"uncle teh", late 80s, from southeast china

"lao liao la, tan si (old already, waiting to die)", was the response when i commented that he looked very healthy.

"chuang ah, bo dian tui buay sai (panting, cannot do without lift)", he carried on, revealing a sense of acceptance and a slight hint of sadness.

"zi dao eh kopi ka pyi, sing kar poh simi ma ai lui, lao lang bo simi lui (the coffee here is cheaper, the older folks do not have much money)", he quipped as his morning tea and a pork bun is laid in front of him. we spoke about rising costs in this nation, and how it has affected him.

he asked about how much my bicycle was and commented "sio ma mai sio", which meant beyond his imagination (means). i was silent for a moment.

"wa buay hiao tar mrt, simi 'lo be nar' la, long cong angmo, wa bo tak che, buay hiao (i did not study, novena, the station names are in english, i did not study, will not know how to use the mrt)". these were his comments when i asked if he commuted to other parts of singapore.

we spoke about amongst other things, his family in china, his involvement in communism with the kmt and his visit back to china.

we bidded goodbye and good health.

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