Singapore - the 'Little Red Dot' in South East Asia
I received an email from a US based reader enquiring about my decision to make Singapore my 'home of choice.'
It is a great question and merits a proper response. I hope this entry will shed some light on my decision.
Cities where I have lived for at least one year or longer as an adult are Los Angeles, Karachi, London, Singapore and Dubai. This is during a period of over twenty years.
A 'home' is much more than just a place to live. One of the definitions provided by the Merriam Webster's dictionary is, "a familiar or usual setting: congenial environment."
In other words, for a place to be called 'home' it must be much more than merely a residence. One must feel as though one 'belongs' and one must feel 'accepted' by the local population.
Singaporean in trishaw (1955)
Both conditions of belonging and acceptance are true for me in this 'urban village' called Singapore.
For those looking for a more rational answer underpinning my choice, below I have listed my 'Top 5' reasons (pro and con) for wishing to consider Singapore as a home.
It is a personal list and may not work for everyone.
- Everyone speaks English (or its local dialect 'Singlish')!
- Physical infrastructure, including public transport facilities, which surpasses or at least equals anything found in any global metropolis;
- A safe and secure environment with low crime rates and extremely high levels of personal security. I can walk around any part of the island at any time of day or night without having even the slightest apprehensions about my physical safety;
- The food suits my taste. The quality of the food is good and includes basic priced fare at local neighbourhood food courts as well as expensive fine dining restaurants;
- Singapore is a great blend of Eastern traditions and Western freedoms. It is free enough for me not to feel constricted in any way but, at its heart, is a conservative society with great respect for historical cultural traditions.
- Singapore is a majority Chinese, mandarin speaking society. I am not Chinese and nor do I speak Mandarin or any Chinese dialect;
- Cars are lavishly priced due to the Certificate of Entitlement system. Even simple cars are expensive. For example, a Hyundai Avante 1.6 presently retails at approximately Singapore Dollars 48,000 or USD 33,100;
- Singapore's location in the Far East squeezes ones travel freedoms. Singapore has a limited 'travel zone' as defined by (say) seven hours of air travel time. For travel, Dubai is ideally located with much of Asia, Africa and Europe accessible within a seven hour flight from the city;
- For various (obvious) reasons, including my lack of 'Singlish' skills, I am still seen as a foreigner by many born and bred Singaporeans;
- The names of many Malay and Chinese dishes are still meaningless to me. In other words, ask me what is Mee Siam and Laksa and I can't tell you. I have my favourite local dishes like Mee Rebus, Chicken Rice and Roti Prata and the rest of the Singaporean menu is still Greek to me!
Unlike Jet Li, who recently decided to make Singapore his home, my choices for home did not include Bermuda, Monaco or the Bahamas. My life style is not predicated on a Hollywood actor's cash flow!
The Singapore Flyer - note the F1 carsin the foreground making a practice run for the world's first Formula One night Grand Prix which took place in Singapore in 2008