Kafez

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Location: Dublin, Republic of, Ireland

Monday, 3 December 2007

Why I find Singapore glorious

My parents were married in Singapore. They moved to Malaysia a little later but as soon as I was born - I'm the oldest child - we moved back to Singapore.
I have hazy memories of my life as a toddler. Yes, I am able to remember this far back...even a nightime scene in a Singapore flat across the road. An elderly couple always talked in their rattan chairs on a balcony high up. Above them, the big round moon loomed.
I still recall their shadowy silhouettes vividly as they sipped from nightcaps. Then there were the different kinds of chocolates my mum would give me and the Ribenas I would drink while aunts came to coo. I also remember my colourful rocking chair and toy horse from where I once fell down and broke a milk tooth, very well.
Servants who came to cook, do the laundry and babysit me when my parents went out to work. My mother and father were teachers. I also remember my giant plastic alphabets and watching an Andy Pandy telly show from England. I couldn't have been more than 3.
When I was 4+, my parents moved back to Malaysia.
In grown-up years, after a stint copywriting for an international advertising agency, I was trained by and worked for a Singaporean fashion magazine as a feature writer. I started my job as junior writer. By the time I left, I had already been promoted to assistant editor but at the time, I wanted to live abroad and sure enough, I would soon go to Australia for a bit of living and adventure.
While I worked as a journalist, I was based in Kuala Lumpur but sometimes went down to the Causeway. I got to know my colleagues quite well. My petty cash, salaries and pay rise increments were all handled by my Singapore editors. That was a blissful period in my life. My editors Suleen Low and later, James Siow were super.
I haven't come here now for 2 years. So in a way, I am able to view Singapore with a fresher eye.
Prices have become a little steep and Singapore is currently one of the more expensive Asian countries. However, you're unlikely to feel the pinch if you use the the American, middle-eastern, euro, sterling or south-pacific currencies. Besides Hong Kong and Japan, other Asian countries are bound to, however.
People have been so friendly. They willingly help you find directions and will even go the extra mile to show you a destination, although they were once walking the other route. I experienced this sort of episode at least 3 times.
You just know they're a happy lot because they're always smiling. They'll smile when they serve you (customer service from the hawker stalls to the lavish department stores is top class by the way) and they'll smile when they're in conversation. Many Malaysians work here as well.
If the people are on high-stress levels, it doesn't show up and I wonder that the country hasn't already reached its point of contentment. I also witnessed their broad sense of humour at the writers' festival.
The women and young girls are very fashionable and dress with a sophisticated stylish culture, inherent of a European summer. One thing that sets them apart is their almost delicate figures...their feminity and daintiness are obvious.
Taxi drivers from my experience so far, are law-abiding, courteous and fluent in English. You just know you'll get nothing short of an honest ride and if you request it, a pleasant conversation in the bargain.
The weather is tops. Sunny and breezy with cool winds. Beautiful coast on Marina Bay.
Orchard Road is just grand at nights. The Christmas light decorations offers high gaiety and a party mood and may just be superior even to Europe. I'll talk more about the carnival-festive air in Orchard Road - the prime shopping district a little later.

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