Living, Personal, Sports & Adventure, Travel
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One weekend in Singapore

After a hectic week at home, it was time for a flying visit to Singapore.

I’d had a stop over at the island years and years ago, so I didn’t have too many ideas about the place. All I knew was that it was a smallish island very close to Malaysia and Indonesia. And some pictures I’ve seen in magazines and television.

Firstly, I must say, what particularly surprised (and distressed me at the same time) is that the women in Singapore are extremely… thin!

And I must say that I did notice that several of these thin young women tucking in many delicacies. And yet, they were as thin as a needle. How do you do this, I asked a nice Singaporean girl, who surprised me by admitting that she had had 3 kids already and still looked like she was still in her twenties. Of course she wouldn’t divulge the real reason – she was hardly about to make it easy for me!

Anyway, apart from this alarming trend, what really surprised me about Singapore are the following points (comments are exaggerated, so please take them with a pinch of salt. They are by no means the last word on the state of things but just first impressions!).

On the roads, people signal and maintain lanes. I’d completely forgotten that this is actually how people are supposed to drive. After living in Bangalore, you can imagine my shock at this kind of driving decorum.

People queue and wait for you. Is that even possible any more? But even a small boy politely made way for me in a narrow shopping aisle, indicating that I could go first. I was stunned for a moment and stood speechless as I grappled with remembering the last time it happened. And then I remembered: never!

There’s no plastic. Anywhere. I actually minutely inspected building corners, drains, alleyways, sidewalks to catch sight of just one garbage bag strewn around when someone wasn’t looking. Zilch.

Can these people get any perfect? Then I caught it.

I was passing by a residence complex when I suddenly looked up and saw a strange thing. All the drapes were of beige and pastel pattern and all the flats seemed to have identical patterns. I was… surprised. In India, on the other hand, every window will have a different drape : to the loud and the colourful to the sombre and the pastel.

And I knew immediately then what Singaporeans are missing. Fab India! Yes. Finally I found a flaw in Singapore’s unbelievably perfect life.

Apart from that, I must admit that I tried hard but came back empty handed. People queue, they don’t spit, pee on the roads, don’t rush into the local trains, don’t litter, the cabs folks don’t overcharge, there are no touts, they have a low crime rate and there are hardly any cops (because you’re caught on camera everywhere) : this is almost like paradise : it’s too good to be true actually. (All this of course does not apply in Chinatown and Little India pointed out my host where true to our nature we regress to our very reputable habits that we have proudly upheld for donkey’s years.)

And then in the local newspaper I noticed a small article that Singaporeans still complain a lot. Within themselves most of the time. Not to the government or anything. They might get fined for that. Apparently, Singapore is jokingly called a very ‘fine’ city. They are fined for everything.

But jokes apart, I have a perfect solution for this. Transport all of these whiners to Bangalore for a week. We can easily accommodate them somewhere as we already have so many housing complexes coming up.

I doubt they will ever complain ever again.

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32 Comments

  1. “I grappled with remembering the last time it happened. And then I remembered: never!”

    LOL. Laughed out loud at that. And i join you in being supremely jealous of them thin singapur girls. grrr!

  2. Love your share here! U’ve seen the city of Singapore – the part where Tourism wants u to see – which is nice. But Singpaore is much more colourful actually (if that is what you are looking for) haha

  3. Loved this post. Totally imagined how a worry-free world can be 🙂 atleast as far as roads are concerned. Infact even here, in the US, these are the first things I noticed. Discipline, courtesy and awareness of laws. You overtake one school bus and a cop will chase you down like he spotted you from a chopper and fine you heavily. You pay up and learn your lesson. The lack of all this and more (though they exist) has caused havoc in our country.

    Its really sad that we dont learn the most obvious of things in life from other countries 🙁 However, speak of fashion-statement bags, dresses, language, slangs and way of life, we are the first ones to ape!

    And yeah, you are damn right about their appearance. They are thin as a needle is the right way to put it :-)) I hope you enjoyed your stay in the perfect world for sometime atleast 🙂

  4. On the roads, people signal and maintain lanes. I’d completely forgotten that this is actually how people are supposed to drive.

    Singaporeans can drive? That’s news to me. IMHO (and experience), even drunk illegal Mexicans in California drive better than 99% of Singaporeans. Pathetic lane discipline, passive aggressive driving habits (e.g. drivers speed up when you signal to change lanes), and almost zero signaling before changing lanes. And, oh, the latest trend, driving around with headlights turned off at night in an effort to reduce petrol consumption. Maybe this is why the morons crash, burn, and die driving overseas every year.

  5. I am afraid that your eyes (and perceptions) were filtered due to your bad experiences in your home residence(s). Being many times better than the places you may have lived or visited, you naturally feel as though Singapore is paradise.

    This is exactly the response that has been carefully engineered to be felt by tourists. However, unless you experience a protracted stay on this island, your opinions are just the superficial description of the larger (true) story.

    Singaporeans ‘whine’ due to the culmination of a whole host of factors such as a lack of respect for the citizens by the government, and over-regulation of almost every aspect of the said citizens’ lives.

    To put it in perspective, imagine a Utopian zoo where the animals are given wide areas to roam, seemingly ‘cageless’ environments, ample food and proper veterinary care. Wouldn’t it be a simply brilliant place to visit?

    Now the question is, would the animals in the said Utopian zoo be necessarily happy and contented? Or would they rather be living in the wild – and free – albeit with all the dangers and difficulties that come with it?

    Perhaps there are those who would prefer the safety and sanctuary of the ‘perfect’ zoo that is Singapore, but I for one, having lived here all my life, would prefer the freedom…

  6. To each his/her own. But I totally agree with the author. I’m happy for you that you’ve found your paradise, and even happier for myself that I’ve been living in a paradise my whole life.=)

  7. GoneFark says

    If you say a country is good, just compare it to any other countries with lousier standard of living/management.

    However, in Singapore, we singaporeans live in it and we know what standard to expect from our government and society. That standard is, unfortunately, not present, and hence we complain.

    There is no point using the expectational standard of a person from one country, on another country.

    For example, the Swiss complains internally about their own country too, but if I were to go there and make comparison to singapore, i will not understand why they should complain too.. Switzerland is just paradise!

    Gonefark strikes again.

  8. Laniaz1 says

    After being born there many had to leave “this” paradise in their 40s and 50s.

    Although more have done so in their 30s.

    Especialy after 2000.

    If not their families would have become another case file in the coroner’s department.

    Singapore is a fine country to visit but not to live.

    Yhe whole wotld does not know this simple fact.

    It is not as easy as comparing Bangalore or Dafur to it.

  9. @ Aqua: hehe, you’d be able to eat unlimited french fries without any guilt 🙂

    @ QuaChee: yes, i’m sure there’s a colourful side too!

    @ Mridula: I think our basic wiring is different. Discipline is just not us! 🙂

    I did enjoy the stay and hopefully will get around to posting some more stuff from there.

    @ Agagooga: 🙂

    @ -ben: gosh! i must have gone to singapore on a good day or something!

    @ nike: what a horrible thing to say! i definitely wouldn’t agree withat!

    @ Thought Provoker: actually, you’re right. i have no idea what life is really like there. mine is just a humourous take on a weekend there. so it’s supposed to be taken with a pinch of salt!

    @ KH: it’s not really my paradise. it seems to be like one, is what i said. however, i never said i’d like to live in paradise 🙂 but i’m glad you like it there!

    @ GoneFark: true! but it’s just human nature to compare. and anyway, this was hardly meant as a serious interpretation of what’s happening in singapore society. i really would need to study it longer. so please do take this with a sense of humour! it just feels good to know (after you’ve lived in a city like bangalore) to know that there are places where people actually have more driving sense!

    @ bishbash: true! please bear with me. i am sure i’ll have some serious complaints if i really have to live there!

    @ Laniaz1: i am not sure about these facts. but i am sure there’s more to it than meets the eye. and was really commenting on the state of things in my city, but i don’t think too many people really got it 🙂

  10. corrine says

    Why compare Singapore to Bangalore? Are we supposed to have the same standard as them? Why not compare Singapore to London or New York?

  11. @ corrine: i think you missed the point somewhere. we have our own standards of course. they’re way beyond comparison 🙂

    @ mridula 🙂

  12. chwo says

    well the grass is always greener at the other side. it’s all about relativity.

  13. Hi
    Glad you finally went home and hope you will return soon to KitKit.
    The Singapore experience, what I would be most grouchy about is the lack of a free press.
    But yes, it is good enough for a visit or a short work stint.
    India is colourful, perhaps no other country can be like that.
    CHeers
    Lubna

  14. rajeev says

    Don’t be jealous of the Singaporean waistlines – i believe its more genetic than life style centric. having said that, they ‘are’ a very health conscious people and the basic food is less fatty, but that does not explain why almost all girls, women, grandmas, boys, men, grandpas (of chinese origins) are skinny.

  15. Undoubtedly Singapore is a beautiful country but I got surprise to hear that there is no use of plastic in Singapore.

  16. Sheetal says

    Came through Joseph’s blog where he recommended the photos and I should say I like them. I would though want more of them. 🙂 And hey, I would also like to learn to remain thin – did you finally get the real reason? read some blogs on blogadda.com on tips to be slim, but I guess now am interested to hear from that singapore girl!!

  17. HMmm U came and u didnt inform me – Bad U !! I know for the first timers – SINGAPORE will always be a Paradise !! It is one of the safest city to live but I LOVE OUR INDIA the most than any other country. You know when we went to Indonesia and returned we felt the DIFF b/w two countries, not when I come to INDIA and return you C !! I’m coming to BLR on May 11 – Any Chance to get an Appointment with U ?? Please mail me, Thanks

  18. I had the same reaction about the traffic when i first visited Singapore…it all seemed too perfect for someone who has lived in Bangalore all her life!!… and is everyone really thin?? i didn’t notice that part!

  19. patriot says

    Maam;

    the next time You visit Singapore, take me along to your Country, I would like to experience how ‘unfine’, disorganise and topsy turvey Bangalore is.

    At 57 year old, me think I will enjoy more living with cows, dogs, birds and plants than in the Fine City State. And I thank You in advance.

    Yours truly: patriot.

  20. SM says

    Anita your perception is common and Indians visiting a westernized/modern country for the first time are surely dazzled by SG but no country is perfect. What they have done with the limited resources is praiseworthy but it is still a country with other troubles.
    We loved their public transport and it was neat and clean which can be expected for such a small country . At night we saw a huge rat near the food stalls that would put desi cats to shame 😉 There was graffiti spray painted in some areas. We saw a street fight between some desi and Chinese looking teen boys showing racial tensions exist. All this is expected in any country. The most troubling was the lack of natural beauty. It is a great country if one wants air con malls and fake/manmade amusement parks. The spectacular natural resources and historical buildings all over India are more impressive to me.
    I agree that it is a nice place to visit and the humidity made my hair go crazy while the girls around me had super shiny and straight hair, made me jealous! We should strive to improve our nation to be more like them. But it will take time since India is so large and diverse while Sg is tiny .

  21. Loved the post 🙂 Eagerly awaiting to see the pics

    I totally agree with your observations:
    1. women in Singapore are extremely… thin!-Had read an article in TOI by Sudha Pillai that S’pore airhostess were very thin and she was jealous 🙂
    2. what Singaporeans are missing. Fab India – There are all similar and we are different 🙂
    3. Singaporeans still complain a lot. – There’s a saying: People who possess everything want more and are never satisfied.
    4. I doubt they will ever complain ever again. – lol… Shouldn’t we make them commute on Hosur Road or MG Road during the peak hours? 🙂

  22. I think Singapore, Japan and all those coastal areas have ppl who are thin, have the best skin and the best hair! Must be the diet, less pollution – a whole lot of factors, not to forget less stress keeping in mind their lifestyle! 🙂

  23. I love going to singapore for weekends and used to do that often , but now whatever i want in singapore I can get them in Kuala Lumpur , … hey when will you be coming down here?
    xo

  24. Sushma says

    Singapore is not as safe as it looks….my wallet was flicked in one of the upmarket malls in the middle of the day….so to all tourists visiting please be alert…after all we are all human…:-)

  25. Rajesh says

    Having lived in Singapore for over two years, i can say that there are some very good positives just as in any Western country.

    1.Valuing life.
    2.Showing courtesy.
    3.Civic sense.

    And what makes Singapore stand apart is
    -Its multi-ethnic vibrant culture which most Western cities lack.
    -Its architectural beauty in the form of its modern buildings.

    I disagree to a large extent that Singapore is artificial.One has to visit the Nature Reserves(Bukit Timah/McRitchie) to know the truth.Secondly, amusement parks are not natural anyway.If India’s roads and buildings are well-maintained, does it make our cities fake? Why is Chandigarh considered a beautiful city if city-planning is artificial? Our national parks are ill-maintained and lack basic facilities of drinking water, toilets etc, not to speak of the roads that lead to the parks.Not sure if a dusty road is more appealing just because it is natural.

    Since the island city-state does not have enough land, it is only natural to reclaim land from the sea for sustaining growth.

    I do agree about lack of free press.
    But it is better to do away with their freedom than allow them to write nonsense like what our print media did during CWG.To expose crime is different from blemishing the image of one’s country through bad-press particularly when India’s pride was at stake.

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