Monday, May 21, 2007

And of great cities ...

This is a post i promised a blogger friend I'd def post. She's a mother of 2 I completely adore and admire. Plug her blog to everyone who's willing to listen. I think most working mothers in P&G now avoid me coz they don't wanna hear anymore plugging of this blog! :P Kidding!! But its so funny that even in my singleton unmarried status at 25, i can so relate to the things she writes about. As i tell my friends when i plug her blog, she has the ability to take the most specific incidents of her life and turn them into incisive discussions that would interest even the non mother population of the world. I bumped into her through another friend (yeah talk about a SMALL world!) and while i spoke to her today also started plugging my other favorite thing - Singapore :) Unlike most others who dismiss me as a fool when i start waxing eloquent about this city, she simply asked me "why so?". I promised her this blog. And i'll deliver on that, regardless of how late it is :)

Why is this a really good city to live in:

Let me admit upfront, Singapore is no fancy city. Its not aspirational. I've heard a hajaar people tell me they'd like to live in NY or London atleast once in their lives. And what's that about anyway? The movies shot there? The books that center around them? Everyone tells me these cities have that 'certain something' about them that you can't possibly put into words. Fine, ill buy the whole, u can quantify everything argument. And ill admit upfront, Singapore has none of that 'undefinable' charm. So why would i go around recommending it so strongly to everyone i know? Lemme list as is tradition :)

1. Its an organized city. Yes, shun me for loving organized things and places. But im not bleddy asking honeymooning couples to come here. Im telling you, its a good city for people with families. Not for adventurers and people with the scuba diving spirit (you know what i mean). Come to SG if u want stability and order, discipline in your life. If you have 2 kids or plan to have them soon. Coz this city will give you the stability and support your life needs thereafter.

2. Public transport rocks. Buses connect the farthest parts of the city. They're airconditioned and comfortable. So are trains. And cabs are cheap. Unlike in London, or any other European city where you'd hesitate to take a cab home, this is a city that makes cabs available even to procterites. And considering how much band 1 and 2 level procterites get paid, thats saying a lot! :)

3. You get domestic help. Ok you can beat me up all you like, but i love getting a warm cooked meal when i get home. I can cook, and not just to save my life. But cooking out of interest gets flushed down the drain when this becomes a daily obligation to yourself as an alternative to slaving in the kitchen, going hungry or eating out every single night. And so the maid steps in. I also like my house to be nice and clean as far as possible. I dig the whole weekly bathroom cleaning, and being able to invite people over without having to think twice about accumulated dishes or mess of any sort. I love getting my morning chai, and getting some breakfast instead of trugding wearily to work everyday. So curse me all you want, but a maid is a luxury i completely enjoy and utilize. I saw my own mother slog away her life between running to work and managing house, cooking 3 square meals a day and end up tired and weary, turning down promotions for our sakes and all that. Im sure she doesnt regret them, im sure it was out of love and didnt feel like 'sacrifice', but id like to believe that i studied like a maniac to ensure i had a comfortable life when i was in my 20s and 30s. And i like being able to get that here in this city.

Now on domestic help itself: For a nominal amount per month you can have a live in maid. (Don't oh please, don't get started on the whole, call them maids or call them co workers or call them queen Elizabeth - i give 2 hoots for nomenclature so dont u start on that!) They're professional, you don't have to feel guilty about treating them bad, coz there's clear rules on whats acceptable and what's not. You can teach them to cook your cuisine and manage the house the way you want. If your not satisfied, say it politely, show them how to do it and it'll likely get done exactly like that without any naatak. If you're a working mom, then you can go to work guilt free coz ur kids will get taken care of. If ur an SAHM (like my blogger friend is), then you get that extra little bit of help with keeping the place spic and span, and getting help with the kids when you need an extra hand. You can focus on the children, and don't have to worry about cleaning the bathrooms and keeping the kitchen roach free. You get what u asked for, a great experience watching your kids grow, vs having to grapple with tons of stuff that tires you out at the end of the day.

4. Its a safe city. I have experience of only 3 cities before this, Bombay, Madras and Bangalore. In all 3, I was advised to have male company when i ventured out late. Here, i take a cab alone at 2 am and i feel safe. U know what it feels like to FEEL safe right? Its not jus about being safe, its that mental state of calm, knowing that you can go and come as you please, you can wear what you want without getting deprived wolf like stares and getting visually undressed by undesirable elements. So yes, its a safe city for women. And for families in general. With very little history of mugging, theft and the like.

5. Its bloody convenient. Of course domestic help is one dimension of convenience, but shopping for groceries is not an ordeal. U can order them online. No - you dont have to do the weekly Mustafa thing. For friends who've lived here for years and still arent using Shivsagar online, please call me tomorrow and take the damn number will ya? Moving on, all bills get paid online. No long queues or month long wait for an electric connection or for fixing a broken pipe. Things move darned quick. And it makes your life simple, esp if u have 3 babies who need your time and attention more.

6. Its close to India. Time diff is 2.5 hrs so u can call ur folks without having to plan the call time a great deal. And they can do the same. Flying to India is quick and convenient. And for those who want their kids to grow up in their formative years around other indian kids, here's a city that gives you enough of that. Many many hubs where indians reside, send their kids to school and the like. You'll never feel away from home. Flying to India and back doesnt cost a bomb, so your family can visit often. And you can do the same.

7. The taxes are really low. Unlike in the UK or ANZ where you blow most of your income paying the government, you get to save a lot of your hard earned money here. The cost of living is usually pretty decent by most payscale standards and lets you save enough. With a currency much stronger than most others, this means you get to invest in properties and equities back home and make good use of your money.

8. Its a small city. I used to think twice before i stepped out in Bombay. Coz my parents could only afford an apartment in the northern suburbs, and every place of academic activity or entertainment was atleast 1.5 hrs and a painful train ride away. Here i dont hesitate to step out and visit friends over the weekend, office is 10 mins walking distance from home. Even in worst case scenarios, people take max 30 mins to commute - makes life much much simpler!

I know people think the city doesn't offer much to do in terms of activity. But for those who look hard enough, there's always something. Mail me seperately with your interests and i can send you links that will keep you occupied even in this 'boring' city. To be succint, there's everything from trekking to hiking, water sports to beach activities, movies and a happening clubbing scene, libraries and cultural centres for the arty types, quiet places and noisy places, drinking spots, temples and churches, and a ton of lovely countries to visit nearby.

Which other city offers all this eh? I'm admittedly a big big fan of Singapore. :-) Shoot me if you like. Or mail me seperately if u wanna know anything else, and ill be happy to help more of my friends move here! :)

12 comments:

SS said...
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SS said...

Hey, I am a big fan of S'pore too ... lived there for a little over 2 years and would be only too happy to go back :)

Thanks for stopping by at my blog. Yeah, clean slate and all that jazz ... it's a personal space, so figured it didn't matter if I did what I wanted to with it ... probably start blogging again sometime in the future when I feel like it ...

SS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wanderer said...

so much for an unpredictable life :)

Sachin said...

Excellently built up case. Having lived for five years now...I have been through the curve of loving it...to missing that special something....and then falling all over again for this city.

You cant get everything in one place...but this place indeed is the right balance of everything.

cheers- Sachin.

ps: Being a male...I couldnt realise the importance of "feeling" safe...but I quite agree with your blog.

@ said...

thanks! :-) Informative! BTW, my cousin lives in Singapore with her 2 cute kids! You could visit her sometime. She teaches music too!Let me know if you are interested!

Monsieur K said...

pretty impressive write-up.
am wondering if those are the only parameters while deciding which city to live in, or to settle down.
given a choice, i would love to settle down at Pune - the place where i grew up, for obvious reasons - family, friends, places - there's a feeling of being home, of familiarity that no other city can match.
having lived at Bangalore (tho' staying in campus doesnt exactly qualify as staying in the city, given our secluded & sheltered lifestyle), Kolkata, LA, Mumbai and currently Tampa - to be honest, i dont think i would like to settle down in any of these cities.. maybe Mumbai...

but yes, i must admit, that having visited New York, Boston & Chicago - i would love to stay (mind not live) in these cities for mebbe a year or 6 months...

till then, i'll enjoy wandering around n being a vagabond. will make it a point to hop onto SG s'time during my sojourns. :)

The Mad Momma said...

ok. you sold it to me. where do i sign up for the move?!

LUCKY said...

sorry to be party pooper here but the city though brilliantly methodical, planned, neat , clean, safe and the rest ... misses a 'feel'. I somehow feel that the city has lost its 'soul' somewhere. (strong words.. i know)

The entire city feels like playing 'sim- city' game. If you have played that you would know what I mean.

Also, as we have spoken, Singapore has too many clamps on freedom on expression .. esp. dissent and protest. Something that I am less that willing to compromise...

I am going to spend some part of my life in the not too distant future there, i know, can't escape that ....

Mahogany said...

You forgot one. Singapore is a friendly city. As long as you are cheerful and polite, pretty much everyone responds in kind. Which is simply great! Having grown up in Delhi, that's something I would never take for granted!

Amit Gokhale said...

very well presented... nice post.. keep it up :)

shiv said...

Awesome post - completely agree with most of what uve written... in fact would add a cpl of points

a) Potential to travel around - this is an absolute hub to SEA, Aus, China, Japan - weekend getaways are a bliss and come cheep

b) The efficient public admin system.. what can i say about it..

As an additional, its the only place where we with our salaries, can live our lifestyles