Christmas is round the corner. And I don’t need a calendar to realise this. A look at the neighbours’ living room from mine through the window while they are busy decorating the Christmas trees does the job for me. No, I am not a nosy neighbour. Moreover, you need immense talent to be a prying neighbour in Singapore, which believes in respecting privacy. However, privacy goes for a toss when you see pairs of lingeries hanging from your neighbours’ living room window. But I don’t blame them. The lack of enough space to dry clothes gives me too the urge of hanging my wet sneakers from the window. While my neighbours have already started decorating Christmas trees right in the middle of November, I am still debating when I should bring out mine from the bomb shelter? Yes, a bomb shelter. In almost every Singaporean apartment, you will find a small room with reinforced walls and blast-proof doors (that’s what they say and I like to believe), popularly known as bomb shelter. This is mandatory as per Singapore’s law. The purpose of this dark room is to protect people in case someone decides to bomb the city when a war happens.
When I learnt about the room’s existence, I could not suppress my laugh. What if you are sitting on the commode and a bomb drops on you? There is no point in having such a room then. Gradually, I understood where they are coming from. Japan occupied Singapore during World War II from 1942-45. During that tenure, Singapore lived in terror, poverty, torture and constant threat of bombarding from Japanese army. Singapore has learnt a lesson from those horrible times. So, a bomb shelter is the least of all the security measures this country adopted over the years.
But a room in your home can’t sit idle and wait for some war and bombarding to happen. The world doesn’t have the reputation of showing such leniency. Bomb shelter, in between it’s noble duty of saving the human race, has taken up the secondary role of acting as a store room. Needless to say, I followed the norm too. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
There was a certain excitement last year during the same time. It was my first Christmas in Singapore. Everything looked beautiful with well-lit decors in front and inside the shopping malls and streets. Our Christmas spirit went so far that husband, who otherwise is cautious about spending money, volunteered the entire Christmas shopping. I decorated the tree to my heart’s content and put it near the window.
However, decorating is one job and putting everything back in their place is another story. I gave my dear husband the responsibility of keeping the Christmas tree back in it’s box. Just like Lord Hanuman, who carried the entire mountain after failing to identify theinstructed Sanjeevani herb, my man too carried the entire Christmas tree and placed it inside the bomb shelter. Much to my annoyance, he didn’t even bother to pull off the multi-coloured balls and stars from the tree.
But little did I know that he was doing me a great favour by putting back the tree right in it’s decorative attire. For the thought of redecorating the Christmas tree is filling me with lethargy these days. But thanks to husband, now I can only brush the dust off the tree and put it back near the window. Meanwhile, husband also brings home the 3rd prize of a free stay at a five star hotel in Singapore. What did he do to win such a prize? He participated in a game at the party which his office had organised just like the way it does every year end. Although I am acting indifferent about the prize (as if I win prizes everyday), but in my mind I am telling him – kudos to you !
Life in Singapore is peaceful except those rare occasions when you hear a knock at your door and find a stranger.
Me : Yes?
Stranger : Hi Ma’am. I am X working for an Y NGO(displays the certificate that proves the NGO’s authenticity).
Me: What can I do for you?
Stranger: I come from a very humble background and work part time in Y. Your contribution while buying a product will help me earn some money and support my education. Please have a look at this product Ma’am. Then he produces some material out of his bag.
I don’t know what you would have done in my place, but for me, saying NO to somebody (except the husband) is a big problem. And when one is saying that he is trying to sell products door-to-door for supporting his education/family, then things become even more difficult. I bought a big block of ice-cream costing $18 when two boys came at my door step for the first time. I had no clue what I was going to do with it though. We avoid eating desserts as much as possible.
Weeks later, I had to say sorry, I don’t have any money to an old lady who came to sell me bottles of flavoured yoghurts from a never-heard-before brand. Her smirk conveyed that she had understood my white lie. This happened 2 months ago. I felt bad but what could I do? The ice-cream was still resting in the freezer. I had a hunch that it was soon going to find a place in the dustbin.
Dilemma visited me once more this week in the form of a college going boy. Same prologue, same situation. The product this time was a keychain designed with various denominations of Singaporeancurrency. I had no energy to argue with myself and say NO to that guy. Plus it is Christmas time and everyone needs money. The only option I had was in the choice of the keychains. I chose the keychain that represented $1000.Why settle for less when I am paying $10 (nearly 520 INR) for a keychain which might end up being in one corner of my drawer?
After saying kasa kai Mumbai and spending quality time with family, I was missing home badly, my mother and younger brother to be precise. I was casually scrolling through Facebook when a message from my school teacher caught my attention. He was asking how I was doing. Just moments later replying to his message, I got a voice call on Facebook from him. We talked for a good five minutes and I felt overwhelmed after the call. You know you have done something right in your life when you get a call from your teacher and he talks fondly about you and your family. He was my English teacher, a major source of whatever I have learned about this language till date. That call turned my ordinary Saturday to an extraordinary one.
No matter how much extraordinary the Saturday went, Sunday morning started with a clash of conflicts between the man and his wife. Issue was not an issue at all, still I felt heated up in my uppermost department. After a day long of cold war, I asked him out for a session of badminton. My aim was not to patch up but to burn the extra calories that I had gained from Mumbai trip faster. But there is a reason behind when they say sports have the power to connect people.
40 minutes of running behind the shuttle in the court. Appreciating each other’s shots. Figuring out ways on how to improve our game. This was all needed to put aside the hard feelings. Early morning tiff looked like a kindergarten level argument at the end of the day. Really looking forward to many such badminton sessions in future sans the morning tiffs.
Another week passed away and I am turning back at it with mixed emotions. Some days flew in utter confusion and frustration. Whereas there were days when I thanked the Almighty.I have kicked myself one day for only concentrating on writing and not socialising enough with my blogging pals. The other day, I was surprised to see myself nominated for The Sunshine Blogger Award by my friend The Quill.I guess Santa has arrived a bit early for me this Christmas ! It’s upon me to decide – if I should open the door for Santa or continue feeling blue.