It’s amazing how friendships can start over something small.
There’s a cat that lives under a block that we pass by on our way home from the Pasir Ris MRT station. My wife had found it one day while jogging and since the cat was very friendly she started bringing a small bit of cat food with her to give it when she passes by. One day, she saw two girls feeding the cat as well and they struck up a conversation.
That was a few weeks ago. Over the weekend, we met up with them for coffee and later sat around playing with the cat and feeding it while talking. It’s amazing how well we get on with these two girls that we just met. We became ‘friends’ on Facebook and even got invited to a wedding. All because we all enjoy looking after a cat.
There was a survey result I saw a week or so ago saying that in Singapore, expats have an easy time making friends, but it’s often with other expats. They don’t typically mingle with the locals. I’m sure people could infer a lot of negative things from that fact, but I think it’s just a matter of not finding a common ground to start from.
Most of the expats in Singapore are from countries where life is tougher and they may see Singaporeans as pampered and not feel that they would have anything in common with them. So, they might not initiate a conversation to get to know someone. On top of that there’s the natural boundary of being from different cultures. Singapore has a long way to go, but it’s a more watered down mix of cultures than what expat workers may be used to where they’re from.
For me, I guess I just haven’t had much interest in getting to know locals. Well, I don’t avoid it. I just don’t go out seeking it. Besides the two girls we met through the cat, the only other Singaporeans I know well (that are in Singapore) are the family we live with. They’re a great bunch of people. I have a feeling I’m missing out on a lot by not getting to know more of the local population.