National Day 2013 – We are Singapore
Yesterday was National Day.
We have an unusually long weekend this year, because Thursday was Hari Raya, Friday was National Day, and then we have the usual Saturday and Sunday weekend.
Needless to say, many people will be out of the country for a getaway. In fact, many have been, since last weekend. You can take 3 days of leave and get 9 days of holidays. Woohoo!
Nah, I did not get away. In fact, I was getting bored to death.
Thursday was a good break at home most of the day. D and I did not have any idea where to go and hung out at a nearby mall for a while. We were out for only 3 hours, but by the time we were home, we both felt drained.
Friday was another headache on where to go.
“Let’s go to Funan and look at the electronics stuff!”
“Nah, I’m not going anywhere near City Hall/ Marina area. The NDP is there, there will be huge crowds and heavy traffic in the area.”
We went to Orchard in the end. We spent most of the time in Kinokuniya browsing books. That brings back memories of some 7-8 years back, where I also spent National Day one year at Borders, reading almost an entire novel.
Anyway, there was a larger shopping crowd in the afternoon, but by evening, the streets were empty and quiet, as if some curfew had started. Everyone must have been at home watching the parade on TV and ordering fastfood deliveries. We, were eating out and not wearing red.
It isn’t that I am not patriotic.
For years, I had always seated myself in front of the TV in anticipation of watching the parade. I would even stand up when the National Anthem was sung and pledge was recited. I can’t remember when it began, but there came a point when I seemed to suddenly lose interest in watching the parade. Perhaps I would just catch glimpses of the reruns. It probably also set me thinking how much of tax payers’ money had been put into putting up something superficial and so time-consuming to train and practise for. Oh yes, I still enjoy the fireworks at the end, but all the marching contingents, displaying of military equipment etc, were boring.
As I grow older, it also got me thinking what is it that we are celebrating for?
Those people who have experienced the transitional times that Singapore went through would be more emotional about the celebration perhaps. It was those times that made the lyrics of “Count on me, Singapore” and “We are Singapore” meaningful and more relevant. But to the younger generation? I’m not sure.
As I was driving back home on Wednesday night, which was the night before Hari Raya and also the first day of the Hungry Ghosts Festival, I saw Chinese lining the paves with candles and burning incense paper. Not more than 20 meters away is a group of Muslim men saying their prayers in preparation for Hari Raya. I would have loved to take a picture, but I did not have my camera with me (the phone camera doesn’t really count, especially for night shots). I was reminded at that moment, that is the biggest blessing that Singapore has, that we can live in harmony with one another despite different races and religions.
Since then, over the past 2 days, I had been thinking what I cherish about living in Singapore.
– racial harmony
– we have electricity and clean water all the time, everywhere (remember that we only drink bottled water when we go to foreign countries?)
– we do not have hurricanes, earthquakes, snow storms, volcanic eruptions whatsoever (even though I kind of like the idea of having to spring, autumn and winter as seasons, just for some variety)
– our healthcare and security forces are reliable (well, at least we don’t have to bribe our ways around and you won’t need to suspect the police is in cahoots with the mafia or something)
– local food (no explanations needed I’m sure)
– Singlish (who says it is not its own language? It has its own set of grammatical rules. I speak and write Singlish much more often than I do in English, the language I read in university. And remember it is the easiest and fastest way to recognise a fellow Singaporean when overseas?)
Oh yeah, I have my share of complaints about living here but I’m not going to be a nag today.
And I just read that the parade yesterday was spectacular, not with some big celebrities, but with performances put up by ordinary people on the streets, with some parts of the show evening showing some light humour and laughing at ourselves. Well, the last part itself sounds probably like what I would like to catch. Now on to check when is the revised telecast.