Friday, July 06, 2007

Postcard from Singapore

I am in Singapore on a business assignment, sitting in our 31st floor office that is really an enclosed balcony (with 30 floors of nothing right under the floor) that overlooks the confluence of the North Pacific and the Indian Ocean.

My short observations of the place.
- British style right-hand drive, to the left-side of the road
- Lush green vegetation everywhere, along side the roads.
- Chinese, chinese and more chinese. Restaurants, cafes are all chinese (people and cuisines). Burger King, ice-creams and baked breads have kept me alive here.
- Tamil letters "சிங்கப்பூர்" in the currency and coins are all that is Tamil that I have seen so far. Few Indians, but no Tamils!
- Disciplined people. Example? I have about 12 students (3 malaysians) in my class. Every day people walked in almost on time. When they wanted to have water, they picked up styroform cup. But as against condemning them to the dust-bin after first use, neatly wrote their names on them and used them for water all day! Impressive.
- Some similarity in their gestures to that of Indians. When they wanted to express "how did you make such a stupid mistake" they hit their fore-head (which I thought till date was an Indian copyright!)
- Most Girls prefer higher-than-knee skirts, and healed footwear. Few of them wear short. Evenings are dominated by shoooooort shorts. Very few jeans, and very few sneekers. Guys....well who cares!
- Indians...they don't change anywhere they go. I went to an authorised money changer (who is an Indian) and exchange USD 50 to get singapore $75 . He just gave me the cash and walked away without bothering a transaction receipt. I asked for it and in a typical Indian style he typed a "50 X 1.5 = 75" in a plain low-quality paper, as if I can't do the math. I clarified him "In case you don't know, a receipt is some thing that has at least an address on it!". He said "You will such receipts in Mustafa! Not in small places like this". I pointed him to the Cash transaction receipt book that was lying right in front of both of us and said with a glower "What is that then? Look, if you are not giving me the receipt, I will get the money changed somewhere else". He looked at me with a "Shit! Busted!" expression and gave me the receipt.

(Don't try to come up with a nationalistic "What makes you think that Singaporeans are better?" How does it matter to me?)

I have pictures, but left my USB back home in India! A typical me!


Driver said...

Let me start by saying - "appadaa, ithukkuthaan wait pannindirunthen :)" for the last sentence ;P.

What are you teaching in Singapore? How long?

Badhri said...

Damn it! I forgot that you would be reading this! :)

I am teaching Design Compiler. A tool from Synopsys.

Anand said...

"Indians...they don't change anywhere they go" --- this is a very common knowledge that we all have. The question that comes to me is - Why is that every Indian gets the same perception about fellow Indian? Against whom are we comparing ourselves? As society I think we lost our dignity and respect for each other.

Badhri said...

Exactly what dignity are we talking about here? What am I supposed to be proud off? Why should I respect someone who blatantly flouts the law and comes up with specious reasons to make their deeds look correct?

"Why is that every Indian gets the same perception about fellow Indian?"

I don't know about other Indians. But I talk about Indians because

1. I know have found it to be true
2. I make conscious efforts to shun the disgraceful habits I learnt because of my Indian-ness (throwing the coffe cup off the train, pissing on the road..)
3. I care more about India and its image than about other countries, and now it doesn't look too good.

Anand said...

badri, i was not referring to u at all. i was referring to the guy who did not give you the receipt. I was referring to all those who are like him. My comment was a generic statement to the kind of treatment you got from the person who did not give you the receipt.