Sunday, November 23, 2014

City Meets Sky: Reflections from Singapore

The breeze is cooler in the shade.  Everything seems to take longer than it ought to in this city. It feels like we have to cross a football field just to go anywhere. Walking takes a long time, and in the heat it feels longer. The city’s structure seems to be built along eight-lane roads that weave through constructions cites and jungle. Today is only our second full day in the city. I don’t want to leave. I like the air-conditioning, the cafes, the trains, the food options. I don’t want to give those up for something more rustic again. 

On paper, I should love this place. It’s smack in the middle of Asia, ethnically diverse, conversation flowing in a perfect rhythm between mandarin and English. It has all the city amenities I could ever want. It’s clean and safe. But I don’t love. I'm not in love with it. I find myself constantly comparing it to Taipei.

In Taipei the buildings seem to grow out of the earth. Green vines spring out from even the tiniest cracks of concrete. In Singapore everything is landscaped on an Olympic scale. Trees don’t give shade along the eight-lane city streets. Sidewalks are wide and the sun is wider. Jonason says he doesn’t like the people. He hates crossing eight lanes of traffic to get from one end of the street to another. Singapore on foot is really a tour of pools, parking lots, and condos. Pools, parking lots, and condos.

But my best memory of all took place in the nightly swims in the pool. On our last day there we spent a bit too much time at the Brown Book Caf√©, which is home to my second best memory in Singapore. But we arrived late at the pool, at 9:45 pm. Still, I had a brief fifteen minutes to float on my back and gaze at the hazy moon. Seeing the moon in the muddy purple sky, framed by the half-circle of jagged white condo roofs made me feel closer to myself as a human. 

-Sunday, OCt. 5, 2014 Toby's Estate, Singapore

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