Poem: The Joys of Travel

 

I love to travel and have a bucket list which only gets filled, but never empty. My dream is to win big in a lottery so I can indulge in travel. At this point in time, life is in the way and I yearn for a time when I can complete obligations so I am free to travel. This poem is but my yearnings set free!

 

I believe that travelling opens up your mind and is a great teacher. As much as we can afford it, we try to take BB & GG to as many countries and cultures before they grow up.

At this point in time, life is in the way and I yearn for a time when I can complete obligations so I am free to travel. This poem is but my yearnings set free!

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The Joys of Travel

 

The excitement starts long before you board the plane
In fact, it starts when you start making your plan

You look at travel sites and plan your holiday
At the shiny hotel rooms where you plan to stay

The excitement builds up until it’s time to board the flight;
Waiting for the captain to announce the descent
You can’t control yourself, you’re almost at your dream destination

What a thrill it is to be able to travel,
There’s never a moment which is dull

You learn to broaden your horizons
You learn to respect other cultures

To be able to travel is a precious reward
One that will serve you all your life
Make you someone more than your backyard
Keeping yourself above all strife

So go ahead and book your ticket
The world is your buffet
Pick and choose where you want to travel
The world is after all just a bubble

So go ahead and explore to your heart’s content
It’s your life, make it an unforgettable event!

 

 

My Singapore Journey

Happy Birthday, Singapore!

Today Singapore celebrates its 52nd birthday and it’s the first one I celebrate as a Singaporean! It’s quite a surreal feeling when tonight I can recite the pledge and national anthem feeling I belong and not as an outsider looking in as it had been all these years. I’ve been a Singaporean for almost a year now, so this is not new news, but when I started writing this post, it seemed a good time to share this news.

My journey to becoming a Singaporean was a long time in coming. S, as you probably know is a native Singaporean and in the past few years, I had become increasingly aware that Singapore was home and not India. I became a stranger in my land of birth and when I land in Mumbai, the feeling was more of an anticipation of meeting my parents rather than a feeling of coming home. This feeling, however, I started to feel whenever I landed in Changi Airport and seeing the iconic airport control tower would make me feel as if I am now home. That’s when I realised that unconsciously over the years, Singapore had become home! So then I started the process to become a Singaporean not just in the heart, but also legally.

My position as the wife of a Singaporean meant I could have become one more than a decade back, but because I wanted to b sure I decided to wait so long. In the meantime, as they are wont to do, processes changed and the criteria became slightly more stringent.

You apply for citizenship online on the ICA website based on the category you fall under and at the same time book a slot to meet an officer who verifies your documents and also pay the fee. If I remember correctly (since this was a while back), I paid S$100 for this process. There are many people applying for this citizenship at the same time as you and so based on the queue, you get a slot to meet the office anytime from two months to even a year later. I got my slot around six months later and try as much as I could, I could not find an earlier slot.

During the verification process, which was quite fast (less than 30 minutes in my case), they check all documents depending on the category you are applying in. In my case, they not only wanted S’ documentation (including salary slips and a letter from his company confirming he was working there as of a date closest to the appointment date and all his educational transcripts and tax records), they also wanted copies of BB & GG’s birth certificates and passports. We didn’t have copies of the children’s passports, but since this was the same agency which issued them, the officer said they will just look up the records since they should have them. In my case, along with all relevant educational transcripts, they asked for salary and work information and tax statements. They only take photocopies of the documents after verifying the original. Once the officer was satisfied with the documents, he handed us a letter with a case number and told us that it will take around six months for ICA to send us an answer. We could use the case number to see the status of our application in the meantime (which is frankly speaking a waste since it always shows ‘under process’ and until you get the accept/reject letter, it is not changed).

Five months after this appointment, I got the acceptance letter from ICA. To complete all formalities before you renounce your existing citizens, you need to do three things – complete an online course about Singapore’s history. This is a simple course, followed by a short quiz, which can be completed in around 30 minutes. Then you need to go on a Singapore Journey. This Singapore Journey consists of going to multiple places (according to your schedule and what is available then). I chose the National Museum and the Newater Plant. It was a half day tour and educational, but I felt most participants were there because it was simply a requirement they had to tick to complete the process. At the museum, we were divided into groups, by age and in my group were 3-4 gentlemen who, from their accents, seemed to be from a single particular country. After the guide took us through the museum, we had to answer some questions in our groups. The gentlemen in my group I discovered could not speak English and were the least interested in answering the questions which were based on Singapore’s history and extremely easy if you paid slight attention to the guide. I kept wondering why they were not interested in their new country’s history and also how they will survive if they can’t understand or speak English, which is the official language here.

The last part is going to a group discussion meeting at a Community Club in the constituency that you stay in. This was facilitated by an external vendor and also had former new citizens assigned to each group (which was made up of people living near each other). Again interesting discussions, but most people were disinterested and there was a lady in my group (again from the same country mentioned above) who could not speak or understand English and had to have another person translate for her.

After you finish all these items, your attendance is marked in each activity and is passed to ICA. Then a few weeks after all items are checked off, you finally get the coveted letter that you, at this point, have been waiting for from anything between 18 to 24 months telling you that you are a Singapore citizen. They also give you an appointment to go down to ICA to finish the process of your citizenship.

The last thing to do is renounce your original citizenship before your appointment at ICA and for an Indian passport, this means filling up a form, found online and going down to the Indian High Commission’s agent BLS International along with the letter from ICA and after a week or so, going down to the High Commission to get the letter of renunciation.

Next, at your appointment with ICA, you need to scan the application form barcode and you get a queue number. At the first counter, they check documents. Since my application was under spouse of a Singaporean, S had to sign a paper that he is doing this of free will and also pay $80 for the registration and Identity Card (IC) fees.

At the second, your thumbprint from both hands is taken for for the IC. Also, retina scans which were just introduced. Then you sign the form and wait for your number to be called to take the oath of allegiance in front of a Justice of Peace (JP). You fill up your name a page in the application form and then take the oath standing up with your right hand raised and the palm facing outward. To paraphrase the oath, you swear to renounce all rights and privileges from any foreign country and also forsake any loyalty to any foreign country and will be faithful and bear allegiance to the Republic of Singapore and will be a faithful citizen. The JP then gave me a piece of paper which is was temporary IC and told me about the citizenship ceremony which will happen later. As I was leaving her office, the JP welcomed me to Singapore!

Next is to apply for a passport which you can do on level one of the same building. You get a card from them in around a week and have to go down to collect it.

The last step is the Citizenship ceremony which for me took a couple of months more. Here the local MP (it was not in my constituency, but another one in the same Group Representative Constituency (GRC)) will give each new citizen their new pink IC (Singaporeans get a pink identity card and permanent residents (equivalent to green card holders in the US) get a blue identity card) along with their citizenship certificate. Each GRC holds this ceremony every quarter and if you are lucky, you get yours almost immediately and if unlucky, have to wait for a few months to get the IC. Till then you just explain to everyone that you are a new citizen and are waiting for your pink IC!

So that was my Singapore journey. If this has helped anyone who is thinking of becoming a Singaporean or even is in the process, I hope this is something you find useful!

Poem: Boredom

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Boredom

Time seems to stand still,
You don’t feel too thrilled;

You itch to do something, anything,
You get on the internet randomly clicking;

You have a case of acute ‘boredomitsis’
But you know there’s a cure for something like this

Get up, do something you’ve always wanted to do
And lo, behold, you’ve found the breakthrough

You are not bored anymore
You have a purpose to explore

The cure to boredom is to constantly be busy
Live life and be carefree

Left or Right?

 

The other day while in the train, on the way to work, I came across something in the newspaper, which made me pause. It was a letter to the editor which mentioned that students who are left handed should be actually, treated as having some kind of learning disability. I was pretty intrigued by this and so decided to research it a bit more. It is also because GG is left handed and has shown very clear preference to using this hand as her dominant hand right from the time she was a little baby. I had always thought left handed people were, in fact, smarter and more creative than us normal right-handed people since the dominant side of their brain was the right side and this side of the brain fuels creativity.

 

I could not really find any solid evidence which links left-handedness in a person to any learning disabilities. Yes, learning disabilities affect people who are dominantly left-handed but being a leftie is in no way linked to being behind in school.

 

I do know that a very small percentage of the population, around 10% or so in the world is left-handed and this has remained more or less stable throughout human history, but scientists have not yet been able to figure out why that ten percent of the population turned out to be a leftie!

 

In my specific case, as far as I know, no one in both S and my immediate family favours the left hand, but I can’t be very clear as in previous generations, being a leftie was frowned upon and people were forced to learn to use their right hand for everyday work. When GG was found to favour her left hand more, well-meaning friends and relatives immediately told me to start training her in using her right hand more and making that her dominant hand, but something told me to hold off and I let her use her naturally dominant hand at all times.

I personally feel that being a leftie has not impacted her in any way academically. If anything, not doing so well in her PSLE results has been a real boon. She is in a slightly slower programme and is one of the top students in her cohort, is a student leader and is a very active member of her CCA.

 

There may be some truth in lefties being more creative; GG is very musically inclined and is forever singing and dancing at home. She also likes to draw and paint and does this most weekends. At this point in time, she is also exploring writing, so she basically ticks all boxes from a creative point of view.

 

Are you a leftie? What have your experiences been? I’d love to hear!

Poem: Music to my Ears

 

At work, almost as soon as I log into my laptop, I have my headphones on and start listening to music. The music I listen to is mostly Bollywood, with some fusion and shlokas thrown in. I have been adding to this collection for more than 10 years now and it just keeps growing! So this poem is because of this.

 

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Music to my Ears

 

I plug in my headphones and start to move to the beat
Making sure I am still sitting in my seat

The rhythm starts slowly, building to a crescendo
My body starts to move, starts to glow

Suddenly realising that I am not at home but at work,
I temper my movements and start working to the tempo that is playing

The music fills my head, fills my soul
My work reflects the music I play, making me feel in control

My music fills my days, makes my day fly
Because of my music, my days make me not want to complain