16. For a Clean City-state

@Singapore City, Singapore.

This would be for that clean island, the city which I visited as my first travel abroad. It would rather be a city-state considering it’s size and the way we see it as well as the way it functions as a single metropolitan area, but still happening to be the third most densely populated nation in the world. This journey to Singapore was perfect for me; I felt at that time, that I found the most perfect place, very clean and tidy as well as balanced, even if there is too much urban area and buildings and less greenery around. It surely did look aritifical for me; even the trees and those less number of plants around looked more built than grown. It was the place I first knew McDonalds and that there was something called a hamburger. I didn’t like it at that time, but it came back to me later, when I was in England; Liverpool to be exact, and it started being an influence on me; a taste which held on to me through all the British cities, Dubai and then to the Indian cities of Chennai and Kolkata. There is no McDonalds in Kerala as I know, and I will have to wait very long before I get any more of that taste, but the fact remains that it all began in Singapore for me. My experience with this type of food has it’s roots in Singapore and this makes the place of the beginning of change for me even if nothing really changed at that time.

This trip was just a journey and it surely didn’t bring any change, but it did make that path clear for change. This trip was actually a substitute; the real reason being our inability to get a visa to the United States. Why that visa didn’t get approved is still a real mystery for me; may be it was an ever-lasting influence of the September 11 attacks, but the way in which the visa to the United Kingdom was easily achieved, gave me more thoughts about it. There was one good thing about not getting a visa to the new world; it was that the Singapore trip came instead. It is not that Singapore could be a substitute to the United States, but it was needed and the place delivered what was required. I would still have a desire to travel abroad, especially Europe and somewhat to the Americas too, but what Singapore did was to give that feeling of being somewhere else. It was still in Asia, but it gave more of a Western feeling which was injected slowly and steadily and with every day, it increased that feeling. It was something which widened the thoughts, feelings and dreams by a small extent, which would be a little more improved by Malaysia, with Sri Lanka adding a load of spirituality and then intellectually awakened by England with a calm push by Scotland. The life remained the same, but it had that required token for change by the time I was out of Singapore.

The trip to Singapore was near perfect; the only downside being the journey in Indian Airlines which reminded me of some local bus with some weird sounds around. The connection flight was from Chennai and it was another plane with older people around. But from the second, I stepped on Singapore soil, everything was so perfect. Right from the beautiful airport, it went on to create an impression; something which planted a seed of ever-widening thought and action in my mind, which wouldn’t start perfectly working until last year. The city was kind of aritifical, it didn’t have that much of a history for me, but I was not into too much history or literature at that time and so it didn’t count for then; but later it affected my judgment of Singapore very much and my heavy impression corroded a bit with not much of Historical or Literature based things gained from there. At that time though, as my life was more typical and like the common computer student and it didn’t really move around to work more into it. During that period, it was just about being abroad at a place which tourists visited; it was the place most of the people preferred and the package was also the better among foreign trips; these factors just contributed to that journet and nothing else was on the scene.

As tourism is a major industry and contributor to the Singaporean economy, it was not really difficult to go around the city and look for attractions; to be honest, there was something to see almost everywhere and having relatives there helped the cause. As almost everyone was speaking English, there was no language problem either. The rain which came and went away on a few occasions raised the spirits and the cleanliness of the city succeeded in giving that feeling of being at a big home rather than being on the streets; there was nothing to worry about, and it was a place which led the mind to that feeling of not being in chaos any more. There were troubles to come back on the return to India, but when at Singapore, it was all about being calm and serene. The vision was clear and it was so easy being there. Back home, there only easy thing was being lazy and falling asleep along with the other interests which would cease being interesting things in my later life. Singapore might have been a sign which I didn’t notice at that time. It might have tried to tell stories from it’s artificial universe of skyscrapers, but that was not my time to listen; I was walking the way of science and I couldn’t listen; I lived in that material realm which collided with what was present in that world and created further materialism in my life which took time to move away.

That was the time when malls and their escalators entered my world. Those hamburgers and sandwiches also played their part in an attempt to change the lifestyle. The system of transportation there left me not wanting to go anywhere on my return back home. The air conditioned church left me needing something more in the local churches. The practice of looking for air conditioned restaurants also stayed with me for a short period of time until that ‘being Aluvaite’ feeling returned. Being at Little India was the only feeling which I could carry over and keep forever. The biggest attraction there was indeed the Sentosa island, which was to represent this island nation throughout my mind. The current orange coloured low-floor AC buses of Cochin still reminds me of the buses in Sentosa. The Tiger Sky Tower, Singapore’s highest observation tower is located here along with Butterfly Park, Insect Kingdom, Dolphin Lagoon and the Underwater World. Fort Siloso will bring some history to you, taking you back to the World War II. There was also the musical founation which didn’t impress me at all. There is a suspension bridge which is a photogenic structure and it will lead us to what they claimed to be the Southernmost point of the Asian continent.

There were beaches all around Sentosa and they were just too clean to be real. My digital camera of that time was a 3.1 mega pixel Kodak thing which had it’s limitations when concerning great beauty, but I managed what I could. The nature still existed in Singapore and it was good to be in those zoos and botanical gardens which had a lot to offer; especially the Jurong Bird Park where we actually started our journey. These natural attractions are the bigger ones, but they are still kind of artificial for me; it exists as attractions and not as mother earth, but still they were indeed wonderful and kept so clean that even mother nature would be proud. The presence of our relatives in the city and the discovery of some Indian restaurants kept us in touch with the food of our lands. But still having food in Singapore Dollars was a pain. It was fun to eat Biriyani, Ghee Roast and Masala Dosa at a far away place at a higher price. The price list was quite shocking in the beginning, but it was all about getting used to it. This is a trip which happened many years ago, but something of it stays; it has been overlapped by many places and so many years and so my story of Singapore stays outdated and limited. As Athens, Sparta, Thebes and company no longer exists, I would consider this my favourite city-state for now; even as it is not Greek.

Diving out —>

TeNy