Thursday, November 24, 2005

Civilization that Raffles left behind

It is my routine to pick up the Today newspaper when I leave home from Sengkang every morning, to read while I travelled the subway to work. However, this week, I was travelling to downtown Singapore to attend a course, and Today had runned out at my usual pickup spot. Well, ok, I wouldn't suffer any withdrawal effects from not reading Today for one day. In any case, I had this fantastic book on Small Businesses with me to work into that morning.

However, I was pleasantly surprised that at 8.30am, when I emerged from the Raffles Place MRT (subway), Today was still being distributed. So I reached out to get a copy (its free, by the way). But so many others were just grabbing the paper that I never seem to be able to lay my hands on one. Being an educated person (ahem, smirk), I waited until somebody would yield and give me the chance to pick up my copy. But no, nobody was interested in me, nobody gave a d*n. It was as if I was invisible!

Well, if that's the way this game was played, I'll join in, since I obviously couldn't beat the vultures. So I grabbed a paper, but lo and behold, somebody else grabbed it at the same time, so we ended up holding two ends of the same paper. Sheesh, its not as if this is gold, you know, so I let go. I tell you, it was quite an effort to pick up just one copy of the paper there that morning. It was an entirely unpleasant experience.

This was the first time I returned to that Mecca of capitalism (i.e. the center of the business district in downtown Singapore) after an absence of about 3 years. I will not be carrying away with me any longing or fondness for that place nor the people that commute there everyday. Its so 'uncivilised'.

It goes to show how free things can bring out the worst in people.

P.S. For those of you reading this and live outside of Singapore, don't get the wrong impression. Singapore, by and large, is a pleasant and interesting place. But sometimes it is these behaviour that spoils the proverbial broth.

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