What Neil said wasn’t new to me. But when a silver haired stranger with wise, deep-set eyes leans in from the other table to look inside your sketchbook and goes, “Drawing is really good for you, much better than photographing. You know why?” you pay attention because from the way he draws in a deep breath and turns himself around to face you, you know he has a story to tell. And I am a sucker for stories. Also a stranger telling you a story makes a great story.
My husband and I spend every Sunday morning at Tiong Bahru Bakery. My husband (above) was reading Jeffrey Archer’s The Prodigal Daughter on Kindle. We shared a sausage roll. I had ginger lemon tea. As usual, I was scanning the room for interesting people to sketch. Interspersed below are a few of the random people I’ve sketched in the last few months.
|A couple in Tiong Bahru Bakery (L), A couple in Starbucks (R)|
That’s when Neil, “an IT guy from Sydney” as he called himself, settled down at the next table, finished eating whatever he was eating and turned his attention to us.
|This was my late Sunday night view at our neighbourhood Starbucks which is open for 24 hours every day.|
These high stools and shared table are especially meant for people who need to work or study.
Don’t miss the girl with the Micky Mouse hoodie!
But Neil wasn’t there to deride technology; nor was he there to randomly dish out avuncular advice on how to disengage from technology. All he wanted was to talk about an epiphany he once had while watching the Northern Lights in Iceland. “For someone who loves photography...” he said “...this was a chance of a lifetime.”
The last thing he wanted was a smudgy camera lens. Refusing to take chances by trying to clean it himself at the hotel, Neil went seeking professional help, hoping to receive top-notch service. Here’s where the story goes downhill – the girl at the counter whose job was to only receive the item and pass it on to the appropriate person for servicing decided to be useful that day and took the matter in her own hands. She started wiping the lens with a cloth and before Neil could say stop, his only camera lens was irreparably scratched.
|(L) People reading physical books is becoming a rare sight. When I saw someone the other day lost in the pages of a thick novel, I had to draw her; (R) This girl was toiling away on a Saturday night with the help of a Frappuccino and gospel music.|
|(L) Just a guy seen at Tiong Bahru Bakery wearing a neatly ironed shirt and a very shiny wedding band.|
Seemed like he was new to the game! (R) How to make a statement: the case of rugged boots vs. chunky costume jewellery