I like manners and feel lucky to have been brought up with a pretty good set of strict manners. When it is drummed into you from your mother it is a reminder and never a happy thing but in the end it rubs off on you (mostly – still not great with booger disposal).
So this has me thinking about my impressions of Singapore recently. Everywhere you turn there is a sign, picture or some form of reminder to be polite, do the right thing, be nice or not to be bad/naughty/unfriendly etc. I had heard about this side of Singapore and was going in to ignore it and focus on the amazing multicultural mix the place has. I tried.
I don’t know if it is with age of not liking be told what to do (including to my mum) or if it really is that intense but the reminders EVERYWHERE in Singapore to be nice is overpowering and oppressive!
This has me thinking can you dictate people into being nice and considerate or does it put people off and them taking on suggestions gets over balanced and they don’t take notice or care about the signage?
For these days I am less likely to do something if someone tells me to do it – I like to know why and it’s purpose (to the annoyance of my past bosses). I also think I am less of a dictator and try to suggest what people can do (don’t ask my Peru team about this – it was a bit more dictatorial than this!).
Anyway I believe people are generally nice, considerate and mostly polite – we all have negatives stories ready to contradict this but if we live in a ‘positive reality’ I think there are far more good actions than bad. So all of these reminders and being told to be nice and what to do all the time everywhere is a bit much for me in Singapore.
However…Singaporeis one of the politest, modest and conservative places on the face of the earth and they are incredibly sympathetic and considerate so maybe all of this banter is useless as it proves that polite oppression does work!
My other major observation on Singapore is that it is a very harmonious mixed cultured place. In one walk I managed to go from Chinatown to Little India, through Arab Street, over to Malay Village and back to Bedok which is a mix of all of those places – note it was about a 30km walk but still. Whilst still segregated to some extent it seems to do it fairly and with the consent of everyone, of course!
Singapore has some of my most disliked facets of life for me like shopping malls, hyper-consumerism and naivety mixed with apathy but it also has enough of the things I love the most making it a very intriguing and engaging place where I am not afraid to pass more time in the future (and will be at the end of Oct for a bunch of Global Poverty Project presentations!).