I am learning so much in this land called Singapore. Singapore became a nation in 1965. Their slogan is We Built a Nation. I am older than this nation of skyscrapers. I am older than dirt, at least Singapore dirt. But what is worse is they built a nation and I have only written one book and a few other things but nothing like a nation. What have I been doing with my time? These overachievers also have, count them, four official languages. I speak only one. I feel so inadequate.
Our trusted tour guide says that Singapore has three main parts of their economy: port, financial, and tourism. I have no port. My wife says my economy is broke and broker. But I am a tourist. And let me tell you Singapore knows how to do tourism all the way from one of a kind things to do to emptying any money you may have in your pockets.
The head of tourism here must be a dream to work for. One of his employees says, “I think we should build three tall skyscrapers and put a boat on top of it and use it as our iconic architecture.” Another employee says, “I think we should dedicate one floor of our National Gallery to an artist who has lived in a mental institution for the last forty years” and they do it. Another employee says, “Let us have a zoo and only let people see it at night in the dark” and they do it. Another says, “Let us build eight story concrete electric trees and make it one of our iconic symbols” and they do it. They will do anything here for the cause of tourism. And believe it or not we tourists walk around with our mouths agape loving it. But can you imagine when the tourist developers talk to the marketing team and say we need you to promote tall electric concrete trees to the world? And the marketers look confidently and say, ‘oh yea we can do that’. What a country this is.
I wish I had a boss who would let me come up with ideas like this. But no, when I proposed a Peace Museum in the shape of the peace symbol they looked at me and shook their heads no and wonder why they hired me in the first place. And because I did not have this Singapore boss, I have not built a nation.