Monthly Archives: August 2016

Know Your Surroundings


There was a two-storey Lebanese restaurant behind the grand old Sultan Mosque in the old area here. The front of the establishment and the back entrance of the mosque was divided by a thin road. The restaurant owner was stationed in the Middle East. He visited occasionally to check on things.
I used to frequent this place when it was newly opened. Some time later, the management, a group of Singaporeans, decided to host an official launch party. Apart from having a live band, they planned to have a belly dancing performance. I was invited.
I came with a friend, a Malay-Muslim, but with no intention of joining the party. I requested a table outside the restaurant, right at the end of the walkway, in a really dim spot.
The waiters pestered us to go upstairs to join the party. In fact some guests, who were familiar faces, also urged us to join them. I refused.
We ordered food and two apple-flavored sheesha, then sat there quietly in our own space.
My friend was wondering why I chose this boring, isolated spot. I told him to trust me.
The party began. You could hear the drums reverberating, tambourines banging, the loudspeakers yelling incessantly, and shoes thumping on the wooden floor.
About forty minutes into the gig, the mosque Imam, dressed in his white robe and Haji cap, showed up. With a frown, he was accompanied by two clergymen. They marched upstairs.
The music and the craziness stopped.
Later, a senior waiter told us how lucky we were because the revelers received a telling off from the Imam, who felt disrespected.
I turned to my friend. “Now you know why I chose this spot,” I said. “You have to know your surrounding. I saved your face today because the next time you go to that mosque, at least you won’t feel embarrassed when you see the Imam.”

  • Keith Thomson

    Author of the New York Times Bestselling novel Once A Spy
    Khaled Talib’s novel Smokescreen is a cocktail of Deighton, Ludlum, Hitchcock, and two parts adrenaline.
  • Ruth Harris

    Million-copy NYT bestselling co-author of Hooked and Brainwashed
    Devious! Diabolical! Lurid! Intelligent and deftly plotted. Pick it up if you dare. Put it down if you can.
  • Jon McGoran

    Author of Drift
    In this action-packed thriller, Khaled Talib explores the little known relationship between Singapore and Israel, spinning a web of international intrigue that expands across the globe as inexorably as it tightens around his protagonist’s throat.
  • Jake Needham

    Author of The Umbrella Man and The Ambassador’s Wife
    I have published two novels set in the police and security services in Singapore, and I am here to tell you that SMOKESCREEN is nearer to the truth of that closely controlled little country than you might believe. It is a gripping and creepy tale of how governments can rig the way we all see the world.
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