Saturday, October 28, 2017

Witnessing history as it happens.

Saturday, 3rd September 2016.

A small dot on the world map. It's been a few weeks since I've arrived in Singapore. I must have heard about Singapore first time while my history lessons. The place where Subhash Chandra Bose took command of the Indian National Army.
In later years I heard more and more about this small dot. Most of it from my friends who had been here. Also, my mother visited Singapore a few years ago during her Thai-Malay-Singapore tour.
I knew that Singapore is a garden city and a financial hub of South East Asia.

Yes, all that I have heard is true. It's a beautiful global city. Awe-inspiring skylines, disciplined people, excellent public transport - obvious signs of a developed nation. I wasn't surprised. Perhaps you wouldn't be amazed if it isn't your first time in a developed nation. Thanks to a segment in one of the Marathi dailies, Sakal, I have coined a term for this obvious and rather uninteresting travel experience as "The Muktapeeth Shock".[1]

Singapore - beyond obvious. 

By God's grace, I got a chance to witness two special events in last few days.

1. Singapore won its first ever Olympic Gold medal in the Rio Olympics.

2. Haze over Singapore.

and I think I will witness a 3rd special event - The Singapore Formula One Grand Prix.

Singapore has gone mad for their wonderkid - Joseph Schooling who managed to secure a gold medal in Singapore's 51 years of existence as a country and that too by beating the legendary swimmer and his idol- Micheal Phelps.

There are congratulatory posters everywhere, news segments praising his extraordinary feat. Even our landlord wouldn't stop mentioning his name all the time. The taxis in Singapore carried a marquee - "Our Pride J Schooling" on their boards.

The second one was the Haze.
Image courtesy - The Telegraph. It is similar to this for last few days. 
On 26th August, when I left the metro station, I noticed that there was considerable smoke in the air. It was uniform and everywhere. So, I suspected if there must be a large fire nearby. It was strange.

In the lunchtime, the smoke was still there. One of my colleagues in the office, who is in Singapore for many years told me this - This haze was indeed from a fire. It was smoke spreading over Singapore from the fires of the rain-forests in Sumatra - hundreds of kilometers in the east. He said that it's quite common during August and September. Even the government issues statutory warnings and asks people not to leave homes for a few days when the haze is dense.

It immediately connected dots in my mind. I recalled the Petroleum Engineering lessons in Kapfenberg when he said "Palm Oil". A sudden gush of excitement rushed inside me. Indonesia has been burning their rain-forests for palm plantation so that they can supply the ever-increasing demand for palm oil to produce biodiesel.

I am excited by this feeling of experiencing something first hand after I had heard about it at the other end of the world. This is as close as I can get to my favorite hero - Indiana Jones.


On a side note. It was a totally freaking experience to see that a totally benign fruit called Durian is banned from public transport. It's a lot like jackfruit that we see in India but smaller. I could never gather the courage to taste it. Next time Singapore.


[1] In the segment called Muktapeeth, it had become a trend for oldies to publish their experiences of the first time travel to Europe or the US which contained unexceptional, insipid comparison on how they found the foreign country disciplined and clean and how people were friendly and blah blah. Yes, we appreciate you traveled far and beyond borders for the first time, however, someone else had already written what you are trying to tell now. Needless to say, the online comments section were full of brutal and insulting remarks on how the paper urgently needs to stop publishing these frequent "Travel logs".
Mostly I read this segment for the hilarious comments, but I think it did one good thing. It taught me that when I travel, I should try and reach beyond obvious. I try to do that at times. Okay, at least I don't bore someone with the Muktapeeth Shock.


  1. Hi Ashish
    I am sorry for your loss. My father is having left side paralysed due to brain hemorrhage from past 6 months. From your experience do you recommend to take treatment of Dr Pandurang?

    1. Hi,

      Thank you for your comment.

      I think you wanted to leave comment on the other post.

      Sorry to hear about your father's condition. In my grandmother's case, it wasn't hemorrhage that caused the paralysis.
      There are few factors I would ask you to consider before visiting Dr.Pandurang Kumbhar's clinic.

      1. Age of your father.
      Healing takes more time with increased age. My grandma was 85 at the time. However, she showed incredible willingness. She had a good amount of progress even after first visit.

      2. Distance of your place from Nagar-Munnoli.
      We live in Pune. It took us close to 6 hours to reach to Nagar-Munnoli.
      My grandma took the journey well for first time. Second and third time, it didn't go well. She suffered from motion sickness. If you are planning to go from longer distance, arrange a cozy vehicle and also think about staying overnight.

      3. Honestly, it's all about trust.
      I am a science guy and couldn't believe that someone could cure such illness when modern medicines showed little progress. But I was proved wrong. My mother was more insistent and I had to go with her. But, after first visit, I was in wholeheartedly as I could see considerable progress in my grandma's condition.

      Plan well and go. It's better to do something rather than just seeing your loved ones suffer. But make good arrangements before you go. You can call me on my number if you want to talk to me. Ashish - 99233 19438

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