I probably should have written this article a few weeks ago when it was the National Day, but I figure there’s never a bad moment to extol the virtues of Singapore. Well, maybe there might have been during the recent General Elections when it seemed to me that all my Facebook friends had an axe to grind with the incumbent ruling party.
The litany of woes and complaints was long. Grievances were aired and shared endlessly. Horror stories about the state of education, housing and public transportation circulated. But amidst all the negativity and, in some cases, mindless rabble rousing, it occurred to me that we too seldom pause to give thanks for all the good things that Singapore has to offer.
Of course there are problems. Every single country has its problems. But the key is working out which country has the least and then holding on for dear life.
A friend of mine recently said she was sick of living in Singapore and wanted to migrate. Intrigued, I asked where.
“I’m thinking of California!” Marcy said.
I was astonished. “You’re moving from a country that’s never had a deficit in its entire history to a state that’s literally bankrupt? And you’ll be living right on top of a fault line. Did you not watch ‘2012’? How will you sleep?”
Marcy stared at me. Clearly, she had not thought of this. But she’s a trouper, our Marcy. Blessed, too, with a never say die attitude.
“Sixty percent tax rate? Ten months of darkness? One of the world’s highest rates of suicide? Seriously?”
“You don’t speak French.”
“You’re poor. And you don’t speak French or German. So that also rules out Germany.”
“You shop at Giordano. You’ll never fit in.”
“You’ll be sleeping on the floor in your dining room which will also be your lounge room and entry hall. And can we talk about the packed trains where they have special guards who push you into the compartments?”
By now, Marcy looked a bit panicked.
“You’ll be living in a shoe-box. The apartments in ‘Friends’ aren’t real. Plus the winters are brutal. And the airports are the absolute pits.”
“London! They have amazing museums and art galleries!”
“Which you will visit once a year. The rest of the time, you’ll be cold. The underground Tube has no air-conditioning and no mobile coverage. The tax rate will kill you and, if that doesn’t, the medieval health care system will. And did you not see the riots on TV? Meanwhile, Heathrow and Gatwick are the gateways to hell.”
By the end of our lunch, I could tell that Marcy was severely depressed.
Saffy says it serves her right. “Seriously, I wish people would just take a chill pill and stop complaining all the time about Singapore. Remember the last time we were all in London during winter? It was dark by 3.30pm, the airports all shut down because of one inch of snow, and the trains were always breaking down. We never left the hotel! And she wants to move there?”
“Maybe we should encourage Marcy to go,” Amanda suggested. “Then there’ll be a bit more space for us on the trains.”
Saffy later said it kills her when Amanda says things like that. “She’s not been on a train in her entire life!”
Marcy rang me this morning and said she’d been thinking about our chat. “I guess I don’t have it that bad here.”
“Ya don’t say!”
“But how am I going to meet someone?” she asked. “All the nice guys in this town are either married or already dating a skank. Or they’re gay! Have you noticed that everyone seems to be coming out? Apparently, Kumar is gay!”
I paused and stared hard into space. “Are you telling me that Kumar is your target market?”
“Well, the way my dating life is going, he might as well be. That’s one of the reasons why I want to migrate. My love life is the pits!”
Saffy says it’s a good thing she’s not friends with Marcy.
“It’s just one thing after another with her,” she said, conveniently forgetting that till just a few months ago, before she’d met her current beau Bradley, she was complaining about the same lack of dating opportunities and contemplating moving to Sydney for its manly surfer hunks. She even took a week off from work to fly down for a reconnaissance only to discover to her horror that the bronzed gods she was lusting after had no idea who Dolce & Gabbana were.
“How would that ever work?” she posted on Facebook. She received 23 Likes.