even in modern Singapore

I sat at the mezzanine bar of an Orchard Road hotel, drinking my nightly hot-chocolate, watching the promenade. Down below stood a yellow car with nothing protruding from it except its rear-view mirrors. All passers-by stared at it: young and old; Singaporeans and Japanese and Westerners; women and men. Many took pictures, some took many pictures. Two teenage girls posed as though inviting friends into their car. People arriving by car noticed it immediately, dashed across to it and filmed it all round and took pictures from every angle.

The spectacle went on and on and on.

At ten there was commotion. Two men powerfully kicked the pots around the car to make room, and the owner of the coveted car came out with a young lady who looked as adorable as his car. The doors of the car rose all by themselves and appeared like wings. The man was young, his shoulders were stiff and awkwardly raised, his gait slow and self-conscious, his manner affected by all those eyes on him. He reached behind and pulled up his trousers and mussed up the insert of his shirt, and I found it surprising that he was wearing shirt and trousers—clothing of regular folks—and that they were crumpled. After they went it appeared as though they'd taken away a beloved monument. I went down and watched for a while the emptiness they'd left behind, then I turned back to go in and sleep.

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