A late night cup of hot water


Saber, water and hot water

When we moved to Singapore from Australia, there was a lot for my child brain to absorb and process. I had to get used to going to Cold Storage instead of Woolworths, using rapid transit trains instead of nothing, and getting burns when asking for water!

(Photo by me of Saber wielding a water bottle, along with a piping hot mug of water and various cold remedies, all of which didn’t work as well as the aforementioned mug of hot water or Saber’s bottle of water).

Culture burn?

It first happened when I got my hair cut. Sitting down at the lovely hair dresser's in Lucky Plaza, I was asked in the customary way whether I wanted something to drink. Talk about service, I thought to myself! I pondered my options for a few moments, and asked for some water.

Living in a hot country such as Singapore, I was expecting to be given ice water, or the very least room–temperature. Instead, I nearly scalded my tongue off as I took a giant swig of what was clearly boiling water! The steam gushing from the top of the mug should have been a giveaway, but I suppose I was young and silly. Good thing I'm still one of those things.

Needless to say, I was far too shy of a primary school kid to ask if they'd got my request wrong, so I sat there sipping the hot water and not making a sound. The same thing happened on my next visit, and the visit after that.

After I'd establish a rapport and a routine with my new favourite hair dresser, I finally worked up the courage to ask why she was giving me hot water. She smiled, clearly thinking "what a naive little white boy!" though she was far too polite or nice to say it. She replied that hot water was the most healthy way to drink it, and that it was perfectly normal to give it to people.

She was right; whether I was going to local friends' places or other businesses, Singaporeans were always giving me hot water to drink. I got used to it, and even enjoy it in lieu of tea sometimes.

A veritable pain in the throat

Dial forward a decade, and I'm sitting here in summer Sydney with a painfully sore throat. I'd tried cold drinks, throat lozenges and ice cream to no avail. On a hunch, I decided to try some hot water; all it took was a few mugs of the stuff and my throat felt calm enough to eat food and swallow with again. Inhaling the steam worked wonders for my sinuses too.

If you find yourself with a sore throat, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. They were really onto something :).

(This post and accompanying photo took over four hours of on–and–off writing to compose in my dazed state, but I got it done eventually, damn it)!

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person in bios. Hi!

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