In the ongoing series, Conversations with Singaporeans, I relay some of my more entertaining exchanges with the locals.

It seems as though every week I have a taxi story to top my last taxi story.  Those avid readers of my blog (yes Mom and Dad, I’m talking to you) may recall the Indian holiday expert.  Or perhaps you’ll remember the taxi driver who aspired to have my hand in marriage.  Well, they all pale in comparison to my most recent taxi experience.  Read on, dear friends!

Wednesday night, Raffles hotel taxi stand.

Uncle Taxi Driver: Hello good evening!

Me: Hello, Upper Serangoon road please.

UTD: Ok ok upper serangoon lah.  Uppah serangooon.  You having drinks at Raffles Hotel? You staying at Raffles hotel?  Veryy expenseeve lah.

Me: No no, just meeting friends.  So how expensive is it anyway?

UTD: Ohhhh very expenseeve.  One room costing 600 dollars!  If you want to stay in the presidential suite, must pay 25,000!

Me: You’re kidding!?  Per night?

UTD: Yessss 25,000!  Michael Jackson is staying in presidential suite.  Ronald Regan, Queen of England.  Very expenseeeve lah!

Me: My God I don’t even make that in a month!

UTD: Chuckling.  You know me neither.  But you know what we have?  We have our health.  This is all we can ask for.  You know if you have all the money in the world and you don’t have health – nothing you can do with money.

Me: Rather impressed. Yes, you know you’re right.  That’s a very lovely observation.

UTD: Haa, haa [interjection: this is the nasally Singlish way of saying “yeah”]. All we can ask for is our health and our family.  You know I tell you – I have 5 sons. You know if the devil comes to me tomorrow and he says: ‘I give you 10 million dollars you kill one son’, I will not take the money.  Because then what can I do I’m so miserable I loose one son.  You understand?

Me: Yes I understand.

UTD:  Haaa. So where you from?

Me:  Guess.

UTD: Hmmm, I don’t know.  Definitely not the US!

Me: Wrong.

UTDShocked. No!  Really?  You know, it’s not true what they say.

Me: Oh dear, this can’t possibly be going anywhere good. Oh yeah?

UTDConfidently. No.  It’s not true what they say about blond Americans!

Me: Nope, definitely not good. And pray tell, what do they say?

UTD:  They are saying that all blond Americans are very easy, you know?  But I don’t think they are like this.  I think these are just the porn stars.  But I don’t think all the blond women are with the men for the money.

Me: Oh my God how did this conversation take such a quick turn to the South?  What do I say now? Well uhhh, ok yes I guess this is not true.

UTD:  Yes not all the prostitutes in America.

MeSarcastically. Have you been to Thailand?

UTDLaughing. Yes!  My wife is from Thailand!

Me: Oh no!  Way to go K… way to call the man’s wife a prostitute!

UTD: Every month I’m working very hard to send her sisters money.  Her sisters own a pub, you know one of these pubs for men, in Thailand.  Every month I’m sending money so her sisters not having to sleep with these men.  I don’t think it’s working!  I think they just love the money so much they still go down and talk to the men and then men buy them drinks and I’m still sending them money for nothing!  I ask my mother – how to do?  My mother say to me – if the women want the money you can’t stop them sleeping with the men.

Me: Oy.  We’ve reached a point of no return. Ohh. Well, uhh.  I suppose some people will do odd things for money.

UTD:  Yes!  You know, maybe even I do strange things for money!  For example I’m no gay.  I have a wife and 5 sons, you understand?  But if the devil comes to me tomorrow and he says, ‘I give you 10 million dollars you spend one month with Elton John’, I do it!  Actually, first I check no AIDS, but then I do it!

MeIs this really happening to me right now? Oh well, I suppose 10 million dollars is a lot of money.

UTD:  Yes 10 million a lot of money lah!  10 million I won’t kill my son, but I spend one month with Elton John.  First I check no AIDS though, you understand lah?

Me:  Oh look this is my road!  Can you drop me off here please?

UTD:  You don’t want I take you to your apartment?

Me: Oh no this is fine!  Just going to run to the convenience store.  But you have a GREAT night!

UTD:  Ok ok lah!  You have a great night!  It is nice talking with you!

Me: Yeah, pleasure…