Surdy Shenanigans in Singapore #BlogchatterA2Z

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This post has been written for the theme “26 Places, 26 Memories” for the #AtoZChallenge.


Singapore is a small island nation in South-East Asia. Despite its minuscule size, it has proved itself a global centre of finance and modernity. The multicultural population and squeaky-clean environs enhance its futuristic feel. There are many man-made sights to see, as well as delicious food and fantastic shopping on offer. However, its perfection may seem unreal to some!

I visited Singapore on vacation with my father’s extended family in May 2007. We were a large group consisting of my paternal grandparents, two aunts with their families, and my own, numbering 12 in all. We travelled from Singapore to Malaysia and then Thailand. From the entire trip, this memory really stands out.


We were travelling from Singapore to Malaysia on an overnight sleeper train. My grandfather, a retired Colonel, had shut the lights to his compartment by 11:00 p.m., having removed his impeccable safari suit; while the others chatted away next door.

The train halted close to midnight and some men began knocking on the windows. Uninterested, we continued with our family gossip. By the time we learnt that it was a necessary immigration check to enter Malaysia; we had only 15 minutes to get our passports stamped before the train’s departure.

My grandfather was on a wheelchair, which took additional time. We reached the immigration office on the station, to an alarmingly large queue from other trains. Fortunately, my aunt, the wife of an Indian Foreign Service diplomat, was allowed to cut the queue on showing her diplomatic passport.

By the time our passports were stamped and collected, our train hooted its preparation for departure. All 12 of us (the number is a mere coincidence!) began running to our compartment; pushing my grandfather’s wheelchair along. I climbed onto the nearest one; but my cousin yelled at me saying this wasn’t ours and we needed to keep running. Instead of explaining to her that we could walk inside the train, I jumped off to join them.

There wasn’t a soul on that platform, everyone had climbed on to their nearest compartments, while my family dramatically sped towards the front of the train. What a sight we must’ve been! A large group consisting of senior citizens and agitated young people, dressed in night-wear, running for our lives.

When we finally climbed on to the moving train, I exclaimed, “why didn’t you just climb the first compartment?!”. My father responded, “it would’ve been tougher to push the wheelchair inside the train .” To which I replied, “yes but most of us could’ve climbed on to alert the staff about a passenger on a wheelchair, no?!”. Realising their folly, everyone looked at each other sheepishly before bursting in to uncontrollable, side-splitting laughter.

This story is now part of family lore, and a fondly remembered anecdote. We call it our collective ‘surdy’* moment- my family’s for not climbing the first compartment, and mine for climbing it and then coming right back down 😉

Come back tomorrow for the letter T and another story!

*Surdy is a colloquial term for Sardar (a follower of the Sikh religion). Often, Sardars are made fun of for being foolish (without any cogent reason). Belonging to a family of intelligent, enterprising and proud Sikhs, I’m opposed to this unfair condescension. However, as a Sardarni myself, I think I can be forgiven the use of this term for this amusing anecdote 🙂


On our Singapore-Malaysia-Thailand family vacation, May 2007


S for Singapore

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*Unless otherwise specified, the copyright in all pictures belongs to nooranandchawla. 

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A for AmritsarB for BhopalC for CambodiaD for Delhi,  E for England, F for France, G for Gwalior, H for Hemkund Sahib, I for Italy, J for Jim Corbett National Park, K for Kamakhya Devi Temple, L for London, M for Munich, N for NaplesO for Odisha,  P for PragueQ for Qila Mehrangarh Jodhpur, R for Rishikesh


  1. How have you managed to recollect an anecdote for every alphabet! Amazing and mysterious 😛 . Once again it had me in splits and kudos to your sense of humor (the surdy thing).

    1. Haha thank you for enjoying it!
      I’ve had to delve deep into my memories to identify interesting ones, and then I’ve been interviewing my family members where details were hazy 😋
      It’s been so much fun!

  2. Enjoyed reading and was imaging the whole scenario. Thankfully everything settled down in the end. I have experienced the same situation here in India, I can’t explain you in words because I was running with holding my 6 months old daughter. It was so scary.

  3. This is honestly such an awesome a to z series… worth reading not just for all the places but for these fun anecdotes and memories. It has taken till the letter S to see a place which I have been to 😀

  4. Haha! This was a fun post but must have been a rollercoaster ride for you. That’s what I like about Travis, it makes you a storyteller and the stories which you can remember later and laugh about it.

  5. I am visualizing the scene and I can feel the panic, fear and finally the relief along with the sense of achievement. What an adventure it must have been. Sure, it makes for a great story 🙂

  6. This is hilarious Noor but happens when something this critical comes over so sudden but truly what a beautiful memory for all of you to share a wonderful laugh together my dear♥️

  7. With grandapa, the wheelchair , I can feel those intense moment but then you turned into quite a laugh riot. Singapore is always a fun to go , for anyone and everyone.

  8. i can imagine the scene where you all were running almost randomly…its really funny.
    Such situations make us tensed but i wonder when the immigration check is to be done there, knowing this fact why the train don’t halt for more time?

  9. It takes a very confident and secure individual to crack jokes in himself/herself. Kudos to you and I must tell you that I went rofl at this post. Read it twice and wished that it didn’t end so soon.

  10. I am literally ROFL at this post Noor, I hope you don’t get offended, but as a writer you have done an amazing job if you can make your reader laugh in tears. I can imgaine the whole plot and I would say I enjoyed this post the most. Waiitng for ‘T’ story now, What it could be ?

  11. This was a fun post. It must have been real chaotic and am sure all of you must be at ease when finally in the train.

  12. I swear, what a funny and freaky incident that would have been. Funny later, freakish earlier, I consent to what you said about being made fun of. But having grown in a proud Sikh family, I don’t care of what they say.
    Great laughter post Noor.

  13. First thing travelling with grandfather and family is itself thrilling. Next thing is that incident. Scary at that time but good laugh-buster for memories. I also liked your skirt in the first pic 🙂

  14. When i read that you jumped 🙈 i was kind of hoping that you weren’t hurt 😅 thank goodness all of you safely reached your compartment!

  15. Hahaha…oh my God, some of your experiences give me shivers and others are so hilarious that I make sure I narrate these at least to my husband and my mom. Glad to know you didn’t miss your train in a foreign land. What’s coming up for tomorrow?

  16. Read two or three posts on Singapore. I guess that is my omen to plan a trip to singapore. As always…nice post with great happy pics.
    #ContemplationOfaJoker #Jokerophilia

  17. The episode of the passport stamping was hilarious to say the least. It always is so nice to laugh at oneself. I can understand why this episode has become part of your family lore.

  18. Lovely article! Its such an interesting read, I read through each and every word. Good to know you people enjoyed your trip. On the other note- I love and regard my Sikh friends and love being friends with them as they radiate an ocean of positive energy and have a big heart. Good to get one more friend here through this article as I found you fearlessly candid. Lots of love and best wishes!

  19. It is so good to have an extended family filled with laughter and love. This whole incident looked like a true funny scene. Such memories are very precious.

  20. You put your memories in your heart and mind so easily in form of words. This post was a light one and I did get to know a little more about your family.

  21. Hahahahahha!!!!! i just read this today!! Hilarious!! Btw i was the lucky one pushing Nanaji on the platform and he kept telling me to slow down – ‘what is the worst that will happen?! you and me will be left behind!!!” noooooo!! What sweet memories! i’m laughing now :)) With both the girls most worried about the train going away with their shopping!! hahah! muah!

  22. Hehe what a fun pot norr, I could visualise you guys catching the train and boarding wherever possible. Love the title too.

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