The lure of Orchard Road in Singapore touches the lives of Singaporeans as much as it does tourists. The 2+ kilometer stretch of asphalt is a must visit and experience stretch of Singapore. Every significant brand name in the world is represented somewhere. Many have flagship stores. Several have multiple shops. I first remember this street in the 70’s. Over the years I was sure that its trendy image would, in time, fade away. Instead, the street and its merchants have adapted and morphed with fickle consumer preferences. While there are emerging areas that might become competitors, for now, Orchard stands at the top of its game.
As I sit people watching, I am struck by the enjoyment people find in shopping. The activities included are as different as the people involved. For many, the act of shopping is walking, wishing and dreaming, and walking some more. For most stores, they never go past the windows. That is enough. In a few, mostly larger stores with lots of people going in and out, they step in, if only for awhile. From the outside, the simple act of looking to fuel the imagination is an experience in itself.
For others, shopping appears to be an excuse to spend time with friends and family. Their motivation plays out to the observer through their attention to what others are saying. Additionally, the animated response and focus, often face to face, breaking the space we all naturally want between others and ourselves, reveals the priority of the moment. Display windows are excuses for conversation segues! Unusual sights are reasons for laughter. Shopping is the vehicle for connecting time with others.
The Orchard minority are serious shoppers. Often their walk is purposeful. The legs are rigid, purposely strident. They carry a sense of urgency in getting to the next destination! You have a sense of history by their bags.
Against this backdrop, I hear an echo of David’s advice. “Don’t just go shopping for a god. Gods are not for sale. I swear I’ll never treat god-names like brand-names.” (Psalm 16.4)