I planned on staying in Singapore for three nights and had become disenchanted by what seemed to be a shopping mall with a seat at the U.N. Everything was expensive (except the food, luckily) and the crowds tended to be cold and cynical much like New York. I decided to pass the remaining time by wandering and propping up in cafés to get work done.
One night in Bugis I got lucky. I was in a cafe on the north side of Bugis typing away when a band started to herd their instruments in and set up amps and speakers. They did their mic check and then disappeared for a bit. An hour or so later they started blaring music with little notice, announcing that it was Singapore's "Knight Crawl"—a cultural heritage and entertainment celebration that covers Bugis in music, art, and performances. I was a bit upset so I kept typing away through the music while patrons slowly filled the café. About thirty minutes in an old Asian man and an old white woman walked in and sat down next to me. The old man leaned over and said "I'm amazed that you can focus through all of this music!" And introduced himself as Paul. I smirked and kept typing before deciding it would be polite to put my laptop away and converse with him. He asked me what I did and I explained my traveling and work situation, and he explained that he is a Dutch born Indonesian retired medical doctor. His wife was from Holland and they spend their time traveling. We conversed about the government of Singapore and agreed that the strictness made sense in the context of what it aimed to be, and became. Him and his wife offered to buy me tea. When they left the café we parted ways and said goodbye only to collide again a few streets later while wandering—we agreed to trek around the city together, stopping occasionally so that his wife could wander into specific alleys that caught her eye to take photos and poke around. We discussed matters of colonialism and socialism, and he told me very detailed stories about the histories of every block we walked. We struck up a conversation with one of the street performers, who he noticed was performing traditional Indonesian Martial Arts and music. They exchanged words in indonesian, English and Malay—and the performer turned to me and told me a few stories about his clothing and its meaning in traditional Indonesian government. Setting down the road again, we had a conversation about a random facade and what era it could have possibly originated. Paul pointed at a man on a flag adorned bicycle that was flashing with LEDs and blaring music and asked;
"Do you know why he is doing that?"
"Really just because he loves Singapore. That's it."
Before we parted ways we exchanged information and he gestured the Spock "live long and prosper" symbol. I did the same and laughed.