Les Petits Contes

About life's little observations, which matter. About hilarious situations, which illuminate. About stories which offer immense possibilities, open endings, different interpretations and perspectives.

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Location: Singapore

A nature lover; sun-worshipper, manic book-collector, dessert-devourer and a magnet for hazards

Thursday, May 06, 2010


I walked into the chi chi restaurant. It’s been ranked number seven in the Asia Top 20 Restaurants, according to the latest Miele Guide.

I was shown to my table, and almost instantly someone came with a menu, and asked if I would like a drink. I ordered a juice, and almost immediately after he left, another wait staff came, carrying two bottles of water, asking if I preferred still or sparkling water.

A Caucasian in a smart suit (Maitre d’?) came over to greet me and checked if I was OK. I told him I was waiting for my guest.

The cool, professional, elegant ambience was marred by a loud mouthed shrew at a table nearby, seeking attention with her crass laughter and chatter while constantly fiddling with her mobile device.

I glanced at my watch. My guest was five minutes late. Typical. Very few people bother to be punctual for appointments. I had deliberately not given her my mobile, so that I did not need to get a typical text, ‘’sorry, will be 10 minutes late’’. I have not brought her number along either, to check, ‘’are you on the way?’’

I looked around the restaurant, curious about the hustle and bustle near me (I was seated near the passe of the kitchen, I think). Another Caucasian man in smart suit (another Maitre d’?) caught my eye and came over, asking, ‘’madam, would you like some magazines to read?’’

I smiled at him, and slowly, calmly, said, ‘’no, thank you, I am all right, waiting for my guest.’’ I refused to pretend to be busy and use my blackberry to send emails, or inane sms to friends. I did not have to feign absorption in a book to distract myself. I was content to just sit there, relax, and observe how the other guests interacted.

The receptionist came over to say, sweetly, ‘’madam, your guest rang to say that she would be five minutes late,’’. I smiled serenely and thanked her. Five minutes late?! It’s already 15 minutes past the appointment time!

I almost finished my juice, and waited some more. I congratulated myself for not succumbing to the bad habit of having your fingers stuck to a mobile device especially when you are alone (or worse here in Singapore – even when you are with guests). Why must you waste energy and send an sms to your friend to say, ‘’I am here’’, or ‘’I have just arrived,’’ or, ‘’on the way’’. Surely you don’t need to treat your friend like a CCTV that has to know your every move? If the appointment time is 12.30 pm, you are expected to arrive at 12.30 pm and meet each other; there is no need to say, ‘’I am here’’. You will be seeing your friend at that time anyway. And honestly, there is no need to update your facebook or twitter status with a silly, ‘’I am waiting for my dear Alex at Food for Thought’’, or ‘’going to board the plane now’’.

Sure, some might say that I should have spent my time more wisely by reading or by attending to my emails. But no, there is value in pausing, and in observing your environment, and in not trying to be preoccupied all the time. It trains you to be patient, and to be more observant. It trains you to be poised, and to have the self confidence of sitting alone to wait for someone without fidgeting. It trains you to have some manners, and not get into the habit of using your mobile device 24/7.

My guest finally arrived, huffing and mumbling some excuses about being held back. We had impeccable service, and exquisite food.

But I wondered if such rude behaviour deserves all the wait, and all the attention of such a fine restaurant?

With the composure of a seasoned PR professional, I told myself, ‘’you are in this field; you are supposed to tolerate all the crap of all the senior editors of the world!’’ And I sure did, with great aplomb.


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