He wiped the sweat off his face with a blue, fake Nike baseball cap and wore it as he walked back into the departures hall that doubles as a luggage check-in desk and souvenir shop. He weighed our luggage when we checked it in, carried it into the plane, and came back to open the gate and collect the tear-out parts of our boarding passes. Not until he called the passengers taking the flight to Subang Jaya, everyone at the Redang Island airport, did we realise that he was actually a woman.
We made our way out of the shade onto the scorching runway and into the small propellor plane, happy with our tan and looking forward to trying the Nonya food and strolling at Jonker's Walk Night Market in Melaka. We half expected to see her amongst the two-person cabin crew, or hear her welcoming us on the flight from inside the cockpit.
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I knew I should have booked a table for dinner on Christmas eve. I had for all the other important dates - Christmas lunch in Colmar, New Year's eve's dinner in Paris, and lunch on New Year's day inside a train station. I tried - I emailed a couple of restaurants and called a couple more - they were full or were not opening. I was busy in the week leading up to the holiday and time was short so I decided that, once there, I'm going to walk around town and find a nice little brasserie serving foie gras and lobster and Gewürztraminer. The intrepid traveller.
As we approached, hopefully, each one of the handful of restaurants that opened that evening, the word scribbled on a paper attached to the door became too familiar. 'Complet' - which, after the fourth or fifth, I began translating to 'should have booked, stupid.'
We couldn't decide whether the restaurant at the end of a narrow alleyway, well lit by the light from a sculpture's shop, was open or closed. I walked through the alleywa ...
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