Tuesday 23 August 2016

Hey Singapore! We in New Zealand miss you… especially this time.

The wake of National Day brings on these heartfelt sentiments of one Singaporean living overseas, as he echoes the thoughts of his other fellow countrymen abroad. Home is where the heart is, and being anywhere else in the world does not diminish, in fact brings on even more, one’s patriotic love.

“It’s August and nothing special is happening in New Zealand. The closest thing to a bright turn would be the anticipation of Spring. But as I write this under a clear blue winter sky, overlooking the eastern coastline of Auckland, I’m thinking of a moment in time over the decades when Singapore delivered her greatest show of the year.

The truism of ‘missing something only when it’s gone’ comes into play here. Back home, National Day was a moment to enjoy a holiday coupled with guesswork of how the NDP team will make the parade different from last year. And watching it was a moment of exhibiting patriotic ambitions, and pride in wearing the colours white and red.

But this time, it’s different. Missing National Day is not about the missing the spectacular. It’s about missing the sounds, smells, tastes and the faces of everyday people.

Sounds… in a place where cars seldom honk, and people give way as a custom, and shopkeepers ask how you are every afternoon, I miss Singapore. I miss Singapore, where the roads are well utilised – from the highways to the car parks – and the ‘aunties’ who come and go with ghostly swiftness, leaving a $30 dollar fine tucked neatly on your windshield. I miss my laksa lady at the hawker centre, who’s not afraid to holler “yes, what you want!” with gusto while fishing for the noodles in the steaming cauldron in front of a long line of salivating patrons.

Oh, the smell… of wafting essence of chicken curry sharing the slipstream with Chinese five-spice base for bak kut teh, from my apartment. And if you were looking to find the best nasi padang in a cacophony of delicious smells during lunchtime, you need to seek out the snaking lines, join in and hope the people in front of you are not going to ‘ta pao’ 50 packets for the guys at the construction site. In a place where winter keeps everyone balled up in musky jackets and pullovers, I miss the emanating precious drops of perfume on females wearing spritely dresses and short skirts enjoying the perennial warmth of the sun.

Oh, the taste… of food. Singapore is a place where the human tongue can be totally gratified in a single day, every day. From tangy assam laksa to spicy sambal prawns to the sweet peanut pancake; so accessible, so in your face, around every corner from sunrise to sundown and beyond.

And the people… the thousands who move so purposefully and with so much energy making the Olympic 100m blue ribbon race look like a daily affair – I miss that kind of human force. And the same, familiar strangers’ faces you see every day on the MRT at the same place at the same time, I miss them so.

I’ll be watching the National Day Parade on the computer here in New Zealand on August 9 in my red and white. So from New Zealand, we miss you Singapore.”

Singaporean Gordon de Souza is an ex-sports editor at SPORTMAG, and has efficiently managed several teams of writers over 7 years. Today he lives in New Zealand with his family, snowboards in his free time and continues to remain Singaporean at heart.
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