Durians probably would win the vote of the majority if Singaporeans were asked to choose one fruit among many on which they wish to spend their money. The durian is not a mere commodity, and it is not even just a delicacy: It is something short of a national obsession that helps to define Singapore.
The astringent aroma of the durian wafts across time and space, and through races and classes. Its distinctive allure cuts effortlessly through the economic distance separating residents of three-room HDB flats from owners of bungalows where two luxury cars are parked on the driveway. Little wonder that the fruit has made its way into all manner of products, from cakes to pastries and ice cream, and even roti prata. And when Singaporeans searched for a jocular name for their splendid arts centre, the "two durians" moniker stuck to the Esplanade as a sign of affection and acceptance.
Fittingly, Singaporeans have been bestowed an unexpected gift on the 50th anniversary of their country's independence: a bumper durian crop in Malaysia that has resulted in lower prices here. Even with China biting into the plentiful crop - good news for growers - Singaporeans can indulge themselves in the fruit during this jubilee year.
But herein too the durian holds a lesson for Singaporeans, as a reminder of the unyielding laws of demand and supply, influenced by natural and other factors, which might dent today's happy state of affairs later. Even as people celebrate and indulge in a durian binge, they might pause to reflect on how ever-changing the seasons are, and how precarious success can be. A bumper crop today is no indication of one thereafter. All the more critical then to make the most of the good times now, to revel in it with fellow citizens, in the desire that the unique taste of Singapore's success will long linger.