Archive for the singapore Category

Being Desi

Posted in singapore, weird ways of life with tags , , on July 26, 2012 by sunshin3girl

I am from a country of many races, prejudices, generalizations, and communities. But when we leave the country to be in another land, we are one. Hell, we are not just one with people from the other states of India; we are one with our neighboring countrymen too. And this includes Pakistanis as well. All of us together are the desis.

And the rest of the world hates us. The general belief is that desis are loud, garish, smelly, cheap, hagglers, and tend to form clans.

Like with all generalizations, while some of these maybe true for some people, all of these definitely do not apply to all the people. But every time I introduce myself to someone new, be it on the phone or in person, I see him/her do a quick mental checklist of all of the above qualifiers. Every time, I have had to prove myself to be a nicer person than what one expected me to be. It takes me several meetings to prove that I am dignified enough to speak softly, I bathe every day and do not drown myself in smelly curry at every meal time, I can pay for my own coffee and maybe yours too, and I can be friends with people from different cultures. Once I am done proving, they tell me “Oh you are not very Indian, are you?”

Damn it!

It is a lot of hard work and often I do not give two hoots. But sometimes, I really need other people to give me a chance. What do I when people refuse to rent a house to me or when a posh nanny refuses to talk further after realizing that I am “not an expat,” but just an Indian? I do not have multiple chances with these individuals to prove my cleanliness and such. I wish there was an elevator speech for the purpose, but spouting my bath schedule will not do the trick, I think.

Oh, and the expat thing. Since I have moved away from my home country and have taken residence in a foreign land, I am an expatriate in all senses of the word. However, in Singapore, when someone says expat, they mean “white-guy.” And white, my dear friends, is not (just) the color of the skin. A white person is filthy rich, gets an inflated salary for doing the same job as the browns and the yellows, and is usually more worldly. This ensures that the said landlord or posh nanny can ask for more money. What will a cheap desi pay in comparison?

I was asked just yesterday, “But can you pay my price?” by the posh nanny. Truth of the matter is that I cannot pay $2000 a month to the posh nanny. So she weren’t really asking the wrong question but I know for a fact that there are many of my westerner friends and acquaintances, who are considered the true expats in Singapore, who won’t pay this price as well. But no nanny, however posh, will ask them this question. Especially, right at the beginning of a conversation.

Well, having vented about how desis are treated, it is only fair that I now talk about how we treat others, for we are no better.

We leave our country to come make a better life in another country but we do not respect the people of that country. I will confine my examples to Singapore, though you could fit those to anywhere else to the tee. Desis in Singapore do not like anything Singaporean – the food, the lifestyle, the language, the people. So why on earth did we leave our dear homeland and come here? If we dislike their mee and their chopsticks, and if we dislike them so much that we have to call them chinki behind their backs (or even on their face, for what will they know?) and if we must not socialize with them but huddle in our own groups to eat our smelly curry every time, then why come here at all?

You do realize that I have come a full circle, right? This is how I feel, stuck in a vicious circle. Neither party is really wrong; what is wrong is that we are two parties and we refuse to mingle just enough to be one, to learn the good things from each other. Just like our standard three social studies book asked us to.


The Moving Day

Posted in My life, singapore with tags , , on December 19, 2010 by sunshin3girl

This time, it is work that is moving and let me tell you, I am mighty excited about it. For one, the new place is closer to home. More importantly, it is situated in what I like to call the coffee district. That is self explanatory, I suppose.

However, being a sucker for all things habitual, I shall definitely miss the present location of work. I remember that it was my eleventh day of moving to Singapore in June 2008, when I first stepped my foot into this workplace. There is only one word that can describe what I felt- disappointment. You see, we were living in a sassy service apartment just off the Orchard Road, and the only other office I had seen was the husband’s, situated in the central business district. So in my head, Singapore was all razzle-dazzle and the location of my workplace paled in comparison.

However, I warmed up to it slowly. I discovered those hidden gems of restaurants and coffee shops around, and I found the most amazing cluster of shops that took care of ones daily needs in less than half the price of anywhere else. I realized the convenience of being located on top of an MRT station, and I found Mimi, the most adorable cat.


If you see it five days a week for two years, you'll love it too

So last week, when they started to take off the bay partitions and my office looked more like a factory, the depression set it. It was the same feeling of nostalgia that had set-in in October when we moved houses. So here’s to another bye-bye and to days of good coffee ahead.

Brown Cartons and Pink Ribbons

Taken by surprise, one is amused and the other just dazed

My Unhappening Life

Posted in real life, singapore on November 12, 2010 by sunshin3girl

This post is nothing but a series of discarded tweets.

It is Friday night, and I was the second last person to leave the office. As I hailed the cab, I checked with the usuals about there whereabouts only to realize that everyone had something or the other on. Including the guy who swore in front of the sacred fire to always be on my side.

So I came home. The taxi uncle who drove me home was very loud and very Chinese. While I sat back and closed my eyes to enjoy the Chinese music blaring from his radio, he made conversation. He asked me if I am a Punjabi. That was just the start.

I dined on a pack of Wai Wai noodles. The first ever instant noodles that I had tasted in my life at the age of 4 were Wai Wai; so I got all nostalgic. Over this nostalgia I remembered that I have not studied for my French class tomorrow (yes, French not Korean. How did that happen you ask? I will tell you the boring story some other day. Ok? Ok.)

So I walked down with my macbook and my French book to the nearest hangout, ordered myself a glass of red, and tried to read some French. In between the bizarre pronunciations and sips of wine, I noticed a tall white guy (American would be a fair guess) trying to catch my eye, waving and all. I ignored and concentrated on my screen. After about fifteen minutes, my phone rang. It was mum. While I was giving her a daily update of my exciting life, I heard someone speak into my ear!

The white guy was saying “I did not realize you were on the phone.” He was also peering into my screen. In between mum’s story, the loud music, French verbs, it took me a good thirty seconds to figure out what had just happened. I finished my wine, and walked out.

Why? Because I am used to dealing with men who want to make fraanship. I do not know what to do in a pub-situation!

I walked back home.

On my way up to my apartment, I saw the nice young lady who lives on the floor below cooking in the nude.

That is when I decided to call it a day. Hope your Friday was happier.

The clinger in me is active again

Posted in home, singapore with tags on October 1, 2010 by sunshin3girl

For all the wanderlust I experience every other month, my claim that I would do anything for a change, whenever a real change happens, I cling.

Last evening I was to meet my ex-landlady to handover the apartment to her. Until the day before, I was supremely excited about the new house and had kept myself busy with the tasks involving big brown boxes and bubble wraps.  But when I cleaned the house, and saw it all empty, it broke my heart. I have spent last twenty six months in that house, and obviously a lot transpired during that time. For example, I have celebrated all three wedding anniversaries in that house. Ok, I am sappy, shoot me!

These are some pictures I took last year after I redid my hall.

The Window

The Bookshelf

The Hall

And some I took last evening after cleaning.

The Hall - After Clearing

The Window - My Favorite Spot

Soon, I will post pictures of the new place. So long.

Ho-hum Tidbits

Posted in My life, singapore with tags , on September 8, 2010 by sunshin3girl

The good tidings are that I have found a house that is dreamlike and expensive and owned by people who like my brown skin. Besides that work just grew on three scales: size, fun, anxiousness. Busy days ahead, hence dependency on K-dramas for escaping reality may grow as well.

In unrelated but highly distressing news, my spoken English is deteriorating and I often catch myself going, “can can,” and “you go first.” Therefore, I have decided to become the activist for Speak Good English Movement. So next time I spot a grammatically incorrect sign anywhere in public, I shall write the correct one on a yellow sticky and stick it on the incorrect sign.

Also, I hate cooking for myself. I would rather read fantastically elaborate recipes and do nothing about them when I am alone than make an omelet for myself.

Last but not the least, note how this post is not about the terrific Korean TV show that I am currently watching. The self-control impresses.

Pride and Prejudice

Posted in My life, singapore, weird ways of life with tags on August 30, 2010 by sunshin3girl

Today we take a break from romantic fiction to talk about some hard facts of life. We talk about the one thing I do not like in Singapore.

I love this predicable city, this tiny country, which has been made clear by me in numerous posts in the past two years. However, there is one thing that breaks my heart.

There is a racial hierarchy that Singapore believes in and operates by. Interestingly, this goes completely unnoticed if you are a tourist. An average person here is mild-mannered and courteous. The worst thing a Singaporean would do to you on the street or in a shopping mall is be reserved and not smile at you.

However, you may sense something if you try to look for a job here. I personally chose to believe that the discrimination was more based on the paper work (citizens get a priority over PRs, who get a priority over foreigners) rather than my race. Twenty four months later, I will tell you that my assumption was not very accurate. Nevertheless, I chose to ignore it because I have friendly colleagues from all over South East Asia, and my Singaporean superiors don’t judge me from being who I am.

Today, however, I was yanked out from my self-made cocoon.

When I searched the property web sites for apartments to rent, I found many of the preferred listings stating in bold “NO INDIANS or PRC.” It angered me, but to each his own, and I skipped those entries. However, when I started to make calls to various agents, almost everyone asked my race, and then two told me “Sorry, no Indians.” One of the guys simply said, “What country?” and then, “I will call you back.” He did not even ask what I was looking for!

It is not to say that if you are an Indian or a Filipino or from PRC, you will not find a job or a house here. What I am saying is that if you are white, you would be flocked wherever you go. If you are a Singaporean Chinese, you will be respected soon as you walk in. If you are an Indian or Malay, you will have to work hard to win respect.

And that hurts.

Wondering …

Posted in My life, singapore with tags , on March 5, 2010 by sunshin3girl

Every time a colleague spots me with a new books, I am asked two questions. In the same order.

“Is it by an Indian author?” and then regardless of my reply,

“Did you buy it from India?”

It is beginning to get on my nerves. Maybe it is just their thought process that I’ve been unable to figure.