Sunday, February 19, 2006


He came over to Singapore from Morocco in 1999.

Are you a Singaporean? He enquired in that earnest manner, trying hard not to seem rude for asking a customer a personal question. His demeanor made me smile.

I affirmed it was true, and he looked slightly surprised.

His little cafe is by far the most modest out of the lot scattered about Arab St. Some of the others have ethnic decorations spilling out all over the place, candles and cushions, little trinkets and precious-looking ashtrays. They play their music too loud, and through the windows of one I saw an iPod connected to speakers sitting on a bar counter.

In MoSi, the CD frequently skips. "Morocco and Singapore, so MoSi," he once explained. Aside from the various hookahs placed out front, the only thing that looks vaguely Moroccan are three photographs cut out from magazines which have been framed and hung on the far wall inside the cafe.

I asked if it was he who took the photographs.

"Oh no." A pause.

"Look, this is a man making bread, in the mountains you know?" He uttered a foreign phrase which I could not catch.

"And here, a little girl looking at something. Are you leaving already? I just started heating up more charcoal for you."

It was his footsteps that intruiged me the most at first. More honest than meek, he had the stride of someone who did not want to walk too fast or go too far in case he was stopped for doing so.


First set of photos from the last Meulaboh trip. All taken at the mass graves on 26th December, 2005 after the mass prayers. It was 11am-1pm, harshest lighting conditions, and I could not possibly use flash in the face of these people. Well, I guess I could, but I didn't want to.



Ghim Lay said...

wah so qiao... ive met this guy in his cafe before!