Torn Apart

Too many people in my life, important and unimportant, young and old, friends and foes, family and strangers, asked me a question which still lingers – Where do you plan to settle down? Malaysia or Singapore?

When I took a giant step in moving out from my comfort zone two years ago, I never thought this predicament will surface so soon. But I was wrong.

Frankly, I’m beginning to feel like a Singaporean. I breathe the same air they breathe, eat the same sweetened “char kway teow” (stir-fried flat noodles with shrimps, eggs and bean sprouts) they way Singapore dwellers love it, speak Singlish with “leh” and “ano”, and got used to walking and taking public transportation everywhere I go.

But then again, I miss and crave for the hokkien char in KL, thirst and yearn for the ice-kacang, chendol & rojak in Penang, perhaps even love the thrill of driving all the way to Ipoh Old Town for hor-fun, taugeh chicken and custard pudding.

Oh how I love to go to mamak and have a nice gelas of teh tarik and roti canai with kari ikan (pulled tea and indian bread with fish curry) for supper. The 3am nasi lemak(no kidding, the stall opened at three o’clock in the morning) with freshly deep fried chicken at Skudai just makes my stomach growl in hunger. Absolutely fabulous coconut steamed rice and ichi-ban sambal ikan bilis! Yum yum… 😛

Nonetheless, I hate the traffic in Malaysia’s capital city – Kuala Lumpur. It is just sickening and darn disheartening, especially when it rains. I’m not saying Singapore has no road traffic at all. They do have bad times but are all handled pretty well, if not excellently.

Being a proud car owner at the age of 18, driving a car had been synchronized with my daily life until I moved to Singapore. And the joy of fetching the ones I loved in the car, holding hands – something I couldn’t possible describe in pen and ink, was out of this world 😉

I guess I can’t afford to have a car in Singapore just yet. And it’s not logical, not to mention economical, to have one considering the fact that I spend most of my time travelling out of Singapore.

Car is a luxurious item here. For some, it could be a necessity but to most, it isn’t. But I could still pretty much hold hands with the girl I love, probably more than just that in a cab over here since I don’t drive anymore.

The joy of being a passenger, being ferried from one place to another is so different. I never saw it while I was back home, but now, I began to see it from another perspective. What a new horizon I’ve found 🙂

It’s just overwhelming to write about the passion I still have for my country and the growing love bud I have for Singapore; the disgust I feel towards Malaysia and equally disturbing concerns for its neighbour are not to be explicitly expressed here.

The answer – there really is no answer. I lived in Malaysia; I stayed in Singapore.

Where does my heart belong? It’s a path I sought and still seek.

I never know what comes my way. But do know this, I’m not alone.

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8 thoughts on “Torn Apart

  1. You actually like the sweetened char kuay teow??? You’re beyond redemption… 😉
    If there’s 2 reasons for me not to move to S’pore it’s the char kuay teow and the wan tan mee with ketchup. Hated it since I was a kid visiting my relatives there and I still hate it now.

  2. Having stayed 9 years in Singapore I do agree with Sooth that the wan tan mee with ketchup really tops the list of culinary abominations. 😮

    As for Singapore’s charred kuay teow, it is definitely an acquired taste. You can tell that Meng Teck probably did not get to try Penang’s famed char kuay teow during his last visit there, as he only mentioned the chendol and rojak. This may help to explain why he even finds the Singaporean charred kuay teow palatable. 😉

  3. No, I’m sure he did try the char kuay teow. I think it was the famous Sister’s char kuay teow along Burma Road that we visited together. The one that costs RM4/5 now for a small plate with 3 large prawns. And I think we also had the one with duck egg in the Pulau Tikus night market. The only way I can reason this one out is that he’s just plain weird. 🙂

  4. Excuse me…but I never mentioned that I love the Singapore’s version. I just said I grew accustomed to eating it. There’s a distinctive difference here, isn’t it? 😛

  5. I guess the reason so many people have asked you about S’pore is that every non-Bumi in Malaysia must have considered at one time or another in his life about migrating to a country that is fairer and that does not practice a form of state sanctioned apartheid. I remember even in primary school many of my friends were talking about migrating. In the end, some have done so. Many more have stayed behind because of many reasons – with the main being family, fear of changing or downright stupid optimism about the rosey red future of Malaysia. The reasons not being mutually exclusive and it usually is a combination of the above.
    So, everyone is curious. “Is the grass really greener on the otherside?” they ask those who have been to the other side. If they hear enough about the green grass, maybe they might consider making the journey and enjoy the green grass. Maybe they’ll end up eating hay instead but would eating hay be worse than eating green grass but with a yoke over their shoulders?

  6. Food, glorious food. The second most important staple of life after…well….

    But is food a reason not to leave home and search for adventure? And how much different is the culture and lifestyle (and food) in Singapore? (I can hear the screams now….)

    I had far greater struggles than food. Singapore is too sanitary, some might say, and too western. But underneath that thin veneer of modernity, an Asian soul resides. Coming from a society that emphasized freedom of expression and individualism, getting used to the rigid social structures and groupthink of Asia was the hardest adjustment I had to face.

    So why is America’s most liberal soul still here, in authoritarian Singapore? Well, I met a beautiful Chinese woman, got married and had a couple of wonderful children. That’s a great equalizer. And being able to travel frequently to some fascinating places (and some pretty awful ones, too) takes the edge off of the claustrophobia you can get here. I counted over four hundred entry stamps to Malaysia in the three passports I have had since being here. Lots of day trips across the second link just to ride my bike and blow off steam.

    So Meng Teck, go where your spirit takes you. But don’t be like our American colleagues here – sequestered in their American ghetto, eating only their steaks and burgers, hanging around only with other ang-mohs, and well…trying to pretend that they are still back in Texas or Michigan. Absorb the ambience of wherever you go. The food here isn’t better or worse – just different.

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