At the mall

I needed a SIM card, so I headed over to Mustafa Center, which I discovered is a 24-hour, multi-level warehouse store that rolls the thrill of shopping and the risk of dying in a stampede in one.

I pressed my way through shoes (1st), gold products (B1), and stuffed animals (B2) to the SIM card counter (way back of B2). Amit was standing there, and I showed him my phone, which I had bought in Rwanda and wasn’t sure was in the same frequency zone as Singapore.

“Wanda?” he asked puzzled. I explained it was a country next to Sudan in Africa and watched as his eyes grew to the size of pingpong balls. “The place where many people are killed,” he said. He shook his head, “A very bad country.”

I paused to think about how to respond but not long enough because I blurted, “No, no! Every country has gone through a similar thing. Everywhere at some point, people have killed each other, even here in Singapore.”

He did the thing I’ve noticed people do here when slightly embarrassed, which is to act as though the inappropriate thing that just happened, entirely didn’t, the way maybe a crazy American grandmother might do. He told me I needed to get an adapter to plug in my phone and charge it before we could check the SIM card. I wove my way to House Appliances (front of B2), dug through bins for the adapter, waited in line behind a couple buying Jenga, a man buying AXE medicated lotion, and a teen buying a furry jacket with tiger stripes, and then headed back to Amit. He was stepping towards the direction of the exit. “Nine thirty, time for me to go home,” he said. “Next guy comes at ten thirty. You wait for him if you need to call Wanda tonight.”


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