I always go home by bus. When rushing for time, I routinely take the MRT (subway). The subway system in Singapore is extensive and it runs more and more parallel to the public bus system. I bet that one day Singapore can survive without buses on the road at all. Time will tell.
On an average day, when travelling to work, whether to my private practice or to the university, I would opt for a taxi. The taxi service is quite good in Singapore, and occasionally I run into interesting drivers. A minority of them are over the other end of the normal distribution curve in being pleasant. Lucky me, I do not run into them often and I don’t get bothered by them anyways.
A few years back I enjoyed a ride with Mr. Vijay and he told me how he successfully raised his family. That was a great story to hear.
In the beginning of 2016, in early January, I took a ride with a lady taxi driver in the evening en route from the university after a day of teaching. In Singapore, lady taxi drivers are a rare species. It was my luck to see one. This lady driver was a bit quiet and she only made one comment when it was about 1km from my destination. She started commenting about 2016, about how time flies and how time flies faster for older folks like her.
I looked at her and told her she looked like she was in her mid-40s. Then she revealed her biggest secret – she was a 60 year-old grandmother. Then she went on to tell me that she had 3 daughters. My wife knows that I consider myself the second happiest man in the universe because I have two daughters. I could only up my status by one notch if I had a third daughter (but that was not going to happen as that ‘promise’ is hard to keep…).
This taxi lady was different – she told me she missed her eldest daughter because this daughter was now living in Arizona. She was ok with it because her grandkids have been doing great in the USA and they may be representing Singapore in swimming at the international level in 2016.
The she went on to talk about her ‘loneliness’ because her number 2 daughter was a busy medical specialist doctor working at a big hospital in Singapore.
Out of curiosity, I asked her about her youngest daughter. She reluctantly said that number 3 was still schooling and she seldom saw her. I was running out of words to make her feel better while she slowly told me her youngest daughter was going through medical school in Singapore now.
Without any hesitation, I tried to interrogate her on her secret formula for raising such book-smart children. She just said her husband was trained as an engineer while she only completed her O-levels. She stopped her schooling out of convenience, as it was enough for her (& the society) back then.
If you wonder how we had such in depth conversation with only 1km to reach my home on that taxi ride… Well, it was all thanks to the slow traffic. It gave me a precious moment to enjoy the life story of another great ‘Singapore dream’. Every bit counts!