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Singapore, December 06, 2013

She gave me the bath tea, hand-made, with the most natural ingredients she’s collected from all her overseas trips.

“This looks gorgeous!”, said I.

“I’ve made it just for you! Singaporeans don’t have time to enjoy a bath.”


“Haven’t you heard? It’s kiasu.”

Amused by my dumb-founded face, Susan quickly explained herself.

Kiasu is a Hokkien word meaning “scared to loose out”. As competitive as Singapore can be as a small nation with big ambition, Singaporeans are programmed since childhood to be constantly on the move. It’s all about efficiency. It’s all about calculated moves to be ahead of the queue. It’s all about getting somewhere before the crowd. And when one gets there, one has to stay alert and calculative of the next somewhere.

Isn’t that tiring? Don’t we walk into this world bare-footed and leave it bare-handed?


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