"It is possible at a distance to maintain the fiction of former happiness - childhood or school days - and then your return to an early setting and the years fall away and you see how bitterly unhappy you were. I had felt trapped in Singapore; I had felt as if I were being destroyed by the noise - the hammering, the traffic, the radios, the yelling......."
-- Paul Theroux, The Great Railway Bazaar
I had meant to write this post earlier but work, life and an accident got in the way. I came back here in June 2008 - it has been three years since I came back to Singapore.
It gets unbearable at times, living here in the cramped conditions, the noise, the lack of space, the snaking lines and construction sites everywhere. There is money to be made in this place - otherwise all the foreigners I see on the train wouldn't be here - but there is no peace, no quiet, no space.
Walking to the station from my office a few weeks ago, a drill started up nearby and it filled the air with its poisonous insistent "Ba Ba Ba Bam!"over and over again - and I completely lost it. I all but screamed at Mr Grey - "I HATE THIS COUNTRY, I HATE THE NOISE, GET ME OUT OF HERE!"
I don't hate Singapore but I am utterly sick of it. I am sick of the noise and crowds and having to smell people on the train every single day.
I am not sick of its people but I am so sick of being pressed up against them on the train and having to know - in intimate detail - if someone has had a shower that morning and the types of soap/shampoo used.
And yet if you ask me if I would move back to Australia - I would hesitate. Time and visits back have confirmed that while I was happy and felt free there, I had also been enormously lonely in a way that a person is lonely when you live among a people not your own.
Living elsewhere would be exchanging one set of problems for another set - the only question is - which set can I live with?
Happy 3rd anniversary Singapore. I'm sorry to be so grumpy - you're not a bad place in your way but your people have GOT to stop rebuilding and tearing down every third building all of the time. It's exhausting and I'm not really sure it improves things in any concrete (pun totally intended) way.
But still. It's been three years and when I find time, I'll have a glass of wine in honour of that.