A veteran sports writer from India who works in Singapore recounted an exchange he had with a taxi driver; it seems the man was astounded that the journalist had not read Sumiko Tan's column that had appeared in The Sunday Times the day before.
"How can you not have read it?" asked the taxi driver, who came to pick up sports writer Rohit Brijnath at the ST office.
It was then that it dawned on Rohit just how widespread the appeal of Tan's column was, he recounted in an ST write-up last year about the columnist, whose compilation of articles titled Sundays With Sumiko is now available in Malaysia.
Tan's fortnightly column in ST, which started in 1994, lasted 22 years. She wrote candidly about her family, career, dogs and explored topics like death, even sleeping arrangements with her husband.
"One of the nicest things about being married is that I'm no longer on a hunt. On a hunt for a husband, that is. What a relief it is to have settled down," she once wrote.
Such a frank admission is quite ironic for someone who confesses to being shy.
"Not sure why I'm not so shy when I write the column, though. But I'm definitely not the life-of-the-party sort of person. I'm more likely to be the one listening when others talk and wondering when I can make an exit and go home," she says in a e-mail interview.
She acknowledges that her writing on singlehood drew a lot of feedback from readers.
Back then, bloggers called her Singapore's Carrie Bradshaw (the lead character in TV series Sex And The City who wrote a column for a New York newspaper).
Asked about this description of her, Tan seems to shrug it off.
"That was when I was single and writing about singlehood. Long time ago."