Farewell, Island City

POSTED IN | 11:16 AM

Tonight I write my last installment from this majestic little outpost in the sea. And for a closer, Dan and I attended what we thought would be a really jive jazz concert at the Esplanade, Singapore's class A performance hall. We had great tickets to the show and they were actually free. But sadly the five piece group proved seriously lackluster and we spent the 45 minutes home on the train heatedly discussing the numerous lesser points of the show.

The only thing that kept it from getting a suck rating was that the drummer for the show was truly STUNNING. And he should be. He's Jimmy Cobb and at 78 years old he helped make jazz into what it is today. He played with Miles Davis and John Coltrane on the slightly popular album, Kind of Blue, that holds the quiet distinction of being the highest selling jazz album in history. So yeah, anyway, Jimmy held it together even though the seeming Vulcan pure-blood singer did all she could to ensure we left the auditorium hating her, the country of Italy (where she claims she's from) and the jazz genre at large (100 scat solos in a concert is NOT tasteful).

But here's to hearing an all-time jazz great. No doubt I'll look back and relish the privilege of saying I heard the great Jimmy Cobb.

And as I head back toward the home of bannered star spangles, I can only think that I made a pretty good mark on this asian land:

-I spit on the sidewalk and didn't get caught
-I jaywalked (avoided penalty here too)
-I willfully ingested fish eyes
-I said the words "uni," "petrol station," "top-up," "lorry," and "at loggerheads"
-I spoke in Chinese
-I spoke in Malay
-I tried my best to endure the mall-shopping stamina of the Singaporian populace (holy moses these people can shop!)
-I drank local beer
-I bravely weilded two small sticks to feed myself
-I sweated in an entirely new and altogether more funky aroma (it's gotta be linked to the food)
-I drank authentic Chinese tea and learned the art and relaxing powers of serving it
-I peed in a hole that was actually a toilet
-I observed a maid clean my underpants (and iron them too!), tidy up my room, cook me meals, tote my bags about, and then ask what else she could do for me (and all in a very mannerly fashion)
-I learned more geography of Asia
-I discovered my new love for mangos and ate more than 20 of them while here
-I remembered that visiting a place is about more than the sights, smells and tastes. It's about people. And this trip has been no exception. Nary an Okie has received the smattering of warm hospitality and genuine generosity as I have in this town. I couldn't have envisioned a better experience than what the Ling fam provided. And it's just been really great to visit a good friend on his home turf (a turf that happens to grow 10,000 miles away from mine), and interact with some of the most important people in his life.

It's been odd at certain times during these past days to step out of the flow of activities and remember why I'm here, how I got here and how random it is that Dan and I are even friends. But then I remember January of '05 when Mister D. Ling and I met and how we talked from the beginning about my coming to visit his homeland.

"Hey, you should come visit me in Singapore sometime."

"Singapore? Where the heck is that?"

And I feel thankful to come experience so much in my 13 days here, expanding my global outlook, and enjoying some unique moments in a foreign place with quality company.

Majulah, Singapura!

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