Foreign Correspondent: Georgia Keighery
Age: (actual age) 31, (emotional age) 12.
Where do you live?: I live in an area of Singapore know as Tanjong Rhu (home of the many blocks of condominiums that house the countless expats that live in this city).
Why did you move there?: I moved here because my husband, an electrical engineer, landed a great job here. Also, in honesty, we both agreed to move here because it gave us a chance to travel (skipping easily all over Asia from this transit hub) and for me to write feverishly without getting distracted by the lures of my social life and penchant for cocktails in Sydney.
What do you love about your city?: I love Singapore’s pride. I am yet to meet a Singaporean who doesn’t laud their country as ‘the best place in the world’. Locals will generally add, ‘and safe’ to this affirmation, closely followed by, ‘and clean!’. All of these attributes are definitely true, but what I really love is the friendly enthusiasm of the people. It’s infectious. And for an Australian, whose experience of gushing nationalism is limited, it’s rather endearing.
What is the most frustrating thing about your city?: As a resident of Singapore, the population’s incessant dedication to shopping can prove frustrating. This enthusiasm for retail therapy can make life challenging if your pockets aren’t bottomless or if you need to grab something in a hurry.
What is the predominant faith in your area?: One of the delightful things about Singapore is that it is comprised (in seemingly equal proportions) of followers of Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism. Not to mention a healthy quota of Atheists. Religious tolerance is a highlight here – as are the celebrations of (and public holidays for) many creeds.
How does it affect your day-to-day life?: The balance the of many religions at play in Singapore makes daily life colourful, intriguing and diverse. It also tends to promote humility and long-weekends. Perfect!
Please describe typical local food: Typical local food is to be found in the Hawker Markets. Here you’ll find row upon row of Asian food stalls, conjuring up the richest flavors and most tantalising aromas. In an added bonus, the hawker food is ridiculously cheap. One of Singapore’s signature dishes (aside from the reliably delicious Singapore Chili Crab) is ‘Carrot Cake’. Dismiss any image you have of Nanna’s lemon-icing-topped desert; this carrot cake is savoury and doesn’t contain carrot at all. In fact, the meal is made from the vegetable yam. Scrumptious!
Are there any major attractions in your town? If so, what are they?: Singapore’s zoo would have to be one the best in the world – and I’m someone who tends to get a little depressed by zoos. But here the enclosures are generous and the animals (thousands of species) look almost pleased to see you. The stone Merlions at the harbour mouth are iconic Singapore. The Hawker Markets are a major attraction, as are the vibrant colours and weaves of the textiles on Arab Street. China Town provides a glimpse of the old architecture of the city and is a must for trinket hoarders.
What do the locals do for fun?: The locals entertain themselves with one of two pursuits: shopping or eating … Or, alternately, shopping AND eating. Singaporeans have turned these two activities into art forms.
Any tips or advice for people visiting your area?: Take the time to hunt down the slightly lesser-travelled paths and cultural pockets of Singapore to get a taste of Singaporean life and food that is a little more authentic than the designe emporium-lined Orchard Road. Peek your head (and ear) into a delightful little place near Arab Street called Blue Jazz Café for some deeply funky live music on the weekends.
Georgia Keighery is a Playwright, Columnist and Nonfiction Writer. To find out more about her, please visit http://www.georgiakeighery.com/