John 8:6-7

They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Emphasis, mine.

Better to read the whole chapter in context.

Anyway, hence,  I remain silent. Deadly silent.

This gentleman is a cleaner at Pasir Panjang Food Centre. I live very nearby so I go there often and know most of the stall-owners and the cleaning staff.

I have a habit of greeting the cleaners and bringing my finished dishes to them instead of them having to come to me. So over time, I’ve developed a relationship with them.

This guy is really cool. He’s from Shandong, China. When I see him, I smile and say, “ni hao” (hello in Mandarin) and he in turn says “Hello Uncle” (yes, I’ve evolved into a heartland uncle). He speaks virtually no English. I speak virtually no Mandarin apart from “hello”, “have you eaten?”, “thank you” and “good bye.”

During our earlier interactions, he was quite shy but he’s now comfortable with me.

Today, I needed a kopi-o gau. So I went there for my caffeine fix. I took the book I’m reading with me.

As I sat down with my kopi-o gau, I saw this gentleman and said hi. As usual, he replied, “Hello Uncle.”

It wasn’t a busy period so he came by and sat opposite me.  Although, I had intended to read, since he sat down, I proceeded to make “conversation” with him.

After “It’s hot” (in English) and “nǐ chīfàn le ma?” (have you eaten?), the conversation predictably stalled.  He picked up the book I had put down on the table. The scene was so endearing. He looked like he was engrossed in the book and studying it deeply. Of course, he didn’t understand a word (it was not even a picture book). I didn’t have the heart to tell him he was holding it upside down.

As usual, I asked him if I could buy him a drink. He always says “no.” But this time, I asked the kopi uncle to bring him a liang teh on my account. He accepted gratefully but a little pai seh. I said it’s ok. We sat together for a while. He motioned to me if I’ve eaten. I said yes.

Soon, a family eating on a nearby table left. He smiled at me, said “xie, xie” (thank you) and went to do his job.

I sat alone reading and drinking my coffee. After I was done, I walked up to him (he was seated on another table with another colleague – a cleaning lady), thumped him in the shoulder and said bye. Both of them beamed in return. I felt great.

For all the ranting about foreigners who live here, there are many many more absolutely stellar individuals. It’s just that these usually don’t make it to social media.

I tell you what. This is Singapore. And I love it. #sg50

Update on 9 October 2015

I went back there again for a late lunch. It was about 3pm. That is about the time the cleaning staff get to eat their own meals as the lunch crowd has cleared and the evening rush has not yet begun. This gentleman was sitting on his own eating. I brought my plate of nasi padang and sat down with him.

This time, we made some “conversation.” I whipped out my OnePlus One and fired up Google translate. First thing I wanted to know was his name. So I “asked”.

In this manner, we were able to get to know each other a little bit – when he came to Singapore, where I was from, my profession, his family, etc.

He offered me a swig of water and I bought him and some of his colleagues a beverage from the drinks stall.
Then, he obliged to taking a picture with me.

Unlikely friendships. Gotta love Singapore.

Happy 50th Birthday Singapore!

I am a Singaporean born here in 1964.

Singapore is a rich place. No, I’m not talking about money. It is culturally diverse, interesting, vibrant, ever changing, steeped in tradition while always looking ahead.

We’re not just the little Red Dot. We’re like a rubber ball. We’ll keep bouncing, not matter what. We roll with the punches. We make things work.

A few years ago, I started documenting Singapore to capture its diversity – not just Marina Bay Sands, the skyline, the Merlion and such like – but the fullness of what we have. It’s an ongoing project on

I’ve put a few of my pictures into a video with the classic “Home Truly” and this year’s SG50 song, “Our Singapore.”

I may or may not be here during SG100. If I’m not, raise a toast on my behalf.

Sorry. Couldn’t resist the pun. It was there for the taking.

I think it’s ace. Even if you don’t agree, love all.

It was great watching her play. She was really enjoying her game.

More at Scenes from Singapore.

Canon 5D MK II with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM

Edited with Apple Photos

I went to Bukit Merah View Food Centre for brunch this Saturday morning. I love heartland life. While Marina Bay Sands, Gardens By The Bay, etc. have more social airspace, the silent majority and real Singapore resides in the heartlands.

Beautiful incidences that don’t make it to social media play out in the heartlands on a daily basis. Well, unless I’m part of it.

Today, I was part of another one.

After brunch, as I headed home, I caught the eye of a gentleman.

I have a habit. Whenever I make eye contact with a person I will smile and/or say a greeting. This gentleman was sitting on a bench in a playground. I smiled and said, “Good morning!”

He was eating a fruit from a bag at his feet. He motioned to me. I approached him. He beamed a huge smile and offered me two fruits from his bag – passion fruit, he explained. Feeling pai seh, I declined. He insisted. Having little resolve,  I easily caved.

I was so touched that I asked if I could take a picture with him. He was lavishly thrilled and happily agreed.

After the picture, he offered me two more passion fruits. It was impossible to refuse this beaming gentleman.

I smiled at a stranger. In a flash, I left with four passion fruits.

Who says Singapore lacks passion?

All it takes is eye contact and a smile.

Think about it. That’s where passion always starts – with an eye contact and a smile.

I love Singapore.

I was asked by a Pastor to share what the Holy Week meant to me. This is what I wrote to her:

Holy Week forces me to focus. It brings the Gospel to reality. God speaks to us through His Word from Genesis to Revelations.

But from the beginning of time to Eternity, EVERYTHING hinged upon the Holy Week. He rode into Jerusalem on Sunday knowing what was going to happen. Monday to Wednesday, he carried on with His Father’s work. On Thursday, was His Last Supper. He served His disciples, even the one who betrayed Him.

Then He went to Gethsemane. Gethsemane is particularly moving for me. Here, His humanity was most harrowing. He could have said no. He had the option. He chose obedience.

Gethsemane changed everything. It changed history. It changed my life.

On Friday, I crucified Him.

On Sunday, God raised Him.

He won. I lost.

What did He do then? He brought me into the winning team.

Holy Week is the entire Bible, entire creation, and eternity brought into focus. Holy Week makes Jesus real to me. Holy Week brings me to me to tears.

Lee Kuan Yew, sir.

I am deeply honoured to be able to say with great pride that I was born and brought up under your watch. Thank you for the privilege. I have learned much from you.

You have now left a hole in Singapore. But that hole shall be our soul.

I will not forget. Thank you.

Rest in Peace, sir.

Danesh Daryanani


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