three in the morning to a room of empty beds. Nobody else checked in that evening. I fell asleep while going over the events of the day and repeated to myself, “I don’t know how that happened, but I’m so glad it did”.
This was my fourth post in my series ST-Bound. Time flew quickly after spending time in Tokyo and now, Singapore was coming to an end. If you would like to read the previous posts the links are:
My Indian Friend, The Salary Man, and Mr. Lebanon
The feeling of arriving
I shall call this post Emily