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Going Back to My Roots


Being true to myself starts from being who I am. And truth be told, I am a lot of things, but most importantly, I'm a Singaporean. And being a Singaporean means a lot. So here are a list of things will definitely tell you that you're on this tiny little island of a red dot.

1. Standard of Living
Being a 'Urbanized' and 'Mordenized' country, the cost of living in Singapore can be comparable to that of many countries high up in the ranks like Japan and US. We have a saying here that every year, something is bound to increase, apart from your pay. And this year, it was the Goods and Services Tax [GST] which was increased from 5% to 7%. Which basically means that the cost of everything buyable is increased by 2%.

Having a high standard of living also means that the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and everyone else in between is in the rat race of reaching the 'rich' status so they can get 'richer'. Which also means that many people will be 'showing off' their fancy sports car only to drive home to an empty house at the end of the day just to get others to believe that they have it made.

I personally believe that wealth does not mathamatically or theoratically equate to happiness [believe me, I know]. Happiness comes from within, not from external factors. That's why you can see me taking public transport to work everyday.

2. The Language
Ok, 2 points I wanna talk about here. Numoro uno, the world-reknowned Singlish. Every sentence you hear on our streets ends with a 'lah', 'mah', 'meh' or 'hor'. This is the main thing that immediately distinguishes the ordinary Singaporean from any other foreigner. It's our tradition and our way of life. Some people say it's crude, but I say it distinguishes who were are so Singlish for me is a definite keeper. But of course we need to know how to translate it to proper English or some other language if your poor visitors 'catch no ball' about what we are trying to say. Here are some snippets of classic Singlish made-to-order.

"Why the bus so long?" - meaning the bus is taking a long time to come
"Can borrow me your pen?" - can you lend me your pen?
"My diskette at your there" - My diskette is with you

No.2, our coffee shop talk, especially the drinks stall. Sad to say that genuine coffee shops nowadays are depleting in numbers as more and more 'Chain Coffee Shops' try to take over. But hop on down to the nearest coffee shop under your friendly housing estate and you'll be in for a treat. I don't know if it's the same for other countries [I'm not well travelled] but the coffee talk in this country is amazing. Here are some of my favourites, for local and foreign viewing alike.

Milo/Horlicks Dinosaur - Super concentrated version of the typical drink, up till the point where you can still see a mountain of powder within the drink even when it's served.

[insert drink name] sua - This is common language used by drink pushers while communicating with their dealers. A quick way to say x2 [times two]. eg milo sua = 2 cups of milo, teh sua sua = 3 cups of tea

Tak Kiu [Hokkien for 'kicking ball'] - Traditional calling for milo. Why? Well, cos the picture on the milo tin shows a person kicking a soccer ball, hence the literal translation.

I could go on and on but lets just stop it here.

3. The Obedience
Singaporeans are like well-trained pets. Any form of rule or regulation will be adheared to as quickly as ABC. Take our public transport for example. Previously commuters were having problems entering/exiting our trains due to the conflict of interest on both sides [mainly entering and exiting]. So some smarty ass took a bucket of yellow paint, painted a few lines at the door area of the trains and pasted a notice that said "Please stand behind the yellow lines" and POOF! The problem was solved just like that. No station officials, no fines for disobience no nothing!

yellow lines

4. The Kiasu-ism!
Another trademark of a typical Singaporean. This simply means wanting to be first or best in everything. Whatever the reason that we are this way, it's always amazing to see what this simple word can do. Take for example our MacDonalds Hello Kitty craze. During that time, Mac wasn't 24-hours yet, and I think it opens at 6am daily. At 12 midnight of the release date, people were already starting to queue at the glass doors in a bid to be the lucky few [thousand] who could get their hands on the first batch of dolls. By 6am, anybody else who joined the queue would almost definitely be told that the dolls are out of stock.

This also means that getting 98/100 marks for a test is not good enough if there are people getting 100/100 for the same test. Which also means that getting 55/100 for a test is good enough if you got the highest mark in class. This Singaporean trademark is one that I do not approve of. It only gives others an unruly and sub-standard impression of us. Does rushing to be the first in line to board the almost empty bus mean that you would get back home any sooner? Oh, talking about buses, let me also mention some of the 'rules' of buses that we have.

rule #32 - The first in line to board the bus almost always doesn't have his coins ready. [This still stays true for the new ez-link card system we have now]

rule #95 - 2 talkative aunties will never share the same seat.

rule #12 - Pregnant/Elderly people have this strange power to put seated people to sleep or attact their attention to something so amazing outside the windows.

rule #72 - For some strange reason the part of the bus after the exit door is always semi-empty even if the front is packed like a can of sardines.

So there you have it, some of the glamorous and not-so-glam events in our daily lifes that make you wanna shout out "That's a Singaporean!"

Anyhow written on Mar 5, 2007 at 3:08 PM

3 bored people said something about this

Hey... ive been to singapore(oh wait that was only the airport, during my transit flight to australia).

I like your description.... and the 1st person never having the coin ready ...hahah!!!!

posted by Blogger mesmerized : 4:51 PM

thanks. I'm just telling it as it is. =)

posted by Blogger anyhowblogs : 5:13 PM

Interesting info!!! I love hearing about other countries. I just wish Americans were half as polite and obedient as your citizens appear to be!
I like your art work on the left, too.

posted by Blogger AMAZING GRACIE : 3:50 PM
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