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Bookends

Posted on: June 29, 2010

It was sixteen months ago. The first day of my shiny Singapore job. I chatted to the receptionist while I waited for HR, and smiled when she said her name was Rose. The receptionist at my London office was called Rose – maybe this was a good omen, perhaps I was meant to work here.

She asked the usual questions – where was I from, how long had I lived here? “Only a month,” I said, almost apologising. “Don’t worry,” she replied, laughing, joyful, “the hot weather will soon melt all that fat of you.”

Now it’s a year on. Tomorrow I leave this job. The coincidence of a shared name didn’t turn out to be that good an omen, but neither was it the worst. Everything teaches us something.

I go to say goodbye to Rose. She hugs me and says it’s always the nice ones who leave. Then she steps back and cocks her head, eyeing me critically. “You’ve lost weight. Whatever you’re doing it’s working.” I smile. Skinnier to start my new job. That must be a good omen. Right?

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Saturday was our first approximation of normal Singapore life. Woke with a hangover, lay by the pool, went shopping, all that jazz.

Our excursion took us to Tanglin Road, to a fancy French café for pastries and iced tea, and then on to the Botanic Gardens for a nice stroll.

A thousand leaves of tastiness

A thousand leaves of tastiness

We persisted with the garden part of the plan, even though the storm clouds were gathering as we got in the cab. Gardens, I’m sure I don’t need to explain, are inherently outdoorsy.

We were only 40 million years round the evolution trail when the heavens opened. Naturally, we didn’t have umbrellas, although I’m not sure they would have helped.

We sheltered among the first ferns, then took advantage of a lull to race for the early rainforest, where the canopy made good cover. We hoped to sit it out around 300 million BC but grew fearful of getting locked in the park.

Thunder rolled and crashed around us – it was definitely the biggest storm I’ve been out in (J says he’s witnessed bigger but was unable to cite examples, which does make his claim somewhat unreliable).

We made a dash for it, tens of millions of years dripping by with each footfall. By the time we got back to the present we were drenched, and decided to forgo our early evening martinis.

Lightning over Singapore

Lightning over Singapore

Instead we went back, dried off, tarted up, and set out. Destination: Home, underground (ish) club near Clarke Quay. Music: D&B; LTJ Bukem, and several good local lads (and one less good – sounded like he was making a mix tape).

It was a great night. The music was awesome, the drinks were cheap (ish), and we met some lovely Singaporeans. Had drinks with them again last night, am building up a good repertoire of Hokkien expletives.

Have also started work, going well so far and yesterday I went out with my new colleagues for an hour and a half lunch in a sushi restaurant – it’s comforting to know that advertising behavioural patterns transcend regional boundaries.

I’m starting work in nine day’s time, after five luxurious weeks off. I have landed myself a job in the Asian hub of an international ad agency, as a creative in their healthcare department.

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