Anyone who’s Singaporean would tell you that 2015 is all about SG50. Yup, the national campaign that has taken to every nook and cranny of our city – from buses, to malls, open spaces, you name it; SG50 is everywhere. While I admit that it was incredibly overwhelming at first, I now realise it’s only natural that we celebrate our golden jubilee year with a bang. I mean, how often does one turn 50? Seriously – five decades of independence, peace, beautiful people, good food and not to mention a safe and super clean country? I say this proudly with my fist up in the air – Majulah Singapura!
So what does being Singaporean and growing up in this little red dot mean to me? Being a racial mix of predominantly Indian, Chinese and Javanese but raised in a Malay/Muslim household (yes, I know it sounds complicated), people call me a rojak (which is typically known to be a combination of ingredients that make up a delicious local fare but the word is also often used to describe a mixture). Growing up, I learnt so many Malay traditions, customs and cultures. In fact my childhood home was at the heart of Geylang Serai, where I spent many weekdays visiting the wet market with my mother and grandmother. Even at a young age, I was aware and amazed at how people of different races, from Chinese to Indian or Malay understood each other despite their language differences. For example you can see a Malay makcik (auntie) speaking Hokkien or Cantonese while picking out her fruits or an Indian man conversing in Malay with his friends while packing their roti prata orders. If you ask me, we’re a sizzling melting pot! For me, this is the essence of being Singaporean – how we’re all different people and races but we cohesively identify to that warm sense of belonging and unity to one another.
Somehow, over the years, we’ve garnered a reputation as selfish, uptight, kiasu and competitive; but for anyone who has lived through a good part of the eighties and nineties here – you know that it’s just how we are as a result of being so determined to bloom and grow. There are countless stories of Singaporeans helping one another, whether it was someone who was stuck under a huge lorry, a good Samaritan standing up to a bully on the MRT and even fire-fighting taxi drivers who helped put out a fire on the expressway; all strong examples of how we come together when we get knocked down.
Singaporeans respect the newest new just as much as the tried and true; for example we love our local breakfasts just as much as we love our fine dining. That’s why this month, we’re curating extra local content as homage to our country. We’ll unravel the mysteries of our city and revisit some of our favourite local establishments, gather a group of Sassy Girls and find out what they love about being Singaporean and more. Besides November (because it’s my birthday), August is shaping out to be my favourite month of the year!
One of the things that makes Singapore a great place to live in aside from the safety, cleanliness and efficiency is our unwavering devotion to this city. Yes, we know how expensive it’s growing to be; yes, we know that it’s imposing and occasionally unfriendly; yes, we can’t put on layers of clothes without dying of heatstroke; and yes, sometimes we exclaim that we can find a million reasons not to live here. But for some magical reason and some unexplainable bond, we’re still here and will continue to be, no matter what. Because, there’s truly no place like home.
*Special thanks to the awesome and vivacious Shamsydar Ani for capturing these amazing shots on my adventure around Singapore!