5 September 2014
South Bridge Road is often quite busy in front of the Hindu Temple. The location of a large street going through the southern side of Chinatown and near one of Singapore’s hot streets for gathering with friends with one of the larger temples guarantees that it is always busy. Riding or driving anywhere nearby demands that one pay extra attention, exercise patience and forgive those with no idea of what to do.
I rode through the area, caught up in the traffic and regular chaos like everyone around me. There were no avenues between the lanes given that half the drivers seemed determined to be in a lane they were not. The only thing I could do was wait, edge forward and watch.
One driver caught my attention. He was trying to part in a spot that was being vacated. The exiting driver was doing her best to move on, but everything seemed to be conspiring against them. For a long time nobody moved. Then one driver took action. He was not the one stuck; he was merely waiting. With a flash of his light to signal, he slowly backed up until he was almost touching the car behind him. The driver beside him copied his move. Their actions were the relief everyone else used to do their part to get out of the jam.
I watched amazed and wondering. Who was this guy? Why did he do what he did? As traffic began to return to a normal flow for this time of day, I patiently watched from behind. I could have found space between the lanes but I wanted answers.
As he parked, I realized he was a devotee on the way to offer a puja. While I know a bit about the temple, I realized I was witness to one of the best billboards the temple could ever have. It was as if his actions were a living example of a rally cry from centuries long forgotten; “See God on parade to the sanctuary, my God, my King on the march!” (Psalm 68.24)