Saturday, November 28, 2009

XMAS TIME IN SINGAPORE

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:


31 comments:

Vishwas Krishna said...

The more you write about Singapore, the more I love that place. The photos are too good.

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Thanks Vishwas. They do package things very well here. There is some order to things and quite predictable in terms of efficiency. I know lots of people, especially from back home, who feel quite uneasy about all that. I should have carried my usual camera on this outing but this is the best I got from my phone, I'm glad they came out OK.

avdi said...

I love lights. I love shops and stalls overflowing with things and jingles and music and advertisement.

We get a lot of that during Diwali, I love going around town on they day and see everything lit up so wonderfully. The shops here try to light up for Christmas, but it does not have the same effect.

YOSEE said...

The Christmas spirit has arrived early thanks to your merry post. Enjoyed going through the pics. and reminiscences about Xmas in diff. parts of the world.
Agree abt. the packaging prowess of S'pore ; have experienced Xmas season there twice. Fairyland on earth !

The Mysore Xmases of my past were gala affairs too, with the family's christian friends sending over loads of cake and wine. At home, we improvised Xmas trees with Casurina branches and cotton wool. Also exchanged gifts. Once my grandma gifted me a crawling Krishna figurine packed inside a bon-bon ! We visited Philomena's without fail.

The most soulful carol and hymn singing i have heard was in Nigeria ,by the minstrels called Aladuras . Divine.

So far ,have never experienced a "real" white Xmas, which is the abiding mental image we all form in childhood thanks to cartoons and comic books.

Have a wonderful season.

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Thanks Yosee. What a time it was growing up, wasn't it? Cool memories. Wow, you have been in Singapore twice during X Mas! It is indeed a winter fairyland without the winter! I do admit that once in a while, I'd like a change of season. Snow is OK for a few days but I've lived in places where it would not let up for months and everything is so gray, one longs to see a bit of sun. Good to hear about your Nigeria experience. There is still time and am not entirely sure where I will be around actual X Mas time this year! Hence an early outing to check out the lights.

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Avdi: Thats what makes X Mas feel special, the lights and the decked up trees. Here too during Diwali, Deepavali as it is called here, it is a big event and Little India is all lit up & decked up for a whole month. Then there is the Chinese New Year and that is huge, Chinatown is the place to be and also during the mid Autumn festival (I had blogged back in 2007 about this with pictures). Then we have the month of Ramadan and all of Arab Street area is lit up and has a festive air about the place. Singapore celebrates everything and packages everything quite well.

Swaram said...

Wow wow wow Captain. Awesome pics there! U have truly seen the world and that so many during XMas time. Thatz superb! Loved the flow of this post :) Felt like I was there and enjoying the proceedings :)
We r gonna b in Singapore too this Christmas :) The pics got me all the more excited!

Happy December to u too :)

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Swaram: Welcome to Singapore, you will really like it. I hope the weather holds up and there's plenty of nice sun for you to take in the outdoor sights. Are you coming as independent travelers or part of a guided tour group?

Swaram said...

Oh eh .. we hope the Sun God shows some mercy too ;)
We r cmg on our own .. gonna stay with friends there :)

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Cool Swaram, great that you are visiting. I am sure I'll look forward to your blog after your visit. As I mentioned in a previous comment, I am not sure as of now where we will be during X Mas this year since I travel so much. If we are here, we'd love to drop in on you guys at least to say Hello. Lets see how it pans out. I only know my schedule for the coming week, I am away in Bangkok from tomorrow till Thursday, on work.

Mitr Friend - Bhushavali said...

Merry X'mas Anup... The X'mas trees are too good..

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Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Mitr: Thanks, happy you liked the X Mas trees. I will look at your blogs soon!

Swaram said...

We would be glad too to catch up with you if u r in town :)
Have a nice trip to Bangkok! Looking fwd to ur post on the same :)

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Thanks Swaram, am in BKK already, will blog about this place some time, since I have been here often. This trip is very hectic!

Kamini said...

What nice and cheery pictures! I was in Singapore for a short visit a couple of weeks back (I was staying in a hotel near Orchard Road) and I saw many of the decorations already set up, or being set up. I was surprised at how early they do this! In New York where I live, they have started lighting up the streets and shops, and it is so beautiful, particularly on a cold, gray night!

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Kamini: I am glad you got to see a bit of it. They start very early here indeed. Last night when I got back to Singapore, Changi Airport terminal was all dressed up with X Mas paraphernalia. Good to have this atmosphere of cheer, real economic data is nothing to cheer about as yet! NY during X Mas is great and am glad you are enjoying it, you must have seen many white X Mas's

SEO Expert India said...

thanks for all these reviews, i am gona visit this place, also visit India travel destinations

kish said...

Good pictures. This reminds me a bit of Brigade road during new year:)

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Thanks Kish, Brigade Road was a hangout even 30 years back and Nilgiris was the place to be during X Mas, there would be Christmas cakes and lights everywhere. I dare say that Orchard Road footpath, in some stretches, is wider than Brigade Road itself. Hence they are able to do more here in terms of decorations. Bangalore used to have a pleasant atmosphere during X Mas and New year. Still does?

Namita Chandra said...

Singapore is looking great during this festive period. Love the way you described celebrating Christmas in other places. I always envy you the experience of having lived in so many places. It seems an almost nomadic life.

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Namita, you have described my life correctly! Nomad is my middle name (and Mad is my first name! LOL).

Bridget said...

Hi Anup,

I just came across your blog and love the information about the Christmas trees around Singapore. Most times, those trees are actually artificial. We’ve just added a page about the benefits of buying artificial Christmas trees to our website (www.artificialtrees.com), and I think this is something your readers may enjoy learning about. The link to the page about artificial trees is http://www.artificialtrees.com/benefitsofartificialtrees.php.

Thanks, and keep up the great blogging!

Best,
Bridget

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Thanks Bridget. Yes, it is true that most of the Christmas Trees in Singapore on display, are artificial. They look quite real, though. These can be recycled over the years and better than cutting down a real tree just for the season. All the best in your promotion.

crystaldewdrops said...

Wow :) the pics are awesome...looking at it..my mind is already full of festivity and celebrations around!

Swaram said...

Hi Anup .... ws wondering if u were away partying for so long when I happened to see ur comment on my blog today :) Glad to hv u back :) A very happy new yr to u :)
So, u were in Bangkok for Christmas? Waiting for the updates n the pics :)

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Thanks Swaram. I was working right thru Christmas and then till 8PM on New Years eve...whew..now trying to catch my breath but still cannot! I am planning to be back in India for 10days on work related flight. I hope to take some time off to blog but I hope I get the time!

ruchi said...

Enjoyed going through your pics..I loved the lights,decorations and the christmas spirit:)I would definately like to visit Singapore during christams.

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Ruchi: Thanks, I am glad u liked it. Welcome to Singapore anytime, there's always something to see and do here. Next up on the festivities is the Chinese New Year next month 14th and all the best sales happens at that time too!

Baron's Life said...

Yup Christmas in Singapore is second to noe other.

RAJI MUTHUKRISHNAN said...

A very nice post - don't know how I missed it earlier.

Laxmi said...

I will be enjoying the holidays here too!I was told it was the best time to visit, so i book my package for it.Thanks for taking me through what it might be like, I really hope to have a great time there!