My childhood was spent living in homes with expansive green spaces. Verdant gardens with neat rows for seasonal flowers, neatly trimmed grass and backyards with kitchen gardens. We would spend a lot of time outdoors and were fortunate enough to have plenty of space to jump, play around and just be kids while within the safe confines of our home. Winter afternoons were spent lounging under the gaze of the sun, soaking in precious sunlight.
The backyards would serve as kitchen gardens where we grew everything from lemons to jackfruits. There were mounds of soil for us to walk on and visit the growing plants. We tried to grow most of the vegetables we ate and the joy of eating fresh produce from your garden is unparalleled. As a child, I could recognize most vegetables by looking at their leaves and prided myself on this ability.
One of my homes had a massive banyan tree in the backyard. It’s long roots would hang like ropes from the sky and I would hang on to them and swing to and fro! My cousins would visit us often and I have fond memories of us spending time by the banyan tree. There was a log of wood very conveniently placed near its trunk which was the perfect make believe spaceship for our fanciful games. These early experiences in the outdoors really cemented my relationship with nature and when choosing a place to stay in Singapore, I finally picked a place which had huge windows facing tall trees. I am happiest when outside in fresh air and preferably surrounded by trees as far as the eye can see.
My parents also grew fond of the many animals which abounded in our homes across the years. We have close to twenty pet birds who are beloved members of the family and have their own uniquely designed living spaces. And for the birds my father cannot keep, he leaves out bird feed specifically for them, scattered all over the driveway.
When I moved to Delhi for my undergraduate studies, I was privileged to stay in a locality called National Park which had a great park running through the middle of the street with houses on either side. Leafy neem trees lined the perimeters of the National Park and were the perfect view outside my window. I would often stroll through the park after class and feel all my stress evaporate into thin air.
When I was looking for event ideas to help the graduate students at NUS interact closely with each other, I instinctively chose to take the class on a hiking trail in Singapore. We had one of our biggest turnouts for the event with people turning up really early in the morning, a rarity for students everywhere! I went hiking on another nature trail with close friends and we walked for ten kilometres, talking nineteen to the dozen about everything under the sun. It was an enjoyable though tiring afternoon and we ended the day with a hot pot dinner. I realized how critical it was to maintain a sense of curiosity about other people’s experiences since there was a wealth of information to be gleaned from each individual’s unique perspective and cultural background.
My great memories of the outdoors really stayed with me and my subconscious was probably trying to replicate the environment in this unfamiliar place to make new friends and family. I tried my best to duplicate those successful social interactions and the natural setting became a formidable tool in building my cross-cultural competencies. So tear yourself away from the harsh glare of the omnipresent screen and head outdoors to make a friend or two. I know I did!
Hi, I’m Sabhya. I grew up in Lucknow, India. After a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Lady Shri College of Women at the University of Delhi, I moved to Singapore in 2018 for my yearlong post graduate studies. I graduated with a Master in Management from the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School. Since young, I’ve been a prolific writer who has travelled extensively across India and has also been a public speaker since the fifth grade. As I navigate and transits through my new life in the little red dot – Singapore, I hope that I can regale you with my anecdotal tales.