My phone ringing when it was going through security check. Getting unnerved by the stony-faced security officer. Chatting up an old Indian couple who couldn’t for the hell of them figure out how to use the payphones.
Looking at the long line of infants and young children boarding the flight and praying hard that it doesn’t turn out just like a good friend of mine had predicted and I spend nineteen hours without sleep just due to crying children.
Looking to turn off my mobile during takeoff and finding it missing.
Unsuccessfully trying to find out the name of a Sri Lankan co-passenger who worked in LA and was a citizen of Singapore. Man, after the first non-attempt (“I’m Priya… and you?” “Pleased to meet you, ma’am”), it became like a game.
Unsuccessfully trying to engage the Mormon Japanese teacher from Utah in a conversation about the similarities between Japanese and Hindi/Kannada grammars, and when that failed, about Miyazaki movies as a tool for teaching Japanese.
Forgetting to disembark at Tokyo-Narita because I was in a state of half-sleep. Going to the wrong gate. Saved by yet another Indian couple.
Falling asleep at meal-times on the flight. Due to which there’d be no vegetarian meal when I did wake up hungry. And dear god, grilled cucumbers do not make a MEAL!! Nor do inadequately spiced and seasoned instant noodles.
Watching Exam, and missing out an important part of the climax because the girl next to me was airsick and shaking and shivering. If you’ve watched it, please please explain the ending to me. Please.
Crying children at airports. One of them was beating her fists on the floor. I didn’t know kids did that in real life.
Tramping around Singapore with my entire handbaggage, inclusive of laptop. I didn’t realize how much my shoulders were taking it until I came home and slept.
Someone paying my bus fare for me just because I’m a tourist who spoke Tamil.
Parents tensing up coz I was in a foreign country without a phone in the middle of the night and hadn’t called yet. They were about to message my friends there on LinkedIn.
Finding out that I’ve lost the ability to speak in keywords. Y’know, like “No Meat. No Seafood. What’s there?” or “Five dollar no. Costly. Only two dollar”. It’s a really important ability to have in places where English is not very common. Especially if you’re otherwise inclined to long flowery language that confuses people.
Hiding your pack of gum in your inner pockets just coz you’ve grown up hearing that Singapore is a clean, clean country where they’ll jail you for chewing gum. And then walking through Little India to see this guy wash his hands and gargle and rinse and spit onto the street! Shaking your head with dismay because you found that the river there is brown.
Being lectured by a cabbie about how Singapore is better than India. And about how I should have bought tons of keychains in Chinatown for S$5 and distributed it to all and sundry back home so that they are all happy I get them something. Daemn… didn’t think of that.
Finding a dozen ripoffs of Komala Vilas restaurant. All on the same street. Just like you have Dan Brown, Dale Brown, Dane Browne, you have Komala’s, Komala Vishesh, Komalavalli’s…
Apparently mobiles are called Hand Phones in Singapore. Just so that we don’t confuse them with headphones or earphones.
Random guy at a mall starts off some weird chant, and all other young people there join in to yell, dance, and make weird gestures, and then get back to doing whatever they were doing, like nothing had happened.
Wandering into an art gallery of some sort, where the major exhibits were about Depression. Freaking out, and asking the janitor what the hell this place was. (I only got some vague reply in a language I didn’t understand).
Wondering if the fat dude in the oversized clothes was Yogi B (the Malay-Tamil rapper), and lamely asking “Er…. you’re Malaysian?” (He was Sri Lankan).
Wandering into the fire engine museum, where the curator kept going on about fire drills and how hard it was to put fires out forty years ago, when I kept murmuring I wanted to leave.
Hearing “Mind The Gap!” in four languages, including Tamil. Staring with disbelief at “State Bank of India, Little India Branch”.
Meeting longlost friends and namesakes. Staying up all night talking. Hearing “You’ve not changed at all!”, and saying “Yeah, I’m still in your room gossiping and not letting you fall asleep”.
Bumping into a former employer.