27 Feb 2018


Normal Is Boring

A home that is always welcoming, a home where everyone knows your name and understands the language you speak.

Harshika Daryanani

I am really not a big fan of engaging on social media (the irony that you are in most likelihood reading this on a social media platform hasn’t escaped me). But what I mean is, I refrain from involving myself and voicing an opinion (read trolling) on articles published on social media.


This doesn’t mean I don’t read them. I do. And have a laugh over some of the more eye catching headlines. Most of them are written for the eyeballs anyway, I get that. But I think that the keyboard warriors are the trigger-happy soldiers who fire away in the veil of anonymity. And I think that my energy is best preserved for the actual battles.


One of them being fighting the constant inner struggle, and maintaining the balance between the expat life we lead and the real life waiting for us from the day the bubble bursts. So anyway, back to the sensational headlines, there was a recent one which caught my eye – that Time Out London called out Singapore to be a boring city. The magazine’s City Life Index 2018 ranked Singapore 31st out of 32 cities, one spot above Istanbul (which in my opinion is stunning), based on a survey of more than 15,000 people. Chicago topped the index, followed by Porto in Portugal and New York City, and the Index was scored on factors such as food, drink, culture, friendliness, affordability, happiness and livability. While we won praise for our safety and public transport, only 17% of respondents said that “there is always something to see and do” (wait, did they visit the same country we do???).



My son and I at the gorgeous Haji Lane – this could perhaps show the vibrant and colourful side of Singapore!

Photography by Kelly Fan from Studiokel Photography



Like I said I usually have a laugh at these headlines. There might have been some truth to it, but like most, the terms “fun” and “boring” are very subjective. Everyone has a different definition of the word “vibrant” and “artistic”. There really is no real measure for it. I tagged my husband on the article and that was that. Until, STB came up with a retort.


A short video showcasing all the “fun” things that Singapore has to offer. Now I had to bring in the big guns - my son! He absolutely loves Singapore and rates it the best country in the world (well, at least out of the 28 we have been to). I told him about the survey (his reaction was a dramatic hand over heart and a wide-open mouth) and then I shared the video. He watched it with a smile on his face and in the end goes “why haven’t I eaten the $2 Michelin-starred meal yet?”.


I just stared at him. Here is one boy who has lived in his birth place for just a year after he was born. We visit every year, maybe twice if we are lucky, and yet he is so protective over his country. Which isn’t unexpected actually. He loves Singapore. We have done every child-appropriate touristy thing there - and multiple times. He visits the Singapore Zoo or the Night Safari each time we go back (Do they have a loyalty program I am unaware of?). He simply must. He loves the food (being a typical Singaporean foodie), and though I personally thought that the retort was really unnecessary, he felt a sense of pride while watching the short clip


Photography by Kelly Fan from Studiokel Photography


Like I said, he has been to a fair share of countries, the most recent one being Russia in December 2017. Our holiday paths are often offbeat - the road less taken kinda paths. And this trip was by far the most exciting one we have had. We traveled to the northern most region of Russia, went reindeer sledging in -27 degrees Celsius, and struggled to find food even. Oh and the language barrier - we had someone do a hilarious (and memorable) chicken dance to explain the dinner menu! We really have the fondest of memories of the trip. But we were relieved to be back home. It felt familiar, comfortable, warm! And most importantly - we had food and there was no language barrier.


Our stay as expatriates is something like the holiday we had in Russia. Exciting, exhilarating, memorable. But after then end of it all we will have to return home. We are very aware of that.


If I have to be honest, my son would be the main reason we return to Singapore. He turns 18 in six years and then follows the inevitable National Service. I have always been worried about the issues he might face once he returns. Would he be able to adjust (I know he must)? Would he be happy (I know he must find a way to be)? Would he resent the two-year late start in university (I know it is the norm)?



Photography by Kelly Fan from Studiokel Photography



But something about his reaction to the whole social media debate tells me he will be okay. It would be like going back home after an adventurous holiday. A home that is always welcoming, a home where everyone knows your name and understands the language you speak.


A home that feels warm, comfortable – and maybe even boring.



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