I recently returned home for the Lunar New Year, as I’ve done most years since I came. I flew in on Singapore Airlines, my all-time favourite airline. I was seated at the Emergency Exit where leg space was wide, people were standing there encumbering my space for all sorts of reasons.
A Singaporean gentleman was seated beside me, seemingly uncomfortable in the relatively spacious seat we got in the Economy class. He stood up with much difficulty, leaned himself against the cabin crew seat and began stretching. After stretching, he remained standing for a while before taking his seat again. I turned to him and he smiled. I asked, “Did you twist your back?” and we started talking. I later learned that he is the Vice President of a large serviced apartments corporation. Interesting he wasn’t in Business class.
In Singapore, I went out with a friend one day and was trying to buy KOI bubble tea at the wrong queue. The staff told us it’s the next window and I said to her, “Can we order here? Please?” She laughed. I went out with my university friends on another day, and at an ice-cream place, I was trying to figure out which tea I should have among the variety of incomprehensible tea names. I asked the lady which is good, and when she randomly pulled out one bag to see what that was, I said, “Ok, I’ll have that because that’s the first one you pulled out.” She laughed. These are the kinds of reactions I don’t normally get in Tokyo. Service staff here are too serious, and if they do smile at you, it’s not because they are happy from the bottom of their hearts; it’s because it’s in the instruction manual they were handed when they first joined the company.
I haven’t met my university friends for a long time and even so, it was such great fun hanging out with them, I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t have enough Singapore food, and I didn’t meet enough people I wanted to meet. I feel comfortable speaking with people from my homeland. Perhaps it’s finally time I’m missing home. But there’s still a lot of reasons for me to remain in Japan. Things I have to get done.
I never thought it possible, but I think I’m falling in love with Singapore all over again.