It's so easy to take the bus in Singapore!
There it is, on my iphone - the icon which tells me which bus is coming to my nearest bus stop (five minutes walk away).
All I have to do is check the 141. It will drop me 200 yards from the Blind Association. I won't be hassled. I won't be stressed. I won't be 'glowing' in the heat. And the whole journey will cost me a fraction of a bus ride in the UK.
So here's what I do. I click on the icon. The bus isn't coming for 15 mins. I do some emails. Hmmm. Lost in cyberspace, I lose that 15 minute safety net. I go outside. It's very sticky.
I catch a cab....
Or, I leave the flat early. I haven't checked the timetable. I'm leaving everything up to chance. It's more fun. I'm taking risks. I say a cheery 'morning' to the guard. I wander along the road. It's not too hot. There's even a slight wind. The wind is stronger...drops of rain. By the time I have skirted Revenue House and am within a gecko's gasp of the bus stop it's tipping down.
I catch a cab...
Here's another way: I saunter along to the bus stop. No rain, no blazing sun even. The roads are full of buses. I check my phone. And while I'm checking it, the 141 whizzes by. Oh no! My bus! I start to run. I wave my arms. The bus drivers are usually very nice. They are used to us mad foreigners, thinking we can break into a canter and still smile as we galumph onto the bus. Yes!! I made it. I flop down on the bench reserved for 'aunties', pregnant women, disabled. I am disabled. My forehead is a swamp. I'm panting. I pull out a flannel (always keep one handy). I arrive, on time, but still panting. "Have you been running?" asks Jane, the Librarian.
And then, not infrequently, I know exactly when the bus is coming. I'm as cool as a cucumber. I wait in the shade of the bus stop. I ignore the legion of taxis winking their green lights at me. The 141 will be here soon. Look, it says 'ARR' on my phone. It's ARRiving I tell myself. But it isn't. What's gone wrong? Has the driver stopped for a coffee? Has someone given birth on the bus? (We are surrounded by hospitals.) Did a dragon spirit whisk it off to another planet? I see a bus. It's not the 141, but I'm sure it will do. I know this bus... when it's going in the opposite direction. One of my favourites. A double decker even, so I can peer at the rain trees, the bougainvillea on the bridges, the beautiful ferns and palms....
My iphone bleeps. Messages that must be read. I laugh at a friend's comments. I glance up. The road is a bit too wide, isn't it? I don't recognize these tower blocks. But then I do recognize this road. THE P.I.E! Main cross-island route to the airport.
"Jane, hello, it's Emma. I took the wrong bus.. Haha, I know... Yes, I'll go on to Bishan and get the train... see you later!"
The ten minute journey takes forty five.
It's so easy to take the bus!