Friday, March 18, 2011

Singapora – My First Impression!

Bangalore was like ‘home’ and staying there I had setup a nice routine for myself. There was that perfect blend of work and play, an ideal mix of friends and relatives, and a wonderful combination of relaxed days and days that were studded with activities. Apart from the so called ‘work’, there were badminton outings combined with weekly parties with my colleagues, parties and get-togethers with my other friends, daily gymming, numerous marathons, biking, trekking and music concerts…I mean you get the flow right? It was never boring. In fact I really don’t know how the last few years flew by…Didn’t even have the time to think about it and I was not complaining!

But then here I am today at Singapore, which is in many ways poles apart compared to Bangalore. And combine that with my non-existent social circle here and living like an alien in a foreign place. ‘Why’ - is a standard question that many have asked and which infact I too have brooded over.

This was not something that happened because of my initiation. But when the opportunity presented itself and when I was asked whether I would like to move to Singapore it got me thinking. After some digging, the next question that kept cropping up was as to ‘Why’ I hadn’t thought of this myself and given it a shot before? There are so many reasons as to why this seemed perfect and it somehow felt the right step forward given all my aspirations and ambitions. The whole process of resigning at Bangalore and joining here hardly took anytime. I got my first taste of Singaporean efficiency at Bangalore when I got my work entry/visa done within 3 days and that too without even submitting my passport in original! These guys are so efficient, methodical and automated that they know you can’t do anything wrong coming here and if you do you cannot get away with it!

As my last post elaborately explained, February was a very hectic month and I hardly had time to think about anything. Thankfully I had couple of good friends here who said they will help me out with everything. Generally before landing at any new place I read up on a city and do some basic research, but because of the lack of time and also because my friends being here I didn’t go through the usual motions for Singapore.

I landed at Singapore around 8AM Sunday 6th of March. There was no problem with the immigration. It went very smooth. I was not quizzed about anything. All they asked was for my passport and the IPA letter (In Principal Approval letter – A letter with which you can enter Singapore to work and then get the actual work permit later). Everything went fine. My first thoughts were on the infrastructure. It is so good that it talks volumes on the amount of planning and hardwork the government puts in here. They are continuing to build and improve and it’s done so neatly that you wouldn’t even notice if there was a huge construction project underway right next to you. Stark contrast to the way the Metro construction is happening all around Bangalore.

I hired a cab to go to my place. The cab gave me a peek of things to come. Some of the busiest streets, but hardly any haphazard traffic, such disciplined driving! Huge buildings but lots of free space everywhere, with trees and greenery all around. Just loved the surroundings!

The first shock came in the form of my apartment...It really didn’t look one bit like a 'home'..:( After all these years of being at Bangalore it was quite a fright..:) The amount of rent that I am paying is insane for this place. But that’s Singapore for you. There was one room, a small kitchen and a so called bathroom (luxury only for ultra thin people). There was of course a living room with a sofa and a glass table (which I broke when I kept my laptop bag on it. The entire thing shattered to pieces and the post-mortem revealed that the legs on which the table stood had completely rusted). My friend who was staying there had just shifted to a new house the previous night and so the entire house was quite dirty. Had to so some initial cleaning, but it still is quite dirty and i dont think i can clean it any further. But it atleast looks livable now.

After couple of days, nothing looks as bad as it had seemed…Life is like that, isn’t it? :)

Went around Singapore in the afternoon with my friends. Had a nice lunch treat in one of the Indian restaurants. Shopped at Mustafa (supposed to be a famous outlet in Singapore located at Little India. Its almost like an infamous landmark here) for groceries, fruits etc..Was back at home in the evening. Without the laptop I was extremely bored and had all the time in the world to feel homesick!

Landed at office the next day. Travelling in the MRT and public busses is quite an experience. It’s kind of very amusing and never boring. Will talk about it in my next few posts. The HP office felt like home and as soon as I entered I felt its going to be good out here :). It’s a different office atmosphere compared to Bangalore. But definitely nothing to complain about. More on office in another post.:)

Later in the day I got my broadband, landline, TV connection and the best of all my brand new iPhone 4. All this put together took like 1.5 hours. Ridiculous isn’t it? I mean it would have taken me atleast a month to setup all of this back home. I also got my Employment Pass done the same week and it was issued with the same level of efficiency (that I now expected of them..:) ).

First impression had been pretty even. Mixed feelings actually. Missed many things - my family, friends, my various activities, my colleagues, the work atmosphere, and the rest of the things that I was comfortable with back home..:)

But after that, the journey has been pretty great. Feels right to be here and more importantly I feel good. Have now setup a routine for myself here. Joined the health club at office. So I getup at 5.30 and go all the way to office for the gym, have a nice workout, freshen up and go to work directly. Reach office by 9. Have found good company here for lunch and there are quite a few food courts with an Indian outlet (which serves pretty good food). By evening I am all set to take the MRT and explore Singapore. Just waiting for my first salary here to make it a bigger exploration. Singapore is like a door to entire south-east Asia. And its waiting to be explored. I am sure this will be a very good experience for me and that I would love the time that I spend in Singapore.

Will keep my blog updated on all my experiences here, both good and not so good ones..:)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

February weekends!

This February has been one of the busiest months…All the weekends were booked and the weekdays were filled. Spent the first weekend at Hyderabad with my dearest niece (and ofcourse my sis and bil..:)), attended Bryan Adam show, followed it up with ‘Fireflies’ and concluded with a 650Km bike ride on a 500cc Bullet!.

How much of a music buff are you? Irrespective of the degree to which you love music, you would have loved the experience of the musical concerts that happened in those couple of weekends at Bangalore. An absolute blast!

Firstly, the much awaited Bryan Adam’s show happening after 5 years. I had been to his last show here and was really looking forward to having a great time once again. Had booked the tickets for this concert almost three months in advance. Boy! Didn’t it live upto its hype and expectation! Hearing all his songs live and simultaneously singing with thousands of people was worth it!

And then the next weekend Fireflies happened! What more can I say? It was even better than last year with some amazing new bands playing some incredible music. My favorites this time were ‘Yodhakaa’ (A fusion of Sanskrit slokas with different musical instruments), ‘Thermal and Quarter’ (An excellent no-nonsense band), and ‘Something Relevant’ (They rocked the place at 5.30 in the morning). If you can get hold of an album from any of these groups it’s worth a buy. As far as the venue goes, it was under the same banyan tree as last time which made the event even more rocking (hopefully they wont change the venue). We were a lot better prepared this time as we had made sure we had all the necessary material (including mattress!!) to sustain us through the night. The venue, the ambience and the quality of music was so good that I vowed I will be there next year too.

The last weekend of Feburary was one of the best. Went on an awesome ride with some of my best buddies on a 500cc Battle Green Bullet! Rode around 650Km covering Belur, Mullayangiri, Kemmangundi and Chikmaglur. Had hired a bullet especially for this purpose and it was worth every penny. The only sad thing was I suffered from a stomach upset on Saturday afternoon during which time we covered the best section of the ride (full bumpy roads laden with stones). Would have loved to be in good health to do such mountain kind of biking on a bullet. But unfortunately I was so down with fever and stomach pains that I couldn’t really enjoy it much. Apart from the riding, the visit to Belur temple and the stay at Chikmaglur resort were the highlights of the trip.

With that it was the end of Feburary and my stay in Bangalore for the near future. I was gearing up for another exciting month ahead. March 1st was my official joining date at Singapore. Yep! Have joined HP Singapore and have had a fun and unique experience here so far…More on it in my next post soon!