SOUTH ASIA - A TOE IN THE WATER

Through my porthole I could see a multitude of small lights – yellow, orange, white – glittering and shimmering in the evening mist. A Summer wonderland perhaps? As the landing speed reduced, I noticed the lights were spread over undulating ground on either side of the runway. A few years later I would walk amongst that myriad of tiny lights, to realise it wasn’t evening mist, but smoke from a thousand small cooking fires, that I saw on my first arrival in India. The runway was in effect a long flat valley, between crowded slums.

BECOMING A VETERAN WAFFLER

I had stumbled on Waffles - the best backpacker’s in Singapore – and after a few weeks graduated to a room with a scenic view of Bugis Mall. The place was a comfort zone after a hot day’s work, and the long-stay inmates became my family. They belonged to one of two clans: teachers or deep-sea divers. Each night teachers swapped stories of classroom mayhem, while divers weighed in with near escapes from the deep; always with their early-model mobiles close by, waiting for the call out, to some distant oil rig.
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