The airport is crowded. People do not know what those lines are and where they are supposed to stand. The illiterate crowd, that has come back after earning some money abroad, is adding to the confusion. The limited airport staff is either desperately trying to control the crowd or sternly; neither is yielding any results. People are expected to screen their baggage, for reasons that still remain mysterious, at every corner with no one to assist in putting the bags on the noisy belts. The only person who helps in loading baggage is the bus conductor (the bus that takes people to the domestic airport) but not without asking for bakshish (reward / money).
Welcome to India.
Not a very grand welcome in India. Not that we were expecting anything better but this was too bad.
It took us one hour and 45 minutes to finally reach domestic airport. From the time we landed till boarding the next domestic flight 3 hours later, our bags had been screened atleast 5 times. After coming back from a place where number of free seats in the buses are updated using sensors and displayed; the buses’ wherabouts can be tracked by locals; airports are hassle free and MRT maps / routes are water clear, this was a sickening experience. Mum commented to me warily – If any outsider comes to India, he will go mad, to which another tired passenger commented – Yes, I agree.
The stark difference between India and aboard was very apparent. On Singapore airport, we saw the airport staff, including elderly ones, continuously working – taking away trolleys, cleaning the travellators, etc while on Indian airports, groups of people – cleaners and airway staffs – were chatting away to glory or just sitting. Singaporean stores rendered change without complaining – for a SGD 4.35 you give them a SGD 10 note; they’ll give you back the change. But Indian restaurants will ask you for 35 cents.
Our bad experience with India started even before we reached India. It began at the Indian restaurant (Anand Bhavan) at Changi airport where Mum wished to have Indian food. The place was full of noisy, unruly Indians. I managed to grab a table while my sister went to stand in line to pay and get the token. The Manager very rudely shooed me away saying – You cannot come and sit just like that. First bring the token. Did he say that because there was no male with us to fear of? Did he say that because I did not belong to his community? Or did he say that because I was an Indian?
I did my bit by boycotting his restaurant and had a fantastic Egg Chicken Sausage Cheese Burger at Starbucks. I wish I could have convinced by family to do the same. We are also to be blamed for accepting sub-standard / degrading treatment.
One of the problems with Indians is, apart from their chalta hai attitude, they don’t take fellow Indians seriously. I am sure had a Singaporean or American taken up a table without a token, the Manager would have politely asked him to get a token first or just allowed him to sit. But because it was an Indian (woman), he didn’t really give a damn.
I am often reprimanded for talking against Indians a lot but I can’t help it; they let me down too often.
Anyway, the last 2 days in Singapore were spent without an agenda really. We tried buying the remaining essentials that were on the list (particularly from their department stores Fairprice, Coldstorage & Watsons); home and personal care products, basically. We visited my sister’s house and helped her with her shopping too (she hates shopping and has to be cajoled to the limit of getting frustrated). Department stores are usually one of my favourite places. I love the glossy shampoo bottles, colourful squash bottles and yummy looking frozen food. And if you look at department stores abroad, they can make anyone like me go weak in the knees. I unfortunately have overflowing cupboards and shelves at the moment and though I WANT many things, I don’t NEED anything. So, I have decided to exercise lot of self control throughout the year and purchase everything from ketchup to shoes in my next trip abroad (which I expect will be after a year, mostly).
We also had a very interesting drink called Bubble Tea. Koi is the famous brand here; unabashedly proved by the long queues outside it at any given point of time. We ordered for the basic Milk Tea, which is actually lot of milk and little tea flavour. We had it with 70% sugar. It contains huge soya balls that can be sucked easily with the thick straw. At first, it feels funny. We couldn’t stop giggling. But then, it is actually fun. The fun of having this drink is with friends on a leisurely weekend. I will attack it next time too, for sure!
While roaming around the wide roads of Singapore the last 2 days, by bus, I could co-relate the places to those I have lived in before. Where my sister stays, Clementi (a residential area), is like Hiranandani of Mumbai. Shenton Way (that houses big names like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, DBS and Deloitte) is the Nariman Point of Mumbai. And Vivocity Mall is the Inorbit of Mumbai.
Outside Capital Tower, Shenton Way
Inside Esplanade Theatres
On way to Shenton Way
A glimpe of Raffles Hotel from the bus
I was pretty depressed on Friday night, knowing that Saturday would be my last day in Singapore – the end of my yet another glorious travelling expedition without knowing when it would happen again. Saturday morning raised my enthusiasm again; I decided to enjoy my last day here but I still picked up my last breakfast from Toastbox at Bugis Junction dolefully.
It’s just been a day since I came back and I am raring to go to a random place again.