Friday, 11 December 2009
I was in Singapore for a couple of nights recently, and in my view, this island nation is as close to Plato's Utopian society can be in most respects, without being communistic in the process. In fact, far from it, it is the one of the most capitalistic society on earth, and where dedication, competition and efficiency is the norm in most industries. I lived as a student in Singapore in the late 70s and its always great to come back here for short visits.
I took a walk through Chinatown and found it garishly touristy, so I wandered into the surrounding housing blocks of Tiong Bahru to discover a different world, a world where living in tight confined apartments is the norm, and close quarter communal living is rather pleasant, I might add, with playgrounds and public spaces provided, which are well maintained, clean and well kept. Every thing has its place and in its place.
I see retired old folks sitting around during the day in public areas, chit chatting, playing chess, and sleeping even, or simply mingling amongst friends and neighbours to pass their time, instead of being stuck in their apartments.
In the commercial district, the situation is different. In December, Orchard Road lights up with its Christmas decorations and thousands of light displays. Giant baubles of light and faux ribbons stream down huge shady trees, lamp posts and shop fronts.
Some displays take on a 'Disney' sort of tackyness that seem to invade most Asian shopping malls, Kuala Lumpur included. It seems that bigger is better. Subtle isn't cool, which I find is the complete opposite in Western Europe. Maybe its a perception thing or the recession. London's Christmas lights are pathetic by comparison.
Reindeer and sleighs seems to be all a rave for 2009. Christmas trees must be at least 50 feet high, 100 feet is better!
Decors must be even larger and more innovative than last year. Not a Nativity crib and even Santa in sight yet, perhaps he is being fattened.