The Sumo stance: Standing upright in an MRT will pose a tremendous challenge to any traditional mallu. We are the race who perfected the art of wearing lungis even to Russia (I am not kidding, a few mallu politicians have done it). A necessary requirement of wearing a lungi (which is essentially a long sarong, a kilt, or what have you) is that standing in a moving environment with legs akimbo is a strict no-no. The swaying motion, coupled with the strain on the knot at the waist produced by the stance, is liable to loosen the lungi. Every mallu is trained for years to maintain his balance with legs kept close together. However, all this training comes to naught in a Singapore MRT. Here, the perfect stance required to maintain balance while the train gathers momentum, is what sumo wrestlers are trained to achieve. In a Mumbai train, such difficulties do not occur, since the rush inside would ensure that you don’t have sufficient space to stand, let alone fall. Moreover, if you lose your lungi in a Mumbai train, hardly anyone would notice.
The Zig Zag walk: For a race who mastered the art of lane driving, Singaporeans certainly do not follow it when it comes to walking. They zig. They zag. And they bump into you. I spent half an hour trying to negotiate pedestrian traffic on a 500 m stretch of sidewalk yesterday. I managed to evade about a dozen people successfully, until a walking stick with a very sharp, pointed end attached to an old lady, crashed into me. Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind bumping into PYTs wearing micro-mini skirts, but I draw the line at walking sticks. Mallus do not have double standards when it comes to traffic, whether it be on the road or on sidewalks. It’s everybody (and every walking stick) for himself back home, and pretty much the same standards of chaos are enforced across all forms of traffic.
Singlish: It’s not just the fact that verbs, nouns, past participles and the national anthem are all mixed evenly to produce a desi version of English. If it were, my training in decimating Hindi for over 5 years in India would have been more than sufficient. No, even the usage is disturbingly different. A single spoken word can mean different things depending on whether a question mark or a period is tagged on at the end. The other day, I went to a coffee shop to order a cup. The lady serving the customers smiled at me and said, “Order?” I mentioned what I wanted, and as I am wont to do, stood at the counter staring vacantly into space. Meanwhile, another lady in the same shop came up to me and said, “Order.” In my reverie, I failed to notice that the tentative question mark had been replaced by an authoritative period. “Oh, its fine, I have ordered already”, I explained. “Then pay already”, she returned.
Every eating establishment in Kerala, ranging from roadside thattukadas to the Oberoi Hotel in Cochin, makes it a point to clearly indicate to the customer when they are asking for payment. When it comes to money, we don’t stand on subtleties.
And oh, Singapore, what’s all this nonsense about reserving random seats at restaurants with a teeny weeny tissue paper? Grow up already.