I never really could imagine what Utopia could be like, but having stayed in Singapore for more than a week, I can say I don't need to imagine it, it's already here.
To be frank, it's spooky, it's eerie. I think it's something taken straight from 'Demolition Man' script and something's going to happen now. But it's for real, and I can't stop wondering WHY!? Why and how can things work so smoothly here?
Actually, a better description is the last scene in Ajnabee movie where Bobby Deol exposes Akshay Kumar's password (in big bold letters): "EVERYTHING IS PLANNED."
For example, let's just consider the online component to Singapore which is jarring for the sheer depth of information available.
Want to visit Singapore? Sure, just head out to their Itinerary Planner, tell them how long you want to visit and who you're coming with, and they'll tell you what you can explore each day! Uniquely Singapore, indeed.
On the same note, everything has a website here:
- whether it is a mall
- whether it is an island
- whether it is a library
- whether it is a river cruise
- whether it is an upcoming garden
- whether it is a new year countdown
- whether it is a competition to paint dust bins to raise awareness
- whether it is a weekend bazaar
- whether it is podcasts from the national radio
- whether it is the latest events
- whether you want to figure out why or how you should visit/live/work in Singapore! (they even have a site specifically for Indian tourists)
Oh, and the simplest best way to get around is to consult the Street Directory and it'll tell you the best way to reach from anywhere to anywhere (including the exact building number) via the bus, metro, walk or driving directions.
That brings me to the topic of the well-planned metro which they call MRT (Mass Rapid Transport), you just need to check out the MRT map to figure out how to get to any place and since every train has a frequency of 6-8 min, you can always get there fast.
You can travel by bus as well and you'll reach there fast too. In fact, the roads are so good that there will be a Formula 1 race in Singapore on the public streets. This is going to be the first ever F1 race in the night!
What I still do not understand is how such cleanliness, discipline (especially traffic) and order is maintained when there are no cops around! (I have seen them only once so far in the past 9 days).
I guess it has got something to do with this fact:
Singapore legislation requires every able-bodied male Singaporean citizen and second-generation permanent resident to undertake National Service for a minimum of 2 years upon reaching 18 years of age or completion of his studies (whichever comes first), with exemption on medical or other grounds. After serving the two years, every male is considered operationally ready, and is liable for reservist national service to the age of 40 (50 for commissioned officers). More than 350,000 men serve as operationally-ready servicemen assigned to reservist combat units, and another 72,500 men form the full-time national service and regular corps.
That is amazing. In case of any kind of emergency, every Singaporean man can face the problem and solve it then and there instead of wasting time waiting for "a cop". Probably also explains why they are all so fit!
All this for just an island which is 42x28 km in size. It is one of the 20 smallest countries in the world and at the same time they are the second most densely populated country in the world.
And they're still charging ahead.