I’m in grunge town and there’s never a night the same. I feel safe here. I don’t know what people think of me but I try to blend into my environment.
I don’t worry about fashion here. I’m not in a shopping a mall where everyone is in a fashion parade. I wear the same black T-shirt and a red pair of shorts. It’s been a week now.
At night-time, there’s always a ‘no question policy.’ We are all freaks until the sun rises.
As a nipper I use to stand on my hands thinking I could observe the world upside down. Not much has changed. Now I prefer to sit on my big fat ass over a coffee and a cigarette and observe. I’ve been told from a young age I don’t listen. I contest that.
Fellow newspaper men have told me I’m opinionated. That’s true. I haven’t read one published piece by them that isn’t. At least I don’t have a house style to restrict my opinionated ideas.
I don’t publish in papers or magazines. I’m the pariah in the press brigade. Where is your byline, they ask? Fuck bylines. See, I’m being opinionated again. I don’t pander to advertisers that float papers either. But there is a 7- Eleven across from the food hall, and I’m going to devote this piece to them. See, I don’t have an ax to grind.
I’m kicking back the coffees, and reading The Dead American. Its very early morning now and my kindle reader is set on night reading mode. It’s my second reading of the book. You don’t listen to your favorite music once, right?
I enjoy reading Jake Needham’s crime novels in exotic locations – his books are set in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. I nearly got mugged by two irate Muslims while reading Killing Plato in a seedy bar in Jakarta. I swear to god, one of them, a dodgy Iranian, wasn’t in Asia for sightseeing.
In a recent interview, Jake said hanging around was the best way to get a feel for a place. I totally agree with him, and I just can’t hang around enough.
I think any good writing is about telling the truth and being totally opinionated. Jake doesn’t balk at expressing himself in his books and Singapore gets a good battering in The Dead American. Good travel writing is about describing what you see and conjuring up a picture. If the author has persuaded you to believe that Singapore is a sad replica of it’s former self, then he’s done his job.
And if the Singaporean authorities are pissed off how their island state is portrayed, from the gaudy buildings to the sterile streets, then I suggest they take the time to read the book and see what Jake writes about the police force. He was really being kind on the city’s landmarks.
I really need a piss. Someone’s in the toilet. Dam it, I’ll just have to piss in the alleyway again like the locals do. Man I love Malaysian food halls. Now it’s time to order another coffee and work on my butt collection under my table. Ashtray you ask. It’s just not as fun as flicking butts on the ground. I might only be five kilometers from the ‘island control state’, but I can’t tell you enough how grateful I am to be here on the Malaysian side.