There is one kind of people who love US so much that they can’t think of staying anywhere else. There is another kind who love Europe so much that no other place in the world seems comparable. You talk to them on any place, they will bring Eu reference and utilize all possible data points to prove Eu as best in the world. I belong to the second kind. For me, either the beauty and money of Europe or the comfort of my home town is necessary– I rarely think beyond this. So, when people talked to me about Singapore for the first time, I was not over enthusiastic. For me, the expectation was a country with places to see and a subsequent tick mark on my bucket list. Staying in that country for more than what is required was not thought of. I hope you know what I mean.
That notion got a major shake when I first came out of my hotel and walked down the streets of Little India. There is one Little Italy or China town that exists in many corners of the world – but this is different! It is in almost real sense a little India! You see Indians everywhere – so much so that you do not realize if you are in some other country. Garments, jewelries, coconuts, mobile phones, hawkers – I will really need to think hard to remember what is missing. Of course the large and dust free roads and wagons of BMW make you realize that you are in some other place, but you will end up admiring the variety more than roads and cars.
Then the food. Singaporeans normally do not cook at home – a flat with a kitchen will come at a premium! So, there are proliferations of food joints across the country and its streets. I marched into the Tekka center and what I saw was a mix of Quincy market of Boston and Hogg Market of Kolkata. There are food stalls all around – all sorts of food that you can think of are being served. I tried one Biriyani and it was awesome! The cost was just 5$ – excellent value for money.
I like the ability of Singapore to surprise at every moment. You come to Raffles place – you get awestruck with the view of the skyscrapers everywhere. I didn’t count – but at least the offices will have more than 50-60 floors. You look down and you find La Pasa – a food court that serves Korean to south Indian to Japanase – everything! You walk through the Marina Boulevard a bit and you see the river with boats sailing. Every corner and turn in Singapore has something new for you. Here I met an old friend of mine whom I did not meet in last 10 years or so. We studied together during our college days but hardly met after that. He and I spent an evening talking and remembering all good old memories we left in the memory lane – blowing the dust away from the old jewels was a great experience by itself! In today’s world, when you have more colleagues and less friends, meeting a friend after 10 years was superb!
That another unpredictable evening when I and one stranger-turned-to-friend walked through the streets of Orchard. With me being cautious about the road signals and my friend being desperate for breaking the “boring” rules, every cross road was fun. It actually reconfirms my old belief that it does not matter how much of time you spend together, but it is the quality of time and like mindedness that really matters in life. Within that 2 hours, both of us talked about some emotions which were otherwise personal in nature and we do not often discuss about.
We explored Paragon and Lucky Plaza malls in the Orchard road. Paragon is unlike what is described in wikitravel. It contains luxury brands for sure, but for that matter, many other malls do. It is not for undermining it, but to say that it is comparable with many other shopping malls in the world and Singapore. Lucky plaza is bit different – I heard it was infamous for cheating tourists. I didn’t try though. It is full of electronic shops / stalls from top to bottom. The shops are small ones – quite matches with Chandni market of Kolkata. Majority of them were closing down at 8.30 pm itself, so could not see all.
Orchard is an amazing place to hang out. With miles and miles of shopping malls on both side of the road, you will not get bored. You can spend an evening or you can spend days – Orchard is always ready to greet you with its grandeur.
I liked Singapore in my first sight. I like its unpredictability, its ability to surprise every moment, thousands of people co-existing without pushing each other, I feel its open arms ready to hug people from all over the world. Thank you Singapore – rock on!