Singapore, Sunday

11:30 AM
People are just arriving; malls open late on Sundays: from 11:30 or 12:00. The energy is already pouring onto the public places from the throngs that are forming: locals, tourists, expatriates - Europeans, Americans, Australians, New-Zealanders, Africans, Indonesians, Filipinos, everybody from everywhere in the world. But the Sunday has not lost its holiday feel: in the opticals store where I sit waiting for Sujaya getting her eyes tested for new reading glasses, strollers come in wearing crisp short pants, colorful tops and sunglasses. Their movements are quick as always, but there is a nuance of relaxation in them today. They look at all the frames and go out buying none. The store is half staffed; the ones working are brisk but their dress and demeanor suggest a shade of relaxation. Walking the streets, I sense the prodigious energy of the city collecting itself, getting balance, getting ready to unleash itself again from Monday.
8:30 AM
Earlier in the morning, I jogged in the botanical gardens among the Sunday doings: children on skateboards, old men and young women doing slow movements with swords and red fans, photography students doing group activity (and blocking joggers’ paths), an occasional jogger pushing a pram along, Japanese tourists each with a camera being herded into souvenir stores, all tables full at the garden cafés, all kinds of dogs scuffling about, dog-owners picking dog-poo and taking it with wrinkled-noses and red-faces to the bins.
3:00 PM
The jog tired me out completely. I did ninety minutes on new terrain with inclines steeper than I’ve been used to. I spent the day without appetite, drained, each limb sore and lifeless. Sujaya is more comfortable shopping alone, so I went off to a movie: The Constant Gardner, starring Ralph Fiennes (very handsome) and Rachel Weisz (very beautiful). I think the poster mentioned Le Carré as author; he is searching new themes - this one is on drug firms’ exploitation of Africans and the British government’s sinister connivance. It is a mushy romance in that setting, not much plot, even that poorly executed, with excessive reliance on flashing scenes, loud sound effects, effects added even where unnecessary, even to ordinary opening and closing of doors. Fiennes, Weisz and Hubert Koundé (Arnold Bluhm) have all acted superbly.
Comes dusk and the crowds are in peak numbers. The malls are full. Borders is full, all stores are full. Cineplexes disgorge and engulf. Restaurants are packed. A drugs-discouragement program for two days in front of Takashimaya is ending. Very small children are dancing a no-to-drugs enactment on-stage and very small children are smoking too much and in large numbers off-stage. Some people have bravely littered on Orchard Road: beverage bottles and cans on the fountain-side, food packaging on the ground, cigarette stubs everywhere, fallen leaves adding to the effect. At Coffee Bean in the open air before Borders a pleasant cool breeze is spoilt by smokers. In the café, the talk is now subdued, an air of having completely relaxed, of having wound things down, getting ready to go home, to sleep, and wake to another hard week.