A handshake with Josephine Teo

We saw Singapore’s senior minister of state for transport and finance, Josephine Teo, today. She came and shook hands with us.

My wife and I were sitting at the Bishan Park this evening. We watched families gather outside the McDonald’s restaurant. Little children held colourful lanterns in the dark.

Suddenly, we saw a woman accompanied by a few men draw near. They were walking past us towards the restaurant when a man said something to the woman. She turned back and came up to us with the men.

Of course, we recognized her as she extended her hand to my wife.

And there we were shaking hands with Ms Teo!

It was only for a moment, but it felt good, shaking hands with a minister. She was there for the lantern festival. She had no airs about her but looked chic and beautiful. The men with her were dressed informally. They did not look like a ministerial entourage at all.

My wife was in a sari. I wish I had the presence of mind to take a picture with my phone.

My wife had spoken to her a few days ago at another event.

I was not there. But I had shaken hands with Ms Teo at a hawker stall during the Chinese New Year.  She was distributing oranges then. I got one, too.

We liked the grace and practised ease with which she shook our hands today. She did not stay to chat with us, but we appreciate her handshake. It was nice of her, reaching out and sparing us a moment. How many people do that?

As my wife said, we can’t even imagine a minister walking about and reaching out to people like that in India. They travel in motorcades, with heavy security and a large entourage.

It’s different in Singapore. May it always be like this.

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