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Back in his hotel room, Edwin attacked his emails and put through several calls to Singapore. Shaun, Srikanth, Mansor and Chew Meng had been on the telephones with prospective suppliers in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Shaun updated his father. “There are many suppliers Dad, but all want cash up front. Quality is unsure. Packaging is touch-and-go.”

By the time they were done, Edwin had an hour to kill before dinner but decided against a walk.

The last time he strolled down Payathai Road, a street urchin had accosted him. The boy was skinny and draped on a buttonless white shirt that was more brown than white. One hand held his shorts that threatened to slip to his knees and the other stretched out with a smile. His head was round, crowned by short prickly down – someone had mowed it with a close-set clipper. Above his lip, with every breath a rheumy moustache flowed and receded from his nostrils.

Edwin handed the boy a ten Baht note, a grand sum of twenty cents. He became a lifelong friend. Miraculously six other urchins appeared out of the shadows. Each had a child almost as large perched on their hips or dragged by their hands. They all wanted to become lifelong friends. It was heart wrenching.

Edwin took a wad of Baht, all he had in his pocket and handed these out before ducking into the hotel.

Never again, he had resolved a dozen times. Invariably, he forgot. This time he remembered and took a long bath instead.

(An Extract from Beck And Call, A Business Thriller Set In Singapore)

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