A Malaysian Indian is speaking to a Singaporean Indian. On the outside, they both look the same, but on the inside, one is a Malaysian and another is a Singaporean.

A drunk Indian beggar lingers at my table after he reached pay dirt at the Singaporean table. “He got 5 Ringgit from me already,” said the Singaporean. “Then he went and bought some booze with it. I was so angry. If you beg in Singapore, the police will lock you up.”

Then he continues haggling with the beggar, another Indian. He’s actually getting off on it. I tell him not to worry, and I’m not offended with the beggar who is doing the rounds. Everyone else seems to be, so why not him?

He’s a Singaporean, and he’ll prove it. He pulls out his passport and shows me his name and passport number. “I believe you,” I said. I don’t know what it is about being a white guy in Malaysia, and people, total strangers, telling me their life’s story.

“We only come here to drink and relax,”  says the Singaporean who continues his deep and meaningful discussion with the  Malaysian Indian  who is also pissing it up. I tell  the Malaysian that Malaysia is number one.  The Chinese Malay over hear me, and give a smile of recognition. “Malaysia number one,” I  repeat. That’s really going to piss off the Singaporean who goes  quite for  the first time.

He’s over here to seek out his own kind. At least he knows he can haggle with a beggar without the police getting involved. That’s one consolation for living in a country like Malaysia. Begging is allowed.

Just down the road on Meldrum street, a Chinese has his shop  set up on a table which has his tools of the trade,  pliers, a hammer and samples of teeth and one set of false teeth. “You want tooth replacement,” he asks as I show him the gap between my teeth. “In Perth you have dental implants, here we have Chinese technique and replace the teeth on the spot.”

He shows me a selection of teeth, with different prices. It only takes 50 minutes for a gap to be filled, he says. And he’ll do it on the street.  “No where else in the world does this,” he says, “Only in Malaysia.”

Now I know why the Singaporean down the road is pissing it up in Johor.

He’s finding his soul again.



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