Outside of the holidays and foods, the approach and acceptance of realising bodily noises in any scenario, my abiding memory is best summarised as this: no-one says “excuse me”.
It was Roby who sussed it some months back.
The locals push past. It’s not that they behave as if you don't exist, like we can often feel with certain tourists; rather, it’s just not a part of the day-to-day vocabulary.
And then, the moment you politely question the situation, they apologise like they just dropped a massive shit on your breakfast plate.
Example….blocked by family welcoming home mother as I exit Changi airport.
Marco thinks “that’s sweet, but I don't need that level of thoughtless shit after less than 40 hours sleep and about 40 hours of flight-time in 7 days.”
Takes deep breath, applies standard British approach and apologises…
“sorry excuse me, can I squeeze past?”
Cue chorus of "Sooorrrreeeeeee" as everyone moves out of the way.
As we head towards our new year in Singapore, for me that’s the abiding memory of 2017.
It’s the general lack of thoughtfulness and kindness, an appreciation and recognition of others around you. It’s not malicious, it’s just not there.
There are posters on trains, god-awful a-6-year-old-could-have-come-up-with-a-better-rhyme phrases, trying to get the locals to think about others, not just themselves.
There’s a kindness movement, with Ben and Bang (I’m not making this shit up!) in adverts on TV, trying to teach people to be nicer to strangers; https://kindness.sg/
Here are a couple of the posters you can see on the MRT:
What aspects of anti-social travel behaviour do you think “bag-down Benny” and “hush-hush Hannah” are trying to get across?
Here’s the full gang outside taking a well-deserved break from another day of failing to get their points across….
There’s a word for this behaviour, or self-first: kiasu; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiasu
I took exception to hearing one of our Australian contacts refer to Singaporeans in this fashion – I still don't think it's a nice phrase to use in reference to the locals, but the word is derived within the Hokkien culture; it’s a Singaporean description for Singaporeans. And regretfully, it hits the spot to describe what you encounter more often than not.
So that was 2017!
It has been brilliant and fantastic, difficult and troublesome, so relaxed I wondered if I would ever be able to get up again, and so intense that we thought we would both explode. We've had visitors, stay with us, or stay locally for work and / or pleasure. We've travelled lots, but it still feels like not enough. We've eaten things that should never be eaten, and experienced moments of such uniqueness, that we will likely never repeat, that I sometimes wonder if they actually happened.
Have a fantastic new year to all of you, our family and friends.
We’ll be celebrating it here in Singapore, at a party looking over the bay, with free-flowing food and drink. Should be a prime location for the fireworks, and loads of selfie opportunities! That assumes we haven't both gotten so rat-arsed we are asleep in the corner and miss it all.
We both have form in this matter, so wish us luck, and lots of red bull based drinks.
See you all in 2018 X