Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Stage fright

I knew it the moment I saw that frantic comment on a totally unrelated post:

"Bhai aap ka email addy bataao - nahi to piliss mail karo"

There can be only one meaning to a bewda who lives in the US leaving this comment -- transit in Singapore!

I don't know why, I get really excited when people have a transit in Singapore. It's like a cool project. To design and customise a sight-seeing tour for them depending on how long the transit it. And when the traveller is a bewda who has been at the bar for the last 5 years, but whom the bartender had never met, it's special indeed. So Sudipta and I exchanged emails, and on the morning of 27 Feb, Viv and I were at the airport, trying to recognise him. He'd said he'd be wearing black jeans with a red and white striped T-shirt, and all of us thought that should be good enough for us to easily spot him.

Imagine our shock when we found at least six people wearing that outfit!

Viv yelled "That's him!" the moment he spotted the first red and white striped T-shirt, and I waved wildly at the guy, only to find out that he had blue jeans on. Sheesh. Luckily, he didn't spot me, or worse, wave back! Next, we saw another guy who was in the same outfit, but he was with an elderly lady. I knew Sudipta was travelling alone so we ruled him out. The third guy was holding a baby so we ruled him out too. The fourth guy had shorts on, and the fifth was a girl. Frankly speaking, I didn't rule her out. For a moment, I did wonder if Sudipta was a girl -- after all, he has talked about being mistaken for a girl on his blog many times. The sixth was Chinese. And then there were none.

So I speculated:

1. Sudipta had played a horrible prank on me, and would have to suffer the Bhai's horrible revenge. (something worse than the ghastly garland!)
2. The air hostess had spilled his drink on him so he had to change into something else, and we would never find him.

Fortunately, we had exchanged phone numbers. I took out my phone to call him and to my horror, saw a missed call. Someone had tried to call me from one of the airport phones. I could only imagine Sudipta's thoughts when I didn't pick up.

1. I had played a horrible prank on him.
2. I had played a horrible prank on him.

Anyway, he called again, and we finally did meet him (yup, it was a he). After exchanging pleasantries (it's weird to meet someone for the first time when you know all about them!), we went for a nice chilli crab lunch at the beach. We were trying to teach him how to crack open the crab using a crab cracker, and he turned out to be quite a pro at that.

Viv had to rush off for cricket as usual, but Sudipta had a good 3 hours before he was due back at the airport. So we headed home for a short break and then I decided to take him on a little sight-seeing tour. We took the 36, the perfect bus if you want to see some of Singapore's highlights on the way, and went to City Hall, and then to the Esplanade.

And then the strangest thing happened. As I showed him the Westin Stamford and the Suntec Fountain and my office building, and the Merlion and the Singapore river and the Fullerton and the Singapore Flyer and the IR, and all the amazing greenery, I had the oddest feeling. No, I wasn't mistaken. I heard it in my own voice. There it was.

Pride. Undeniable unmistakable pride.

Whoa.

That. Was. Scary. That. Had never happened before. I'd shown Singapore to plenty of folks, but never had this, "Man, this is one rocking place!" feeling. And the feeling stayed long after Sudipta had gone back.

And that's when it struck me. Your relationship with a place is complete when you have been through these stages.

1. You love the place. You miss it when you're elsewhere.
2. You hate the place. You bitch about it all the time.
3. You can't decide whether you love or hate the place. So you just say 'Argh!' and give up.
4. Deep down, you feel a weird sense of pride about the place, that you can't quite explain to someone who's not exactly in the same position as you. It confuses you, and even makes you panic a bit.

I have been through all of these stages when it came to India, and now, after 12 years of stages 1-3, I guess it had happened with Singapore too. While showing my place to a traveller, I had, without my own knowledge, whether I liked it or not, reached a new place myself.

Stage 4.



20 comments:

Technofun said...

wow..gold again.. !!! :D

Technofun said...

Now coming to post.. I had actually open blog to ask you your mail address. :P

What better way to see Singapore then from a pro :)

Looking forward for your mail id.

cheers !

~ Lopa said...

Bhai ek dum sahi bola, loved the post, i am somewhere between stage 2 and 3 right now .... :P hehehe

Porkodi (பொற்கொடி) said...

bronze!

Porkodi (பொற்கொடி) said...

this post gives me sad peelings :-(

nidhi said...

awwwww.....sweet

Dewdrop said...

:) Nice... enjoy stage 4!

VIDYA said...

nysh post!
Btw,silver!!!
Kisi ne silver kaha nahi :D
Na chaahun sona chandi type ke bewde badh gaye kya? :O :p

TMaYaD said...

Wow, what an odd coincidence!
I'm visiting Singapore tomorrow and I was torn between wanting to meet you and afraid to bother you. And lo the universe answers. :)

Well, if you are free before 14th gimme a holler and I would very much like get a whack from your hypothetical rolled up news paper.

I won't need a tour though. I have a friend living there to whome you've helped gift an XBox, remember? :)

CodeSmith said...

it's weird to meet someone for the first time when you know all about them

So true!

bluejay said...

bhai... ur right!.. It was so scary when I went on a holiday and was coming back to netherlands.. as the plane was landing at amsterdam.. it was the same feeling of safety.. and comfort.. like home.. and I had this huge smile plastered on my face..grinning happily at the unintelligible dutch announcements and signs!!.. it was really scary!.. I think I am still in stages 1,2 :)

N said...

OMG!! This. It never occured to me...after I got married I have been living in Gurgaon, and all the time bitch about it. But this pride...this pride is with me now..stage 4.

Whoa.

Menagerie said...

Just moved to Singapore a few months ago from the US, so I guess am at stage 3, too new to know if I love it or not, and missing my home of 6 yrs in the US. :) Bus no 36 is a good tip :)

Love this bar, as well as the Clarke Quay bar scene, both feel at home :)

Dil se said...

Very true !! Never thought about it this way for any new place.

Vaga Bond said...

lovely !

Sayesha said...

#Technofun,
Arre it's on my profile page itself!

#~Lopa,
Thanks. :)

#Porkodi teacher,
Why? :(

#Nidhi,
:)

#Dewdrop,
Thanks. :)

#VIDYA,
Thankshhh! :D
PS: Bewdas are becoming non-materialistic. Tumhari tarah nahin! :P

#TMaYaD,
Emailed you!

#CodeSmith,
:)

#bluejay,
Hahahaha! Stage 3 will really confuse you! Enjoy until then! :)

#N,
:)

#Menagerie,
Hahahaha! It took me 12 years to reach stage 4. Dheeraj dharo. :D

#Dil se,
:)

#Vaga Bond,
Thanks. :)

Raj Jayaram said...

Have been reading your blog for a couple of months now. Really like the way you take simple things and write about them in the most engaging manner. Totally agree with you about the way Singapore grows on you. I live here too and hope our paths will cross some time.

Macho Girl said...

I miss singapore even more now! Especially the long bus rides. I agree, its the best way to tour the city. Can't wait to be in transit there! :D

Sanchit said...

hehe.. i remember making such a similar comment on 31 Dec 07 when i was in transit.. :D not to mention ur reply in like 2 minutes :D
wish i had more time

Sayesha said...

#Raj,
Welcome to the bar and thanks for your kind words. :)

#Macho Girl,
Hehehe... when are you here? :)

#Sanchit,
Oh yeah, you were the first bewda in transit who contacted me! Good thing I had gotten online that very second. When is the next trip yaar? We have to meet. Urv beat you man. :D