Where Merlions toe the line.

Tripoto
8th Sep 2015

The night sky

Photo of Where Merlions toe the line. by Anumita Ghosh

Shark Tale

Photo of Where Merlions toe the line. by Anumita Ghosh

Singapore selfie

Photo of Where Merlions toe the line. by Anumita Ghosh

The king of land and sea

Photo of Where Merlions toe the line. by Anumita Ghosh
"When overseas you learn more about your own country, 
than you do the place you're visiting."
Clint Borgen
 


I hear Americans call Singapore their Asia 101. This tiny country has defied Kipling's presage and amalgamated the best of both worlds. We decided to celebrate surviving two years of parenthood there, accompanied by the kiddo and my bestie!

The trip was a blast! The three adults coped with the tot's expansive spectrum of emotions - from inconsolable tantrums to limitless exuberance. She loved the Zoo, freaked out at the Sea Aquarium and reveled in the company of her cousins. But she was bugged by the long (ish) flight, the change of climate and the absence of her beloved nanny. Hub, Bestie and I ate and walked in equal measure - enjoying every bit of our five days.

Ever since the trip, I am trying hard to pin down the soul of Singapore. I wonder whether it is mapped along the broad, cobbled footpaths or the sinuous, super-convenient MRT? Is it captured in the energy of the Sentosa Island or the romance of Clark Quay? Is Singapore best displayed in the spirit of the flora and fauna that coexist in the gardens and sanctuaries of the town? Or is it hidden in the combustion of varied gastronomic experiences that the city offers?

The Lion City-State was founded by the British, invaded by the Japanese, wedded and then ousted by the Malay. And despite the upheavals has emerged as the strongest Asian economic hub. The secret sauce to their phenomenal success seems to be their blind allegiance to discipline. That sums the core personality of this country. It flirts with energy, romance and convenience - but stays loyal to Discipline. To some extent, Singapore's obsession has blinded them to ambiguity. In a couple of occasions, we struggled to negotiate a perfectly plausible solution that deviated only marginally from the letter of the law (was ok in spirit, I believe). Singapore refused to budge!
 
Then we stepped into Little India - a small locale within Singapore that Indians have stamped as their own. Fellow countrymen have somehow managed to create a minuscule island of absolute anarchy within this island. No traffic regulations, limited hygiene and pure vegetarian food. We shook our heads in disapproval and wished we had greater control over our baser instincts. 

I came back to India wishing my country was more like the one I was coming back from. More frustration ensued when the Indian Airport humbly allowed all foreign nationals in a queue dedicated to Indian passport holders. Right at that moment though, a senior Customs official escorted me and the sleeping kiddo to the front of the line. He ensured I finish quick and have a place to sit and rest until the hubby is done. I quietly hooted for Indian Jugaad and fell in love all over again with the place I call home.

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