I Am In A Good Mood

I almost never write about the hard bits in our lifestyle while we live as expatriates in foreign countries.

It’s because firstly, this blog is where I have decided to keep predominantly a place for my positive thoughts. Secondly, I also don’t like to whine about all the stuff that make us feel frustrated and stressed out because we’ve had our share of good blessings and I feel it’s more appropriate to focus on the good stuff.

But recently a close friend said something to me that made me realise that perhaps it’s because I don’t talk about the rough bits of living overseas, especially in South Africa.. that everyone must think that we live as fancy expatriates in a bubble that’s a perfect class of its own as compared to the rest of the people in the country. Well, they couldn’t be more wrong.

Oh, we ARE in the South African system of life. Trust me. There is no way you can get away from it. Rich or poor. Expat or local. And life here is filled with hiccups. There is always something going wrong. EVERY SINGLE DAY.

You name it.. transport system, or the lack of it.. or the inefficiency of it.. water cut offs.. electricity cut offs.. traffic lights breaking down.. accidents.. food shortages.. toxicity in water.. crime and security incidents.. stolen items through the postal service.. missing luggage at the airport.. retarded internet connection after being promised and paying for supersonic speed.. or just simply ignorance or inefficiency across every point of customer service contact in this country.

It drove me crazy when we first moved here. I reacted as a typical Singaporean would – This is unacceptable!!

The weird part was discovering that when things go wrong in this country, people don’t scream.. jump.. shout.. threaten to sue.. threaten to complain.. threaten to have the staff fired.. or threaten to go to the press. Well, most people don’t. Most of them, if not all.. would do the African thing – which is shrug it off, maybe curse a little and then say “TIA”. Which is short for “This is Africa”. If you’ve watched the movie, Blood Diamonds (starring Leonardo Dicaprio), you would recognise this phrase.

It’s a behaviour I couldn’t understand as a Singaporean. We come from a place that does not accept anything short of excellent quality and standard. I couldn’t understand why people let inefficiency slide. Why they allow things to happen slowly. Why they allow water and power cuts to happen and simply stock their homes with giant 5-litre bottles of water and their own small power generators instead. I wondered why they didn’t choose to put their foot down and demand the progress and standard in life that would raise their country to a higher level in economic progress.

But now I’ve been here for a year. I know why. It’s because their way of life is the reason why South Africans are happy people. Why they always have a smile for everyone. Why they have the mood to say Hello, how are you? to everyone they see on the street. Why they are always in a good mood.

And this message I saw on the plastic bag of a shop says it all for the South Africans.

If there is one country that deserves the right to be angry, it’s South Africa. The shit they’ve gone through as a country and is still going through is crazy. The promises that have been made to the people that were not fulfilled. The hope they were led to have but were eventually left disappointed. But yet, the people are all about forgiveness and graciousness. Incidentally, while my own country was going mob-crazy over a technical glitch in the transportation system last Friday, South Africa was celebrating Reconciliation Day. A day to be grateful, to be gracious and to forgive.

I have utmost respect for this country. It may be technologically behind and not as economically strong as many other countries, but it has built a gracious nation.

If there is one thing I hope to learn from my time spent here, it would be to be as grateful and gracious, and to be always in a good mood.



  1. Totally agree!

    • *smiles* I hope you are always in a good mood too!

  2. Very well said! It’s all about our perspective and expectations towards life that determine how happy we can be and will be.

    • It sure is. The happiest people in the world are people with the least expectations in life. =)

  3. I will be in good mood everyday, if my job is only to write blog, living off my husband who is a pilot..
    get real, missy..

    • Noel, you must be a very sad and frustrated person. A wise man who was once also an expat in South Africa once said: “be the change that you would like to see in the world.” So instead of criticising Bing, maybe you should ask yourself why you get angry? For those of us that follow her blog she is an inspiration (i am born and bred South African). Good luck with everything on your side. And if her blog irritates you, stop reading it and watch Fox News instead. Jou ou bliksem!

      • Fox News, very true, haha! Comments like Noel’s almost don’t deserve a response. Especially after such an eloquent post talking about being gracious. Very well put, Jaco.

    • Lol! You made my husband’s day, Noel, when he read that you think he’s a pilot. =)

  4. To Noel: If you are not here to understand the meaning behind her post, then you should be the one who get real, and get out of here.

  5. Thanks for this truly wonderful post….i was just seething with anger over a very small misunderstanding, and then i read your post about S Africans and how they are such a gracious lot, with a ready smile, no matter what!…..just needed a different perspective to realign my thots to happy ones!!….Thanks …yr post are truly inspiring!

    • I’m glad it helped you, P A! And I’m glad your thoughts are happy ones now. =)

  6. Noel, you must be a very unhappy person in real life. Life is short, choose to be happy, or consult a specialist if you are sick.

  7. Browsing Nuffnang’s tweets and chanced upon your site, and I’m glad I did! It’s rare to see such a happy, optimistic blog, just reading it brightens up my day. Admiration for your perspective and point of view (: Stay happy!

    • Thanks for liking my blog, Mikki! Stay happy too! =)

  8. You are a better person than me! I just browsed over the early days of my blog, and it is nothing but complaints about South Africa’s bureaucracy. Though I tend to think I made some people laugh along the way:-)

    Very well observed and well written. I feel exactly the same way about South Africa. I am happier now, even though things are often inefficient, than I was before, and it’s all in my own attitude to life. It’s almost like wisdom seeps into your pores when you move to Africa.

    • I’ve complained too! Just not on my blog. Hahahaha.. and I agree with you that I’m happier now that my attitude has changed. Martina and I were at this “favourite internet provider” of mine waiting to purchase my ginormous amount of internet data and they made us wait 40mins and our blood pressure didn’t even go up one bit. If I were in Singapore, I would have gone up to the reception once every 10mins to see what was taking so damn long! Hahaha..

  9. I just happened across your blog today while doing a little research for a website I decided to build. As a South African I’ve found your views to be refreshing and they’ve excited me even more. South Africa is a beautiful country in so many ways and, like many people in their own countries, I don’t feel that many South Africans realise how much they take for granted. Keep up the commentary – challenge us!

    • Most people usually take their lives for granted until they live overseas! I love your country, Jesse. And you’re the 3rd South African to say “challenge us!” to me since I arrived. Goes to show the attitude of the people here! =)

  10. Hi Bing, i’ve been following your blog silently for some time now and have always enjoyed your stories and your daily and happy endeavors.Continue the great positive attitude, we need that around more.

    At the same time, i hope to also bring your attention to the word ‘retarded’ which you used in this post. I’ve never been one who points out things like this and this is really my first time doing so. I’ve been following Lisa (http://lisamorguess.wordpress.com/2011/03/01/spread-the-word-to-end-the-r-word/) on her quest to educate people on the use of the word and you can also listen to her son’s speech on this matter (http://www.youtube.com/user/StopActionGuy#p/u/31/ViQtEwXr2Fc). This family has been given an extraordinary gift of raising a beautiful child with Down syndrome and i hope you understand where i am coming from :) Let’s help spread the word, every little thing counts.

    Have a good day Bing!

    • Thanks for sharing, Shermaine! I definitely agree with not using the R word on anyone. In the context of this post, it just meant slow or a delay in the system. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retardation

      Thanks for sharing those links! I am very moved by Lisa’s efforts. The work of a true mother. =)

  11. You made me smile the biggest smile! This is so true. I have a saying that I repeat a million times…” I love South Africa, warts and all” and this post just sums that up.

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