‘Can I use the toilet now?’ I asked the lady cleaning staff , who was cleaning the Ladies’ toilet.
‘Can,’ she replied and got busy with other works.
‘May I use the toilet now?’I asked her again thinking she wasn’t able to hear my question properly.
‘Can can ,’she replied firmly then, still leaving me in the dark .
Anyway,I couldn’t hold my patience and entered the toilet after putting aside my hand baggage.
It was 6:30am.I landed in Changi Airport,Singapore from India few minutes back. My husband got a job in an MNC there.We decided to grab the offer and shift our base to Singapore.He reached there a month and a half earlier than me so that he could find a decent accommodation before I arrived.Meanwhile, I resigned from my job in India to accompany him in Singapore (that’s a different story altogether. I will share it some other time).
Anyway, I was lost in the huge airport within fifteen minutes of my arrival.God only knew how I am going to manage in the country. I had two tasks in hand to complete before I could formally enter Singapore-
1.find an Information Kiosk to get the wi-fi password in the airport and make a WhatsApp call to my husband, waiting in the other side of the aisle….err…I mean outside in front of the arrivals.My present SIM card didn’t have International roaming.
2. reach the Immigration counter
I had planned to follow my co-passengers and finish the above two tasks.But my nature’s call acted as an obstacle in the path of victory.
‘How can I reach the immigration counter?’ I asked one guy passing by in uniform and didn’t waste a second to seek help.
‘Go straight for a while and you will reach there,’ he replied with a polite smile on his face.
‘And where can I find the Information Kiosk here?I need the wi-fi password,’ I made another cry for help.
‘Let me connect your handset with wi-fi password.You don’t need stand in queue there,’ he said instantly.
Oh wow ! Not bad.People in Singapore seem to be very helpful.
‘See, it’s connected to the network,’he returned my mobile and smiled.
‘Oh, thank you so much,’ he had solved one big problem for me.
‘My pleasure Madam,’ he replied and went ahead.
I called my husband in no time.He too suggested to walk straight to reach the immigration counter.I kept walking,walking and walking with a baggage in my right hand and an even more heavy backpack.There was no sign of the immigration counter.
Suddenly I found myself in a mini shopping mall.There were various stores of clothes, beauty, food, alcohol and many more items. For a moment I didn’t remember that I was standing inside an airport and have lost my way.Just like an oasis in the middle of a desert, I discovered an Information Kiosk and a signboard above it directing towards the Immigration counter downstairs.Without spending any more time in window shopping,I hurried towards downstairs.filled up the immigration form and approached towards the immigration officer sitting in the counter.
‘Hello, good morning,’ the officer greeted me with a smile.
‘Good morning,’ I wished him back.
‘Where are you arriving from?’he started his routine questions.
‘Can I see your passport please?’
‘Sure,’ I handed him my passport.
‘So Ms Moumita , how is the weather in Kolkata?’ he asked me while having a glance at my passport.
‘It is very hot.Around 40 degree celsius.’
‘Oh my God. It’s too hot. I am glad the climate here won’t trouble you much.So, what brings you to Singapore?’
‘My husband is working here. I have come to accompany him on a Dependant Visa,’ I told my revised answer.
‘Oh that’s great. Well, then please proceed towards the luggage belt no.34 and take your luggage.’
‘Thanks officer,’ I was relieved to have such a hassle free immigration.
Who knew climate comparisons between Kolkata and Singapore could also be an enquiry topic in immigrations?
‘Enjoy your stay in Singapore,’ he continued his smile and put a stamp on passport marking my official entry in the country.
‘Hey ! Welcome to Singapore,’ my husband greeted me once I came out with my luggage finally.
‘Thanks dear,’ I was feeling happy to hand over my luggages. Of course, I was also happy to see him after more than a month.
‘How was the flight? Did you face any problem in finding the immigration counter?’ he asked.
‘Nope.No problem at all,’ I thought it’s meaningless now to discuss about my frantic journey for the immigration counter. It was slightly humid outside. All I wanted was to have a bath and then fill my stomach with good Singaporean breakfast.
‘So beautiful.This is such a lovely place,’ I uttered these words after standing in front of Merlion Park.
It is one of the popular tourist spots in Singapore. The park was basically a reservoir. It had a giant lion faced architecture, with a body of a fish, standing proudly on the banks of the water body.The structure known as Merlion represented the true spirit of Singapore-born as a fishing village and later grew into a developed and flourished nation.I was glad that my first visit in Singapore was the Merlion Park.
‘You can see two more highlights of the city standing here – Singapore Flyer on your left hand side and Marina Bay Sands on your right,’ my husband pointed out two more big structures on the other side of the park.
On the other hand, Marina Bay Sands were three plush hotels connected to each other with a huge boat-like construction. The whole view was quite spectacular.
We went there on a weekend evening.People were taking snaps, selfies and groupies along with their friends and family.Everyone was enjoying in their own way without creating any disturbance.The entire site was looking bright with lights sparkling from all the buildings in that area.
We bought ice-creams from one of the shops present there.I was about to throw away the wrapper of my ice-cream on the street (a bad habit I need to change),but realised that there was not a single waste paper, packet or plastic bottle lying here and there.
‘Where is the dustbin?’I asked myself thinking about the way Singaporeans had kept their city neat and clean. Cleanliness had definitely enhanced the beauty of this place.
The next morning, we planned to visit the Universal Studios in Sentosa Island and took an MRT towards the Harbour Front station.
‘Have you seen the girls here? They have such a nice figure and bright skin complexion.Even the men have a toned body,’ I told my husband completely forgetting that ideal wives don’t discuss about other men and definitely not women with their husbands.
But, then I was never an ideal wife.
‘Yeah , they all look the same.I find it difficult sometimes to remember their faces,’ he replied.
‘I wish I had even one percent of their figure and skin complexion,’I sighed after looking at my tanned and not toned body.
‘You should be grateful for whatever you have.It’s not good to have a thirst for things which can’t defy a human being,’ he didn’t look much impressed with my wish.
‘That reminds me, can you take out the water bottle from bag.I am feeling thirsty,’I wanted to change the topic.
‘I am afraid, you can’t eat or drink anything in MRTs.’
‘What ? Are you serious ?’ I couldn’t believe him.
‘Yes. Let us first get out of the station.’
The MRT connected to VivoCity, an alluring shopping mall. There was option for monorails to reach Sentosa island from the mall. Cable cars were also present. As the island was within a walkable distance, we decided to go there by the pedestrian boardwalk located right outside the mall. However, it took us almost 40 minutes walk to cover that small distance.
These 40 minutes included me spending 10 minutes in the ladies’ room.I was looking at myself in the mirror and comparing my looks with rest of the Singaporean women I had seen so far. Although I couldn’t do much about the comparison results and consoled myself except taking a deep breath.
I wasted 15 more minutes staring in front of several famous clothing and accessories showrooms. Finally my responsible husband took the initiative and applied his force to drag me out of that place. I don’t know why husbands behave in such a manner?
‘Can we use the Season pass for unlimited free trips to the studio for the next 6 months?’ he asked the lady sitting in the registration counter in front of the Universal Studios.
‘Can,’the lady nodded and replied.
‘Okay, then please register two passes.’
I was standing near the counter a bit confused.
‘She didn’t answer positively to your question,’I asked him when we were out of the registration counter.
‘You asked her about the unlimited free trips here for the next 6 months with this pass.’
‘Yes, and she did answer that.Didn’t you hear her?’
‘She said Can?. That doesn’t mean an answer.’
‘Oh, now I understand your point of concern.Can means It can be done which in a way means Yes.’
‘What kind of English is that?’ I recalled my conversation with the cleaning staff at the airport.The full thing was clear to me then.
‘Dear, it’s not English.It’s Singlish,’ he laughed and approached towards the entrance of the Universal Studios holding my hand.
Universal Studios was indeed a grand affair.All of a sudden, we were in the middle of a busy street in New York city. Buildings, movie theatres and rides inspired from Hollywood stood tall on both sides of the street.With a little walk from NYC, we crossed the lands of Egypt and entered the extinct world of dinosaurs in the Jurassic Park. After a narrow escape from the dinosaurs, we entered the magical world of Shrek and Fiona fighting against the evil Lord Farquaad. Celebrations of their victory in the rides with the Madagascar brought more joy. Later, a live performance in Water World along with splashes of water over the audience increased the excitement level.The best attraction in the Universal Studios were the rides. Right from the craziest roller-coasters to a bumpy ride with Transformers, the fun was unlimited just like the Season pass.
‘Did we cover everything in Sentosa island, dear?’ I asked my better-half at the end of an exhausting day in the Universal Studios.
‘Nope.Apart from the Universal Studios, Sentosa has a S.E.A. Aquarium, Madame Tussauds, nice Siloso beach and last but not the least a live show of lights and firecrackers called Wings Of Time,’ he replied.
‘Then?’ I didn’t know when we are going to see all those places.
‘Take it easy.We will come again.By that time we will see the rest of Singapore,’he assured.
‘What is in the list?’
I couldn’t wait to see the rest of the country.
‘I didn’t do any cooking today. What are we going to eat in dinner?’my hunger pangs brought me back to reality.
‘Don’t worry.Let’s have some good food in the nearby Kopitiam,’ he came as a saviour.
‘Okay, but we will not overeat,’ my mind was revolving around the slim girls. I definitely needed to lose some weight.
There are undoubtedly many attractive tourist places in Singapore that people can visit and fill their travel albums & diaries.But what makes the stay in this charming city is the warmth of it’s residents. They are gentle, caring, respecting and disciplined in nature, they are hard working and punctuality means a lot to them.And they never forget to hold a smile on their faces.Women can move around here freely dressed in their choice of clothing.Nobody bothers them when they are out.This is a something new to me.
I believe there are many things that one can learn from them. I couldn’t have experienced this from any travel guidebooks.