We stayed in Chinatown while in Singapore for two days. The streets are bustling with activity; food stalls, merchandise hawkers, workers, and tourists. We are in the minority as Americans, which surprises me. Is it because of the young American who was highlighted in the news years ago? He spray painted multiple cars in Singapore and recieved multiple lashes with a cane. Singaporeans know consequences are sometimes harsh; authorities do not tolerate misbehavior. Gum is illegal, littering carries a $500 fine (enforced), and cars older than ten years old must be sold due to minimize pollution.
Authoritarianism aside, we fnd Singaporeans enjoy themselves in serious checker matches in a park. These men are playing american checkers, while nearby, Chinese checkers is played. John identifies the “referee” who watches each move like a hawk. Life is lived in community on the streets; unlike America where public spaces seem less utilized. It is the simplicity of daily life, checkers in the park, that informs me of the values of right behavior and a keen competitiveness of the Singaporeans.