On Day 14 of my Singapore trip (Jan 04, 2008), it was time to head
back home. It was a mixed bag for me. On one hand, I felt so liberated
experiencing a vacation which seemed overdue. On the other hand, I was
rearing to get back to my realities (well, not really, but I didn’t
want to delude myself any further).

Singapore Day 10 007 Singapore Day 04 Sentosa 128

This trip was interesting from many perspectives. For one, I had
simply no agenda. I landed in a new country with 13 days and no plan
whatsoever. I started off by reading some magazine cutouts on the
plane. Later, I figured out that the info was all
online
.

I ended up going up in a hot air balloon to take in the awesome sight
of a lit-up Singapore at night, seeing more than a thousand
toys
at
a toys museum, cycling in an
island
, sleeping in
a library
, deep in
philosophical conversations by the beach, trekking alone for 20 km in
a water reservoir area, watching a 12-year old kid strum ‘Hotel
California’
, have
my roots shaken,
admire ancient
societies
, saw
an Indian National Army monument, visited the world’s largest
fountain, had mouth-watering Indian food at Bombay Express Cafe,
grooved to Felix Da Housecat’s mixing skills at the Zouk Club, prayed
at the Krishna Temple on the first day of the new year, saw animals
like mousedeer, bat-eared fox, sugar glider and east african bongos at
the Night Safari, saw remote-controlled kites being flown, and so on.

Singapore Day 07 198
Singapore Day 07 134
River Side

There were two big things for me in this trip.

One was spending time with my friends Abishek Nair and Ashish Dantu.
Thanks a ton guys for being such great hosts, for the conversations,
for making me watch Russell Peters at 2 am, for all the fun we had,
and for teaching me so many things without ever having to say
anything.

Abishek and Ashish

The second thing was coming away inspired. Inspired by the pulse of
the city, inspired by their belief that “it’s possible.” ‘It’ just
needs a vision, a decision and a team to execute. On the other hand,
I’m terrified that people are progressing so fast and working towards
their dreams and I’m getting left behind.

I had a lot of time to think, inside out. Putting life into
perspective. As Einstein once said “The significant problems we face
cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we
created them.” So, it’s good to step back once in a while and think
about the big picture of your life. The challenge is to avoid getting
lost again in the daily grind, which is so hard.

In fact, it’s interesting how many people actually go through these
step-back-and-breathe phases, it’s just that it is completely
hush-hush, and understandably so, it’s a very personal thing.

On the other hand, there’s so much happening out there from things
like man-made islands to
the King Abdullah Economic
City
, an
entire city being built on the sea!

Palm_Island_Resort

King Abdullah Economic City

This trip made me see how the world is changing and how I should
change, rather than me just being a ‘frog in the well’ and not knowing
what’s really going on ‘out there’.

Travelling is a necessity for me, not a luxury. It’s my way of
overcoming implosion. Our ancestors understood this. As an old Kannada
saying goes: “desha noDu, kosha vodu” (roughly translates to “Travel
the world, Read books”).

I have this notion that you don’t get to really know a city until
you’ve run in it.

So, I ran a couple of times in my Singapore trip, and I liked the
route so much that on Day 13 (Thu, Jan 03, 2008), I started taking
photos.

I start right from getting out of Abishek and Ashish’s apartment and
getting down the stairs.

Singapore Day 13 001 Singapore Day 13 003
Singapore Day 13 005
Singapore Day 13 008

This is a proper urban area, not outside the city. Don’t be fooled by
the greenery.

Was listening to “Heartbeat – Instrumental” from ‘Kal Ho Naa Ho’.

Singapore Day 13 009 Singapore Day 13 011 Singapore Day 13 012 Singapore Day 13 015

Was listening to “Far Away” by Nickelback.

I love the wide open spaces they have kept for public usage right in
the middle of a square area with huge apartments on all sides.

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Was listening to “Ninnindale” from Milana (Kannada movie).

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It was good to see so many runners around. The best part is that
people accept it as normal behavior. And cyclists are given their due
respect.

The most startling thing was when I was waiting to cross the road, the
vehicles will stop (irrespective of traffic) and ask you to go ahead
first. It was actually irritating at first to experience this, but
soon got used to it.

Was listening to “Endings” by Dusty Hughes.

Singapore Day 13 062
Singapore Day 13 070 Singapore Day 13 107

Was listening to “One Thing” by Finger Eleven.

Singapore Day 13 086 Singapore Day 13 113

What more can a running enthusiast like me ask for?

P.S. If you’re curious on why people run, watch the trailer of the Marathon Movie.

Around the recent gastroenteritis
scare

in Bangalore, NDTV was running a poll:

NDTV Poll on Bangalore

Then, there was this whole one hour dedicated to hearing viewpoints
from Veerappa Moily, Swathi Ramanathan and the general public
regarding Bangalore’s infrastructure.

Okay, okay, I know most of you by now are saying “Oh, come on, don’t
you have anything else to talk about? You’re so boring”. Maybe I am,
but when I shift most of my “outside” chores to the middle of the day
just to avoid traffic, and hate going out on Sundays because of long
queues for everything, it affects me and I’d like to know if the
situation can improve or not.

I liked how Swathi Ramanathan explained that the business people have
come together to pitch in their part. The way they’ve analyzed the 15
critical junctions leading to the Bangalore International Airport
which should have good roads otherwise traffic will bottle up here and
will throw us into further crisis, err okay, I’ll stop here.

It reminded me of the Singapore 1:1 Island
Exhibition

I visited on Day 12 (Jan 02, 2008) of my Singapore trip.

(To be honest, I was a little hesitant to write about this topic, even
though this is my space, my blog. The last time I wrote
something, people
wrote in to say that I’m not Indian enough because I talked negative
about our current situation and asked me to go ‘home’ to Singapore or
USA!)

Singapore Day 12 013 Singapore Day 12 031 Singapore Day 12 022 Singapore Day 12 047 Singapore Day 12 193 Singapore Day 12 101 Singapore Day 12 133 Singapore Day 12 159

You can see many more photos in my Day 12 photo
album
.

I absolutely loved their Skyline
newsletters
where
they discuss the upcoming developments. Do check out their last
Nov/Dec 2007 edition.
I can almost guarantee you that you’ll come away inspired, especially
the Design Wonders section.

It’s not so much about Singapore that amazed me, it’s the fact that
they have such a vision about the place they want to live in, and the
effort that goes into planning of such things, the importance given to
design and architecture, and finally ensuring proper execution.

And it is a seemingly open process. Visiting the Urban Redevelopment
Authority website
shows the first sidebar on
the left which says “I need info on Master Plan / Land Use Planning
/ etc.”

Maybe that’s what we need for cities like Bangalore?

It would help if things were more transparent, instead of the government
hiding facts
like a part of Lalbagh that would be razed for the metro. Or something
like what Stefan Magdalinski
did with TheyWorkForYou?

CitizenMatters.in seems to be a step in
the right direction, but at the end of the day, it’s just competing
with the hyperbolic news channels. I think a more useful idea would be
a website with a categorical depth of works happening in the different
parts of the cities, the government offices involved, what is being
done, and so on. But the website is still useful, for example, via an
article on ward works
came to know about this:

Coalition Against Corruption Guru Ravindranath Tel: 65734444

If you have noticed any governmental apathy in your area, CAC and
Guru Ravindranath will guide you in fixing things.

Question is: Would I call Mr. Guru if I do come across something?
I have this eternal fear regarding these issues about getting into
something that I’ll regret.

I’ve been provoked and I can’t stop thinking about it.

Incident 1. It all started on Day 2 of my Singapore trip (Dec 23
Sun) when a hotel owner was too friendly. Maybe he didn’t have much
work, but anyway, he got pretty chatty with us and was asking about
how we like Singapore. All we wanted to do was eat noodles.

He started talking about his visit to India, and like most
Singaporeans, he had been on a Buddhist pilgrimage to India. I can
still remember the angst in his voice.

He said that the central government in India is good but the state
governments are bad. Strike 1. I had to agree.

He said that it’s not a safe place for businessmen to invest money. He
said one of his close friends made huge investment, but when the
government changed, the policies changed and the friend made a huge
loss. Strike 2. I don’t know much about such things, but I can imagine
that it is possible.

He said that India hasn’t advanced enough, there’s still too much
poverty, there’s still so much chaos. He said ‘take a look at China’.
For example, if the parents invest some amount with the government,
they’ll give back 10 times the amount in 10 years, or something like
that, and this is guaranteed by the government to safeguard the
child’s future. I don’t remember the numbers he used but I was
impressed with what he said. Strike 3.

I was beaten and didn’t know how to fight back.

I’m not a patriotic guy. I don’t go around burning boards written in
non-state languages, nor do I go around speaking only in Hindi and
refusing to speak in English. But I believe in the concept of India
as a nation and I instinctively feel that I should defend my country
when someone makes says negative about my country.

But I was stumped. I was completely caught off-guard. I didn’t know
what to say. I just nodded. I desperately looked for things to tell
him. But I got nothing. Throughout the trip, I kept thinking of things
to go back and tell that hotel guy that India is a great country, but
what do we really have?

Specifically, the question is:

Post-independence, does India, as a nation, have achievements to
be proud of?

I’m not talking about our ancient history or ‘culture’. I’m not
talking about what some Indian did when he went to a foreign country,
or even someone who went out of his way to achieve something within
India (like the paeans being written about Tata Motors and their Nano
car).

I’m talking specifically about the 1. post-independence era and the 2.
‘as a nation’ part.

A week after that incident, I was still trying to forget about it. But
the same thing happened again on Day 9 (Dec 30 Sun) with the store
owner of a bookstore that Abishek and myself randomly walked into. We
had a long conversation about Buddhism and our beliefs of God and how
we pray. It’s surreal that we randomly started talking our intimate
spiritual beliefs with a complete stranger. But such is life. And then
she mentioned the same exact things that the hotel owner did. She
specifically mentioned that she was appalled at the poverty when she
went to Bodh Gaya.

Yes, we are talking about poverty, not just about the beggars on the
busy roads of Bangalore, but he fighting-for-food kind, the kind that
we saw in ‘Swades’ movie.

Incident 2. After visiting the Kaala Chakra
exhibition
,
I realized how influential India has really been, especially to most
of South East Asia, from language to politics to trade, Indian-related
stuff is everywhere in South East Asia. I used to wonder about why
Tamil is such a common language here in Singapore, and only after
I visited this exhibition, I realized that this goes back to the B.C.
ages!

Notice the irony that I got to know more about Indian history and
influence when I’m outside India.

Probably because there is such importance given to history and culture
in Singapore. But people in India have no time for such things, we are
still fighting and struggling for our basic needs.

This immediately reminded me of “Maslow’s hierarchy of
needs”
:

Maslow's hierarchy of needs

We are still struggling in Levels 1-3, that’s why we are just touching
Level 4, and we’re a long way from reaching Level 5 of Self
Actualization. At least, my point of view.

Incident 3. I know there will be lots of people that say that I’m
wrong, and that everything’s fine in India. (It reminds me of Rahul
Bose in the “Everybody Says I’m Fine” movie.)

The problem is that everything’s fine as long as nothing bad happens
to you or you witness it, only then you realize how bad the situation
is.
God forbid, you end up in an accident, only then you realize the
problems with the police, the hospital, the insurance, and so on. The
situation is the same everywhere, irrespective of the aspect of life.

I don’t know how better or worse we are compared to other countries,
but that doesn’t mean we can’t be in a better situation. There is
simply no reason to! We have the money, the people, the resources…

Incident 4. I came to know recently that at a premier medical
institution in Bangalore, teachers are openly telling students that
if they don’t “help” the teachers (i.e. pay them money), they will
make sure that 30% of the students will fail!
I am not kidding
you, this is for real. Where’s the sanctity of education? Where’s
the concern for the students’ future? Where’s the concern for
encouraging future doctors (especially because the number of
doctors is already dwindling)? Where’s the concern about setting
precedents for future of medical profession? Even if they don’t
think long term, how will students afford this? I know many
medical student friends who have struggled to pay the hefty fees,
what about these students who simply cannot afford to pay bribes
to teachers?

Incident 5. Similarly, lecturers in PUC colleges have stopped
teaching in college and they tell students that they are anyway going
to tuitions. If not, they should join their own tuitions! What happens
to all those students who can’t afford it?

Incident 6. Abishek’s close friend and special effects friend Osmand
is a third-generation Indian. When he was about to fly from India to
China to visit his relatives, he was abused that he was a Chinese
person, and this for a person who’s born and brought up in India his
entire life! The difference in attitudes was telling when the Indian
immigration officer made him wait for 3 hours to prove that he’s an
Indian compared to when he explained, that he’s a third-generation
Indian originally hailing from China, to the Chinese immigration
officer, he said “Welcome home.”
Now, Osmand is as Indian as it
gets, irrespective of how it looks. Tell me, who’s the racist here?
Osmand is so fed up of this attitude that he wants to go back to
China.

(more…)

On Day 7 (Dec 28, 2007) of the Singapore Trip, I visited the
Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay. Esplanade
can be compared to a jumbo-sized version of our own
Rangashankara but on a much grander
scale – while Rangashankara is a place where plays are produced and
played (pun intended), Esplanade is a place for all kinds of
performing arts including music.
It has a 1,600 seat concert hall and a 2,000 seat theater. It was
opened in Oct 2002 and within 5 years, it had 5000 performances and 20
million visitors.

Singapore Day 07 070

What I was impressed most with Esplanade was the story behind
it
from
the conception to its architecture. There was a ‘Passages’ exhibition
on display explaining the story and I watched 3 videos on the TV
screens and I was very inspired.

The ideas was originally conceived in the 80s by the then Culture
Minister of Singapore. However, he realized the time was not right for
a performing arts center when they’re still building a nation. In the
last decade, the same person became the Prime Minister and got things
moving. There was a long process of conceptualizing what Esplanade
stands for, and in the end they said it’s a performing arts center
for the people, and the stress on the ‘common people’ aspect can be
seen in every decision, in every aspect of the place.

For example, the weird open-glass structure was a result of their
focus on “for the people”. How? They wanted common people walking by
to be able to look inside on what’s happening and to consider it part
of their society and that they can participate as well, and not think
of it as just some building for some crazy artists. So, the structure
had glass through which people can see, but considering the climate,
the architects came up with the leaf-like structure which can be
controlled by computers to fold. The result was that during the
daytime, people can look inside as well as the sun’s heat gets inside
the building. During night, the metal leaves are closed, and the heat
remains inside. What a beautiful design! In fact, this architecture
has won many awards.

Singapore Day 07 053

Similarly, they set up restaurants inside the complex so that the
general public can use this as an excuse to visit the place. Even the
shape of the building is like the common-in-Singapore durian fruit for
the very same reason!

Durian

On Day 8 (Dec 29, 2007), I went back to Esplanade to experience the
free weekend concerts at the WaterFront called “stage@powerhouse”,
and boy, was I impressed with the local talent.

There was a performance by ‘The Rhythm Chefs’ who make music out of
kitchen utensils! It sounds stupid, I know, but seeing these guys
performing live, their music was actually catchy.

Singapore Day 08 026

Later in the night, they got the audience involved from tourists to
mostly kids who were excited at being able to bang away to make some
music together.

As I’ve written before, notice how Singaporeans make things as visual
and as interactive as possible. The crowd really liked the
make-your-own-music session.

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There was also a stage show by bands such as the ‘Peep Show’ band.
They were decent but the lyrics were way too clichéd. I liked the tune
of one of their songs “I know”.
There was also a performance by a band called ‘Comic Strip’ (if I’m
not mistaken) and they were more of a big orchestra doing everything
from pop to salsa-like songs. They kept the crowd dancing by the bay,
although I couldn’t understand which language the singer was crooning
in (apparently it was English, no offense meant).

The best performance of all, was a performance of ‘Hotel California’
by a couple of 12-year old kids. We were so blown away, Abishek,
Srinivas and myself, we were just speechless. The kids were supported
by an experienced guitarist guiding them (but carefully and sometimes
slyly letting the kids do most of the music). He said “Please don’t
think that your 12-year old children or nephews or nieces just listen
to music, they can play well too. I would encourage you to send them
to Esplanade and help them learn to play music just like these
talented kids right here.”

It was interspersed with the singing performance of a teenager girl.
She had surprisingly good control over her voice and sung some popular
pop and rock songs.

I seriously wonder if I have any talent in anything that can match
these kids. Damn.

Even on the way back down the underground passages to get to the
subway trains, there were paintings and artwork by 5-year old and
6-year old kids all over the passage.

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True story.

On Day 7 of my Singapore trip (Dec 28, 2007),
Chinmay and myself were at
‘The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’ shop. The lady in front of us in the
queue said this. When we heard this, both of us looked at each other,
with the look that meant “Did I just hear that right?”, and then we
burst into laughter.

P.S. Oh, and this is my first ToonDoo. ToonDoo has way too many bugs,
it took me one attempt to create the comic strip, but 15 min of 4-5
attempts to actually get it to save properly. Even now, the text cloud
in the first panel is in the wrong direction even though it was proper
when creating it.

On Day 5 of my Singapore trip (Dec 26 Wed), Abishek and myself visited
the Greek Masterpieces from Louvre
exhibition

at the National Museum of Singapore.
This was the largest collection ever to be allowed to be borrowed from
the famous Louvre museum in Paris (which you might have heard of from
‘The Da Vinci Code’ book).

Singapore Day 05 009

The exhibition was so comprehensive that I was amazed. I raised my
eyebrows on seeing a ‘Sports’ section and went on to read stuff like
this:

Untranslatable, the word ‘agon’ denotes a gathering, and more
specifically games and competitions, but also struggle, combat and
battle, a trial or a debate, and a critical moment even.
Personified by a winged man running, the notion underlies the whole
of Greek civilization which has been described as ‘agonistic’ that
is founded on the spirit of competition.

Then, I remembered that Olympics Games were started in Olympia,
Greece. Duh. But the important thing to note is that they started it
in 7th century BC! They gave sports so much importance more than 2500
years ago, and compare it to the situation today in India, except for
cricket (My theory is that cricket was made popular because it is the
perfect advertiser-friendly game ever, where else will you get a 15-20
second ad break after every few minutes i.e. an over!)

Next, I learned that theater was about politics and way to live, and
the audience was paid to attend including their wages for several days
since they would have to take off work to attend these plays!
Now,
that is a truly modern society!

Greek philosopher

There was so much more that I just couldn’t digest it all in such
a short time: poetry, sports, religion, philosophy – Socrates, Plato,
Aristotle, schooling children with 3 teachers on specific areas of
life, religion linked to running of the state and city – including
patron deities protecting the city such as Athena for Athens, heroes
such as Heracles (Roman ‘Hercules’), Achilles, Ulysses, Paris, etc.,
Zeus was King of Gods, there were 12 Olympian Gods including
third-generation gods and goddesses, Alexander the Great was the
greatest conqueror of all time, Romans stole most of the Greek
artifacts since they were obsessed with Greek history and so they made
copies of Greek statues and much of what we know about Greece is
actually from these Roman copies.

Singapore Day 05 002

A very interesting section of the exhibition was the “Dress like
a Greek” section. There were a couple of robes kept, just like the
ones you see the Senators wear in ‘The Gladiator’. There were
directions in a poster on the wall. People took interest in trying it
out and taking snaps. I was amazed at how they make everything visual
and interactive in Singapore. This idea was a masterstroke in my
honest opinion, because it makes something like history that can be so
dry to be accessible and understandable for a layman. There were more
sections such as a huge wall for kids to write their own sequels to
the story of Troy (basically where Odyssey by Homer took off), and
there were many hilarious writings by the kids.

(more…)

It was Day 2 of my trip (Dec 23 Sun). My plan was to go in the DHL
balloon so that I can get a good view of Singapore. When I reached the
MRT station, I suddenly got interested in randomly walking around.
I really wanted to see the place.

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After more than an hour of walking around in the hot sun, I came
across a really huge building. I got curious and tried to figure out
the name – it was the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library.
It’s a library?! I just had to get in there, for the AC as well as to
explore the books collection. I thought it was a good idea since it
would be relaxing. After all, the point of a vacation is to do things
you wouldn’t do in daily life, as well as to have a relaxing or
invigorating fun time. At least, that’s my definition of a vacation.

I went in, saw many rows of shelves. I clearly avoided the row which
had some books with some strange titles like “Java & XML”,
I wonder what that’s all about. I picked up a few books from the other
rows and went and sat down at the benches. Lots of people were
studying, with music on, writing down notes in their laptops and
utilizing the free wifi.

I started reading a book titled something like “The Practice of
Philosophy – A Handbook for Beginners”. Unfortunately, within ten
minutes, I was sleepy. Either it was the exhaustion and lack of sleep
the previous night, or it was the subject. I went and sat on the
couches and started to doze off. I was encouraged by the fact that
there was some other Indian dude also sleeping.

After a while, I realized I was snoring, and there were other new
people around trying to read, so I went and washed my face. Then,
I went down to Level 1 to give a phone call to Abishek Nair (my
gracious host for the trip). He was laughing that I came all the way
to Singapore to sit in a library and read some books! He told me to
come over to his company VHQ Post (an advertising post-production i.e.
visual effects company) in an hour so that he can show me around.

After that, I stood near the wide glass and I look left and see the
DHL balloon right there! It was funny since I wasn’t actively looking
for it.

Singapore Day 02 016 Singapore Day 02 017 Singapore Day 02 018 Singapore Day 02 019

I went back inside the library, the books were still there. This time
I started reading a book more closer to my tastes – “The Runner’s
Handbook” by Bob Glover, and I went prepared with my iPod. Music
always gets me going. I started playing “Sutrum Vizhi” and started
reading. I started with the nutrition/fuel section because that’s
where most of my problems are. Then started taking down some notes:

  • Hitting “the wall” refers to that point when you run short of
    glycogen. This is an experience that every runner should try

    • once. After you’re survived it, you will respect the need to
      prepare better for your next marathon.
  • Learn the values of long training runs, tapering, eating plenty of
    carbos, and not starting too fast. Ignoring these factors all
    contribute to hitting “the wall.”
  • Most often associated with marathons. After an hour and a half or
    so of running, you begin to run low on glycogen. For most runners
    that will be 10-13 miles into a run. The average well-trained
    runner may store enough glycogen to last 15-20 miles, depending
    upon such as factors as pace, body weight, fitness level, and how
    well they loaded up on carbs going into the race.
  • When you run low on glycogen, your body attempts to conserve what
    remains by burning more fat for energy. But since fat is 15% less
    efficient than carbs as an energy source, you are unable to hold
    your pace and have to slow dramatically (even though fat releases
    9 cal/gm compared to 4 cal/gm for carbs and protein)
  • Long training runs develop mechanisms for your body to utilize fat
    more efficiently throughout your race, thus “sparing” some glycogen
    for use later. Workouts at marathon pace and faster will also train
    your muscles to utilize carbs more efficiently at these paces.
    In addition, starting your race at a conservative pace will
    help conserve glycogen for later in the run. Tapering for
    a marathon combined with carb-loading is the key to surviving
    “the wall.”
  • Back-of-the-pack runners benefit most from carb-loading.
    • Dr. Costill notes: The difference between elite and average
      marathoners is that even if both started out with the same
      amount of glycogen, the elite marathoner would spare it by
      burning a higher ratio of fat. Although more oxygen is required
      to burn fat, the highly developed oxygen transport system of the
      elite runner allows this. Furthermore, he moves more
      economically, which means that he uses less oxygen to accomplish
      the same task. The average runner, on the other hand, depletes
      his glycogen supply sooner and doesn’t have as efficient an
      oxygen transport system to burn fat. That’s why hitting the wall
      is so devastating and why carbohydrate loading is more important
      for the average runner than for the elite runner.
  • For shorter runs (< 90 min), glycogen stores don’t get depleted
    much and hence carb intake isn’t as critical.

The best part is that I realized that this problem is not unique to
me! It’s a documented scientific problem experienced by enough runners
to have a section dedicated to it in a runners’ book. Now I know what
the problem is! Next, I need to actually figure out how to train to
tackle this which the book didn’t explain satisfactorily.

I had lost track of time because of the awesome reader-friendly
environment and suddenly realized I was late. I then headed out to
meet Abishek. I got to see all the whizbang gizmos they use to create
all the special effects that you may or may not notice in the
advertisements you see. These guys have amazing talent and patience to
do the things they do. But that’s a story for another day.

I never really could imagine what Utopia could be like, but having
stayed in Singapore for more than a week, I can say I don’t need to
imagine it, it’s already here.

To be frank, it’s spooky, it’s eerie. I think it’s something taken
straight from ‘Demolition Man’ script and something’s going to happen
now. But it’s for real, and I can’t stop wondering WHY!? Why and how
can things work so smoothly here?

Actually, a better description is the last scene in Ajnabee movie
where Bobby Deol exposes Akshay Kumar’s password (in big bold
letters): “EVERYTHING IS PLANNED.”

For example, let’s just consider the online component to Singapore
which is jarring for the sheer depth of information available.

Want to visit Singapore? Sure, just head out to their Itinerary
Planner
,
tell them how long you want to visit and who you’re coming with, and
they’ll tell you what you can explore each day! Uniquely Singapore,
indeed.

On the same note, everything has a website here:

Phew.

Oh, and the simplest best way to get around is to consult the Street
Directory
and it’ll tell you the best
way to reach from anywhere to anywhere (including the exact building
number) via the bus, metro, walk or driving directions.

That brings me to the topic of the well-planned metro which they call
MRT (Mass Rapid Transport), you just need to check out the MRT
map
to figure
out how to get to any place and since every train has a frequency of
6-8 min, you can always get there fast.

You can travel by bus as well and you’ll reach there fast too. In
fact, the roads are so good that there will be a Formula 1 race in
Singapore on the public streets. This is going to be the first ever F1
race in the night
!

What I still do not understand is how such cleanliness, discipline
(especially traffic) and order is maintained when there are no cops
around! (I have seen them only once so far in the past 9 days).

I guess it has got something to do with this
fact
:

Singapore legislation requires every able-bodied male Singaporean
citizen and second-generation permanent resident to undertake
National Service for a minimum of 2 years upon reaching 18 years of
age or completion of his studies (whichever comes first), with
exemption on medical or other grounds. After serving the two years,
every male is considered operationally ready, and is liable for
reservist national service to the age of 40 (50 for commissioned
officers). More than 350,000 men serve as operationally-ready
servicemen assigned to reservist combat units, and another 72,500
men form the full-time national service and regular corps.

That is amazing. In case of any kind of emergency, every Singaporean
man can face the problem and solve it then and there instead of
wasting time waiting for “a cop”. Probably also explains why they are
all so fit!

All this for just an island which is 42×28 km in size. It is one of
the 20 smallest countries in the world and at the same time they are
the second most densely populated country in the
world
.

And they’re still charging
ahead
.

The past month, I have been experiencing what I can only describe as
a burnout). When
I think about it, I have been juggling too many things, but they
were not extraordinary tasks, so I wonder why I felt ‘stressed’.

Things have been so hectic that I even missed foss.in this year (I
have attended every year since 2003) but good to know that it went so
well
.

The good thing was that the vacation was right around the corner which
kept me going. Even an hour before leaving from home for the flight,
I was struggling to complete chores.

I am now in Singapore, staying with my friends, and exploring the
place since the last 5 days.

Singapore is a really amazing city to live in. Everything is
streamlined
. Even the fish in the Underwater World at Sentosa Island
are RFID-tagged!

IIRC, I once saw a board that said there’s a 1000 SGD (singapore
dollars) fine if you are found sitting on the stairs of the
underground metro. I need to get one of those T-shirts that says
‘Singapore is a fine city’. Heh.

P.S. If you’re in Singapore too and want to meet up, give me
a holler.

Update: Looks like Ben Rockwood is going through a strikingly similar phase.