Kev is cooking everyone some eggs for breakfast. It’s a sunny morning in Berat, Albania, and we are all sitting in the cosy sofa corner, shaded by trees and a canopy.
We’re talking about the difference between Chileans and Argentinians. Besides the way they speak, and with Chile being more expensive, there is a familiar comaraderie between them. They feel like friends who haven’t met for years and are just catching up to make up for lost time. Yet, they’ve only just met.
I think about this and wonder if Singaporeans would feel the same even if we met while traveling in the world. Its sad but I think most would agree with me, that singaporeans don’t have the same warmth towards each other. There is usually a wall between us, and maybe only a small percentage of us would ever make the first step to break the ice.
“How’s the situation in your country?” is a common question nowadays as we come together, all travellers from different backgrounds and nationalities, but all finding ways to continue this nomadic lifestyle. “It’s bad, ” is a usual answer.
But bad means a world of difference when placed within different countries’ contexts.
“It’s bad” in Singapore might mean not being able to travel, not being able to keep the same high level of income, or having to wear masks everyday everywhere.
“It’s bad” in many Latin American countries refer to masses of people dying, young people getting tear gassed for peacefully protesting against their corrupted governments, and having to loot from shops because there are not only no jobs to be found, but no other alternatives because welfare isn’t a relevant word in some of their countries.
I find this dichotomy unsettling.
And yet its existence is evident.
I open up Instagram stories and see that a friend is talking about his family back in Colombia not having enough money for food and his struggles to send parcels back to them. Right after a tap, I see a Singaporean friend doing her nails with the caption “Finally able to secure a stay cation!!! Had to wait 2 months just for this, getting my nails done now to pretend I’m in Bali”
We’ve always known of the inequality in the world, even in Singapore. But we tune it out and keep it out of our minds because we can, and because we think “well its not like I need to be starving before I can want more in life”
Something in me is stirred, and I feel like my perspectives have changed so much. Its sometimes no longer enough to just talk about these injustices at dinner tables. I feel a want in me to do something about things. I just don’t know how, and what I can do.
I know that we in Singapore, can do much more. Much more for the people in our country we call home. I wish for communities to be built up again, so that we can tackle difficulties together, instead of only looking out for “our own”. I wish that a day comes, when singaporeans will realize we are capable to love and should give so much more of it.