'I miss the sense of security in Singapore'

SINGAPORE - It was living away from Singapore that made Ms Balvinder Sandhu appreciate the things she once took for granted.

Like taking public transport or going home alone after dark.

The 39-year-old moved to Melbourne, Australia, five years ago to live with her Irish husband, who is working there.

"I miss the sense of security (that Singapore offers)," she said.

"Being able to go out with friends and take a taxi home alone after midnight without having to worry about anything happening to you - I could never do that here."

She cited a scary experience when her Melbourne home was burgled in late 2008.

"I was so scared to be alone at home (after that) and made my husband install a burglar alarm as he was travelling a bit for work then."

She has since got over her fear, but she still drives everywhere and very rarely takes public transport.

"You just need to stay vigilant and be cautious and aware of your surroundings," she said.

S'poreans have it good

"I don't think we realise how good we have it (here in Singapore) until we live somewhere else," she added.

Ms Balvinder, who returns to Singapore two or three times a year to visit her family, also misses eating out.

"Apart from missing my family and friends, I miss the prices of food more than the food itself."

Eating out, she said, is not cheap in Melbourne, so she cooks most of time. She said: "I miss my $1 roti prata and $3 chicken rice."

Another thing that Ms Balvinder appreciates about Singapore is our affordable public transport.

"It's impossible to take taxis everywhere, for example. The day-to-day cost of living is definitely cheaper in Singapore."

Ms Balvinder, who works as a freelance writer and editor in Melbourne, recently released a book about money scams, embezzlement and swindles in Singapore called Financial Fraud.

"I have a background in law so I thought it was nice for me to finally do something that brings together my publishing career and my never-used-before law degree."

Ms Balvinder holds a bachelor of laws degree (with honours) from the University of London.

She added: "I've always wanted to write a book and dabbled with the idea of fiction before, but it hasn't materialised yet, so I thought this was a good way for me to get my foot in and be recognised as a published author."

With her family and close network of friends here, Ms Balvinder admitted that she thinks of moving back to Singapore all the time.

"Hopefully, we will in the near future," she said.

What qualities do you have that make you Singaporean?

I love hawker food and I love a good bargain. Oh, and I love to complain. About anything.

How would you describe Singapore to a stranger?

Cheap and good food, beautiful buildings and skyline, safe, with quirky people - if you meet the right kind of Singaporean!

What are the little quirks you see every day?

I feel that Singaporeans don't realise how good they have it in Singapore. I have to admit I didn't realise this either, until I lived overseas.

What food do you miss when you're overseas?

Hot steaming chicken rice and fried carrot cake with lots of chilli! Can I be greedy and add sambal stingray, too?

Your favourite Singlish phrases or words?

Aiyoh. There's no word in the English language that expresses disappointment, shock and jest (whichever is relevant to the situation) like it does.

If you feel you are uniquely Singaporean or you think you know someone who is, e-mail tnp@sph.com.sg and share your story with us. The best five stories this month will each win a pair of tickets to the National Day Parade (NDP).

The next five best entries will each receive a pair of tickets to the NDP Preview.

The winning entries will also be featured on the NDP website.


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