Blasé? Moi?

14.12.04
Yesterday I experienced culture shock, which surprised me. I’ve done the Singapore visa run innumerable times, yet I seemed to be seeing things anew. I think it’s a phenomenon I’ll call the blog effect.

In Jakarta, one gets used to the continual near misses on the roads, the pleasantries exchanged when slipping uniformed officials a fiver for turning a blind eye, the need to watch one’s step and the absence of ‘home’ comforts.

Today my legs are aching thanks to the wide tree-lined footpaths; the lack of pedestrian impediments apart from handphone toters makes walking a real pleasure. I didn’t see a single plume of exhaust and didn’t hear any over-revved motorcycles.

Of course, the cost of living is higher, yet shopping for a few tokens of nostalgia was also rewarding. I had to buy the December issue of Mojo because of the interview with John Peel and the many tributes from friends and musicians, as well as the free CD of Elvis influences, Presley that is.

I also bought a genuine, non-pirated DVD, Westworld, in which Yul Brynner plays a robot gone bad in a theme park. It has long been a favourite movie but I’ve yet to see it on the stalls here, so paying ten times the price made it a bargain. Our Kid immediately compared the film’s premise with the Schwarzenegger Terminator movies. Good as they are, this one is far better.

And then, passport and visa collected in record time, it was off to the theme park that is Changi Airport where we were serenaded with carols by a high school acappella group which I enjoyed whilst tucking into an Indian vegetarian curry.

And, of course, there was the 14 minutes 13 seconds of free broadband Internet access, just time enough to jot some thoughts.

Yet I don’t think I’d like to actually live in Singapore. As the taxi drove me sedately up to the embassy in the morning, we passed through Legoland, row upon row of housing block beside housing block in clean pastel shades, and I couldn’t help humming the Pete Seeger ‘hit’ Little Boxes.

Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same.

There’s a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

No-one breaks the speed limit, motorists allow pedestrians to cross the road, there’s so little litter that finding a stray cigarette butt is a shock, everyone queues and there didn’t seem to much to rant about.

I didn’t feel that I could live there comfortably.

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About Jakartass

A Brit Abroad
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