Monday, March 23, 2015

An outsider looking in- An Expat’s tribute for Mr Lee Kuan Yew

Growing up in India in the 80s, Singapore to me was a shopping paradise. My cousin used to visit often and came back with the loveliest clothes, the prettiest accessories and an occasional TV. I constantly heard about the fabulous Orchard Road and the electronic haven that was High Street. I set foot in Singapore very many years later in 1998. My first time away from family and I was homesick. And how!

  • I used to live in an HDB. And I hated it! I hated common corridors, the unfathomable concept of elevators not stopping on every floor and the large kitchen-small bathroom layout. This was till I realized that Singapore had the least number of homeless people in the world. Almost every Singaporean had a roof over his head thanks to this public housing system
  • At that time I traveled from Yishun to CBD in the efficient and comfortable MRT and yet I lamented about the length of the commute. I thought Singapore should have ‘fast’ trains like the Mumbai local which helped cut down travel time by half compared to the normal train. Later someone explained to me that Singapore was an egalitarian society. Thus no area should receive priority over the other and hence the same train graces every station
  • I used to sorely missed my idli-dosa and was amazed that Little India housed some fantastic options
  • I was there when the beautiful red brick National Library building was torn down to make way for SMU. It was a place where I spent my early years in Singapore lost in my world of literature and books. I cried when it no longer existed. Until I related to Singapore’s vision of developing into an education hub
  • In my first work place, there were 15 people, with 12 different nationalities. Very few nations can boast of such a cosmopolitan culture
  • My first friends were Singaporeans- Chinese, Malay and a Eurasian. Plus a Brit expat. Perfect reflection of the Singaporean population :) They are still my dearest friends more than a decade later.

Over the years I have moved from a HDB to a condo. From heartland to expat playground and I have seen Singapore prosper and grow. Taking me along with it. I saw Marina Bay Sands being built in front of my eyes in a record time of less than five years. I attended an international soccer match at the Sports Hub last Oct when a few years ago it was merely rubble. I witnessed the construction of both these marvels from my balcony and the speed of development never ceased to amaze me.

My son adores Bombay, but only considers Singapore home. As a single mum, I appreciate the conveniences, safety and security that Singapore offers even more than most people.

Over the last 16 years I have seen the Singapore skyline evolve. I am now connected to even more places thanks to the Circle Line and am awaiting the completion of the Downtown line eagerly. I observed the birth of Terminal 3 and kept track of the accolades that Changi airport received year after year. It is undoubtedly world's best! I have seen changes, growth and progress at a pace that would make one’s head spin. 

I watched myself flourish professionally thanks to the opportunities this island state offered.  And advance financially due to its sound policies. Where I am today and what I have achieved, I owe a great deal to Singapore and hence to Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

I have you to thank Mr Lee Kuan Yew for having the vision and building a country like none other. I owe you my independence Sir. My gratitude is beyond words. I wish from your resting place you see Singapore continue to thrive and succeed. The way I have seen it for last 16 years.

RIP. Your job here is done and now it’s up to mere mortals like us to keep up your good work and your unfailing spirit. 

Thank you Sir.

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