Singapore Adventure

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

On Your Marks
by venitha

After a delicious Indian dinner at Mumtaz Mahal, I said my good-byes to the boys at the taxi stand. They're headed to the Lantern Safari at the Chinese Garden, but I've got plans to hit this attraction with some other friends while Jim is in Taipei.

So now I'm on my own, just steps from . I am stuffed to the brim with garlic naan and spicy mutton vindaloo, I don't have to work tomorrow, and it's a beautiful night. What would you do?

I don't think I'm exaggerating when I write that 99.99% of Singaporean women would shop. Heck, 99.99% of Singaporean men may well shop. But I am sooooo not Singaporean, and I don't just mean because of my red hair, blue eyes, and freckles. I turn away from Orchard, look up at the nearly full moon, and - Hey! Is that Venus? - start a leisurely walk home in the relative cool of the night air, cursing light pollution but exalting in a city of more than 4 million where a woman can safely walk alone at night.

My route takes me slowly away from crowded glitzy shopping centers, past posh gated condos, alongside the maze of covered orange walkways near Newton MRT. I climb the endless steps of a pedestrian bridge brimming with fuschia bougainvillea and look down upon diners savoring the chili stingray under Newton Hawker Centre's fluorescent lights. I pass beneath the traffic backed up on Bukit Timah Rd, cross through a dark and deserted park, and enter the peaceful and traffic-free neighborhood leading up to my Singapore home.

I am surprised to discover that I'm not alone in this, the quietest part of my walk, but I'm pleased to note that I'm not the only woman enjoying the wonderful opportunity that Singapore provides to take back the night. Lone female joggers lope softly along the canal, through the park, up the street. They set slow, steady paces and are drenched in sweat, even in this, the most pleasant part of the day.

I watch them first joyously, then jealously. I turn and follow them achingly with my eyes until, one by one, they disappear into the gloom. In my mind, I'm running, too, catching up to this one, no, that one. I want to follow them, see where they go, start a running conversation, make a new friend. I'm suddenly furious with my body's limitations, though minutes later, as I greet the guard at my condo with my simple Malay - Selamat malam, Dawood - I am melancholy. And alone in the lift to the 19th floor, I give in to tears of frustration, stress, yearning, and sadness.

Today, however, I am a new woman, one who has had it with feeling sorry for herself and is ready to set some goals. So here you have it: I will run a 5k by the one-year anniversary, 27/2/06, of my TPF. Do not send me Horrors! What are you thinking! e-mail, because that voice is not allowed here anymore. A 5K, not a marathon; five months from now, not tomorrow. This falls well within the advice of the trusted medical professionals who pieced me back together and then mentored me as I hobbled along the torturous path of building a leg out of little more than a metal plate and 5 screws.

Best of all, this goal has two side benefits. First, it gives me something to concentrate on during the low period that will undoubtedly follow our family's visit for the holidays. Also, it gives me a fun reason to want to stay in Singapore. Yes, I sweat buckets here, but, wow, do I breathe easy. The altitude of the highest point of Singapore, Bukit Timah, is 163m. Ft Collins, Colorado? 4984 ft (>1500m).