Archive | March, 2013

A Post Long Overdue

9 Mar

Since my return to Vancouver, I’ve been wanting to blog for the longest time about my interactions with and feelings towards the nation of Singapore. This seemingly “random” post is also in response to an article I read this morning (I rant about that here). Though I was not born in Singapore, I held citizenship till a couple of years ago when I came to Vancouver to further my studies in 2009. After going back to Singapore for a significant amount of time last year… I do have to say that I feel more of a foreigner than a Singaporean. This might be a seemingly redundant line to some readers, I am a Canadian Citizen after all.

What I don’t think I will ever be able to convey in words is, I’ve always felt Singaporean at heart (another contrary statement).

For one, I may be an English Language major, but I love Singlish. I love how I’ve grown up with a crowd that loves to coin and create phrases that become vernacular to no one except those in their circle. Things like “zhey” (expression that often goes along with the raising of the eyebrows as if to say something along the lines of “ooo, impressive”), “arrowing” (when you pass on responsibility to someone else or to assign tasks to another person), “fly aeroplane/pang seh” (to turn down a meeting with someone at the last minute, or to not turn up at all). Of course, these are all examples that I of off the top of my head. There are obviously ton more.

FOOD. Yes, who can not love the food. If you ask any Singaporean who is overseas what they miss the most, I can bet you that more than half of them will say “food”. Afterall, Singaporeans are pretty much food junkies.

Family and Friends. I basically spent most of my life growing up in Singapore. My roots are in Singapore. When I visit, none of my days feel boring, because there’s always someone who I could “force” to come out for lunch with me. Or even breakfast, dinner, or supper! Perhaps in part due to the size of the country, meeting up with friends is rarely a difficult task. A simple phone call or text would suffice.

From the bottom of my heart, I can say that I genuinely miss Singapore a lot.

However, I can’t say that my experiences when I last went back were the best. In fact, it was the first time I ever felt like a “foreigner”. Well, I was in Germany before that (being the only asian in the grocery store made it hard for me not to stand out), but this is a whole different feeling. How do I explain it? It’s like, imagine you were a Ariel the Little Mermaid. Your home is in the water, but one day BAM! You grew legs and now you can live on land… But guess what, you try to live in water again.. and it simply won’t work out. I guess for Ariel it’s a little different, because she loved her life on land. But the truth still remains, the sea is her home, and her family is still in the sea….. lol. What a bad analogy, oh wells, off the top of my head guys.

Anyway, being treated like a foreigner sucks. Especially in Singapore, when I feel perfectly Singaporean even though I know I’m not. I’m just going to be brutally honest. It feels like due to a barrage of events, there seems to be some sort of hostility towards foreigners. Be it knowingly or unknowingly, this hostility comes in all forms: from people with “power”, by random passer-bys, or even through innocent jokes amongst friends. Truth is, these feelings of hostility are perfectly understandable.

Singapore does seem to be getting overpopulated. For a person who is short (and I guess, small?), i don’t actually appreciate small and tiny spaces. Congestion and tight areas can get me real agitated.

I know I often jokingly say this, but sometimes I do feel that even though I love Singapore, it doesn’t seem to love me šŸ˜¦ Having said that, the idea of living in an overly congested and populated country doesn’t hold much of an appeal to me. Yet, starting all over again, and rooting myself in a country where I practically have zero roots besides my birth is an equally difficult task.

So even if my faith and trust in His goodness might waver here and there, I want to constantly remind myself that He will place me in the best place for me to me at the exact right time. Though the future remains uncertain, I want to be no where else, except where He wants me to be.

A Never Ending Vicious Cycle

9 Mar

Without going into in-depth detail of everything that could be said about thisĀ article, maybe let’s just think about some words that might pop up into your mind after you’ve read it: “rich”, “younger generation”, “wealth”, “lavish expenditure”, “materialism”, “safe”, “home”?

What comes to my mind?

Success-driven.Ā 

Whether or not Singaporeans are materialistic is in itself a slightly skewed assumption. After all, materialism seems to exist throughout the whole world. Perhaps more so in certain countries than others, but it is still prevalent nonetheless. Yet, having said that, one cannot deny that it is very much a one-track route for Singaporeans. If not for anyone else, at least for me.

School -> University -> Job -> Marriage -> House -> Car -> Children -> Big, fat savings account -> Nice retirement home

Not to say that all these things are not sensible things to invest into. But I sometimes feel that this way of life is overly elevated. What about those who crave a simple life? In fact, many of us desire that. We just want a comfortable home to share with someone we love. To be with family, and make those we love and the people around us happy. I believeĀ I grew up with a very sheltered mentality of Singapore. Well, the country is tiny and it’s so easy to live in a bubble. To feel happy and at ease because everyone else seems to be. I never truly understood the idea of the truly wealthy, or as the author states, the “average millionaires”.

Yet, a bubble is a bubble. It can burst anytime.Ā Same for success. It is fleeting, isn’t it? Yet we seek it all the same. Why? Perhaps a feeling of satisfaction fueled by the desire to “be happy”?

I recently sat through a presentation in one of my classes on “conspiracy theories” in relevance to the economy and the government. Though a lot of what was shared is out of my league, I do agree that it’s almost impossible to run off and try to survive on your own. Even the example of the man who left to start a farm and live secluded, as far away as possible from the government, stayed connected via the internet.

At least if you were in somewhere like Canada or America, you could very possibly, at least, have that option. But in Singapore, where would you run? To a land that would probably be built into some 70-storey condo in the next 5 years? Singapore is so incredibly small. Though I commend the effort to do the best with what they have (ie: Gardens By the Bay), nothing beats the real deal. Not to say that I don’t think “hiking” up Bukit Timah hill or cycling around Pulau Ubin is extremely fun, but honestly… nothing, nothing beats walking to the bus stop to go to school and having mountains, just on my left, in clear view.

I guess it scares me, because I wonder where the nation of Singapore will be in 5 years. Or in 2 years for that matter. I am still rather ignorant, but from the little I know, I am uncertain about where I want to be when I graduate. Could I survive in a country that seems to exert such pressure from all sides?