The only time I went on a group trip was on a Singapore-Indonesia tour ten years ago. It was arranged by a travel agent and there were atleast 20 families in the group. A friend took all responsibility of the trip, so we hardly had any worries except to do all the shopping about the trip and brag with friends and relatives. In those day very few people went on international tours, so we felt proud.
At a destined time we reached an assigned spot to take the Tourist bus to Kochi Airport. After Picking up friends at various points we bagan the 2 hour road trip. We enjoyed a enjoyable ‘picnic’ trip to the airport, singing and joking. At the airport also we enjoyed 3 hours of masti, as we had an agent to take care of the paper works, we only had to enjoy the trip.
Most of our friends were first time travellers so when the flight took off there were humorous experiences; one 25 year old guy cried for his Mom.
Everything was fine until we reached the Singapore Airport. Then we were ‘handed over’ to a Singaporean Guide, I thing her name was Mary. Then we understood why Singapore is much ahead of ‘time’.
Mary was particular about time unlike we Indians. In India we reach a place atleast an hour after the designated time. The only person I know to be punctual is Big ‘B’ – Amitabh Bachchan. Mary took us around on a tourist bus to tourist destinations like the Mirlions and Botanical Garden. While we de-board the bus she gives us strict instruction to come back at a sharp timing ; say for instance 4:00 PM.
Most of the time we all messed up with the timing. We used to get even half an hour late and then Mary got even more strict. She said next time she will not wait for anyone and just move on.
We had to obey because non of us had a local SIM, so she was our boss for the trip.
The next day we were all on time and Mary praised us for mending our manners. From then on she used to say “come back at Singapore Standard Time and not Indian Standard Time”
Next day we went to Sentosa Island, Singapore Zoo, Chinatown and various other places. We saw the four different ethnic groups – Chines, Malaya, Indian and other staying together and working in unison for the betterment of their own self and of the country. All religious groups Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam stay together in harmony.
Singapore is like a well kept home, not a single piece of paper or a bit of dust could be found anywhere. All the cars were less than 15 years old so they shined like new cars. And above all the same water was used in the wash room and for drinking. You can take water from the wash room and prepare tea.
By the end of the tour Mary became friendly and she learned a few malayalam words and promised to visit Kerala very soon. We bought some tokens to remember the Trip.
Finally we were handed over to the Indian Guide at the Airport, we were much relieved because we could now follow the Indian Standard time. Just like at the beginning of the trip we were dropped home from Kochi Airport by Bus.
We came back with lots of memories and learning . If we follow Singapore Standard Time (Punctuality) we can have success in life and we can contribute a lot to our society.