It's almost dinnertime. Shoppers invade the atrium from the mall within and the subway below. Stalls line the walkway, offering treats on the go and temptations on the run. Girls in minishorts assault passer-bys with special offers of wireless performance, while hawkers of noisy toys and loud trinkets carve a jigsaw of obstacles to personal thrift and domestic sanity. There are new, unfamiliar trades and strange, foreign flavours in this square of commercial chaos and social contrast. But for all that, this corner of the city still reeks of a faint and fading charm that draws people from the stale flatness of distant estates to a park they can call their own.
It's nearly time for breakfast. But still too early for a ride to the end of the road and many hours before the sky breaks loose with a month of dry frustration. It's a morning to be savoured and saved in a shrinking store of memories too good to be forsaken. The waters vie with the heavens in a contest of depth and the latter appears to be losing ground to a blue of rare intensity and a surging tide that leaves a mere sliver of the shore to pale imagination.
At the island's first true stop, Pak Ali's Sunday best fills the sun-kissed shelves. Noodles fat and stringy, spicy greens and fish in curry, eggs in solid halves and soft squares of fragrant rice simmer in trays that soon thin out as their contents fuel the appetites and aspirations of weekend warriors en route to hills with a view. The stall faces east, and so we sweat as we sup. But comfort's too cold a dish for a day of explosive tales and towering encounters that sweep aside the woes of a wounded heart till the clouds at last burst into tears and quell the heat of a tryst that never took place and remains forever lost for words.