I love Singapore. I have ALWAYS been a very patriotic person, and I find myself increasingly so in recent years, simply because I find that I no longer seem to recognise my own country and face the threat of losing the Singapore I hold close to my heart.
In honour of SG50, and to perhaps immortalise the Singapore I remember and love, here are 5 (I wanted to type 50, but I would like for all of you to finish reading this blog entry by the end of the day preferably) amazing things I miss about Singapore.
1) Neighbours. This could be unique to me, but I miss the sort of neighbours we had in the 80s and 90s. I remember the days when neighbours were like family and we celebrated everyone’s special days regardless of race or religion. These days, I barely recognise my neighbours. Everyone has their doors shut most of the time, and communication is restricted to a hi or bye in the lifts.
2) Childhood. I miss the days when children could enjoy a carefree childhood. School has become so demanding that students spend all their time studying, or finding ways to study better. When I was in primary school, school ended at 1 and we spent the rest of the afternoon playing block-catching and screaming the neighbourhood down. It didn’t matter who the kids were, it didn’t matter which school they were from. If you were a kid and willing run around like a lunatic around the whole block, you were welcome to join in.
3) I miss old school games. Chapteh, Marbles, Hopscotch, 5 stones. Life without technology seemed a lot more colourful and exciting. I was recently playing with a set of 5 stones and some of my students stared at it in fascination while twittering instagramming and Facebooking about how weird their teacher was. Meh.
4) Seamless public transport systems. I miss the days when I could board the first train that reached the station, instead of having to wait for 2 to 3 trains. I miss the days when I could boast that the frequency of our buses was top notch. And most importantly, I miss the days when I could breathe during my bus and train rides.
5) I miss the days when I could walk into a mall, or a restaurant and not be the only Singaporean there. We can argue that we ALL started off as migrants, and that we should therefore be more welcoming of migrants. I don’t deny the need for foreign workers. However, the experiences of our forefathers who shed blood and sweat to build up the country from nothing, of our pioneer generation who remained loyal and patriotic to a Singapore that had NOTHING going for it economically when they first gain citizenship, simply CANNOT be compared to the new generation of foreigners. And as a result, we Singaporeans have this bond that is, for the lack of a better word, special. It is this same bond that makes them fight for our right to cook curry, or to hold weddings at the void decks regardless of our race or religion. And it is because of this that whenever I travel, the sound of Singlish is so heartwarming. And it is because of this that I miss the presence of my own fellow Singaporeans, in my own Singapore.
There are so many things i feel grateful for and am appreciative of in modern Singapore. But I cant help feeling incredibly nostalgic about old school Singapore.