A conversation with a colleague today made me realise how easy it is in Singapore to forget that you live in Asia. Since, superficially at least, most things here are very familiar, it’s easy to take for granted the fact that some things are very different.
Yesterday I went for lunch with a Singaporean colleague. We only went ten minutes down the road but as we were walking back to the office it started raining – luckily we had umbrellas, but our feet got soaked. I was wearing sandals but my friend was wearing ballet pumps so had to endure that cold, squelchy feeling for the rest of the afternoon.
Today she informed me that her pumps are still drying out – she’d put them next to the bottom of her fridge (where it emits heat) to speed up the drying. My first thought was that she should have put them on a radiator, but then I kicked myself as there’s obviously no need for radiators in Singapore! When I mentioned this to her, she looked confused so I asked if she’d heard of a radiator. She said, ‘You mean a car radiator?’. I tried to explain that, back home, we have radiators in our houses to which she said, ‘Oh, you mean like an electric heater?’.
We then spent five minutes looking at Google images of the bog-standard, humble radiator – something completely normal to me that was entirely alien to her.
For those of you who may also be unfamiliar with the radiator, below is the picture that I showed to my colleague!