Saturday, November 28, 2009


Its early Christmas for Singapore. They do all festive events on a grand scale here. Christmas season starts a month before the actual dates, bringing in an air of cheer all around. I have spent many Christmas's in different parts of the World but I must say Singapore goes overboard in decorations like no place else. All over this Country, during this entire month, one can find Christmas trees inside every mall, outside every mall, in other public areas and roads such as Orchard Road and coupled with fabulous lighting everywhere.

(Orchard Road above and below)

They call it Christmas in the tropics. It never gets cold enough here to feel a seasonal change into winter. It just gets rainier. That's not as depressing as, say raining and snow right through the long winter months in Europe and North America. Been there, done that.

(An Elf hanging around-should he not be helping Santa?)

This is my 3rd X Mas in Singapore and every year I have observed changes. Nothing is repeated in Singapore, there is always something new, some innovation, some new idea to bring people out on the streets and enjoy the sights. X Mas brings in hoards of tourists as well because the atmosphere is so cheerful, colorful and bright. If you are looking for retail therapy, you got to be in Singapore during this time!

(X Mas tree outside Paragon Singapore)

I grew up in Mysore and had a few Christian friends around. I won't go too much into the various denominations of the religion, but suffice to say I had good experiences with all of them. My childhood memories, what little I have left in my head, reminds me of the X mas day mass I used to go in that little neighborhood church, the choir singing in Kannada and English and the subsequent lunch. Of course one cannot forget the rum and raisin cakes (yup we got to eat that as kids!). My family was quite liberal in terms of everything, including participating in various religious activities of other religions as well. I am grateful for that upbringing.

(Outside Ion Orchard, Singapore)

I remember attending X Mas midnight mass in Trivandrum, Kerala, India, with friends of mine and the atmosphere that was so cheerful and charged. I could not sing the songs, they were mostly in Malayalam. Unlike Mysore, it never got cold or even cool in Trivandrum (Now Thiruvananthapuram). I remember my first white X Mas. I was attending X mas day prayers with friends in New Jersey 20 years ago and we had early snow, large amounts of it. That lent a completely different atmosphere to the whole event. It felt like real X Mas for the first time in my life, the cold, the white blanket on the ground and on tree branches, of snow on top of cars, it was truly magical. Maybe my mind always had this image of X Mas and snow, from reading articles and from comics. I always wished, as a child, to see a "real" X Mas. In New Jersey two decades ago, I finally saw that during X Mas. I had seen snow before but not on X Mas eve or X Mas day.

(X Mas tree inside a Mall on Orchard)

I had a few more X Mas in the tropics, couple of times in Florida where it was still shorts and T Shirt weather and once in the Bahamas. The Bahamas visit was a coincidence but it was X Mas time and everything else being shut down, I wandered around till I found this nice church. It did not have many people for mass but it had a nice air about it. The preacher noticed me and at the end of the service, he chatted up with me asking about where I was from and so on. He had that sing-song Caribbean accent. It was all so pleasant.

A few other places where we had a good time during Christmas was in the Maldives, although not permitted there publicly, I had enough friends who could organize a mean party. What was missing was Church services. Where I had a lot of fun during Christmas, without missing Church services and enjoying the atmosphere of Christmas was in Goa, a few years ago. I am so looking forward to doing that again once I start living there.

(From "Inside" an X Mas tree-they had hung crystal balls inside the skeleton)

Back to Singapore now. I took these pictures from my fogged up phone and they are not the greatest but hopefully they will show some aspects of how Singapore is all decked up for X Mas. I know many people lament that Christmas time has become very commercialized and all that. That won't stop me from enjoying the season. That's the World today, lets just make the best of it, I do, the season makes me feel good as I am sure it does others. I will be blogging before the end of the year, so I'll hold off on wishing everyone right now. Have a great December all!
More pictures of Orchard Road, evening time:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


This is my 100th post on Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy. Not counting my other Blogs on Blogger. I was in India last two weeks and it hit me that this year is an Anniversary of sorts for me.

In 1984, I was the Air Wing Best Cadet from Karnataka & Goa Contingent at the Republic Day Parade Camp and also had the privilege to march down Rajpath in the National Cadet Corps (NCC) Air Wing parade contingent. During the camp, I was selected for the International Air Cadet's Exchange in Singapore. In June 1984, I, the de facto team leader of a four member NCC team, Cadet Under Office Anup Murthy, set off on an Air India flight that went from New Delhi to Bombay to Madras and on to Singapore on a hopping flight. We were hosted by the NCC of Singapore at that time and I remember many of the events that we participated in. The first place we stayed was the RELC Singapore on Orange Grove Road which is still there. Then we were shifted to an Army camp and later on to a local NCC cadet's house as part of the "cultural exchange". My first trip overseas was a free trip!

I remember what Singapore looked like back then, a small but very neat and clean place 25 years ago. It's spread out now but still neat. Orchard Road was the place to hang out and a quarter century later (for me) it remarkably still is The place to hang out, Orchard Road has changed tremendously and now is the glitzier than ever, a haven for shopping and eating and a place to see and be seen. This was the place where I bought my first Sony Walkman tape player. I also bought a swim suit for my sister who used to participate in University Swimming competitions back then. I remember buying a sari for Mom from a shop in Little India. Little India looks like any place in India now and on weekends, the crowds can outmatch any Indian town Bazaar.

What a coincidence that 25 years later and having lived in different countries and traveled to dozens of others, I now live in this Lion City Singapore! I had not given that a thought until I saw a TV program in India recently marking Mrs. Gandhi's death and they mentioned 25 years. I had seen Mrs. Gandhi at the NCC Republic Day Parade Camp and we gave a Guard of Honor for the visiting PM. I also remember meeting President of India Gyani Zail Singh, at the Rose Garden in Rashtrapathi Bhavan for tea as we the Best Cadet winners were introduced to him. So many memories, all tucked out in the corner of my brain and would have never come out if blogging wasn't around. So, my 100th post brought out so many memories of where all my International Travel started, that I had to re-write and re-edit a few times. As tiresome it may be for some of my readers to go through a long post, I had to do it this time.

I need to dig out the Shield presented by the Singapore NCC that year and paper cuttings of a local newspaper in Singapore that featured our team. I also made it on the Star of Mysore, a young upstart English evening daily paper in Mysore that featured an article on me that year. I now travel Internationally more than I ever did before. Even now, every time I go somewhere, something always opens my eyes wide and I learn something new. That's what I love about it.