Singapore Adventure

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Dead Or Alive
by venitha

In talking with friends last weekend about skiing in Colorado, I recognized an old friend who's never visited me in Singapore: passion. Enthusiasm, from a joie de vivre to a simple smile, is absent from this country. Or at least, it is for me. And if the expressions on the faces around me are any indication, I'm not alone.

While my pre-Singapore life certainly had its share of going-through-the-motions hours days months years, it also had regular jolts of sun-kissed glee. Blazing bombs down mogul runs, Sound-of-Music twirls atop mountain peaks, waltzing spins that left me dizzy in Jim's arms: moments when there was no denying that I was alive. And while I knew that I was giving up certain specific loves in moving to Singapore, I naively hoped that I might discover something new and exciting to replace them. Alas, however, the pursuits that fill the hearts of many Singaporeans with rapture leave me cold: shopping has never been my thing, and while I do adore conveyor-belt sushi, it's hard to get too excited about food when you're just plain not hungry anymore.

I suspect that shopping and food provide insufficient elation for most locals, too, as I'm not the only one plodding through my life here without a smile on my face and without emotion in my heart. All too often, I'm surrounded by, and in tragically excellent company with, the walking dead. So I was stunned to hear my friend Sara's experience at church in Singapore.

"It's like the difference between being alive and... well... dead," she said, comparing her church here with her church back home in the US. "It's amazing."

"And the 'alive' church is in Singapore? Attended by Singaporeans?" This is simply... unfathomable.

Not that I have any argument for the dead description, as I've attended a significant number of church services for which it is only too apt. But alive can be in no one's top ten list of adjectives for anything Singapore. (My guess is that clean and green would top the list, and if the adjective-challenged Singaporeans were included in the survey, nice would be on it several times.)

My own Singapore church experience is limited to a mere three services, and I unfortunately can't honestly describe a single one of them as alive. Although my sister quite correctly pointed out after one that if I wanted people to smile at me in Singapore, I ought to attend church more often, the other two services can inarguably be described as near lethal: one because TPTB armed a crowd of bored congregants with lit candles for nearly an hour; the other because of excessive - and I mean really excessive - length.

Part of me is disappointed that our few remaining Sundays in Singapore didn't leave time to accompany Sara to her church and to witness this phenomenon, but ultimately, it doesn't matter. I didn't find my passion in Singapore, and it's not because I didn't look for it; it's because it isn't here.