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.


Light-hearted assignment for the day. Do it. It will lighten your day.

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 1.06.46 pm
1. Open Google translate (

2. Set the translator to translate German to German

3.  Copy + paste the following into the translate box: pv zk pv pv zk pv zk kz zk pv pv pv zk pv zk zk pzk pzk pvzkpkzvpvzk kkkkkk bsch

4. Click “listen”
5. Smile

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 8.38.39 am

Google celebrates with you! 


Ha ha, they really have a great sense of humour. Take a look at this page for Free Wireless Broadband through your toilet 🙂













To be honest, I found it none too interesting…. take a look at my post here.


Their simple claim is “One box for everything”.

What I write here is really my first impression. I’ve been on Google Chrome for a sum total of 10 minutes. What I wanted to record here is my very, very first impressions and how intuitive I thought it was. I’m a fan of knowing what to do immediately and can’t be bothered clicking help or referring to manuals. I’m sure most of us are the same.

The first thing that impressed me about the Google Chrome browser which I am beta testing is that it actually gives you, upfront, a choice of which search engine to be used as default.  One would have imagined that they would automatically “force” Google and then the user has an option to change it later.

Not so. They ask you up front. Now, that is confident branding. Just how branding should be done in the era of Web 2.0. 

The major change is that the address bar doubles up as a search box. So while you are typing a search, a list of website suggestions appears in the window. If you choose not to take their suggestion, hit “enter” and the regular search results come up. At first, it’s a bit confusing but I’m guessing over a (short) time, you’ll get used to it.

As usual Google has maintained their clean UI, which is great.

Another new feature is the “tab” feature which stores a thumbnail of your most visited sites so you can go there in a jiffy. I’m not sure about this as it seems to work pretty much like the toolbar favourites. But then again, ask me in a week. I’ve been on this for a few minutes and these are really my initial, very raw and very first impressions. By the way, I couldn’t intuitively figure out how to delete a tabbed thumbnail which I don’t want.

There’s this new application tab which I haven’t figured out yet. So, low marks here for intuitiveness (or my intelligence).

The new “dynamic tabs” are pretty much like the old tabs where you click the plus sign to open a new tab, and like usual browers you can move the tab about. You can also move the tab into its own window (though I don’t know why you’d want to do that) and they claim it’s easy to move it back. I couldn’t work it out.

Crash control seems like a good one. Apparently, each tab is considered as a single browser. This means that if one application crashes, it doesn’t close all the other windows. Haven’t seen this at work but if it works, that’s a great feature.

Incognito mode is cool. This allows you to open windows when you don’t want it to appear in your web history. For example, you can use incognito mode if you’re sending flowers to your wife and you don’t want her to know from the history (although you can clear history quite easily). But nonetheless, I thought this was a cool feature.

Anyway, there are other features but try it out yourself.

You can download Google Chrome beta here (for Windows Vista/XP).

Let me know what you think.