Sunday, May 06, 2007

Fastest Feet First

Wow, I didn't know that Singaporeans ranked first in the world for speed of walking. At 10.55 seconds per 18 metres, we outrank the second fastest walkers, the Copenhagens, by 0.27 seconds. Seriously, what's the hurry?

Every time I take the train to work in the morning, I could here the click-clack-clonk of women's shoes hitting the escalator stairs in double-quick time. This sound itself would make one walk a little faster, or at least raise the heartbeat a little (and that's not because of the sexy attire of some of these women, who are likely heading to the office). I suppose we are all trying not to miss the train. Also we want to get in front of the queue so that we get the greatest chance of securing a seat. In Singapore, nobody believes in 'ladies first'. Its everyone for himself/herself.

The same psyche must also take hold when Singaporeans walk to the food court during breakfast, lunch and dinner - particularly lunch. We need to secure a seat as we only have a hour or less, and to do so, we need to get there ahead of others and place our bags of tissue paper on the seats as a sign of conquest. Taking the lift is very common as we head to our offices, and of course, we need to catch that lift...And oh, did I mention the need to get to the shopping centre first, ahead of the queue, to get the best bargain or else end up a loser? And yes, there is the taxi queue, the bus queue, the ATM queue, the 4-D queue, and ad naseum.
So is it any wonder that Singaporeans are the world champion walkers? We do so out of competitive necessity. The local lingua for that is 'kiasu', which when translated, means 'afraid to lose (out)' (to the guy next to you). That's the hectic life in Singapore for you. Not very healthy, socially, but a heck of an efficient way of squeezing more time out of life. I just hope that we don't get felled by a stress-related disease sometime down life's path.

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