Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Pet Peeving

So yesterday, I was riding Bus 33, which takes me from the bus stop at Kent Ridge to the foot bridge which connects the bus stop to Normanton Park. Usually, 33 is a good 10-15 minute ride, with minimal stops and without much passengers. Unfortunately, I ended up riding during rush hour, which means that halfway down the route, the bus was insanely full.

What really ticks me off is when you press the button to signal to the driver that you're stopping, the bus is usually too full for you to comfortably get off. Passengers do not seem to get the logic of giving space so that you can get off without stepping on their toes or accidentally hitting them with your huge bag and armload of books and papers. And sayign "Excuse me" and "Sorry" seems to be an alien concept here; people raise eyebrows at me whenever I say "Excuse me" as I get off the bus. Another thing is on trains as well - usually, at least in Manila, we wait for passengers to get off before we push into the train, right? Here, it's as if people can't wait for the doors to open before jumping right in - and usually to the detriment of people who have baby strollers or airport luggage, which kind of makes getting in and out more confusing and troublesome.

Singapore might be a lot of things, I know - clean streets, safe neighborhoods, a government that seems to be working for the citizens of the country, a strong financial foundation and corporate hiring, jobs for everyone (and then some) - but seriously, if there's one thing that bugs me about this country is the fact that people are rude. They will not apologize if they bang into you in the streets with their shopping bags (in fact, sometimes they will think it's your fault for, you know, being a pedestrian) and they will not give up their seat for you in a bus or the MRT even if they see you're pregnant or elderly. There are rarities, of course, as there are exceptions for every rule, but really, in the more than one year I've been here, I can't even go past the fingers of one hand to account for a gesture of random kindness from the people here.

So when people ask me why I don't want to stay here to work, while I generally say that I want to go back home and be idealistic and contribute to national growth etc. etc. - and because I can't abandon Earl and the exciting prospect of the new apartment - it's also because I can't abide to stay in a country where people don't seem to care about the welfare of others, of random strangers, where good manners aren't really part of a culture. I mean, I come from a country where we do have a healthy amount of respect for personal and familial ties, and we are expected to act a certain way in public, to carry ourselves as befitting the fact that we come from a good background, a good family, that our parents raised us up well. But in Singapore, it seems that it's the complete opposite. And I don't want to adopt that mindset as well, and to have that kind of attitude. The Singaporean value system (or lack thereof) says volumes about the character of its people more than any material wealth can convey.

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