Thursday, December 01, 2005

First impressions of Singapore

Sitting at the Bangalore international airport waiting to leave for Singapore, I noticed a man with a pink backpack on his shoulders. My first (and very short) reaction was “Pink? For a man? Ewwww!!” And then I gave a disapproving pat to myself and thought “Why is it wrong for a man to carry a pink bag? Of course it isn’t. Stereotypes!” The thing is, most people I know would think pink on a man is not masculine enough. But who put that idea into our heads anyway? Who told us pink = girl and blue = boy? I refuse to subscribe to stereotypes.

Anyway, Singapore has been good fun so far. The Singapore Tourism Board is organizing Christmas in the Tropics from November 12th 2005 to January 2nd 2006 – a festival of all things Christmassy. Every single mall in the place (and there are many) are lit up with all sorts of gorgeous decorations and lights, and apparently they are even having a competition to judge the best-decorated place. The key roads (primarily Orchard Road) look so pretty that you can’t help but feel this tingling happy sensation inside. Christmas anywhere is an experience, and with Singapore going all-out to make this Christmas one to remember for all tourists (and its own), I just have one thing to say – I’m glad I made it here at this time!

This is my first visit to Singapore and a few observations so far:

1. Every single car passenger has to wear a seatbelt (including those in the backseat – this I specially mention for the Indians who are just not used to the concept), and failure to comply with this invites a Singapore $120 fine. After living in India for so long, with all its careless and ruthless accidents that happen so unnecessarily and so regularly, I am really GLAD they have this rule.

2. Cleanliness is a habit here. At the airport, a sticker from someone’s suitcase fell off and I noticed a staff member immediately pick it up. It is so refreshing to be in a neat and clean place, qualities which are important to me personally.

3. Immigration was smooth and painless and took about one and a half minutes for me to clear. More power to the Singapore government for their tourist-friendly procedures – is the United Snakes of America listening???!! (that’s not a typo – a Canadian I met a few weeks ago told me that as a joke and then began laughing heartily when he saw I appreciated his humour!!).

4. Cosmopolitan, cosmopolitan. Though Chinese form the majority, Indians, Sri Lankans and Malays form huge chunks of the population too. And Westerners really take to this place as well because they are allowed to invest in property and the like, so a lot of them come here to retire. I don’t blame them.

5. The weather is very warm, and, (not very inventive, I know) tropical. Bangalore is damn cold compared to this!

6. I thought about it a bit and came to the conclusion that for Indians, Singapore is a place that combines the best of both worlds because it is close enough to India (for homesick desis) and yet affords the lifestyle of the West. And even East, for that matter.

Let’s see what tomorrow offers.


Sharad said...

I had this really cool pink shirt once, but I didnt wear it too often cos people like you would give me that strange look !!!

What were you doing in Singapore btw ? Still there?

wanderstruck said...

yes still here, going to the US day after from here on work for a couple of weeks. and i don't think anything strange of pink-shirted men. i really don't think its good to go with stereotypes!