East and West

Comments - I've been told again over the holidays that comments didn't work properly, changed the settings, hopefully it's fixed.

I've been spending much of my days in the Western suburbs recently. We've gotten used to the many skin colours, the gangstas, the drop outs with numerous piercings, the psychiatric-looking, the IV drug user type of people on our trains. Then the suburbs with hardly any landscaping, plain gardens, surrounded by old rundown factories and train stations where people are stabbed and robbed (which fortunately, hasn't happened to one of us yet). The cheap markets, and dingy untidy food stores, narrow streets and foreign signs everyone making the suburbs look like you've just been transported to Asia. Well, the food is fantastic. Yes the only thing I miss about frequenting that hospital, is the banh mi and pho (oh indeed, in these posts food is always the ray of sunlight shining through the clouds).

I've never properly been aquainted with the Eastern neighbourhoods. Although I've been at this hospital before, I was amazed at how hilly, how green, leafy, scenic, lovely the houses and neighbourhoods were. Walking to my friend's car, we saw young Caucasian mothers pushing their babies, and fit retired men going for a jog, instead of some smelly, shaggy looking dude, snarling at his equally unkept wife and slurring his speech as if he was drunk. We walked past massive frontyards which had a steep rise like a small hill, or the house was tucked so far back in that we could not see the front door from the driveway. The houses themselves were huge, and old, but with character. Instead of old and boring, or old and rundown. The streets were wide instead of narrow with cars parked on each side (pretty sure it's because people have enough space in their own houses to have garages for their fancy cars). The greenery on both sides were tall, majestic, and I wondered whether they skim on spending money to plant nice trees in the Western suburbs. Even infrastructure including highways and streets are better, less congested. I think the roads in the West need major restructuring considering the huge population expansion, and new suburbs that have opened up.

Even the most beautifully renovated house in a dodgy suburb would not have quite the same feel as a very average house here. So, that's what what you pay for when you buy properties based on location.

It's funny really, in Singapore, I've hard some pretty strong opinions of the "Eastern" residents about how dirty, industrial, unpleasant, the West side was. Come hang at the Westside yo. You know the novel North and South? Such a rigid division of the idyllic farmlands, cultured citizens, and the polluted, rough, factory regions. Maybe it's time to write the book "East and West", any takers?

Essentially, it's the inevitable divide between the rich and respected, and the poor, the less educated, the outcasts of society. I mean, why would you not rather lovely neighbours who fit in your social circle, and can be trusted in helping you keep an eye out when you're away, rather than the neighbourhood always attracting police attention because of teenage drug users and domestic violence issues.

And it makes me wonder, where would I live? Or rather, how would we respond if God asked us to leave the life that we imagine ourselves to have (the typical income, house, status that usually come with being a doctor) in the future?

(Rich young man story) "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. - Mark 10:21



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