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So as some of you know, I’m in Singapore.
While many criticise it for a bunch of reasons – from its insular outlook to it’s over paternal approach to life – it has a special place in my heart.
Maybe it’s because I spent 4 years living here.
Maybe it’s because I still have many friends here.
Maybe it’s because I got married here.
Maybe it’s because I am still a permanent resident here.
Maybe it’s all those things and some more, who knows …
But despite being a country that contrives to make sure you experience more than a few frustrations living there, whenever I come back, it feels weirdly like home.
It took me a long time to try and figure out why … afterall, I’ve lived in a lot of places where I still have a lot of friends and, much to the annoyance of everyone except the taxation department, I am still ‘classed’ as a permanent resident … and then I worked it out, it’s because Singapore is so bloody small.
You see moving around a lot has it’s disadvantages.
Don’t get me wrong, it has an amazing amount of wonderful benefits and I have never regretted doing it for a second and would passionately advise anyone to do the same – but still, constantly moving countries means you sacrifice the ability to build deeper friendships and deeper roots.
Yes … yes … I know in this ‘digital age’ that is not supposed to be the case, but I think there is a massive difference between a friendship built on continuous interactions within certain physical environments and one where it is mainly through your digital exchanges.
But I digress.
The thing with Singapore – versus every other country I’ve lived in – is that it’s basically just a city. Sure, it would be classed as a relatively big city, but it’s still just a city.
And as with most cities, there is a central business district – even though in Singapore, this also doubles as the central shopping district – which means that whenever I visit and walk around the place [getting my fill of gadgets from Funan Mall or Sim Lim] I inevitably bump into someone I know.
And I like it.
Sure, they might feel quite differently, but for me, casually bumping into someone I know feels nice.
It makes me feel like I belong to something … something bigger than just my family or work colleagues.
Please don’t think I’m saying I’m not happy with my family, of course I am.
The fact of the matter is “home” is ultimately wherever my wife [and cat] are.
All I am saying is that even though it’s entirely my own fault I move countries so much, the result is that I permanently feel I’m always one degree off being part of a genuine, fully-functional community which is why whenever I am in Singapore – due to its small physical dimensions – I get to experience what I’ve not had since I left Nottingham almost 20 years ago and it feels nice … very, very nice.
Whether that means we would ever move back here is another thing altogether, but despite that – and the fact it can also make me feel like a stranger in my own town, so to speak – it’s wonderful to be back and wonderful to see people who had/have an amazing impact on how I view, think and experience life … which, contrary to what many believe, is not the sort of thing you can do nearly as well hidden behind a computer screen.
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