The usual Sunday lull in traffic was appealing. Little did I know that this was an ominous
I was gleefully waiting for bus number 30 to arrive. Little Bharat was to appear for the second level Olympiad exams. It was 9:40 AM and the test was at 10:30 .
Bharat was eager to get to school and asked,’What if I complete the exam before time ? Shall we go to a movie?’
He kept glancing at his digital watch just as time passed without any sign of our bus no 30.
Two buses came one behind the other, sporting the route number 143. Ten minutes and many glances at the watch later, another bus arrived. This time it was 78.
Sweat began to appear on my forehead as the time was nearing 10 AM. Ten more minutes, another 143 came by.
I realized it was no use to wait for the bus. But it dawned on me that there was no taxi
visible until then which didn’t have the ‘BUSY’ or ‘ON CALL’ sign lit. And all taxis were going towards Clementi bus terminus – the exact opposite direction to where we were headed.
Time was 10:15. Bharat was becoming restless. He asked,’Would we reach before time?’.
I decided to take a chance. I chose the next bus. It was 78. Nevertheless we boarded that just to move further towards the school. Plan was to get down at the next stop and look for some taxis.
Voila, the bus took a different route and entered into an industrial area where no human
existence was to be seen. Time was 10:20. We alighted and entered the wide expanse of a road and had stray dogs for company. That being a Sunday, there was no industrial activity and hence no human being in sight. We began to walk towards West Coast Road, or so we thought.
It was 10:25 and it began to be clear that we would not be able to make it to school. So I
tried calling the school from my handphone. The call went to the reception where there was none to attend the call. All the while I was giving false hope to Bharat that we would go to school on time.
Further wait on the West Coast highway resulted in many lorries and vans passing by without any sign of a taxi yet.
At last, at around 10:35, a taxi showed up, or so it appeared to me. I walked briskly to the
‘Where are you going?’, he asked in a rapid manner.
‘To Taman Jurong’, I replied while gasping for breath, the walking ordeal having its effect on me.
‘No, I am on my way to Pasir Ris’, the driver replied. Pasir Ris is on the Eastern end of the
city state while Taman Jurong is on the west, just 3 kms from where I stood.
‘Ok, I am in a hurry. The child needs to take at a test at 10:30. Now it is 10:40. Could you
please drop in Taman Jurong and then proceed to Pasir Ris?’, I pleaded.
‘You are in a hurry. That is your problem. I am in a hurry and that is my problem. I cannot
solve your problem’, he said and sped.
Having never been treated thus in Singapore, I tried running behind the taxi just in case the driver changed his mind.
Hard luck and I resumed my walk with Bharat and the stray dogs towards West Coast Road and towards human existence.
It was a sunny day and we were sweating all over. I managed to speak to the Principal on the phone and got a 10 minute target to reach the school.
We walked along the West Coast Highway towards West Coast Road. It was a good 10 minute walk and Bharat was visibly tired. He was struggling to hold back tears on this Sunday debacle.
A taxi came up from nowhere and I explained my predicament.
The driver said,’10:30 exam and it is 10:50 already. Come on hurry up’ and he sped along the Ayer Rajah Express way like a plane.
When we reached school at 11:00 AM, the principal was kind enough to permit the child to appear for the test.
But Bharat finished the test in 30 mins. The ordeal of more than an hour was over in 30 mins.
If only the West Coast Highway taxi driver had been a little merciful..