Two Weeks Back in the US

We’ve traveled back to Maryland to visit my family and attend my Father’s funeral at Arlington, and I am definitely struck by the differences between the two places. Some things I miss about My home country, some things I miss about my new home in Singapore. If I could just find a place that had the best of both worlds!

The things I am particularly struck by in the US, now that I’ve been away for four months, are mostly price and availability related. For example, Whole Foods now seems like a bargain, whereas before I only shopped there about 30 percent because I thought it was too pricey. What really struck me about Whole Foods was not just their low, low prices, but the freshness of their products, their commitment to organics, and the bright colors in their produce department. In Singapore, the grocery stores are at least 50 percent more expensive than Whole Foods, and the quality of fruits and vegetables, since nothing is grown locally, is pretty shoddy. They lack that crisp vibrant color and texture of fruits and vegetables in the US.

I went to the mall, and I was super excited to find swimsuits, shorts and sundresses available despite the freezing temperatures outside. The prices, of course, are phenomenal. I even took a trip to SAMs Club, and if only my suitcases had been larger, I would have stocked up for the year. Costco could easily solve my few issues with Singapore. I hear they have a location in Japan. If Costco came to Singapore, I could stay forever.

Watching television here in the States, I am of course struck by the sheer number of channels from which to choose, the lack of censorship of the shows, and the fantastic menu/software that runs the DVR. The DVR from Starhub in Singapore seems to be running on 1995 version software that lacks intuitive design. I am also struck by the number of commercials here. In Singapore, there a not commercials in all of the breaks, they have about half as many so the shows run longer between commercial breaks. You can tell where the commercials are meant to be inserted. Fortunately they do not take advantage of every opportunity. In Singapore, I have yet to see commercials for such wonderful products as these…Forever Lazy

The weather in Maryland right now leaves much to be desired, and they are having a warm spell. I know back in Singapore it is a balmy 88 degrees, and here I am freezing cold, bundled in a fuzzy jacket and fuzzy slippers. Sometimes I do miss the seasons, but I do not miss the short days of winter that you get in this latitude.

I miss driving. I have been driving my sister’s car here and it is so nice to be able to go where you want without waiting on a taxi. I know you can drive a car in Singapore, but it is incredibly expensive. The fee for a car license is around S$60,000 and a rental starts at S$1,000 for a really small economy car. To top it off, there are also import taxes on cars, so if you were to buy something like a Honda Civic, you would pay close to S$100,000. To make matters worse, it is a super depreciating asset, and the government requires all cars to be scrapped at around 8 years, so there are no old cars on the road.

One thing that is missing from Singapore is my family. If only I could convince them all to move. I’m pretty convincing, but even I can’t work miracles. It has been really nice to hang out with my sister and mother, and for the kids to play with their cousins. We have been enjoying our time here, but I suspect this weekend will be hard with the funeral on Monday. Tuesday we hop on a plane back to Singapore, where we will certainly thaw out from our big freeze!

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