I Know I’m Home When…

As I’m sitting at a local coffee shop, seeping on my favourite cup of kopi and flipping the pages of a crisp new Sunday Times, I can’t help but think to myself

Ah…this is home…

Having just returned from one of our extended travels, it sure feels great to be home.

But what really is home? Is it the familiar sights and sounds? Is it the friends and family around you? Or is it the nostalgic taste when you sink into your first plate of chye tow kway upon return?

There are many things that remind me that Singapore is home. In this post, I’ll be sharing 3…

1. Arrival at Changi Airport…

Singapore Changi International Airport (SIN)
Singapore Changi International Airport (SIN)

I think Changi Airport has not only done well for Singapore as an ambassador to the world but also a beacon (both physically – the iconic Changi Control Tower and metaphorically) for Singaporeans, a strong sense of familiarity. Take for instance, the efficiency reflected by many aspects of the airport. Travelators that speed up walking. Signs that are strategically placed to direct “blur” Singaporeans like myself to the customs. Sky trains that zip you around between terminals. Choice of entering SG via the automatic gates using the biometric thumb print or being greeted by your friendly customs officer who speaks in a familiar tone, welcoming you back to Singapore. This time, I chose the latter…

CO (Customs Officer): “Good afternoon, (pauses and checks out my passport) Mr Lim, I can see that you’ve been away for a while.”

Tom: “Yup, sure feels good to be back home!”

CO: “Here you go Mr Lim (hands over my passport). Welcome back to Singapore!”

As the doors of Changi Airport opens and I’m welcomed by the rush of warm, humid air, that’s when I know I’m truly home.

2.People around knows the meaning of “It’s Tiger Time!”

Tiger Beer & Meaning of Tiger Time
Tiger Beer & Meaning of Tiger Time

Although Tiger Beer is said to be sold world wide, I rarely see them sold in restaurants/pubs outside of Southeast Asia. During my travels, I do see them sold in supermarkets outside of Asia but the possibility is as small as being able to see the Supermoon tonight (ok we’re exaggerating but you get the drift). Hence, it is an even smaller possibility (ie being able to see the Northern Lights in Singapore), if someone from say, USA, knows the meaning of Tiger Time. Although we know that “Tiger Time” equates to celebration and not actually drinking tiger beer (though on many occasions it could), not many world wide knows that (probably due to effective marketing in SG). Which is why sometimes conversations like this happens

Friend A: “I just got promoted!”

Tom: “Hey, that’s great news! It’s Tiger time!”

If you’re in Singapore, the response would be

Friend A: “Awesome! Same place?”

If you’re with a friend from overseas, the response would be

Friend A: (cricket sounds)

The point is not really about Tiger beer or the term “Tiger Time” per se, but about the commonality amongst Singaporeans. If I’m around friends and family who know the meaning of “don’t tekan me” or “why you wear until so stylo milo today”, I know I’m home.

3. I’m reading the Sunday Times with a cup of kopi at a coffeeshop

Kopi Chin Mee Chin Confectionary
Kopi Chin Mee Chin Confectionary
Sunday Times at Pan Pacific Hotel
Sunday Times at Pan Pacific Hotel

So back to my kopi and Sunday Times. If you have been travelling, you’ll realise that Singapore’s kopi is uniquely Singapore. Just like Vietnam Coffee with its hazel-nutty flavours and American Coffee and it’s bold bean flavours, Singapore’s kopi (sometimes using beans roasted with butter and suger) is unlike any other we’ve tried elsewhere. You can practically only get it back home – in Singapore. As for the Sunday Times (not week day Straits Times), the content is usually not as “heavy” as its week day counterpart and comes with snippets of information from travel to food and Singapore stories that are easy reads. Love reading Sumiko Tan’s columns. Hope they never end…

After travelling for the last 5 years, these are some of the indicators that I know I’m Home.

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