Singapore Adventure

Thursday, June 23, 2005

by venitha

Every time I see myself in the mirror these days, I do a double take. Can I possibly be THAT pale?

I'd like the blame the lighting: Singaporeans seem to have a penchant for unflattering fluorescent lights, and surely even natural light is a bit different near both the equator and sea-level. But, no, even with my freckles, I look deathly pale in every mirror I see, and, trust me, mirrors are pervasive here, used to add glitz to shopping displays - and to add apparent square footage to small apartments.

Perhaps I've caught some exotic tropical fever? No, I've been vaccinated for everything you can imagine and a few things you can't. Besides, I feel fine, if a bit warm, and any slight temperature I may have is certainly attributable to the heat. Perhaps it's an allergic reaction to the odor of durian?

Enlightenment struck as I stood watching the crowd of fellow passengers awaiting the next MRT train this afternoon: my eyes are adjusting. And relative to everyone else in my sight for the past two weeks, I am pale... paler... palest. The native Singaporeans are ethnically Chinese, Indian, and Malay. The blonde Aussies at our service apartment spend their afternoons sun-bathing by the pool. Even Jim, despite his Scottish heritage, is downright swarthy in comparison to me.

As I shrug and accept my pallor as a part of me that is not going to change, I wonder what other unique qualities I will discover in myself over the next two years, inside as well as out. And which I will be able... or willing... or want... to change.