Besides throwing me with this question, another common query I get from people (as some of you might have guessed from the title) is whether I am suffering from not having a car. Yes, in case you don’t know, I don’t own a car here in Singapore.
Objectively speaking, this no-car issue is an epitome of half-glass-empty vs. half-glass-full argument.
Indeed, as a typical Malaysian – suddenly not being able to just hop behind the wheel and go to where you want to go is quite a severe loss of convenience, or “perceived” convenience depending on how you see it.
There were days when it rains in the morning, where I felt a car would be nice because the walk from my place to the MRT station is not entirely sheltered. There were nights where I would like to meet up with my friends for drinks or ‘teh-tarik’ but that is not possible. There were days when I am standing next to people in the MRT who will release aroma as though they have just dipped themselves in shite… and I felt that I should have been sitting in a car.
And many more…
But hang on…
The walk from my condo to the nearest MRT station is at the most, 5 minutes – actually, 3 to sheltered underpass leading to the station. I’ve timed this. My office is located right above the MRT station.
Rain or thunderstorm, I know I will only need to be in the MRT for 10 minutes – the duration of my journey. This also means that when I sms my wife “Coming home now”… she can begin to heat up dinner and I will be back sitting at the table enjoying my meal within 25 minutes, max – rain or thunderstorm. How long does it take for you to get home, in a non-rainy day?
I can always walk away from people with “those” aroma. And because I am not that short, I don’t have to endure the projection from the armpit of those people who lift up their hands to hang on to the handle-bar. Maybe others had to endure mine, but I haven’t noticed anyone walking away from me.
And all these, cost me SGD2.02 a day, about MYR100 a month – less than 1 full tank that I had to fill weekly in Malaysia. And I am not paying for a car which is a depreciating asset.
Right, I can’t have my teh-tarik or nasi-lemak or roti-canai at night but seriously, I can live with that. And if MRT doesn’t go to the places I want to go, I can take the bus from the bus-stop right in front of my condo – which is clean, on time and takes me to a lot of other places. Alternatively, I can take the cab – which is reasonably priced, charges based meter and safe.
If all fails – I will take it as God telling me not to go out.
Certainly, I will not say that I will never buy a car. But at the moment, it is more of a “want” instead of a “need”. Am I tempted to buy one? Hell yes! Car prices are cheap if you compare dollar-to-dollar. 2 months ago, a fellow brain-drain digger just walked-in to a dealer and bought a 4-year-old 5-series for less than SGD90k. I checked out a few 4-year-old 3-series and most of them are below SGD70k. I am fighting temptation on a daily basis.
Another point – my boss who probably earns double my salary does not own a car. I know another unit-head within my function who probably earns 4 times my salary does not own a car either. Hence, it is the Malaysian in me who wants a car, not the Zewt in me who needs a car.
Just want to touch on the “convenience” of having a car in Malaysia… a friend of my mine said he cannot work in Singapore because he cannot stand not being able to “just hop into the car and go to wherever he wants to go”.
I think that statement is grossly incomplete. Yes, you may be able to go wherever you want to go. But can you get there on time? Is it peak hour and hence jam? Is it raining and hence you will be sitting in your car cursing in facebook? Can you get a car-park at your destination? And depending on the time of the day (something which is getting increasingly worrying and I have stories to tell), is it safe to just drive out?
So is the car-less situation a half-glass-empty or half-glass-full for me? A bit of both depending on the situation; but more towards half-glass-full… for now.