lundi, mars 27, 2006

To Clean or Not to Clean.

The weather is good today. Spring is finally here! And Stuttgart stinks - literally. Everywhere there is this smell of rotting garbage and yet the strike was over for 2 weeks now and there is no more uncollected rubbish in the streets. In French, we say Stuttgart, situated in a valley, is in a cuvette (the WC pan) and now I wonder...

A thought entered my head suddenly : ''Maybe that's why Singapore is so obsessed with cleanliness. It's our weather. You can't have 33ºC all year round and garbage everywhere at the same time. We'll smell like an open toilet. It's as simple as that.''

Tourists appreciate our cleanliness when they visit Singapore. But some ungrateful ones would gleefully take the opportunity to interpret this as a sign of our ''antisepticness'', ''obsession with appearances'', call us ''clinical'' etc and add the lot into their load of the usual critiques of our Government. I mean I have lots to say too about their one-Party, paternalistic, corporatist and maybe undemocratic (but what is ''Democracy''?) way of governing, but somehow I do not like to hear the stuff come out of the mouth of Outsiders. Mainly because they are usually patronising and unnecessarily vehement when they do that.

I mean you just need to say you're from Singapore and people literally jump at you and start telling you that you have a despotic/fascist government, that you are oppressed and stupid to endure it etc etc (my my such strong words). I mean if I'm an idiot fair enough, but damn it, I have 2 scholarships from 2 Governments, I am fluent in at least 4 languages and I've travelled widely. They are the real idiots. How would say Americans like it if I see one and start telling the person he's an idiot and a despot because he has that insipid megalo-maniac G. W. Bush for President?

People should learn to make a distinction between a country and its government. And the same applies to us. If you say you love your country it doesn't necessarily mean you love your Government. So there is no need to be stingy with your love. And in the same vein, to prove that you are not a yes-man, there is no need to go all anti-Government either. Just deal with each thing on its own merit.

Afterall, criticism is free and easy. Whereas action speaks louder than words. Talk talk talk but how come the genocide took place in Rwanda, people are dying by the scores out of thirst and hunger in Kenya and Somalia (they have natural resources while we don't) and all we are capable of doing is criticise. For apart from the fact that Singapore is a bit too trigger-happy in metting out the dealth penalty (and let's put it on the record that I am AGAINST it - though I am willing to concede that I may not be so against if one of my loved ones should be a victim of a murderer or rapist, touch wood) and in sueing Opposition members to bankruptcy, we are not doing too badly in the country. We have enough to eat, the streets are green, clean and safe, the schools are well-equipped, healthcare is good and still affordable, the people still manage to remain honest (and I believe that is not just a question of culture but also conjuncture)...

When you go to Paris, you usually make comments like : ''Oh, Seine River is sooo romantic! Wah bread is so expensive! The pastries are so delicious! Perfumes and LV are so wonderful... Aiyah there is dogshit everywhere!''

You don't go : ''Wah so many burnt cars and broken shop windows, the French are incapable of dialogue or discussion through the proper channels and could only take to the streets in protest when they disagree with the Government. What happened to democracy?''

Nor do you say : ''There is dogshit everywhere because (1) the French are dirty and not civic-minded (2) there are not enough cleaners so what did they do with taxpayers' money (3) why are they not having children instead of poodles?''

Recently, I kaypo kaypo typed in ''Singapore/Singapour'' in Blogger and came across blogs where 90% of the time they had nothing nice to say about us. My hubby always says that our eldest has a tête à claques (i.e. a face that invites slaps) and I fear that our island falls a bit into the category.

There was one French guy who actually wrote that it was due to latent racism that Singaporeans could live for 26 years on the island (actually he was referring to his Singaporean colleague who brought him around - talk about ungrateful) and not visit Little India.

????? I am not naive enough to believe that racism does not exist in a multi-racial country like Singapore. But since when do you have to go to Little India every other day to prove that you are not racist? I mean Singaporean Indians are everywhere : In our HDB estates, at school, at work, in the coffee shops, running neighbourhood businesses, probably running most of the law firms... When I was living in Singapore, I ate Indian at least once a day and now that I'm overseas, I cook Indian myself. I don't need to buy saris or gold from Mustapha Plaza and my favourite curry house is in Thomson Rd. If I've been visiting Little India in the past few years, it was just to show my hubby around. Little India is a tourist ghetto albeit a charming one. I don't even go to Chinatown unless I have something specific to buy there, does it mean that I'm racist against myself?

Well, heh heh, cleanliness is not my forte. To prove that I am not boring, souless, antisceptic and obsessed with appearances, I'm not going to do any housework this week. To save water and commiserate with the Kenyans maybe I won't even shower everyday. And talking about melting pot, I'm going to cook everything in the same pot and not wash it between dishes.

PS : Caricature of Bush done by Gérome Barry.

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