As I rushed to find a wireless hotspot to sit down at and email urgent work to a client, I heard a familiar tune in one of our great city’s many underpasses, and so decided to trace the source.
But when I got to it, the busker had just finished his harmonica rendition of one of the tune. I rummaged through my pocket and produced some money to put in his basket, and said very nicely to him, “Uncle, can play that song one more time?”
“You like that song? OK, short one ah, I play one more time”, he smiled and said:
After he was done, he asked me why I liked that song, and so I explained that I lived in Australia for a period in the 90s.
“So did I”, he said, beaming, “but before you were born, probably”.
Mr Loh then went on to tell me that he went to Sydney in 1962, studied Mechanical Engineering at Sydney University, and moved to Melbourne for a while before returning to Singapore in 1972.
“Hmm… Lee ah? I don’t know any Lees there, but I have many relatives still in Melbourne”, added Mr Loh when I explained that my parents lived in Melbourne for a period during the 50s and 60s too.
“I would love to move there again, I can work there picking fruit in the orchards”, said the lively 73 year old as he checked to make sure his mic and amplifier were turned off.
“But I love doing this. It’s not for the money. You don’t have to give me money, as long as you enjoy my music, and I will play for as long as I am having fun”, he said as he told me about busking three hours a day, five days a week in the same underpass.
Before he packed his harmonica wheeled his basket and amp off home, Mr Loh and I stood in the underpass for another few good minutes, talking about other stuff that I’d like to keep between him and myself because he deserves it.