This article is the second among the four part series on “Travel Solo in Singapore”. Read on the other parts of the series in the order: First, Planning it all out. Second, People.
Until I traveled solo, most of my conversations were taken up by my parents. I hardly ever faced a need to communicate with the locals; being it in my home country or a foreign soil did not make much difference. I believe this to have been a major reason behind my hesitance to engage in small talks with strangers earlier.
Interacting with someone of a varied ethnicity is enticing for it’s unpredictable. It seems like a book that is hardly ever written. The pages are initially filled with prejudices and stereotypes taken from our own countrymen, articles read online or some entertainment show. Communication with them breaks barriers, strikes out the poorly written lines and corrects them with newer experiences. While traveling, we want to do it more. The urge to write a well engaging book, that is, to get to know the people more induces us to interact and come past our shyness and hesitation.
I have met beautiful souls during my trip.
I had gone with three of my colleagues to the Orchard road after our first excursion to the Singapore Flyer with college. As we stood at a bus stop to board on a bus to return to our housing, within a few seconds two people came and sat with us and said Hi. We were all engaged in our phones looking at maps, and then we heard these lively voices amidst the regular chaotic traffic noise and our silence. We all looked up and I don’t regret being there for even once.
Leo and Lisa are two lively travelers I have met who seemed to actually live life!! We started our small talk with
our introductions Lisa calling me a Wonder Woman! Haha, YES. A Justice League poster was hung behind on the stand, and Lisa pointed it to us and said that’s me and the three guys with me are the superheroes in the poster. She also mentioned how lucky I am to have friends to accompany me. I never would have realized this if I hadn’t made it to the end of this trip, and I definitely agree. It’s hard to have friends accompany you. Also, after the introductions, Lisa sang for us a beautiful Bollywood song “Chori Chori Chup ke Chup ke” where she pronounced Chori as Chudi as she thought it meant bangles and even acted it off! It was so sweet that we didn’t care about the actual lyrics.
Leo and Lisa had asked us if we would like to accompany them to Chinatown, but I regret not going just because of my hesitance. I wish I could meet my new friends again!
It took long for me to start with doing anything freely and with courage, and before that, I had to go with my set of challenges. Once, I had gone with my roommates to Mustafa shopping and for dinner at Little India, and as legends say you get lost at Mustafa. I did and my phone’s balance and data were all out. Fortunately, I met my colleagues there who had come after dinner with my roommates. Yet, just to realize I would be up for a journey back alone at midnight, felt somewhat stranded.
I had never wandered earlier alone late at night on streets. My challenge was to hold myself up all alone and somehow gather the courage to return home. Without cellular data, I couldn’t use Google maps to navigate my route and a stranger misguided me as well. Finally, I gathered the courage to ask an old Indian uncle for help who then, assisted me to get a cab. I am extremely grateful to him. The terrified look was still there on my face for my Uber driver to identify. He was of my parent’s age and was able to console me how safe this island-like nation, Singapore is. While he assured my safety and told about his family along the way, he safely dropped me at my home.
If I talk about caring, I have experienced many more such incidents. My cab was once driven by a lady who was mother-like caring. She cared to put shadow when sunlight hit my face, adjust my seat when the leg space didn’t seem enough, ask me about my day, and many more. It wasn’t asked for or necessary but lovely to have experienced.
Friendly conversations and wishing for other’s day to be pleasant wasn’t rare.
Traveling made me realize so many beautiful souls live in this world. The gem of goodness, kindness, and generosity is usually hidden from all due to the social and economic pressures put on everyone around. You shouldn’t expect one to be all sweet and polite with you just because you are a visitor to their country. The beauty of others just highlights when the interaction of different experiences comes into the picture, and how things unfold is just beautiful.
I remember heading to the Dhoby Gaut mall on the first Sunday of November to eat at about 5 pm when I saw a crowd gathered in front of the Istana gate, the President’s office. I wondered what has happened as the crowd doubled up in every few minutes.
Extremely curious, I headed towards a family of three. The young parents were present with their little daughter to show her the Istana’s guard changing ceremony; held every first Sunday of the month. As the guards approached for the ceremony at the gate via a walk at the Orchard road with bands, I went on with a conversation with the girl’s mother. She had come there after about 20 years to see the ceremony. I was a bit surprised as Singapore is an island like and everything happens so near that you can reach from one corner to another in at most an hour. I realized, how big or small a place is, there is just too much going on in everyone’s life to take out time for the small beautiful things.
It was lovely meeting her. When she realized I was traveling alone, she behaved mother like with me. She took care I enjoyed the ceremony, also offered to take my picture. Okay, I was a bit hesitant for this. Half of the time, I wouldn’t let me be photographed anywhere and rest, I won’t ask for a picture if I felt like to have one. I am trying to improve at this. Just trying, yet. With conversations and a little girl there to play with, we watched the great ceremony together, and ultimately waved goodbyes to each other 🙂
The warm motherly nature isn’t specific to India as you may read. It’s just there in every woman, not specific to any region. I recall my trip to Singapore in May 2017 with my parents. I went shopping my Dior makeup where I met my grandmother like a woman named Jane working there. She was extremely amicable. Had only sons and grandsons, never got the opportunity to bring a daughter. She looked at me as if I were her daughter, and took my care while I was there; and invited me to her place when I would visit Singapore next and presented me my gifts. I definitely went to meet her again on this trip, just to my excitement she remembered me!