Saturday, August 10, 2013

Home, truely

9 August


This is not strictly a travel post but it is about a country, so I'm just going to stick it in here anyway.

If you told me ten years ago that I would ever love my country, I would never have believed it. No one who knew me then could ever have pegged me as a patriot or even think to have that conversation with me. I'm sure I exuded "I despise my country" vibes. Even the dentist who extracted my wisdom teeth  said "You don't look like the sort of girl who has deep roots"..

Speak not to me of the irony that I had consciously made the decision at 18 to bond myself to the country for the formative years of my career-- that I can only attribute to momentary folly and flight impulse going in overdrive.  Then, the thought of spending my college days in Singapore filled me with dread (you cannot blame me, I went through one of the uni orientation programmes), that I had to find an escape route by whatever means that I would. I considered myself above the hoi polloi-- the arrogance of youth! Living the consequences of my decision perhaps coloured my view of the world, of my country, in all aspects of my life.

In the past few years (coinciding with a change in career direction, impending middle age, and permanent brain damage caused by alcohol poisoning), I started to see Singapore as being "not so bad anymore".

Strange things have started happening with alarming frequency, such as having a real admiration for the new Singapore skyline, putting my hand up for things like OSC and NDP tickets, having to choke down tears while reading inspirational propaganda stories about ordinary Singaporeans, and watery eyes watching Pink Do 2013 video with the Home theme song for the 20th time.. (although I'm sure some of the tears coincide with PMS)

LST asked last night, after we were done ogling men-in-uniform from the National Day parade, if I would stay in Singapore forever. She does not intend to come back for good, as she does not consider herself to have strong ties here. CST and I rmused that while this had been our sentiment when we first came home years ago, we now can see ourselves living here for the rest of our lives.

Reflecting on what has changed, I have to say that it isn't just growing patriotism or a result of Singapore becoming more livable (although a much better selection of good bars and restaurants has definitely helped!). There definitely is a strong dose of realism and practicality as well. One gets set in one's old ways and used to routines and people.

I don't know if I can say, hand on heart, that I love this country of mine. Life here was not as comfortable as I remember growing up. I go about daily life living the challenges and uncertainties and inconveniences that every Singaporean must live. I get irritated by the stupidity and obnoxiousness and concrete thinking of my fellow Singaporeans all the time. But like every dysfunctional home, you make the best of it and try to be invested in it.

Of course, should there be opportunities to work and live abroad, I would definitely be keen to explore give them a go (High Openness to New Experiences on my psychological profile) but now any such decision that I make in that department will no longer be due to push factors or angry feelings or resentment but because I truly would like to pursue that opportunity for its own merits.

Scenes of Singapore: Amber Road, Tiong Bahru Bomb Shelter, Marina Bay Skyline, View from MBS Sky 57, East Coast Park, Ah Meng's descendants, Sentosa aquarium, Beach bar on Sentosa

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