I have spent three consecutive days writing in this café, in this section, served by the same people. I have thrice made this journey on bus 200 from Science Park to Holland Village and walked to this spot. It’s across from Wala Wala where we go to live music on Mondays and down the street from QB House where I get my haircut. The only thing that relates this place to Holland is a lone wooden windmill that rests on the top of the Holland Village mall. It’s small and looks old, as if it were placed there when the British still ran the island. Its funny that a tiny, probably falsely representative windmill could make such a name for a place. Some propagandist must have had the idea that placing the windmill would give some people, like me, such a thrill as they are traveling to Holland Village. What could be more pleasant, quaint, and nicely cultured than Holland Village? They got me.
In an attempt not only to study, but also to catch up on my writing, I find myself needing to escape the confinements of my room and come into this place. It’s a normal place, but in fact, quite unlike any coffee shop that I would normally settle upon. There are no couches, no cozy corners, and no fluffy chairs. I’m sitting in a straight-backed wooden chair, at a small square wooden table. Perhaps it is the squareness of it all that keeps me attentive to my pursuits here. I always sit next to the window. There’s something more natural about it. The trees are meters away, yet I can separate myself from the uncomfortable heat and humidity and still pretend that I am somehow appealing to my nature-loving self. The music here is superb, and perhaps the thing that I love the most. Even westernized coffee shops here often play the ancient Asian music, which I prefer when eating Chinese food, but when I’m trying to relax and organize my thoughts, it is nice acoustic tunes that make me the most content.
My arrival here today was quite unplanned. I made a trip to Clementi in order to buy a new set of sheets, which would be large enough to fit over my mattress. I have the beloved family Dinosaur sheets that also traveled with Emily to Ghana. They aren’t made for a mattress pad, so I must retire them. On my trip to buy sheets I bought the following items: a brush, lotion, soap, top up cards for my prepaid cell phone, saline solution, and hair gel. It wasn’t completely a splurge, as all of the items I purchased were necessary. All of the street market shops had their merchandise tucked away and no sheets were anywhere to be found. After a slight bit of walking I crossed over Commonwealth Avenue and waited for my bus to return home. After a few minutes a bus came, which was not mine, but I had an urge to step onto it. I found out that it was going to Holland Village. My presence here is because of a completely impulsive decision to get on a random bus, and I yet again end up here, in Coffee Club.
I walked in the door today, greeted by the same short smiling woman expecting the same routine: to walk to my table, receive a menu, whip out my laptop, and order a coffee blend of sorts, which I do my best to change every day for the sake of variety. After passing the smiling woman I was greeted with a firm handshake by the manager, an offering for “my table,” and an inquiry of “would you like the usual?” I was quite shocked for a moment and surely had one of those corny smiles on my face that you get when you are in a non-smiling situation, but cant hold in the overflowing giddiness. You all know what I’m talking about. I almost wanted to giggle as I felt like one of those executives that are always greeted by a much greater level of service. After sitting down at my table, I was given a menu after I informed the manager that I don’t have “a usual” and would like to try something different today. After being left to my browsing, which I tend to do for a long time, I looked up to notice the manager giving some instruction to a waiter, most obviously directed towards me. My “usual” Malaysian waiter then came up to my table with a smile and proceeded to say “Mr. Seaman, what can I offer you today? Would you like me to bring you some ice water and some bread?” Now, at this point, I’m thinking to myself, “this is really cool.” And it was. So, I have decided that whenever I see any of you in the future I would like to be greeted with a smile, and a handshake, and a very professional “Hello Mr. Seaman.” I just started thinking that they must have observed my name on my credit card to know my name, but it is apparent that they see me as a valuable and important executive customer. I hope today that I haven’t let them down. Whenever I venture off campus to write or study I try to pretend to be somewhat professional. I think it’s fun. I put on a nice button up, usually wear my Rockports or my shiny black loafers, and put my hair up like I have somewhere nice to go. Today, having been to Clementi previously, I am instead in a drab Israeli beer shirt, khaki shorts, and my big grey ripped backpack slung over one shoulder. My hair is nice today.
Something beautiful happened today. There is something that I love about things like this, the unexpected and in-the-moment things. I didn’t expect to come back to this coffee shop today, and in fact, once arriving in Holland Village, thought it rather silly to maneuver to the end of the street to the Coffee Club. Somehow though, the random decision to get on that bus, to come here, and to walk to this coffee shop, has made this whole story happen.
I opened another story with “I love Tuesdays.” And this is the same: going out, alone, and being me, doing my thing, and having time to do this: to reflect on how much I have been blessed with. Life has been good to me.