Christmas is in the air, the food, the clothes, malls, the houses, the offices. It's everywhere I go (remember Bill Nighy in 'Love is all around'?) Minutes from now, the bells will toll ringing in the festivities. Malls are out to woo the Christmas shoppers with discounts ranging from 5% to a whopping 70%. Forget recession, the spirit of Christmas abounds in the malls and at eateries. Though my estate agent says Xmas this year will be a quite affair with just some friends at home. No partying this year for her and her friends. The cabbie, too seems to be affected, "Everybody wants money, the wife wants money, the children want money. It's Christmas time" he said.
Christmas eve is the big day. Most organisations only work half-day on this day. Christmas for me will be spent house-hunting though. Like this broker, who is ready to take me for viewings even on Christmas Day. He says he will be working even on New Year's Day. That doesnt sound very different from my friend Jiksee back in Bombay. She says she will also be working this Christmas.
Money or no money, people dress rich in this city. Or at least they look rich. It's hard to come by people wearing old or faded clothes. Singaporeans dress mostly in cottons because of the hot weather. But these are mostly strappy cottons with very elegant designs. The one prominent colour that blinds me in this city is Black. Every second person on the streets is dressed in black. Excuse' moi, how about adding a little colour to our lives???
Do I think they speak heavily accented English? Well, the feeling is mutual. They think that Im the one speaking with a heavy accent. Me? the convent educated, Mumbai brat, speaks accented English??? Well I guess Im the foreigner here (ang-moh is local for foreigner)
Vegeterian is hard to find. Even the veg biryani comes with a sprinkling of dried shrimp. The vegeterian counter at Takashimaya Mall served me veg noodles with fish. Well, Im no sucker for Indian food, but I wouldnt mind some fried noodles with a little spinach or mushrooms. Newcomers to Singapore or the Far East for that matter, do remember to ask about the ingredients in your vegeterian dish. Well, I must say though, that people here look much more fit and healthier than I am. I guess it helps to not have rice as your main dish, but as an accompaniment. The average Singapore dweller is slim and trim. Look out of your window, at any time of the day or night, and you will find another fitness freak jogging away to glory. Makes me want to burn my fat too. Yes, I would call myself fat in this country.
Coming back to my house-hunting, rentals do not vary according to which part of the city you live in. All areas are posh and all areas are well-quipped and accessible too. Rentals vary according to your choice of no. of rooms, distance from the MRT/bus stop, and facilties such as gym, club house and security.
Travel is the loveliest part of living in Singapore. The MRT can zip across from one end of the city to another in less than an hour in one direction. Interchange stations allow you to change the directions without much ado. For example, the Dhoby Ghaut MRT is one level below the second basement of the Plaza Singapura Mall. Which the MRT drops you right into the basement of your shopping mall. Thats not all, you can even change to the North South Line or North East Line from the East West line, all below the basement of a mall. Absolutely, no need to go all the way to Dadar and then take the Central Line. It all happens under one shopping roof. One Ez-Link card gives me access to both the bus and the trains. The buses take you to all the nooks and corners of Singapore, all across the city. Travel was never such a joy.