In the last few days I found myself in different conversations where different friends were criticizing Singapore (the usual Indian expat pain points- boring, small, constricted, boring again, ‘nothing to do’, hot, humid, boring once again) and I found my mouth opening to say something when I quickly snapped it shut and bit by tongue for added measure.
OMG!!! I was actually going to defend Singapore!!! When did that happen?? How did it happen?? And for heaven’s sake why?? The only city I ever defend is Bombay- say anything bad about Bombay and do it at the risk of brutal physical harm. So why on earth was I now going stand up for Singapore?!!
I have lived in Singapore for more than a decade now. (And no, it’s still not home. The only city that will ever have the home title will be amchi Mumbai). Every time when there is a Singapore bashing session I effortlessly chime in with the same sound bites- boring, small, blah, blah.
I did not defend Singapore on any of those occasions in the last few days, but I felt a twinge of guilt later. Because to be completely honest this city (country? Island-state?) has given me much more than I have ever given it. Phew! I didn’t think I would ever admit that to myself- let alone publicly.
Singapore has been far kinder to me, than I have ever been to it.
It accepted me from day one when I pushed back.
It welcomed me with open arms, when I only dreamt of running away.
It smiled. I frowned.
It laughed for me (and not at me). And I cried.
It tendered to my wounds. I did not let them heal.
It cared. I simply couldn’t give a shit.
So today I would like to say my thanks to Singapore. Thanks most for all for your patience. For the calm. For the peace. For the courage.
Thanks for giving me the chance to meet people who I would have never met had I been in Bombay. Thanks for making some of these people my closest (and most wonderful) friends.
Thanks for making it so easy for me to have all the things I love so close to me. (For the uninformed, my rule of a good to city to live in is simple- idli-dosa and Hindi movies have to available within a 10 minute cab distance and should not cost a small fortune).
So thank you Singapore! And I will try and be a better friend to you. (I still cannot cause bodily harm to people who criticize you. There would just be way too many of them!) But I will try to show them what you are all about.
Having said that, people define cities by their own experiences in it. So Singapore, I can’t change people’s experiences about you. I can only say that my experiences have been nothing short of delightful. And I can hope you will give others who come here such lovely experiences too. And the people who leave, beautiful memories to remember you by.
If Bombay is the city that loves, Singapore is a city that accepts. And at this time, I need unconditional acceptance more than anything else. So thank you Singapore!
And here are my favorite places in Singapore:
• Favorite place (by far)- Tanjong Rhu Bay
• South Indian food- Murugans (idli, butter dosa and filter coffee are to die for)
• North Indian ‘Moghlai’ food- Shahi Maharani, Raffles City
• Mall- Takashimaya, Raffles City, Vivo City
• Coffee place- Spinellis, Heeren
• Brunch- P.S. Café Dempsey
• Drinks- Tapas Tree, Clarke Quay
• Desserts- P.S. Café again
• Bread- Cedele
Shit! These are all eating places. There really are limited things to do in Singapore! Or its just me, as the foodie that I am, my fav places in Bombay would be eating/drinking ones too. Moving on….
• Outdoor place- East Coast Park (where there is NO MacDonalds or KFC)
• Just for walks- Tanjong Rhu Bay (again) and Orchard Road (for retail therapy)
• Saving the best for the last: My balcony
So here’s signing off and wishing my very best to Singapore (I hope the IRs work out for you. Pls consider removing the S$100 casino entry fee for PRs)
1 April 2010
(Not an April Fools Day Joke)