Singapore – at first glance, can be overwhelmingly dull.
Endless rows of buildings and concrete blocks start right after you move out of the airport which is also a gigantic shopping mall. Later I found out how every MRT (metro rail) station doubles up as a shopping mall. What a clever way to make people willingly spend bucks buying things they don’t want or will never use – on through their daily commute.
Expectations tend to hit rock bottom for the next thirty minutes or so, with numerous matchbox apartments guarding the hardly visible but clear blue sky. The concrete jungle is visually better than those in India howsoever, and shiny double-decker buses gliding down the smooth roads, occasionally a cyclist – and few, very few pedestrians walking down the clean pavements. The entire city is very green – painstakingly and purposefully – made so.
From inside the cool noiseless tummy of taxi mummy, I could only make an attempt to listen to the non-existent chatter of what should have been street life – something I am so very habituated with while staying in Indian cities, particularly Kolkata and Delhi. But I hear nothing – as there was nothing out there indeed. Mildly disappointed, I would retreat into mummy’s air-conditioned lap.
After a month or so in this city, which is also a tropical island and a country in itself – I am fascinated by the culture that for the lack of a better word is, nocturnal. I do not exclusively mean the ‘night life’, but the high comfort level people have with the dark hours. Many shopping centres, food stalls and public places stay open through the night, public transport runs packed until midnight and you can reach a reliable, almost always smiling taxi driver at any hour. However, universities and offices have strict working hours and they shut down at exactly six or seven pm. Nonetheless, Singapore has a very safe-for-all, 24/7 character – generally different from my beloved country. Sigh!
Social life is indeed the buzzword starting at the cheapest to the most extravagant of places. Families dine together until late in circles at streetside hawker centers, with beer, dumplings and laksa. Women are free-spirited, stylish and independent – and men couldn’t mind their own business better. What disappoints me, however, is the sight of smartphone addicted young people. I am yet to decide how to feel about old and feeble men and women – even in their 70s – working away in shops, colleges, hostels and gardens doing menial jobs such as cleaning.
And yes, the national dress, age and gender unspecific – is shorts. So comfy! 😉
I am particularly getting addicted to the hitherto idealistic concept of being a girl, wear whatever I am comfortable in and sit alone at one am at a street food corner without being gawked at and/or eventually, harassed. I feel strangely at ease, very free to the extent that its actually makes me lose touch with another reality!
Days are almost too hot and busy. So I am falling in love with the nights – which turn more beautiful, ironically –only with drizzly, coloured lights. The city is artificial yet quite pretty at times; or, could it be the eye of the beholder?
I love the lights. And I wanted you to see their momentary captures as they come alive in not in photos of the Merlion or that of Marina Bay Sands – but as usual, from the streets.
Until next time when I write something about the days in Singapore…