Singapore Adventure

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Nickel and Dimed
by venitha

This gentleman regularly serenades me and my fellow commuters as we cross through the tunnel leading to Novena MRT station. He has no fear, infectious enthusiasm, and, perhaps most importantly, excellent location selection, as the tunnel's incredible acoustics lead me to believe that even I could belt out show tunes and sound just like . Either he's getting better, or, more likely, my standards for street entertainment have plummeted here in Singapore, where talent is decidedly not a requirement for singing for one's supper.

If supper money is his goal, Singapore aids him in his endeavor. First, food, especially eating out, is very cheap here. I regularly pay only S$2 for lunch at the hawker centres around work. Second, Singapore has a $1 coin (about US$0.60), so he's probably getting more cash than you think. After all, isn't this what you do with buskers? Empty your pockets of all that bothersome change? It's what I do with my busker.

My pretty purple $2 bills, Singapore's smallest paper currency, remain in my wallet, but the coins, from the dollars on down, regularly disappear into my busker's bag, including the uncommon 1¢, made somewhat scarce by the fact that many places round off your bill so they don't have to use them. They're tiny, and, I was interested to learn, they aren't called pennies.

The words nickel and dime are also not used, and I haven't asked anyone about the phrase. The behavior, , is rampant. I could rant about this all afternoon, so rather than risk needing to start a new blog dedicated to this topic alone, I'll limit myself to this single example: filthy public restrooms that one must pay 10¢ to use.

Then again, perhaps this only annoys me because I just gave all my change to my busker.