Friday, 7 November 2014

a 'Singapore' way of life...

I think anyone who has lived in Singapore (long enough) may relate a bit more to this than the others...

When I moved here from Dubai, I was pretty sure life would be similar. I had anyway heard of great similarities between the two countries, probably they both could compete closely on who offers a better way of life! So I was pretty prepared to settle down fast. 
Dubai skyline from our home

Dubai of course got me used to certain luxuries cars, enough domestic help, flexible work hours, good Indian food (literally anywhere anytime), tax free country, watching Hindi movies even before it released in India (luxury of a Friday weekend), Hindi FM stations (not 1 but 4)....and tonnes of other small things that I never even considered a luxury till I got here!

I had got used to grocery stores remaining open 24 hours (I mean the 'small' neighborhood supermarkets, they would even deliver a matchbox or pack of cigarettes to your home at 1am), stock all kinds of groceries (catering to every nationality and mind you Dubai has close to 93% expat population and a very mixed lot as well). So after living there five years, my life had become quite easy (probably easier than India).

While here everybody would often tell me, that Dubai is far from reality but after living here, I can now say this life is a bit more unreal. In Dubai, I didn't need to organise my life a week ahead, I could have an 'unplanned' day, a cab driver could refuse me, I could be stuck in a traffic jam and I could decide my dinner menu at 4pm!

So when I moved here, I presumed the same. So many Indians (of course I never then knew the difference between a Singaporean Indian vs expat Indian), so life should be similar.

As days went by, I could see the difference! Good or bad, it was different! Though some things in Singapore I felt grounded us a bit more- locals and the expats had a common life (to some extent- atleast we use the same public transport, you do mingle and work closely with them at your workplace), the whole 'value' for money aspect was far more prevalent here than in Dubai, living in condo's and having a 'normal' upbringing (like what a lot of us went through in childhood), lot of open space..So it started to seem more acceptable.

 But for someone who juggled and lived by the day, I was pushed to living a more 'organised' life. I had to plan for a week now (be it groceries, sending out a dinner invite, fixing a play date- well honestly there are times even now, I struggle with that). It was very rare that such things happened randomly. In my initial days, I wondered why my door bell never rang out of the blue, I wondered why friends wouldn't drop by without an appointment, I wondered why kids would not intercom at play time! And then it sunk in, this was the  Singapore 'way' of life.
Singapore skyline from our home!

My day would always go as planned, I wouldn't have a fight with someone on the road or at a supermarket, I couldn't pass a week without planning my groceries! Even a trip to Mustafa had to be planned. Forget the trip, even the list had to be well-made or else you will land up spending half your day there just scouting for things. I actually now spend 10 minutes only making an 'efficient' list, so I can shop there more efficiently!

For friends in Dubai, Mustafa the local version of 'Lulu' but probably ten times bigger. For friends in Singapore, 'Lulu' is a way of life in Dubai. But there are tonnes of Lulu's spread across the city, so you are not heading only to one!

After Dubai, my trips to Mustafa didn't seem like a luxury. I would find all the 'odd times' to go there- 9am, 1:30pm (so it feels a bit empty and I feel a sense of luxury shopping there). I know friends who go there even at 10pm (its open 24 hours, 365 days) and bundle in a breakfast for myself at Little India (I have to go all that far to eat a yummy dosa!), so it motivates me better!

Mustafa is just a small example that highlights how organised we are here! After staying here five years, I have surely given in to the 'Singapore way of life'! I am surely good at making my lists now, I do get surprised if my intercom rings at an odd hour and I try and get my dinner invites out a week in advance! And I am sure if I head back to Dubai, I may struggle with that 'unstructured' life!


  1. And i totally agree...the mustafa list has to be VERY well written..divided into departments!!!!!

  2. Very well penned!! But I would disagree to a certain extent..not totally..this place is very structured, very clinical, much like a lego-city!! But what stops you now from not "planning your menu at 4" ( and i don't mean it literally) is that you'd rather spend time with the girls, play with them, color/craft with them, ferry them to their various activities and also ensure the water hot is switched on at 1855hrs!!! Its a different stage in life Anu..planning your day/week/weekends now involves ( dare i say centres) these two beautiful creatures you both created! Gone are the days of spontaneity my friend!!

    1. thanks nitika..i agree with you...but i must mention that i had a far more busier and hectic life there...and i was always on the edge as i felt i may get stuck in a traffic jam, i may have a fight with someone.. i tend to be a bit more chilled here, and I dont need to keep that 'buffer' time for any activity!

  3. Nicr insight into life in two cities :)