Stephen 

Little India Journeys

Journeying with Stephen

I remember rushing from an appointment to my office at Little India Arcade, and along the way across the street two unfamiliar men began calling out to me and waving. I turned to glance at them, not stopping my pace, gave them a puzzled look, and carried on my way.

I was scheduled to meet up with Sid later that afternoon, who had just returned from a two-week trip to India, but had to rush out some work first. When the time came, I gave Sid a call.

Me: "Hey Sid, where are you? Where should we meet?"

Sid: "Dude me and my friend were waving to you about an hour ago and you completely ignored us. I'm with my friend now at Tekka Centre."

I half sank in disbelief. What? Those two guys? There's no way I couldn't recognise Sid! I immediately rushed to Tekka Centre across the street and found Sid seated across an American man.

Turns out the Sid I knew got himself so well groomed in India that I couldn't recognise him, at least not from afar and in a rush! He then introduced me to Stephen, a good friend of his with an unbelievable story to tell.

Whilst Sid went to buy us some hotdogs, Stephen and I had a wonderful conversation about how he had only arrived in Singapore a few months ago with his wife. But it's what led him here to Singapore, specifically Little India, and what makes him want to stay here that's amazing. From a car crash causing 86 bone fractures in his body to being poisoned in Turkey, Sid jokingly but perhaps accurately commented that they should make a Hollywood movie out of Stephen's life. 

What's fascinating is that Stephen, as an American relatively new to Singapore, had already made so many friends within the Little India community. As I walked down Campbell Lane with him many shopkeepers would greet him warmly and ask how he's doing.

When I shared that I was doing this Little India Journeys project with Sid, Stephen suggested: "Do you want my story?". I was taken aback at this unexpected turn of events but immediately said yes!

When we met for the collaborative creation session, Stephen's story was so rich and full of detail that we spent a good 4 hours painting, sharing, recording, and making art together. Stephen shared his gratitude in letting him be a part of my project, and even gave specific suggestions on how his Journey Piece should sound like - which I was elated about, as the whole idea of this project is a collaborative effort to share life experiences through music.

Neil Chan

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