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Singapore in Germany?

I was at the Landeshauptstadt to convert my Singapore driving licence to an EU one. After flipping through many many pages, the lady at the counter turns to me and asks, “Where exactly is Singapore? What is near to it?”. “Er..Malaysia, Indonesia..”. Hmm..Is this a trick question I have to answer correctly to get my license converted?

Turns out its not. The lady gives me a very surprised look and tells me: “Malaysia..Asia? Oh..I thought Singapore is like Düsseldorf, a place in Germany” !!! I honestly was at a loss for words! Come on, people, get your geography right. At least not so badly off! Is there a separate licence for German cities? And why would I convert it? And she wasn’t an old aunty-like character. She was young, spoke near-perfect English and seemingly well-educated.And most Germans I have met are so well-travelled and well-read! This even beats the “Isn’t Singapore in China?” that I have heard from a US Marine.

I hope the obviously-not-so-intelligent lady at the driving place accidentally converts my normal boring licence to a vocational licence to drive a street tram..That would be oh-so-cool! Come on, I have to be rewarded for keeping a straight face under extreme duress.

Posted in Culture & Languages on April 29, 2005

9 Responses

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  1. Pleomorphous says

    I think it is unfair to brand “locationally-challenged” people as being “obviously-not-so-intelligent” :-D

  2. Sayesha says

    Hahaha! Yeah I’ve encountered the “Singapore is in China, isn’t it?” syndrome when a CD of images for my magazine was sent from the US to China, because the address on the package ended with “Singapore, China.”


  3. Anish says

    Ahem…for me ….even the “Singapore is in China, isn’t it?” was new….

    nice blog though…got to know a lot about u and Srijth….fellow mallus doing well..ATB.

    drop by at my blog sometime.

  4. Surya says

    >>I think it is unfair to brand “locationally-challenged” people as being “obviously-not-so-intelligent” :-D

    Its not just that – she also seems to think it is possible to have a licence just for a German city and that I want to convert it..and she works in the dept that handles driving licence..Still unfair??

  5. Surya says

    >>Hahaha! Yeah I’ve encountered the “Singapore is in China, isn’t it?” syndrome when a CD of images for my magazine was sent from the US to China, because the address on the package ended with “Singapore, China.”

    Hmm..I am beginning to have this sneaky feeling that maybe some US schools teach that Singapore is a province in China.!

  6. Pramod says

    I agree with pleomorphous that its unfair to brand locationally challenge people as unintelligent. Perhaps many of us have travelled around a bit – but most of the people of the world – even in a very well travelled country like Germany – aren’t really that well travelled like you and me.

    Its like a computer engineer saying that if you don’t know what C# is – then you are obviously unintelligent.

    Now about the driving licence – I don’t know how it works in Germany – but in India for example licenses are issued by the state. And in a place like Germany – another federal country, a state could very well be another city. No I am not defending that girl there – but I do feel that we shouldn’t judge them as such.

    Coming back to some humour, I have heard more than a few times if Switzerland is close to New Zealand and/or if Switzerland is same as Sweden. Not so surprisingly majority of times this question comes from those across the Atlantic – even Indians!

  7. missega says


    I must admit that before I went to Singapore to work I wasn’t sure where it exactly was! I’m from France and I knew Singapore was in Asia but where exactly… Big mistery!! And I’m not the only one among the young people that move to Singapore to work.

    Singapore is so small!! Could you guys tell me where is Luxembourg, Lichtenstein or Monaco?!! I would be surprised if you can!


  8. Surya says

    yes, I can, Missega..:)
    Thanks for stopping by.

Continuing the Discussion

  1. Silent Eloquence » Now, Germany is in the Netherlands? linked to this post on July 2, 2005

    […] the Netherlands?


    Some time back, I griped about how people thought Singapore was in Germany (and everywhere […]

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