Somewhere in Bugis area, from about 5.30pm to 9pm, we catch-up over four bottles of beer and had a simple dinner together. Since he lives in the wild wild West and I’m from the carefree laid-back East, we decided to meet half-way in town. I had to buy him drinks cuz I lost to him in the recent World Cup soccer bet. James followed Andy’s father by betting on Germany whilst I on Argentina. Even though I’ve known him for about 3 years, we only met on few occasions. Yesterday was the 4th time we met over the 3-year period. We got to know each other in the blogosphere thru blogging and keep in touch over the internet via Facebook or email. Sometimes we exchange comments on our own respective blogs. We follow each other’s blog.
Each time we met, we got to know each other better. Maybe with more drinks, he became more open and loosen up. He started to relate some of his personal past stories. He’s about 67 yrs and he’s been driving taxi for more than 7 yrs. He took up full time taxi driving when he was nearly 60 yrs. He related how he had to struggle in the beginning when he started driving due to his lack of familiarity of local roads. James lives in Singapore all his life, yet he’s still not so familiar with all our roads when he started driving taxi. I just can’t imagine those new citizens driving taxi on our public roads not facing any problem at all?
Anyway, he also related how he ever worked in Saudi Arabia’s 2nd largest city in the 1990s after his retrenchment before taking up taxi driving as a career. He left his family with young children to work there. Even though the pay was about 4 to 5 times of an average worker here, he really missed his family and the lifestyle here. Everything was paid for by the huge international oil company where he was attached as a procurement manager. He was given free lodging, company car and even a local cook was deployed there for them. James was part of a group of locals working for the MNC in Saudi Arabia.
After our story was published in The New Paper, one of the group of Singaporeans working then with him in Saudi Arabia contacted him on his blog. Soon, they will have a gathering of all his ex-colleagues to reminisce those good old days spent working in a foreign land. James is so much older than me – more than 15 yrs my senior. Naturally, I got a lot to learn from him as he related his life experiences to me. He was in jovial mood cuz he just came back from a short holiday trip in Bangkok.
All of a sudden, James insisted that one of us should blog about our recent story in the paper. I told him no thanks. He could blog about it if he wanted to. He then told me that he’s in fact waiting for me to blog about it. I replied that there is nothing to blog about. “Come on, we need to capture that memorable moment on our blogs just to keep a record lah!” No, I’m still not keen I told him. He then flipped out a 50 cents coin and suggested that we toss the coin to decide who is doing the blogging. Again, I lost in the flip of the coin. I thought to myself I’m always a hopeless born loser with no luck and he’s a compulsive lucky gambler. Indeed it’s a fact that he gambled on shares, soccer, 4-D, casino etc losing to the tune of hundreds of thousands of hard cash at one time in his younger days! He’s gone to all the casinos from Oz to Macau and Genting!
Next question is how to go about blogging on that story where we appeared together in The New Paper story published on 13th July 14 – about 10 days ago? James told me to blog whatever angle or style I fancy so long as I blog about it.
Well, actually I was ever approached by few reporters for interview before The New Paper approached me. I did not bother to accede to their requests. I was ever invited by think tanks and other organizations via email to participate but I didn’t want to. If not for James, I would not have agreed to that New Paper interview. James was approached by the lady reporter from The New Paper. He was excited over it and suggested that I should also be interviewed together with him. I reluctantly agreed to James’ idea as I didn’t want to disappoint him.
Finally, we met somewhere in Bugis area and Arab street near to the Sultan Gate for the interview and photo shoot. We spent about two and half hours over the session. The reporter was a nice little lady pursuing a degree in a local university. The Malay photographer was also very professional and friendly taking so many shots of us in different locations with many poses. The interview was conducted in the middle of June but only got published on 13th July 14.
Of course, James was most delighted when the story got published. He was glad that we appeared together – that’s the main reason. As taxi drivers and bloggers, we have got lots of things in common to share. We admire each other’s strengths and limitations as fellow bloggers. In a way, we synergise each other in our different life perspectives as we observe and comment on things happening around us.
In a way, I was compelled by James to blog about The New Paper write-up on us. Maybe, he felt that the photograph of us appearing together in The New Paper cemented our friendship blossomed in the cyber world. It had to be archived here for eternity.
Thank you James Lim for being a friend. It’s my honor and privilege to have you as a friend. May The Force Be With You!