I’m in Singapore this week, mixing business with pleasure. It’s been 9 months since we left these shores to return to our passport country. As I sat in the black vinyl chairs at the departure gate on Monday, I was both excited and curious. My mind was filled with questions: What will I feel stepping off the plane and into Changi Airport? What will have changed? What has remained the same?
As I stepped onto the footbridge at Changi Airport, I was immediately enveloped with a burst of hot, humid Singapore air, in the same way my Grandmother would hug me as I arrived at her front door. It was that instant feeling of familiarity, love and welcome. Literally, a warm embrace. Walking towards the Arrivals Hall, I was flooded with memories of many family adventures that had begun and ended there and reflected on the fact that Changi has been a gateway to precious relationships, incredible opportunities and life-changing experiences.
I have now been in Singapore for three days. What has changed? As I walked down Orchard Road, the main street of Singapore, I was confronted with a somewhat apocalyptic sight. The Smoke Haze, generated from the burning off of Palm Oil Plantations in Indonesia, means that many residents are donning face masks to protect their lungs when outside. The Sun is trying very hard to break through the Haze but only succeeding in creating an eerie yellow hue. The lady, in her red silk Chinese apparel, was not leading her Tai Chi faithfuls through their early morning moves in the Botanic Gardens and the elderly man, with his Boombox blaring, was not stomping out his Line Dancing Steps in front of the Orchid Gardens. Some familiar faces are absent as friends have left these shores to repatriate or relocate and new buildings have appeared, where 9 months ago there was an empty space or a completely different building. Actually, I’m not sure if this last observation should be in my “what has changed” paragraph or my “remains the same” paragraph since construction has been, and is, ever present.
So what has remained the same? The permanent slightly damp feeling on the back of my neck, the sounds of military planes training overhead, the bone rattling rumble of thunder in the predawn morning, the turtles frolicking in the Botanic Gardens’ Symphony Lake and the laughter and conversations with loyal, life long, treasured friends.
Whilst Singapore is no longer home – home for me, I have come to realize on this trip, is where my family is – I feel ‘at home’ in this place and so privileged to have lived in its midst.
Have you returned to your former host country or countries? What were your feelings upon arrival and during your stay?
Photo Credit: Pixabay