Sunday, April 02, 2006

Is two months a sufficient time to pass judgement on a person/place/thing? Not really. But it’s enough to form impressions and that’s exactly what I’m going to share today-I recently moved to Singapore-which if popular legend is to believed is less than the size of Bangalore but generates 9 times the GDP of India. And yeah, you can use the above fact for a cocktail conversation, provided you acknowledge the source: P

Since I keep hearing that change is good and also since I have been advised to keep it short, I’ll break this blog into a series-hope that works! Do realize that we are living in the age of limited time and short attention spans-just that my train of thought keeps runnin’ runnin’ and runnin’ runnin’ (that’s to the tune of Black Eyed peas-lets get it started). Ok, getting back to the context:

- The first thing that strikes you about Singapore is that it’s so damn manmade (though I have to admit, very well made)-spotlessly clean, things are where they are supposed to be, there’s enough glass, fibre, steel and concrete to make you believe they are natural phenomena-even trees are trimmed and manicured to make them look like pretty personifications of a picture postcard. I strained to look for some signs of carelessness but no pothole, no stray dogs, no faded colors, heck not even bird shit!! Have you ever seen those models built by architects, where there are symmetrical shapes, co-ordinated colors and nothing strays beyond the defined lines. Magnify that model by a million and put about 40 lakh people in it of varying nationalities (mostly Chinese, Malay and Indian) - you would be getting a pretty accurate picture of Singapore.
- If this were a only a city, things would be looked at in a very different light-but this happens to be a country and coming from India where you have gazillion villages and thousands of towns and cities, it just makes Singapore this patch of land which somehow seems too small to be qualified as a city. What adds a dash of humour is the local weather forecast on TV that shows clouds over the western part and sunshine over the eastern. Just try imagining this voice in your head-“andheri west pe baadal chhaye rahenge, par goregaon mein dhoop khili rahegi” and you’ll know what I mean.
- What’s great about this place is that crime rate is low and by low, I don’t mean relatively low (862 murders in Indore vs 8600 in Patna) …it is really miniscule! The crimes that do happen are crimes of passion and yeah, those do get nasty-but then as long as you aren’t planning to cheat on your spouse or swindle millions of dollars, as an ordinary mortal who’s here on a work permit, life and life’s earnings are not in danger from strangers. So this basically means that all the extra cautiousness you’ve accumulated over the years, in keeping your wallets safe from pickpockets, not venturing in certain parts of the city or being painfully aware of who’s around you, starts to dwindle away slowly but surely in this city-country where per capita income & rolling credit is high enough to ensure that no one trespasses your “jaan/maal”.
(to be continued)