Saturday, October 24, 2015

You Won't Do that in LA

Singapore is so different than the U.S., but it's the little things you notice. 

Leave the house without my sunglasses, even when it's sunny and hot. When I arrived in Singapore I wondered why I was the only person wearing sunglasses. I also wondered why my face was so hot. You can't wear sunglasses here, at least not the ones that sit on your face. It's just too hot. Did I mention that it's hot?


Give two barefoot guys standing at my front door--who speak no English and have no appointment--access to every room in my home because they are wearing matching shirts, and carrying tools. But they "service" and "management." We are renting an apartment, which means that the management company is responsible for maintenance and sometimes sends people to service things. Our first year of aircon maintenance is free. Not gonna screw that up.

Make plans after my appointment with the cable guy, gas man, or government agency. Everything in which the government has a hand is extremely efficient in Singapore. My husband scheduled an appointment with City Gas the day we moved into our apartment. The appointment window was 12 - 1, the technician showed at 12:05 and was done by 12:30. My husband scheduled an appointment for two days later for wifi/fiber, the appointment window was 9 - 11, the technician showed at 9:05, and was done by 9:40! But most amazing was the Ministry of Manpower (MoM) which is the equivalent of INS in the states. I was on time for my 9 am appointment to receive my dependent pass, my name was called within 15 minutes, and I was out the door 7 minutes later. 

Carry an umbrella because it's raining, or sunny. There are two songs about California that are very true: "It Never Rains in California" and "Nobody Walks in LA." Nobody carries an umbrella because it never rains and people drive everywhere, so on the rare occasion that does rain you'll either be in traffic, at work, or at home. Go ahead, ask someone if they have a story about rain at the Hollywood Bowl.

Take a train or a bus in a dress or suit. Public transportation is disgusting in LA because many people who ride it behave in a disgusting manner--changing diapers on bus seats, picking their noses, eating greasy food despite the threat of fines. The Singapore trains and stations are clean because people observe the "no eating or drinking" rules. Sit on the Singapore MRT in white linen pants. It's fine. 

Take a shortcut through a public housing development to get to the market ... to buy fresh vegetables and organic oat milk. An estimated 80% of residents live in public housing flats (HDB) in Singapore, the goal of which is to build a nation of homeowners. The complexes are near markets, hawker centers, schools, and MRT stops. They remind me Leisure World in Seal Beach, CA for all ages--green, clean, pleasant and well cared-for. 

Walk a deserted road through a jungle to find the MRT. I took the bus to visit my dog in quarantine my first week in Singapore, but the traffic on the return route convinced me to take the train. Google Maps doesn't know the walking route to the MRT from quarantine and gave me the long route around the army base, which added 30 minutes in 87 degree weather at 78% humidity. As it turns out this road leads to a HDB park next to the MRT.

At the end of that road is the MRT?

Hang everything you wash where it's visible to everyone. We have not yet received our first electricity or gas bill so I don't know how punishing the dryer and aircon will be. The dryer seems to operate more like a water extractor than the clothes dryer I am used to, so I purchased a drying rack for The Yard where I hang most things. In LA I hung dainties and Lululemon on the rod with hangers we built special over the sink, next to the washer and dryer in the garage. Here people hang sheets, socks, towels, everything. They also hang it on their balconies which we never do in California. Though it may be environmentally responsible it looks ghetto, so much so that HOAs ban it.

Say "sorry" all the time to everyone everywhere. I know Amy Schumer would hate this, but it seems to be something more like "excuse me" here. It's not really apologizing but showing deference or respect for another person. Everybody does it--men, women, old, and young. It's not like at home where women apologize for being present as Amy suggests. Maybe it's to show that you are not a loud American demanding ketchup immediately?



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