Singaporean cuisine was certainly not bad; it just was not distinctive. The city was a melting pot, so was its kitchen. Local dishes called to mind other Asian cuisines. Rather “reductive,” to borrow Madonna’s vocabulary. Still, I relished all its familiarity, more so its sweets. As the most universal taste, sweetness did not demand uniqueness.
It was said that public art reflected the identity of a place. In the case of Singapore, its strict rules, economic progress, and antiseptic sheen could gloss over the city’s intangible heritage and unseen realities, but I had the chance to get acquainted with the city-state through the many sculptures that defined it for me.
Singapore was one of the world’s smallest countries in area, but it was one of the most spacious. Moreover, as Southeast Asia’s poster city for economic progress and urban modernism, the city looked not much older than a year or so, especially at the Marina Bay area. On a city tour with my elderly mother, I was curious how she would regard this post-modern city.
Who let the elephants out? It seemed that a herd of elephants with body art had stampeded all over Singapore – on the sidewalk, at the park, in malls and museums – and had petrified in place. My family and I were delighted to see so many “ele-friends” during our five-day stay in the city.
Forget Jack and Rose, the fictional characters in James Cameron’s Titanic. The real passengers of RMS Titanic had more compelling stories to tell. Some of these anecdotes had gained legend status; others were little-known factoids about the people who lived through and died in one of the greatest tragedies in maritime history. Their stories had not gone down with the ship untold.
“The best things in life are free.” Ironically, the cliché could not be any truer than on Orchard Road, Singapore’s premier shopping belt. I was taking an evening stroll with my family under Christmasy lights, oblivious to the brand names in screaming neon all around. Instead, I bought into the visual and auditory treats of this posh street.