That strange Singaporean bond


Singaporeans are a funny lot. Possibly because of our cultural values and traditions, we’re a mixed bag of contradictions. We’re humble, yet competitive. We’re kind, but we’re wary of strangers. We pursue luxury, but we work too hard to give ourselves time to really enjoy it.

As a result, we come across as aloof. We do what we have to do and then we retreat within ourselves. Random acts of kindness are more exception than norm because we’re too shy or wary to interact with other people.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that we don’t feel any connection with our fellow countrymen. We’re just a culture of people who don’t often say or show what we feel. It takes certain special occasions to have this bond manifest itself.


Hello Kitty queue


One of these occasions is when we’re overseas and we miss our homeland. We might chance upon the familiar cacaphony of the Singaporean accent and suddenly feel delighted for the chance to demonstrate our bond with the source of the voices, even if we’ve never met them before.

Once, I was in Hong Kong with my friend, Elyxia. We were making our way through a busy market chatting animatedly when, suddenly, a voice came behind us, “Excuse me, are you Singaporeans?”

He was a smiling guy dressed in smart clothes. He introduced himself and told us he was a Singaporean working in Hong Kong and couldn’t help recognising our accent. We stood there and chatted for five minutes, thrilled by the chance encounter.


Sheylara in Hong Kong


You’d hardly catch us in Singapore stopping strangers in the streets to chat for no reason.

Recently, when I was in England for a long holiday, a Singaporean blog reader studying in London contacted me and said she’d love to meet me. We’d never had any contact prior to this.

We got along immediately, as if we’d known each other for ages.

We ended up meeting twice within a week, spending two whole days together, even though we were staying almost three hours apart from each other.


Limin and Sheylara


In Singapore, we wouldn’t travel three hours to meet up with a fellow Singaporean, assuming Singapore’s big enough to require three hours to travel anywhere.

It must be the Singapore spirit, that invisible cord that binds us together, manifesting when we least expect it.

PM Lee noted last year during the National Day Rally that the Singapore spirit is about “shared loyalty and commitment to Singapore; shared responsibility for one another and pride in what Singapore has built together; as well as shared memories, dreams and aspirations”.

I think it’s really true. We might be outwardly aloof, or we might have petty quarrels, but we really love our fellow countrymen deep down inside.


Love blossoms anywhere


National Day is another time that this kinship we share reveals itself in full glory under a fireworks-lit sky during the birthday celebrations of our nation. Especially at the National Day Parade, you can see faces well up with pride and belonging when the National Anthem is being sung.

Actually, now that National Day is nearing, it’s a good time for us to reflect on how every individual Singaporean, since independence day in 1965, has worked and fought hard to help make what Singapore is today.

Playing the new Facebook game Lion City on the NDPeeps Facebook page put me in the mood.

In the game, you’re given an island to populate with people and improve with infrastructure and decorations. It’s not a challenging game or anything, but it kind of makes me feel nostalgic about a past which I never knew — the beginnings of Singapore.


Lion City


You start off building attap houses and farms and puppet shows, which is so retro it’s cool. And while doing that, you kind of gain an insight into the kind of tribulations, as well as joys, our forefathers must have experienced building a new city from scratch.

No matter that they all came from different parts of the world, the shared challenge must have helped forge a national identity.

I like to think that our country’s origins and multicultural background make us a very unique people, and that’s something we can take pride in. Despite all the times people annoy me (like kiasu people in MRTs) I know I do love my fellow Singaporeans and will always be proud to belong to Singapore.

“Singapore is a young nation, but it distinguishes itself by its people, who are forward looking and idealistic as well as dare to transform themselves and the city repeatedly,” PM Lee had said.


Love blossoms anywhere


Indeed, the people are the Singapore spirit. Our common goals bind us together and help us identify with each other.

And that’s why we can always recognise a Singaporean abroad.

Okay, the accent helps very much.

But that’s what makes us so very special!

What do you think defines the Singapore spirit? What does being Singaporean mean to you? Share your thoughts at the NDP website and NDPeeps Facebook page!

I will always come home to Singapore

I suppose you can say that I have a love-hate relationship with Singapore.

There are so many things to dislike about Singapore and Singaporeans. We all know what they are: The kiasu-ism. The lack of civic-mindedness. The complaining mindset. The endless comparing and judging. The greed. The rules and fines.

I always believed I would one day emigrate. So why did I change my mind?

Sheylara loves Singapore

Read on…

NDP fireworks brought haze to Singapore

When people ask me to go watch fireworks, I always say, “Siao lah. Never see before is it?”

I will never trouble myself to travel somewhere just to see some stupid sparks in the sky, especially since I know that 20,000 other people will be there fighting for the best spots to stand at and wait for hours.

But when fireworks are brought to me, in a manner of speaking, I can’t keep my eyes away.

Fireworks make such sluts of us.

On National Day evening, which was last night, when half the nation was out being stampeded by the other half of the nation in the name of patriotism, I was hiding in the comfort and safety of Cindy’s apartment.

Cindy and Paul had kindly invited us over for dinner, solving our dilemma of wanting to meet for dinner but not wanting to be stampeded by patriotic Singaporeans.

The apartment had a great view and we were actually able to catch some of the fireworks display from the balcony.


Of course, one can’t fully enjoy a fireworks performance if one is busy snapping photos throughout, hoping some of the shots will turn out good. But that’s one of the job hazards a blogger has to get used to.

Then again, no one wants to see crappy fireworks photos taken with my gimpy camera because the entire nation of people have already seen the real thing for themselves, anyway.

So I’m going to show you something else, instead.


Shortly after the first pattern exploded in the sky, smoke started forming.

It thickened progressively and hung in the sky like a widow refusing to move on with her life and find another man.

Okay, maybe that wasn’t the best analogy in the world but it kinda just popped in my mind.

Very soon, the smoke blocked our precious view of the fireworks.

My friends and I booed at the smoke, which, of course, was unmoved by our impassioned jeers.

A few minutes after the fireworks started, it stopped.

A thick cloud of smoke streaked across the skyline.

It got thicker by the second and refused to dissipate.

I don’t know what the view was like for those with front row seats at Marina Bay. I hope the smoke didn’t disturb their show.

For us in the apartment, when the fireworks came again, it looked like this.

Excuse the bad focus. My hands were shaking with excitement.

Not really.

I just wasn’t able to get a good shot because there were only a few sparks this round.

All I got managed to get a good shot of was the smoke.

We decided to go back to the living room to watch TV.

Periodically, over the next hour, I went outside to check on the smoke situation. Here’s my stills version of a time-lapse.

The entire sky was totally smoked out after about half an hour.

It took about an hour for it to clear considerably.

Oh, well, at least it was something different to watch.

Did you have a good National Day?