National Day 2018: 10 Singapore quirks we have learnt to love

National Day 2018: 10 Singapore quirks we have learnt to love

This is home, truly

Text: Janice Sim

Oh Singapore, there's nowhere else quite like you

Once a year, the entire island-state of Singapore chimes in with songs of patriotism, don colours of red and white, and cheer on as a legalised display of fireworks grace our skies. It's a heartwarming affair. As much as we locals love to bemoan about the relentless heat and countless begrudgements pertaining to our little island, we have to admit — it's a special country to call home. There are so many things that are uniquely Singaporean, whether it be ingrained in our bones, national campaigns or scaling infrastructures.

In lieu of our nation's 53rd birthday, we recount the 10 quirks that we have learnt to embrace — or rather, that we are getting round to doing so. 

1. Random aunties whacking your seat

We get it. Body heat can easily be transmitted. But not to the point when a seat actually catches fire. However, at the extent of how aunties slap it on public transportation, it does seem like a life-threatening emergency. Who knew our butts could be that deadly...

2. ComfortDelGro eau de parfum

It's a distinct pandan leaf scent that's exclusive to ComfortDelGro taxis, and not anywhere else in the world. You either find it nauseating or akin to a smell of home. The jury's still out on that. 

National Day

3. Tissues, or it didn't happen

Singaporeans mark their territory in a practical way — with a single tissue packet. Just head to a hawker centre with a sizeable office crowd and you'll see what we mean. In desperate times, placing a namecard can suffice too. 

4. Our exposé culture

These days, local papers aren't the first to break scandalous news anymore. It's the World Wide Web. There are sites like Stomp, which hand out money in exchange for photographic evidence of netizens squabbling on the trains, eating on the trains and PDA on the trains (you get where we're going...), and then there are influential people making YouTube videos, exposing secrets about other influential people. So much juice, everyday. 

5. Passive aggressive PSAs 

Some public service announcements take on a creative spin in Singapore. The point is to keep things lighthearted and casual. Case in point? "Bag Down Benny" and "Move In Martin" are amicable fictional characters who have been planted in SMRT trains with an underlying message: "Stop being selfish and inconsiderate while riding the train". Also, who can forget heartland favourite, the cardboard constable, who captured the hearts of many while reminding us that theft is a crime. 

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6. Hype queues

How to judge the relevance of something new and trending in Singapore? How long the queue is. Top off our heads: Any H&M designer collaboration, a new iPhone, and molten cheese tarts. 

7. The SES of education 

Folks who live in the real world should know that your academic eduction is a thing of a past once you enter the workforce; but funnily enough, the school you attended still matters gravely in some conversations. There are elite schools like Raffles Institution and Anglo-Chinese School that will still warrant a wide-eyed expression when you name drop it — even though it's been two decades since you graduated. 

8. Taxi uncles making small talk

There are the casual exchanges you have with people you meet for the first time, and then there are interrogative talking points from your taxi driver. These uncles seem to be deeply concerned with why you're heading home at an ungodly hour, why you're still unmarried and why you're married with no kids etc. After a while, it does get pretty entertaining. 

9. Local slang

You don't have to speak Hokkien to know what "bo jio" is or be Malay to know what "tahan" is. It's just how the locals are. The truth is, we're still trying to figure out how we got here... 

10. Singapore Changi Airport 

The reason why our airport made the list? It's out of this world. Think revolutionary technology, massive art installations and bathrooms so gloriously spotless that you can lounge in... this is what OTT looks like when it's done to a tee. 

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