So as these things happen, one fine day I was asked at work if I wanted to consider moving to a new office location. Given my long term love-hate relationship with Bombay, I was quite happy to consider the idea. A few months later, we now find ourselves in Singapore, complete with bag and baggage.
It has been three weeks and finally I am beginning to absorb my new city.
My expectations from Singapore were quite low. Earlier business trips did not particularly mark this out as an exciting city. The buildings looked nice, the roads looked nice, the neatly manicured trees looked nice. Everything looked pleasing and safe. Nothing had a buzz to it.
Three weeks on, I cannot say I have discovered the buzz. Partly because I have been too focussed on work, househunting and other personal issues to go looking for it. But boy, have I underestimated the virtues of ‘pleasing and safe’. It has been terrifically easy to get things done – employment passes, opening a bank account, getting used to the MRT, finding cheap, hygienic Indian food and so on and so forth. I must admit that administratively it has been a lot easier arriving on this side, than winding up in India. The Bombay end required endless follow-ups, lot of procedures, beaurecracy and I was quite tired by the end of it all.
It also helps that we have friends here who had been through the rigmarole before and were happy to dole out advice. Plus who are happy to have us visit.
My only sore point so far is the real estate agent we have been using to rent a house. Sulky, overly talkative, undiplomatic are a few words that can be used to describe him. By the time, we realised that he was really not helping our case at all, two weeks had flown by. We have switched to other agents and hope for a better outcome in the househunt. I am trying to be wise and consoling myself that there are bound to be teething issues in any relocation. However, I secretly know that if I did get a chance, I would gladly give him a resounding slap.
The big draw so far has been interacting with a number of nationalities, mostly on work. I can see some major broadening-of-the-horizons happening. It is quite exciting and I am sure one day I will be able to comprehend the accents of everyone in my team and vice versa. The good news is that most people speak a little slower at work to combat this exact issue. I will have to learn to do so too.
The city itself dresses up far more chic than Mumbai (though South Mumbai can still give these guys a run for their money). Skirts and tiny shorts are all the rage. Designer bags are not classified as ‘luxury’ but as ‘necessity’. Smooth footpaths and even surfaces make it easy for everyone to strut around in heels. Even some of the men, with their carefully groomed ‘dandy’ looks merit mention. I try not to stare too hard. Infact, I am quite mastering the art of looking through the corner of my eyes. And I do do a lot of gaping at shoes or clothes.
Safe or buzzing, it looks like it is going to be fun discovering a whole new world.
Relocation though comes with a period of transition when you still don’t know enough about the new city to feel at home. Yesterday, we watched ‘Barfi’ and emerged from the theatre and I was a little disconcerted to find that I had not stepped out onto the bylanes of Metro or the side staircases of Inox. Suddenly, nothing seemed familiar and a sudden wave of homesickness hit me. I had never been more thankful to have D by my side. It is nice to not have to do this alone.