Saturday, November 17, 2007

An island of contrasts and tranquility

I'm just back from Singapore - I like it there because it's such a relaxed city, country & island. The shopping is good, the food and drinks are great, the work was good, networking was not stressful and sightseeing very enjoyble. Despite being a financial hub and tourist hub - one of the biggest in SE Asia, life seems to move along at an easy pace. For one thing whether you are a tourist, a business traveller, a single woman - or whatever - you wont get stressed on any issue other than the non-availability of taxis during rush hour.
Of course, besides taxis, there's Singapore's hi-tech MRT system, which easily puts London Underground to shame. Overall, the public transport system is well-oiled and does not take tourists and foreigners for a ride. Security issues for women in Singapore are almost non-existent and the average person on the street is polite, helpful, non-aggressive and service-oriented. For someone who lives in Delhi - that believe me is a very big change. Again the sheer variety that one finds in the island-nation from beaches, to Buddhist temples, awesome dim-sum cuisine and spectacular Hindu temples, tree lined avenues, fascinating highrises, museums, art galleries and sprawling malls - the place has just everything and that too within an average of 15 minutes cab distance of each other. Singapore's China Town is the usual buzzy district with fascinating shopping options and great dim sum cuisine. A special mention could definitely be made of the local Tiger beer.
Mustafa shopping centre which forms the hub of the Indian district, is also very vibrant and good for quick fix and fast track shopping solutions. The upmarket VivoCity Mall, near Sentosa Island, on the other hand is a place to go hunting for designer and luxury brands - or just hang out and soak in the ambience.
Hotel Pan-Pacific where I had put up had a great gym and a swimming pool surrounded by dizzying skyscrapers. The weather too was not a complete wash-out and it rained a bit and was sunny for a bit.
A walk along the Singapore riverfront with a friend and lunch at one of the riverside thai restaurants was a treat - as was dinner with my cute nephews Ghotu & Kabir! Shopping at the malls was pretty good too and I picked up my long-time object of desire - an iPod Nano - from the well-known IT mall Funan. Also took a look at the current blockbuster the iPhone and the sexy PlayStation 3. From Australians to Indians, everyone wants an iPhone, it seems.
And now the Singapore government is looking for Indian immigrants in a big way for skilled jobs. Work permits are processed on the fast track and are not subject to any number quotas. The authorities are also wooing Indian students to some of the top engineering and management institutions. Hope, Indian IT professionals are listening - it's time to look East perhaps and leave behind the H1B worries folks.

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