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"How he do?" Kamata asked.
"He missed it," I said.
"Aieeee!" cried Kamata, the new leader, slapping himself on the forehead.
The Old Colonial came out to walk the 10th hole. The fairway is bordered by a road along which trotted several small girls with large bundles of firewood on their heads and an old woman in black silk pajamas who carried two heavy loads in wicker baskets on a shoulder pole that was bent almost into a bow. One could see into thatch-roofed huts in clearings across the road. People squatted beside cooking pots on the ground and looked at the bell-bottomed, miniskirted golf gallery bobbing past under a copse of umbrellas. The Old Colonial and I were talking about the signs I had noted on the taxi ride from the Raffles Hotel out to the club through Chinese and Malay ghettos, new apartment house districts, blocks of office buildings, past enormous compounds of clipped lawns and large buildings like those of the Seventh Day Adventists or the Singapore Bible College, past military establishments with acres of beautiful green soccer pitches that were being manicured by women laborers. In the space of two blocks the taxi would pass a school with asphalt basketball courts and soccer pitches, a Mobil gas station with its Flying Red Horse and uniformed attendants, a thatched hut with women kneeling to do laundry in an iron pot, and Cheng Fen's Medicine Shop, which had a sign that said TV REPAIRS HERE.
Along the way would be other signs—BE SAFE WITH SIM LIM FINANCE! and KEEP SINGAPORE CLEAN and COME TO MARLBORO COUNTRY and SEE SERGEANT PRESTON OF THE YUKON SUNDAY NIGHT. Rare was the caf� or grocery shop without its Coca-Cola or Pepsi sign, even along the Singapore River where the junks and sampans swarmed. If one wished to go to hell in the tropics in the classic manner, lying about unshaven with a bottle of gin and sending out messages to let someone else run General Motors for a while, it would be impossible in Singapore. One would drown in Western commerce instead of gin.
The Western trend in the architecture of the city strikes the traveler's eye immediately. The government has erected gigantic blocks of apartments, some 10 stories high, to resettle people from the ghettos. "It is much tidier than having them spread all over the place in those little dwellings," said the Old Colonial, "and this government is obsessed with cleanliness."
The previous day Mario Marchesi, manager of the Raffles Hotel, a proper old place with ceiling fans in the ballroom, rattan furniture, an aviary, a palm court and food to equal that in the finest restaurants, had been discussing what he called the "fanatic, hardworking honesty" of Singapore government officials. He also had commented on the cleanliness program. "There are no mosquitos except out in the jungle. Walk the streets with me, and for every fly, cigarette butt or scrap of paper you find, I will buy you a drink. I was in New York City last year. I was supposed to stay eight days, but I left after four. I couldn't take it any longer. How can people live in such filth as they do in Manhattan?"
The penchant for cleanliness is observable in a system of values remarkably different from that of the United States. In the same week that The Straits Times, which has an English-language circulation of 190,000, reported a Singapore citizen was fined $10 for possession of marijuana and a U.S. student was fined $33 for being caught with a pound and a half of the weed in his flight bag at the airport, another Singapore citizen was fined $40 for tossing a cigarette butt onto the sidewalk. "Singaporeans must be broken of this terrible habit," the judge said of the latter crime. "A cigarette butt belongs in a receptacle, not in the street."
"I could get blotted on an offer like Marchesi's," the Old Colonial said as we walked in the heat toward the 11th green, "but it would be hard work finding enough flies and litter. I can get blotted much easier in the clubhouse if you'd care to get out of this sun."
We were seated once again on the veranda, near a display of bottles of Vita Plus blackberry currant juice—a product I had been drinking a couple of afternoons earlier when the hedge outside the Raffles Hotel had caught fire and an assistant manager had tried to smother the blaze with his coat, causing his armpits to smolder and in turn causing half a dozen more waiters to form a bucket brigade that doused the assistant manager thoroughly—when we were approached by Harry Knaggs, chairman of the organizing committee of the Singapore Open, who came in from the course wiping moisture from his glasses. A tall, pleasant fellow in sandals and a colorful sports shirt with the tail out, he once played to a three-handicap in Yorkshire before business took him to Singapore. He ordered up a Tiger beer and looked at the gallery moving toward the 18th green. "About 2,000 here today, I'd say. Might not be too hard on the sponsors this year, eh?" He laughed. "Be all right with us if more young American chaps came out to play our Asian tour. We try to make it as easy and inexpensive for them as we can. Some places we board them in private homes. If that's not feasible, we get them rates at good hotels. We furnish free caddies. We don't have big prize money by American standards, but we have a government concession so the prize money you do win is tax free. The winner here receives $2,000 U.S. tax free. That's not so poor, is it? If you spent it out here, it would be worth considerably more. Why don't more young American pros come out? Aren't they interested in traveling in a lovely part of the world and winning money at the same time?"