Ekta: Just an Ordinary Woman's Interpretations
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Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Singapore, etc.
I am an Indian, from the big, busy city of Mumbai. My work got me to move to Singapore in Dec 2010. I am a marketer by profession, thinker at heart, mother of a 5 year old boy, still finding my feet with writing. Beach, books and beer is all that it takes to keep me happy, so Singapore feels just right for me.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started blogging when I was on maternity leave in 2007. But life as working mom meant a never ending battle against time so I wasn’t an active blogger and was more of a closet writer. It is only this year, when I quit my job, I got time for myself and for the things I like to do. Blogging is my means to understand people and life through my insights and interpretations about them.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
All my blog posts are about my experiences, observations or interpretations so they all are in a way a part of me. Each new piece of writing made me better. I haven’t reached to the one that I could call as me absolute favorite.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Singapore differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
Like I mentioned, I came from Mumbai. I absolutely love the city. But I cannot deny that Mumbai is a life of struggle. Thanks to its distance and traffic, I used to spend two hours daily travelling to and fro from office. So for starters by moving to Singapore I gained those two hours per day which means 10 hours a week. That is like gaining a day per week. This meant more time with my son, more time for myself. Then the second thing which was a big assurance was the safety and security that Singapore offers. You value this most when you are a mom who leaves the kid at home, alone with the helper for larger part of the day. Here it took me a month and tons of paper work to get a domestic helper, every such step reassured me as it meant that much more rigor in safety. So yes I was absolutely delighted and impressed with Singapore. It is an extremely organized and easy city to settle in. So while Mumbai is my genetic code, my passion, Singapore currently is my comfort zone.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Singapore? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
If I look back, the only thing I could have planned better is the stuff I bought from India. I didn’t realize that when you rent furnished homes in Singapore, you get everything; all you need to get is your clothes and yourself. My packing & dispatch from India was done a month before I finalized my house in Singapore so I ended up have a lot of extra things which I didn’t need and had to throw away.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Singapore is sanitized and spoils you completely with its rules. My son was three and a half when we came here. This vacation when we went back home to Mumbai. One evening we were in a crowded station market and had to go across the road. I saw my son pulling my hand to stop me on one side of the road waiting for the crossing light to cross. Now in Mumbai you don’t have traffic lights for crossing, you just fight and find your way across the road. So I took my son’s hand and looked both sides of the road, found my gap and crossed the road. This scared him. I realized this is an alien concept to him and I need to toughen him up. So yes sometimes overdose of structure and sanity needs to be balanced with reality.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Singapore?
- Living in Singapore is a great opportunity to travel and explore South East Asia, Australia, New Zealand region. So travel around, book in advance, make the most of it, and don’t waste a single weekend.
- Singapore is like an onion. It has many hidden layers and you need peel these layers one after the other to be able to get more and more of it. While on outside Singapore feels like hi-tech city of commercial towers, in the inside layers you will see lot of small cultural towns hidden within, like Little India, China Town, Geylang and so on. So my tip would be to beyond the expat areas and explore the small cultural areas.
- Singapore is organized, safe and too good to be true. It is almost unreal. So if you don’t plan to spend the rest of your life here, then try not getting used to it. The rest of the world is much more real for our liking.
How is the expat community in Singapore? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
Expats in Singapore are increasing by the day. So one makes a social circle fairly quickly here. Apart from the work place, the condos and of course parents of your kid’s school friends are the two quick networks which help make friends. Apart from this, there are various clubs and organizations that help network e.g. the British club, American club, Indian Women’s associations etc.
How would you summarize your expat life in Singapore in a single, catchy sentence?
‘Enjoy it before it melts’. I know I need to go back to Mumbai in few years so for me, I am enjoying and making the most of this ice cream Singapore, before it gets over.