Over the first 3 days of the Year of the
I visited relatives (not the kind in the above photo), most of whom I see only once a year. Even though it is so infrequent, it is not something that I particularly enjoy doing. It is not the angpows that I loathe giving but rather the visits are considered as a tradition or obligation that I have to fulfill, more like a chore. To justify my feeling this way, this 'wordsmith' (according to Chris) coined the phrase - 'Friends are by choice, relatives are by chance'. Isn't there at least some truth in this statement?
It's not that I am envious or suffering from inferiority complex. But it just did not help when most of my relatives seemed to be either having a higher standard of living or living in better conditions when compared to mine. Some live in posh resort-style condos with facilities they never use:
Yet some others stay in so-called 'humble' HDB flats like mine but enjoy a spectacular view quite unlike boring views of neighbouring blocks which I see from my flat. They can even tell you when each ship will leave the harbour or whether any flight is delayed just by looking out their windows:
They even have an expansive (not expensive) football field right downstairs:
But the highlight of this CNY for me must be the visit to the Istana today (31 Jan 06), although the President didn't give me nor my children any angpows. We didn't even get to see him because we went in the morning and he probably made his appearance only in the afternoon. There were thousands of visitors and hundreds of security personnel:
The Istana is open to the public only a few times a year during the major festivals. Locals enjoy free admission while foreigners have to pay $1 per head with proceeds going to the Community Chest (not NKF) as donations. We observed that there might be more foreigners, especially Chinese nationals, than locals who visited today.
Donate another $2 and you get to view certain portions of the Istana Building itself. (You still don't get to use the building's toilets or lifts though.) Many artifacts, mostly gifts from foreign governments, are on display. On display too in the Istana grounds are many signboards telling visitors what they are not supposed to do. There are hundreds of police personnel to make sure that the following rules are not flouted:
The above photo montage certainly looks like a 'Singapore is a fine city' t-shirt doesn't it? The signs can be expected - Singaporeans especially, need to be told what they can't do. Otherwise they will assume that whatever that is not stated explicitly is permitted. If they are told that something is prohibited, they will instinctively ask, 'Got sign to say so meh?". This happened to Mr Kenny Sia when he was told not to take photos in an MRT station. But then he's a Malaysian.
And you can't claim that you are illiterate either. All who can see and who at least completed nursery school should be able to understand what this sign is all about:
Not only that, Singaporeans also need to be told when they can do something right and where to do it too, as shown in this montage:
When it comes to having initiative, Singaporeans still have a long way to go.
But overall, it has been an enjoyable CNY holiday for me and I hope that you (especially Evan) have enjoyed yours just as well.
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