After 4 days in convenient, neat and clean Singapore, I am back in the city I have grown to love for all its contradictions, idiosyncrasies, food, friendly locals and erratic traffic. Yes you read me right, the traffic. While riding in a clean, air-conditioned public bus along the well-paved roads with other orderly motorists, I found myself missing the colourful and unpredictable Jakarta roads with drivers who are mostly tolerant of one another’s driving quirks, signal and give way. Even the motorcyclists who ride against the traffic flow and often flood the roads, weaving precariously in between cars, lorries and trucks were remembered fondly.
I guess I’m just like the many others who perceive the grass on the other side to be lusher. With distance, even trying traffic conditions that made me cursed and swore take on a rosy nostalgic hue.
Us humans and our insatiable desire for perfection.
As much a perfectionist as I am, an ingrate I am not. I delight in the high level of cleanliness in buses and Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) trains. I am definitely thankful for the ease of movement and connectivity the Singaporean brand of public transport offers. While being transported from one point to another, we find time in our hectic schedules to indulge in luxurious acts: daydream, catch up with sleep, read, listen to music, or retreat into our head-space and zone out. For all these, for now, I will be grateful. At the same time, the idealist in me will also look forward to the day I can add to the list of indulgences a nod and a smile here, a “hello” and “good morning/good afternoon” there.
Until that day arrives, I shall remind myself to smile and maintain positivism as much as I can. So if you happen to find yourself on a public bus or MRT train in Singapore facing a smiley stranger, do return the good cheer and pass it on. Before we know it, the mechanical orderliness will give way to personable warmth and the sardine-packed conditions during peak hours will become more tolerable.
Let the grass be lush and green wherever we are!