This week I travelled to Singapore and back on business. Singapore is an interesting and vibrant place and the vibrancy was piqued by the preparation for Chinese New Year. There was a strong contradiction between the modernity of Asia’s finance industry and the preparation for a traditional time of celebration.
My Singapore colleagues were remarking about the cool evenings they are experiencing at this time of year (25°C) while I was enjoying the warmth of sitting outside for dinner. Temperatures in the UK are currently often slipping to below freezing and the difference was quite palpable. In many ways I felt like I was a world away from home and I mean this quite literally. In the mornings I would take a taxi into the office. The taxis in Singapore are brightly coloured reds and blues – hues that one would not normally see in any type of car in the West. The radio stations have extremely bright and cheery presenters who typically introduce chippy 80’s pop music that in some way feels fresh and current in this slightly disconcerting place. The tone of the presenters feels as if it is straight from the Truman Show and I found myself looking around for hidden cameras. I’m sure they were just out of sight. I imagined myself on a post Earth nuclear event planet where the government was attempting to control the mood of its inhabitants...
One of the challenges of business travel is the dislocation I feel. Not only am I away from home and unfamiliar with my surroundings but there is also the time difference to contend with which brings with it the joys of jet lag. Despite my efforts at self-medication I was often awake at an ungodly hour of the morning. To accompany me I had Do DeLillo’s recent book Zero K which tells the story of a dysfunctional father and son relationship and impending cryogenic freezing of the father’s second wife who is dying. DeLillo writes in quite a stark manner and the subject matter added to the apocalyptic sense of this novel.
In the wee hours, struggling from a lack of sleep I would read a chapter and then look out of my hotel room window at this curious city. I was living my own dystopian dream and, apart from the inevitable tiredness during the day, I was revelling in each moment.
I touched down in Heathrow at the end of my visit to a typical London winter. It was 5am, the temperature was close to freezing and the trip across the M25 was an adventure in its own, being as it was through reduced visibility and driving rain. After negotiating with the BA staff at Gatwick I was moved to the earlier flight home to Jersey and eventually back into the arms of normality (at least in accordance with my standards).
This morning I woke shortly after 2:30am in a state of confusion. For the first semi-conscious seconds I was unable to remember exactly where in the world I was and what time of the day or night it was. Singapore now seems like a dream, a shifting memory that is slowly dimming and disappearing into a small number of disconnected fragments: the colourful taxis, the clinical buildings and the warm night air.
Such is the nature of life. Each moment passes and is quickly condensed into a memory. Some last a lifetime, some disappear immediately and there are those that we amplify and embellish in the hope that they endure and provide a refuge in times of doubt and worry.
Winter continues – Spring is coming.
Peace and light - Darren