Now that things are more or less back to normal, we’re all excited to travel again. A trip we are all looking forward to is our India trip sometime next year before BB enlists for his National Service and GG starts university. So in honour of that upcoming trip, here are some photos while in flight.
Yesterday was Singapore’s 57th National Day and as I was wondering what to write about the day, I started thinking about what makes one a Singaporean? Birth is one of course, but why do those who consciously become one do it? I know why I did it and you can read my story and journey here and here. While I was undergoing my process, I came across many who didn’t have any connection to the country and probably became a citizen only because of the privileges accorded by the red Singapore passport was far superior to their own birth country. They were not interested in the language of the country and by that I mean not making an effort to integrate and speak English which is the working language and one that brings together all the races, not interested in learning about the history and not even interested in its people.
So what makes one a Singaporean?
The first thing that comes to my mind would probably be words like obedient, hardworking and kiasu. These are words which probably describe a nation in which a competitive citizenry is obsessed with being number one in all that it does. A word that probably describes the Singaporean core perfectly is kiasu. A word that is Hokkien in origin, kaisu means being afraid to lose out and is Singapore in a nutshell. We need to win and be the first in everything, coming second is the equivalent of losing. This also translates to parents being tiger mums and dads who want their children only to get As in school and the only careers worth exploring are as bankers, doctors and lawyers.
The Singapore accent and Singlish are other Singaporean identifiers. When we travel, especially in the region, hearing the accent and Singlish being spoken takes you back home immediately and makes a connection in a foreign land.
Singaporeans are also very dedicated, especially when it comes to getting their favourite meal at the hawker centre or the latest Happy Meal toy, the biggest discount or the latest trend. We can stand in a line for hours just to reach the thing we want.
We are complain kings and queens and that’s probably a national hobby. With smartphone usage at a high, we love taking photos of those who we feel are breaking rules and post them on social media to complain. We blow stuff completely out of proportion just for the sake of our daily dosage of entertainment. Then after we’re done, we move on to the next better topic. But woe toward others, especially foreigners who complain about us or our nation. Then we get together to bash them up.
Singapore is a very safe place. As a woman, I can walk around the country even late at night, something I can’t think of doing in India. When we are out and want to save our seat or chope it as it we call it, we use our belongings to save the seat. So anything from a packet of tissue to an umbrella or even our office name tag or laptop can be left on the table and nobody will dare to dream to pick it up. It may be annoying to get your food and see empty tables, but all filled with tissue packets, but we put up with it and get on with life.
We are also a wonderful blend of old and new as well as traditional and modern. Old heritage buildings lie cheek in jowl with modern glass skyscrapers and it’s not unusual to see people wearing the latest fashions walking alongside those in a traditional kebaya or saree.
And of course, no post about Singapore can end without a note about Singlish and the fact that we can speak an entire sentence incorporating all four of Singapore’s languages. Our need for speed in everything and being first also means we speak so fast that outsiders need a translator when listening to us.
But all said and done, Singapore has its imperfections, but no country is perfect. We have to accept the good and the bad and make it even better together. So let’s get together and be grateful to this little red dot. Happy Birthday, Singapore! May you continue to prosper.
And as I always share, here’s this year’s National Day song. Enjoy…
Seven Hundred Years: A History of Singapore – Kwa Chong Guan, Derek Heng, Peter Borschberg and Tan Tai Yong
Assessments of Singapore’s history invariably revolve around Sir Stamford Raffles’ arrival in 1819. Before this date – we’ve been told – “nothing very much appears to have happened in Singapore”. Pre-1819 Singapore was a sleepy, historically insignificant fishing village, little more than the “occasional resort of pirates”.
This ambitious book, co-written by four of Singapore’s foremost historians, offers an assertive re-evaluation of that view. Drawing on a multi-disciplinary range of archival, textual and cartographical records, as well as the latest archaeological discoveries, the authors cast a singular historical trajectory for Singapore over the past seven centuries, animating its history like never before.
Written in a compelling and accessible manner, and richly illustrated with more than 200 artefacts, photographs, maps, artworks and ephemera, this volume builds upon the foundations of an earlier book, Singapore: A 700-Year History. Extensively rewritten to incorporate ground-breaking research findings, Seven Hundred Years: A History of Singapore widens the historical lens and offers a vital new perspective on the story of Singapore.
Hard at Work: Life in Singapore – Gerard Sasges and Ng Wen Shi
For most of us, work is a basic daily fact of life. But that simple fact encompasses an incredibly wide range of experiences.
Hard at Work takes readers into the day-to-day work experiences of more than fifty working people in Singapore who hold jobs that run from the ordinary to the unusual: from ice cream vendors, baristas, police officers and funeral directors to academic ghostwriters, temple flower sellers, and Thai disco girl agents.
Through first-person narratives based on detailed interviews, vividly augmented with colour photographs, Hard at Work reminds us of the everyday labour that continually goes on around us, and that every job can reveal something interesting if we just look closely enough. It shows us too the ways inequalities of status and income are felt and internalized in this highly globalized society.
Most of our trips to Mumbai have been evening flights and so there was nothing to see outside. We’ve done day flights regionally, but I can only remember two other daytime flights to Mumbai in the last 20 odd years. Both times, we flew Singapore Airlines and both flights were in wide-bodied planes, perhaps an Airbus. Earlier this year, when I flew to India, I flew Vistara, the airline that was created due to a partnership between Singapore Airlines and the Indian conglomerate, the Tata Group. Vistara uses a smaller aircraft which is single aisle and so probably flies much lower in the air compared to Singapore Airlines flights. So this time around, I enjoyed the flight because I could see the ground while flying. Up until we entered the Bay of Bengal, I enjoyed the scenery below and took many photographs of the journey. This photographic essay is the result of that trip. My apologies if I shared some photos previously.
This scene greeted me almost as soon as the plane took off from Singapore’s Changi airport. You can see the buildings of Changi in the left and the National Service Resort & Country Club in the front and centre.
A minute later, this is one of Singapore’s offshore islands, maybe Pulau Ubin or Pulau Tekong.
About 30 minutes into the flight, we were flying over the Malaysian peninsula, probably flying over the North South expressway, on the way to the country’s capital of Kuala Lumpur.
About 45 into the flight, you can clearly see the island of Penang and the famous Penag bridge.
The next island is the island of Langkawi, which lies almost on the border between Malaysia and Thailand. We visited the island more than a decade back and have very fond memories of the place and hope to visit it again soon.
About an hour and 40 minutes into the flight, we flew over the Thai island of Krabi.
After Thailand, we veered course to fly over the Bay of Bengal and try as I much wanted to, I could not see much out of the window and the next time I saw something interesting, we were flying over Ahmednagar in my home state of Maharashtra, about 20-25 minutes before we landed in Mumbai.
This photo was taken as we approach Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus for landing into Mumbai. This is the Vashi Bridge which seperates Mumbai from Navi Mumbai or New Bombay, the planned city and part of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). Seeing the bridge brought back so many Mumbai memories of school trips and seeing the bridge I know we are on the verge of landing into Mumbai.
We were on our descent for landing and this is taken just a couple of minutes before touchdown. This is most likely the Eastern Express Highway in Vikhroli East, a few seconds before landing in Mumbai.
And finally touchdown after flying about 5.5 hours. I was back in the city of my birth after more than two years. But now I doubt I will fly into Bombay anytime soon, but never say never!
I hope you enjoyed this photographic journey as much as I liked searching through the photos I took during the flight and remembered my journey.