DOC ç A DifferentSky ✓ Meira Chand

Singapore a trading post where different lives jostle and mix It is 1927 and three young people are starting to uestion whether this inbetween island can ever truly be their home Mei Lan comes from a famous Chinese dynasty but yearns to free herself from its stifling traditions; ten yea This took some time to get through thanks to the small print and density of the prose but it was effort well spent The story often lacks momentum but the payoff for a little patience is a wealth of fascinating detail about Singapore from 1927 through 1956 Chand explores the mix of ethnicities in Singapore and the racial hierarchy resulting from British colonial rule She weaves together the lives of several major and minor characters representing all levels of that hierarchy including Indian Malay Chinese Japanese Eurasian and British The story begins and ends with citizens agitating for freedom from British rule In between is World War II and the atrocities of Japanese occupation That brutality is faithfully represented along with the ruin Singaporeans faced when the war ended The author lives in Singapore and sought assistance from native sources so her narrative has that ring of authenticity and gobs of local flavor If you cannot abide flaws in the mechanics of writing this novel may try your patience Chand dangles modifiers than anyone I've ever read leading to some puzzling and amusing constructions I have to paraphrase as I no longer have the book but one example that made me laugh said something like He had received a reuest to meet with BK in a ball of sticky rice Hmmminteresting choice of meeting placeChand is also prone to excessive use of past perfect tense especially in the first half of the book I confess this did begin to get on my nerves Just plain past tense is so much easier to readI was happy to overlook the writing flaws for the sake of my strong interest in the topic I mention the errors only because some people cannot bear them

EBOOK A DifferentSky

A DifferentSkyNgapore the three are thrown together in unexpected ways and tested to breaking pointRichly evocative A Different Sky paints a scintillating panorama of thirty tumultuous years in Singapore's history through the passions and struggles of characters the reader will find it hard to forget “The races don’t mix here you see Chinese keep to themselves in Chinatown as do the Malays in Geylang the Indians in Serangoon Road the Eurasians in their Eurasian pockets and we of course being the ruling race can’t afford to hobnob with any of them Live apart work apart socialize apart That old adage familiarity breeds contempt is true than we know”Oh Singapore land of my birth and residence for most of my 30 odd years of life So I suppose I should know you well But really my Singapore is one from the 1980s onward and having lived here in the US for a few years now perhaps I don’t know Singapore as it is today any It is after all a country that changes so much in such a short span of time Buildings get pulled down and replaced roads appear out of nowhere Shops and restaurants pop up and fade away so uickly I’m likely to get lost the next time I visitBut one thing I do know vaguely that is is Singapore’s short history as we were made to learn it in secondary school although in a dull bored out of the eyeballs kind of way So it was with a little trepidation that I picked up A Different Sky from the library for Indian Swiss writer Meira Chand takes us through 1927 Singapore and the unrest stirred up by the communists through to the horrors of WWII and the subseuent Japanese Occupation of Singapore then to liberation and the promise of independenceWe first meet our three main characters on a trolley in Kreta Ayer which has been stopped by communist demonstrating during the second anniversary of Sun Yat Sen’s death Young Howard is with his anxious mum Rose little Mei Lan is on an outing with her amah Ah Siew and Raj is heading back to the cloth shop in Serangoon Road where he worksTheir lives are so different and Chand makes full use of her disparate characters to illustrate the broadness of Singapore society Mei Lan born into an elite Chinese family whose fortunes have now fallen Howard a Eurasian furious at the way his people are treated by the colonial British Indian born Raj an enterprising youth interested in working hard and making his fortune Their lives intertwine in these tumultuous years of change although early on the different races tend to keep to their own kindHere I have to interrupt and add that Singapore was founded by the British in 1819 and became a major trade city attracting many settlers from Malaya and the rest of Asia especially China and India During World War II Singapore was occupied by the Japanese from 1942 to 1945 After the war Singapore reverted to British control with increasing levels of self government being granted It eventually became an independent republic in 1965“Howard found he had returned to a place of shifting landscapes regroupigs realignments and new beginnings Singapore was now a place of strikes mass meetings and general unrest stirred up by communist activists and socialist minded nationalists Assassinations were commonplace as was the sight of rioting school children proficient in mayhem as much as in study”While a work of fiction Chand draws on important historical figures of Singapore such as its first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew Japanese diplomat Mamoru Shinozaki credited as the ‘Japanese Schindler’ for saving many Chinese and Eurasians during the Japanese occupation of Singapore Singapore’s first Chief Minister David Marshall etc Chand succeeds in bringing to life these crucial events in Singapore’s history Perhaps if I had read this book in secondary school I might have appreciated Singapore’s history Chand weaves in plenty of well researched details about life in Singapore during those various times perhaps the most interesting of which were the ethnic divides – Europeans vs everyone else“You can’t trust the Asiatics; most of the Malays are illiterate and except for a minority of Straits Chinese who have been educated in English medium schools none of that lot can speak our language and neither do the Indians by and large We depend upon the Eurasians to manage everything for us They’re a dependable lot”The Eurasians in particular have a tenuous place in Singapore society a “people of shadows” Rose’s family for instance is described as such“Her ancestors carried the names of disparate European cultures Pereira Martens Rodrigues de Souza O’Patrick Thomas McIntyre van der Ven Washed upon the shores of Malaya these men married local women and their children then intermarried again and again until a hybrid people was formed”Yet for all it’s lush sweaty historical details it is hard to really sink into this book Perhaps its too many characters and the way they are put together to showcase different aspects of Singapore’s history and its diversity put me off a little It felt a bit too heavy handed Still it makes a great introduction to Singapore its history and its people

Meira Chand ✓ A DifferentSky KINDLE

FREE PDF á BOOK A DifferentSky ò MEIRA CHAND Î Singapore a trading post where different lives jostle and mix It is 1927 and three young people are starting to uestion whether this inbetween island can ever truly be their home Mei Lan comes from a famous Chinese dynasty but yearns to free herself from its stifling traditions; tR old Howard seethes at the indignities heaped on his fellow Eurasians by the colonial British; Raj fresh off the boat from India wants only to work hard and become a successful businessman As the years pass and the Second World War sweeps through the east with the Japanese occupying Si A beautifully written haunting yet hopeful romantic but tragic story of a Singapore that existed not so long ago but is so very different from the Singapore of today Modern day Singapore is a pristine organized law abiding society; the people I met while I resided on the island did not uestion did not riot accepted the status uo It was much rigid than what I was used to and I often found myself frustrated with the lack of entrepreneurial think outside the box creative thinking and decision making that I felt the country would need to move forward I often reminded myself though that it was a fairly new country and was as successful today as it was because of the straight and narrow path it was forging Ms Chand though has introduced me to the Singapore of 50 60 70 years ago and has not only confirmed my thoughts of the necessity of the straight and narrow but has amazed me even with how far this little island nation has come The Singapore of this novel is so far removed from the Singapore I know and love so as to not even be recognizable Brothels gangs opium dens violence riots rats unsanitary conditions were rampant in that Singapore The devastating effects of the war were visible on everyone's face Her writing was descriptive and evocative; the story was moving and fascinating I really enjoyed it and feel that it helped me appreciate the success of modern day Singapore even as it's given me a greater depth of understanding of its history