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Home is Where the Heart Is

The student, all of us will no doubt be aware by now, died a most horrible death after being gang raped by 6 men and without recovering from her injuries. She suffered from brain damage, multi-organ failure and met her death in the most cruel fashion 13 days later in Mount Elizabeth hospital in Singapore.

Mind you, this happened in New Delhi, the capital city of India where you not only have all the central ministers of the Indian republic seated but also a separate New Delhi state government that is supposed to be functioning.

However, this is just one aspect of India and why someone like me who left India in 1956 will never go back to live in that country.

I will go to India for my occasional visits to spend some time with my relatives as well as to visit the beautiful temples and the sprawling temple grounds situated in lush countryside. Also, I will visit to enjoy the marvellous taste of Indian vegetarian food to be found in abundance all over the country there. But I will not to make my birth country my eventual choice of residence.

In fact, I recently went to India on a short 5-day trip in October 2012.

I landed at Coimbatore international airport on the night of 30th September and spent the next five days going to temples, doing a bit of shopping and generally trying to size up the new India in a city that I had not visited since 1988.

One of the attractions of this city then is that it is relatively cool throughout the year, cooler than most of the main cities of Tamil Nadu but there the attraction of the city stops.

The dust, the dirt, the teeming population, the pollution and the utter disrespect for the laws of the land was enough to make me decide from the first day of my visit that I would much rather be in Singapore.

I was staying with some realtives who could afford a car but the traffic conditions in the city were so bad that the man of the house does not dare drive his car but employs a driver instead.

He will of course not use the public transport at all.

I went round the city with him on those few days and everything about the city is enough to put anyone off. Sometimes, seated in the front passenger seat of his car, I could feel as if I was going to have a heart attack at the manner in which vehicles and humans come across our path.

After a few trips I gave up and told my relative that I would rather sit in the back seat and be oblivious to the dangers of the street, not that the average citizen has any respect for his countymen or visitors.

Everyone is for himself and no one ever gives the least consideration to fellow human beings.

A lot of us in Singapore who are used to the very meticulous manner in which life functions in this city take so many things for granted.

A case in point: I have a daughter who sometimes returns from work late and who attends friends' birthdays on some days, and I sleep in peace knowing full well that she can take a taxi back home at anytime of the day or night.

The security, the law and order situation, the absolute certainty with which one can rely on the public transport system and plan trips, these are comforts developed over decades of careful planning and good governance.

Any wonder then that those 5 days that I was in Coimbatore were indeed trying for the body and soul, enough to make me feel that Home is where the Heart is and to me that is Singapore.

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