Now that I have officially completed one month in Singapore I feel I have enough experience to comment on the highs and lows of this place (my perspective, of course.:)).
It has been a totally absorbing and interesting experience so far. I am still not able to completely come to terms with the fact that I am staying somewhere other than my hometown (Bangalore) and that I am here permanently (atleast for the time being..:) what an oxymoron! :)). Though that didn’t stop me from buying an iPhone, a Broadband connection and a TV connection all with 2 year contracts..:)
But the fact of the matter is I am still feeling like I am on a vacation rather than staying at a place called ‘home’. Maybe it requires some more time getting used to.
The best part of Singapore has been the Infrastructure and the way people lead their lives. It has been just amazing to experience the quality of life here. The opportunities to do new things, learn and experience them are just too much. The metro/bus can take you to any part of Singapore in an hour. The drives here are amazing mainly because the roads are excellent, the infrastructure is awesome and the surroundings are just beautiful. Despite having a space crunch there are lots of open spaces, parks etc providing enough breathing space for all. The amount of planning that went to building a city like this is immense and one would feel it’s too good to believe it’s even possible.
The people are very athletic, health conscious and spend a lot of time exercising. Makes one feel good to see so many healthy people around. One can hardly find any obese people. You are an odd man out if you go to gym in Bangalore, but here you are an odd man out if you don’t have any physical activity. And that says it all. The sheer number of activities that’s available to choose from has been heartening. I have started gymming and playing squash here. Next on my list is badminton (with my colleagues) and swimming. Its not that we don’t have these activities in Bangalore (infact I was playing badminton and also gymming regularly there too) but because of the bad infrastructure a single extra activity would tend to fill your day, which makes everything else difficult.
The work ethics here is really good. People are highly professional. I see that a lot more work gets done here in the same amount of time than in Bangalore. Though I still miss the tea sessions I used to have with my colleagues there, I sometimes feel this is for the better. Makes you utilize your time better at office and ultimately outside of it.
Singapore as a location is very ideal to travel to any South East Asian country or even to Australia and NewZeland. That’s another thing I like about being here. People travel a lot and it’s really good if you are a kind who loves traveling. I have booked my tickets to Thailand (Bangkok and Pattaya) for the Good Friday weekend and planning to go to Vietnam during the May 1st weekend. This kind of frequent travel to other countries wouldn’t have been possible if I were in India.
Also, since Singapore is like the epicenter of South East Asia and also since it’s a major financial hub you get to meet people from various ethnicity and backgrounds. The rich diversity here is another attraction for people looking for a truly global experience.
Having said all this, there are quite a few not so good things about Singapore too. Many of the reasons I might divulge here might not be because we are talking about Singapore as a city but they might be true of any city that is not your ‘hometown’.
Anyway, the weather here is pretty fickle minded. It might rain at sunrise, bright sunshine later in the morning, heavy downpour in the noon, back to sunshine in the evening and might become cloudy and cold in the night. Irrespective of how the day goes, one thing that’s common is the humidity. It’s pretty humid all through and you end up sweating like a pig. I know one cannot get the famous Bangalore weather everywhere, though the people here try to beat the weather (or nature) by having air-conditioners everywhere.
Another thing you might miss is your own social circle. I understand that at any new place it becomes difficult to have a big social circle but I feel it might take me years to build one here. It’s never like your home country or your home town. This feeling becomes especially true if you are the type who doesn’t venture out, take part in activities like sports or even have the simple habit of going out and making new friends. So if one is not busy here with some kind of activity it can actually get quite boring or depressing especially considering your beloved family is also not there.
The other day when I left for gym early in the morning I felt severe stomach cramps. It was as if my life was being sucked out and I was in terrible pain. I had to travel about 45min in the bus to reach my Gym and the whole of the journey I just wanted to shout for help. Ultimately I landed in the gym and I puked for the first half an hour. I was in severe pain. My analysis was that it was mostly due to food poisoning and hence was more than happy to throw up. Most people in the gym that day saw that I was in severe discomfort but not one asked me whether I needed any help and these guys had seen me in the gym for 2 weeks. It was pretty bad. Ultimately with a friend of mine I went to the in resident doctor at office and he was not ready to treat me without signing all the documents and agreeing on the payment. Back in India it’s the same for surgery and accidents, but for stomach upset? And especially when the patient was visibly suffering? My first feeling was ‘a foreign country is always foreign especially when things start going bad’..:)
The other problem is the real-estate. For a crammed room and a so called kitchen and bathroom you end up paying exorbitant amount of money. Hence most people stay in shared accommodations but that has its own disadvantages. Also, unlike my earlier perceptions/assumptions sometimes I felt that the people here are racist too, though the behavior of people from India/Bangladesh/Pakistan here might have added substance to their belief/behavior. Also to be honest racism is prevalent in most countries in some form or another. So one shouldn’t be complaining too much about it..
That’s all for now…:) More on my thoughts in later posts…
Some snaps so far: Around Singapore…