Happy hour

After my haircut, I bumped into a Secondary Four classmate at Holland Village. It’s amazing how we still recognized each other instantly (maybe it’s the haircut) after more than 20 years.

So he asks me, “Where you heading, man?”

“To buy some bread and then go home”.

He laughs and says, “Aiyah, I thought you were going for Happy Hour or something”.

And the rest of the conversation ensues:

“No lah, are you?”

“Only if you are”

“No lah, can’t. Wife and kid waiting at home”.

“Actually I can’t. I’m going to buy a present for a kid’s birthday party”.

“Life’s like that nowsaday hor?”

“Yup. Never mind, we catch up another time”.

Bookmarks from Holland Village

Haircut Day

If you’ve ever been to Holland Village lately, you’d probably have been approached by one or two flers trying to sell you something, and you might or might not have stopped to find out what they were hawking.

It was one of those days where I had a bit of time, because Naomi and I had our first haircuts for the longest time, and we were at the hair place for the longest time too. We went in some time before Chinese New Year, I think. But now we have updated hairstyles befitting the season (spring, I believe), and we were in a pretty good mood.


This fler sees that I have a brand spanking new haircut and a smug look on my face because I’m looking so trendy, comes up to me and says, “excuse me sir, I’m not trying to sell you anything”, to which I say “sorry, not interested”. But because I wasn’t about to go anywhere, seeing as I had free parking for the evening thanks to the valet arrangement the hair place had with the car valet service, I listened to him tell me something about selling bookmarks to help former convicts.

“$2 a bookmark”, says Nash, the fler, “to give people like me a second chance”. So I went and gave him some money in return for all the bookmarks he had with him so he could go home and stop bothering people having a good time in the Village. Then his friend Arshad comes along and says he’s got only one bookmark left, so I give him $2 to let him go home too.

I now have a dozen bookmarks I can use, which is very good because I really hate losing the page of all the magazines and books I read halfway and never finish because I lose the page and get fed up. So what if they’re really ugly bookmarks that look like they’ve been printed from websites like, or if Nash and Arshad are simply making a quick buck and are really up to no good because I can’t find anything to do with RBC Services (which is the name printed on the bookmarks) on the net or on the brand spanking new SPH search engine, Red Neneh, that has anything to do with bookmarks and ex-convicts.

Bookmarks are useful, and those flers needed to go home and count their takings for the day.

With a bang (and a slight dent)

I wished a total stranger Happy New Year in Mandarin, even though he had just crashed into the front passenger door of my car right after he rode his bicycle on the pavement against the flow of traffic that was on the road outside the entrance to my apartment blocks.

In response, he said, 対不起対不起対不起対不起新年快乐対不起対不起対不起対不起対不起対不起対不起 in a Northern Chinese accent.

He looked very shaken but was otherwise unhurt, thank goodness.

At the petrol station where I let the pump attendant fill the tank to 48 point something litres and exactly $100, with him looking very proud at his New Year’s achievement, the cashier very sleepily said, “Pum One? Altogether $95 after discount”, after which, she attempted to foist some Delifrance products on me, but for a few long seconds, forgot how to perform her sales pitch in English, leaving her right hand outstretched and pointing silently at the sundry pastries. Only when her hand came down did she realise she could also try in Mandarin, but I cut her off with a “No thank you” before she finished saying “要不要买吃的东西?” in a Malaysian accent.

In the weeks leading to the New Year, Naomi and I had been hearing about how 2008 would bear not so good news regarding the economy. Prices would continue to rise, and things would be tight. Then we saw that the even the pound cakes at the neighbourhood cake shop had been lightened. They’re now maybe 3/4 pound or so:

...about 3/4 pound?