lundi 15 mai 2017


Singapore usually is in the news when some of its draconian laws are highlighted in the West, much to the horror of the liberated minds. The lack of Space and Time and the rapid growth all turns one off and recently Singapore has been in the news as the most expensive place for an expatriate to live as well as THE right place for an expatriate in the early stages of his or her career to jump start it ahead.
As the bus left the chaos that is Malaysia, and entered the city-state of Singapore, the order and discipline was evident. People dutifully lined up at the Immigration counters, the agents behind were efficient and the bus drivers patiently waited (without spitting) at their designated rows for the passengers to arrive after clearing the immigration and customs.
What amazed me was not the order and discipline, in contrast to the joyous commotion and chaos in Malaysia, but the greenery of the island. The streets are lined with trees, every little space available was filled with plants and trees and shrubbery. For an overcrowded “barracoon”, it was pleasing to enter this city state, drive along the streets, where the traffic flowed smoothly.
In fact, the mind felt calm after entering Singapore and the streets were clean and everything seems to be running smoothly. Chinese people dominated the scene, as were their eateries full of people enjoying delicacies such as Fish Head, an entire restaurant devoted to the soup of that name.
I used Uber and within minutes a young lady arrived in a well-kept car and we had a pleasant conversation. None of the dismissive kind of talks from the shopkeepers and taxi drivers that I remembered from my visits here previously. She is a young mother and supplements her income with Uber. She does not agree, as did several other analysts, that Singapore is the most expensive city in the world. As we were approaching Changi Village, she said, you could eat well here cheaply or very cheaply, with so many restaurants lining both sides of the street.
She let me off at the Village Hotel in Changi and within minutes I was out of the hotel, enjoying the scene of lives being played out on the street, mainly in the crowded restaurants. Muslim representation was few, and you could see young and old Malay women dressed in contemporary dresses.
I chose a restaurant, intriguingly named  Dynamic Café, which was run by energetic Tamil youngsters, who had migrated here from Malaysia. I knew that one million educated Chinese had migrated here fro Malaysia not to include the hundreds and thousands of day workers who come in from Johor Bahru on the Malaysian side each day.
I would have preferred to stay on the Malaysian side of the border but no one could guarantee me whether or not I could reach the Changi Airport in Singapore comfortably early to catch my 10 30 flight with Qatar Airways.
The foyer of the hotel was full of Chinese tourists on group travel; at least they are getting out and seeing the world, which is a good thing to broaden their outlooks. They were somewhat unruly and loud; taking selfie photographs in front of everything, such as the depiction of food, artificial flowers etc.
The hotel is very practical one, so you don’t expect to make any friends with people working there who had detached expressions in their faces. A very stern driver in an old bus drove some of us to the airport, which is their airport shuttle and within half an hour I was at the Terminal 3 entrance.
The Qatar airways check in counter was not busy. A delightful young Chinese lady attended me by the name of Anya and soon I was at the line for Immigration and at the Lounge of Dnata, which is just a generic lounge not worthy of Qatar Airways! One of the attendants at the kitchen area, an older lady was so pleasant and helpful that I thanked her repeatedly.
This is not the impression one has about Singapore, but my one-day in Singapore has really given me something to think about, why and what is happening in Singapore.
With such pleasant thoughts I boarded the Qatar airways flight to Doha.