I’ve always been a city girl. I grew up as one and I can’t help but think I am one.

But every now and then I realize this might be a bit delusional.

It’s not like I grew up in a hick town with cows around me – I guess I’ve always been near enough to the thick of the action. And all of my career before the stripes saw me jostling to get to work with fellow city slickers. I felt terribly disconnected from the world during my two years in Great Malvern but I feel that it did me a world of good to be away. And when it was UCAS time, I immediately looked at several cities which I thought I’d do well in and fortunately got accepted to my first choice at Leeds.

Even in my short working life in London, I found myself right smack in the middle of Bond Street and bunking at a mate’s place at the Barbican Centre. Coming home to Singapore, I was always in Shenton Way or somewhere in the vicinity of the Central Business District.

The past two years on the outskirts of town were weird for me. The good part about working in a questionable area was the ability to drive to work, which I realized I didn’t like doing. I missed the zone-out time I got whilst riding public transport. I was often frustrated by the unavailability of good coffee joints I could entertain associates at and my inability to do impromptu catch-up lunches with friends. Thank God I had a few great friends in the office whom I never tired of having lunch with – Otherwise, I would have been in big trouble.

Being a little dislocated from the rest of the working world, life went on. I accepted that kopitiams were pretty much an everyday affair and teh si became my staple beverage. The only people I jostled with became the aunties and street promoters outside NTUC at lunchtime. The sights and sounds I saw everyday became comfortable and my special treat to myself during the work week would be Indian take-out from Brinda’s. And unbeknownst to me, I was slowly maxing out the heartland.

And the impact only unveiled itself to me last night, when I made my way back into the Central Business District for my first new gym session.

“Let’s go to Quiznos,” Hubba suggested when we thought about something fairly light for dinner. “Where?” I said. I had never heard of the place in my life. And when I walked into the sandwich cafe and the smells of bread and fresh condiments and coffee hit me, I was bowled over. I ooh-ed. I aah-ed.

And then I thought, OMG. What’s happened to me?

So yeah, city girl or not – I’m a total country bumpkin now. I can’t wait to start work in the city again and I’m already relishing the thought of a good latte every now and then when I crave it.

Cheap thrill, eh?

13 Responses to Country Bumpkin in the City

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi I am a silent reader of your blog. Funny you would actually miss taking the train to work – that’s what I hate most! Observing everybody’s black faces on the train and the rude Singaporean commuter behaviour. Given a chance, I would rather work in the ulu areas – less observable mad rush = less stress. Raffles place = rat race.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Haven’t, but there’s something i positively dislike about raffles place. Too clinical…too cold…the numb robotic office workers – no offence to anyone here! Say I won’t even mind working in orchard or somerset area, you still have your coffee joints and choice of eating places, a fair amount of office workers, but less of that whole corporate feel. And some people window shopping around so not a place purely for work.

    • Janice says:

      I used to feel the same way – My first job was at Raffles Place. I must say I did prefer Tanjong Pagar! It didn’t feel too claustrophoebic!

  3. Anonymous says:

    hello :) i’m a silent reader too. just wanna say i totally feel you because i work in the same area as you! saw you a couple of times in fact hee. i’m sooo bored of the hawker & kopitiams after 3+ years working in the area! and i never tried brinda’s. is it any good?

  4. Clare says:

    I work in the Tanjong Pagar and I love it here. Especially the food – Maxwell & Amoy! Nothing beats having a good latte just round the corner :)

  5. sabbie says:

    hi janice,

    i have been reading your blog for a while now. just wanted to leave my two cents’ worth after reading your post and the comments.

    i have worked in raffles place, then amoy street (which was great cos i love shophouses and yet be within the vicinity of CBD area but out of the hustle and bustle) and now i am working in orchard area. to be honest, i loved working within the business district most cos you feel like you are going to work and i enjoyed the quietness towards the end of a work day. plus there is great food at cheap prices.

    working in orchard area, it’s really quiet in the day and cos my office is located inside a shopping mall, so the entire mall is empty while you come to work except for starbucks that is open. but by afternoon and night, the crowd comes in and sometimes you feel weird when you leave work, cos while you are leaving the mall, people are coming in. and on weekends, you feel scared of stepping into another shopping mall since you work in one every day. plus food is expensive. so pros and cons and like what janice says, the grass will always seem greener on the other side. :)

    i would like to be able to work in the suburban areas one day and be able to drive to work without having the IU beeping away and feeling the pinch.

    have a good weekend ahead!

    • Janice says:

      hi sabbie, i reckon i’d hate working in orchard as well coz it’s just a bit too hectic! altho it must be kinda fun when you really need retail therapy and it’s right outside the office! :P

  6. Elaine says:

    Ahh. I might regret saying this in time to come, but I secretly miss the rush hour! I missed being a part of the pack! No one jostles with me for a seat on the bus, despite me working in Shenton. The only people annoying me on the bus are a bunch of smelly school kids who love playing music out loud on their handphones. They give me a headache. Good thing I moved. Different route! Haha

    I missed walking in the fresh early morning air with nothing but coffee smells accompanying it. I guess the only thing I won’t miss is the lunch hour and the tissue packets!

  7. tiffany says:

    i started working in changi for almost 2.5 years now, though i do miss about the CBD sometimes but i think its much better being in the ‘ulu’ far east with less jostling in the mornings :D

  8. Cass says:

    Yes, i can’t agree more! I used to hate working in Raffles Place in the past, but after a year’s stint @ Alexandra (which, thankfully, i’ve left my previous company now), i’ve come to appreciate Raffles Place/CBD area SOOO much more!

    Cheers to the convenience of working somewhere central! :)

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