The Desperate Expat Wives of Singapore

Director Sangeeta Nambiar introduces us to the actors and their characters in her play
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Wondering what’s the latest amongst the expat wives community in Singapore? Theatre and Film Director, Sangeeta Nambiar has directed a comedy titled “Desperate Expat Wives of Singapore” that takes a light hearted look at life in the sunny island as an expat wife hoping to find her niche.

The play explores lives of 16 Expat Wives in two private condominiums in Singapore and portrays different aspects of women from the expat community. It is definitely farcical in its element but like any play, finds its roots somewhere in reality.

Sumana Mallick

Vanilla Luxury: What do you do for a living?

Sumana Mallick: I was in Investment Banking with Morgan Stanley before I moved to working with startups in strategy and fundraising.

Vanilla Luxury: What brought you to Singapore?

Sumana Mallick: I moved to Singapore with my husband and my 6 year old daughter. It's been less than a year since we moved to Singapore. We moved here from Mumbai, India. Though this is my first experience as an 'expat wife', I have been an 'expat child' growing up in Kuwait.

Vanilla Luxury: Tell us more about your character in the play?

Sumana Mallick: I work for Raffles Relocation as their Real Estate Specialist. In the play, I am taking clients to different condominiums in Singapore. During our visits, we encounter various ladies staying in the condominiums and learn about their lifestyle and relationships.

Vanilla Luxury: Your thoughts about the character you’re playing?

Sumana Mallick: My character knows her job and her clients well. She has a sense of humour and cattiness about her. While she is part of the community, she doesn't really care what others think about her. There are elements in each character which we can identify with, either through people we know or in ourselves. The play accentuates relationships, good and bad, that exists within the expat community, and the manner in which it has shaped the lives of these 16 ladies through light hearted humour and fun.

Caroline Bowler

Vanilla Luxury: What do you do for a living?

Caroline Bowler: In real-life, I'm the managing director of Bowlah PR, a public relations agency that is focused on financial technology. I founded the agency in 2015, after a career in financial services.

Vanilla Luxury: What brought you to Singapore?

Caroline Bowler: Originally from Ireland, I've been in Singapore for ten years now and over that timeframe I've been on nearly every visa possible! I've been a full-time employee, a tai-tai, a student, a business-owner and happily, a permanent resident. I also play gaelic football with the Singapore Gaelic Lions, one of the most successful gaelic football clubs in Asia.

Vanilla Luxury: Tell us more about your character in the play?

Caroline Bowler: My character, also called Caroline, is a tongue-in-cheek stereotype of a social climber. She has just moved to Singapore from the UK, with her husband and family. Caroline wants to socialise with the whos-who of Singapore as she fancies herself as a social butterfly. Unfortunately, she doesn't quite have the budget to match her tastes and has a few bumps in the road, thanks to her fellow characters!

Vanilla Luxury: Your thoughts about the character you’re playing?

Caroline Bowler: I think my character is a lot of fun to play. She is quite universal, in that we all know or have met social climbers, no matter where in the world we are. I love the front that she has, to try and keep up with her fellow expats - she certainly has chutzpah! I think of my character as a wannabe Kate Middleton but without her grace, decorum or budget. I hope I'm a little more down to earth in real-life as my friends here would definitely keep me grounded!

Photography credit Rohit Mattoo

Sumati Nagrath

Vanilla Luxury: What do you do for a living?

Sumati Nagrath: I head the insights team at Tickled Media.

Vanilla Luxury: What brought you to Singapore?

Sumati Nagrath: I’m a journalist by training and have authored a coffee table book, academic reports and research papers over the last decade and a half. I moved to Singapore in July 2014 as my husband was relocated here.

Vanilla Luxury: Tell us more about your character in the play?

Sumati Nagrath: Like all other characters in the play, mine too is a complex one, who operates at a very superficial level so that she does not have to ask herself the tough questions in life. She is driven by a desire to control others around her because she cannot control what is happening in her personal life.

Vanilla Luxury: Your thoughts about the character you’re playing?

Sumati Nagrath: I think my character is a composite of several women and the characters are all slightly more exaggerated for the purpose of entertaining.

Sonal Sharma

Vanilla Luxury: What do you do for a living?

Sonal Sharma: I work with my husband at Raffles Relocation & Mobility as Head of Marketing & Lead Management.

Vanilla Luxury: What brought you to Singapore?

Sonal Sharma: We moved to Singapore from Sydney 14 years ago. My husband’s job with American Express brought us here and Singapore has been our home ever since. I have lived in many countries like Nepal, India, Canada, France and Australia.

Vanilla Luxury: Tell us more about your character in the play?

Sonal Sharma: I play a snooty Expat wife who has come into a lot of money by selling packages to new expats in Singapore. I own my real life company Raffles Relocation which sells these (not real) packages.

Vanilla Luxury: Your thoughts about the character you’re playing?

Sonal Sharma: Its a very interesting character, fictitious of course. I find the character i’m playing a hilarious, demanding, controlling and shrewd woman who is only interested in selling packages and raking in as much money as she can. It’s quite a challenge to play this person. I’m sure people like this do exist as these are pretty normal traits to have in a cut throat and competitive world. However, I’m not like that in my work life so I really had to work hard to enact this person.

Priya Deorukhkar

Vanilla Luxury: What do you do for a living?

Priya Deorukhkar: I am a kindergarten teacher and have taught in international schools in Singapore for the past 9 years. Before starting my teaching career, I worked with Cathay Pacific as a flight attendant for 6 years.

Vanilla Luxury: Why did you move to Singapore?

Priya Deorukhkar: We lived in Hong Kong for 6 years before moving to Singapore in 1997. My husband moved to Singapore with his new job. We have since lived here and had our boys now 20 and 17 years of age.

Vanilla Luxury: Tell us more about your character in the play?

Priya Deorukhkar: I am playing a character of a woman who is called “Demented Divya” by her contemporary expatriate wives.

Vanilla Luxury: Your thoughts about the character you’re playing?

The character I am playing is a woman who finds herself the target of mindless and mean behaviours by her so called social circle. She is hurt by those behaviours and finds her own coping mechanisms by being offensive, in your face, thus earning the moniker of Demented Divya. I am sure such people exist and I can relate to the way my character thinks. All of us at some point in time have probably felt left out and worked out our own ways to cope or work through the situation.

Leah Jade Fellstad

Vanilla Luxury: What do you do for a living?

Leah Jade Fellstad: I'm a teacher at a local technical college.

Vanilla Luxury: Why did you move to Singapore?

Leah Jade Fellstad: I'm originally from South Africa, where I worked in hospitality specialising in F&B in hotels and restaurants around the world. I decided I wanted to move into teaching and was scouted in Australia to come and teach Food and Beverage Service here in Singapore. I received my training here. That was 7 years ago!

Vanilla Luxury: Tell us more about your character in the play?

Leah Jade Fellstad: My character is an English teacher who came to teach and meet men and have a lot of fun with them.

Vanilla Luxury: Your thoughts about the character you’re playing?

Leah Jade Fellstad: I think my character is a realist and has a slightly serious insight into the rest of the characters. Otherwise, she is fun, always looking for more options, and doesn't care what anyone else thinks! Yes, I think such people exist especially in the Expat lifestyle as the play is based on a farce but has elements of different women who exist in the expat community.

Shalima Motial

Vanilla Luxury: What do you do for a living?

Shalima Motial: I am the Founder & CEO of Dream Catchers Vision Pte Ltd, an online talent showcase & events company. I have also ran 4 successful seasons of Runway Mom and Runway Lovers, a platform that empowers women for them to walk the fashion ramp alone or as a family irrespective of their age, height, size and nationality.

Vanilla Luxury: What brought you to Singapore?

Shalima Motial: I moved with my husband who works for Microsoft.

Vanilla Luxury: Tell us more about your character in the play?

Shalima Motial: My role is of a corporate professional who is selling packages to the newly arrived expat wives on how to dress up, how to behave like an expat wife, what to say and what never to say.

Vanilla Luxury: Your thoughts about your role?

Shalima Motial: My character is rather interesting as there are corporate women out there who are hardcore marketers that can sell ice to Eskimos. As an entrepreneur, sales and marketing is part of my job but what you’ll see on stage isn’t my reality.

Sonali Mehta

Vanilla Luxury: What do you do for a living?

Sonali Mehta: I’m currently a trainer and a teacher in Singapore.

Vanilla Luxury: Why did you move to Singapore?

Sonali Mehta: I was a trailing spouse. 

Vanilla Luxury: Tell us more about your character in the play?

Sonali Mehta: I play Mandy – a businesswoman having an affair for the fun of it.

Vanilla Luxury: Do you think your characters exist in reality? Can you relate to the role you are playing?

Sonali Mehta: I suppose such characters do exist. Have I had an affair? Hahaha! I’m hardly likely to tell you about it, am I?

Directed by Sangeeta Nambiar, Desperate Expat Wives of Singapore has 4 last seats left on 10th February 2018, 12.30pm. The play is otherwise sold out!

Gursheel Dhillon

03 Feb 2018, 10:00 AM

G is the editor-in-chief of VanillaLuxury.sg covering all topics that interest her. She is extremely opinionated and does not like conforming to society. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram at @GursheelDhillon.