Thursday, February 24, 2005

Our (shared) secret history: Reader email

...I agree about the pace of change and what with this whole ST interactive crap, it just accelerates the feeling that we have lost some of our identity and 'anchor' to the Singapore that we grew up. Too much change with shiny, plasticky, contrived 'entertainment' offerings are de riguer in Singapore and just about every developed country nowadays. I'm Antipodean-Singaporean :) I spent most of my life growing up in Singapore and now live in Sydney. I loved my childhood, 'that' Singapore that I knew. I remember at primary school, recess was a treasured time because being a sickly child, I was prohibited from having anything remotely fried, fatty, salty and sweet. In other words, anything that was tasty. Recess then, was my freedom. I would go the whole hog with chocolate (20c), kachang puteh (20c), char kway teow, King's ice cream, sweet cordial (10c). A kid could gorge himself on $1 a day. And as if that wasn't enough, after school, we (my brother and I) would cross the pedestrian bridge over Jalan Toa Payoh and wait for mum/grandad to pick us up. Inevitably, there would be the ice-cream man, you know, the guy on a motorbike with a sidecar full of Meadow Gold/Magnolia/Walls ice creams waiting for us. And of course I would stuff my face. If mum picked us up, we wouldn't dare for fear of catching hell for ruining our appetite. But if it was Grandad, man oh man, nothing like a grandfather's love to stuff ourselves full of ice cream :) Grandad's gone now and so's the school. Only the building is left (I'll give you a hint, it's pink and it's got scales. Oh yeah and we used to whup anyone's ass in the A/B/C div rugby comps in the 80s..... :) But every time I'm in Singapore, invariably I would pass the building, the bridge and the memories will come back. (Darn this speck in my eye! ;) A part of me will always be there, as a kid of 10, having that Choc Fudge bar (TWO ice cream sticks in one. Whoa). Thanks for the great blog and the points you raised.....I'm trying to dredge more from the depths of my memory (not so young leh, 'cos I can still remember the first McDonald's that ever opened in Singapore......maybe a story for another time) Cheers, Damian
The first McDonalds opened on 27th October 1979 at Liat Towers (where Zara is now) and I used to keep the styrofoam Big Mac boxes to use as lunchboxes for school. Singapore International Airport
iTunes' party shuffle is playing a copy of: Ojos Negros - Stephane Grappelli - 85 And Still Swinging, of which I have the original CD and therefore didn't steal music.


Blogger Ah 9 said...

I miss the good old days of green coin phones, all the elbows out of the car windows, old plaza singapura Yaohan, the tikum packets, and heck alot of stuff. Though i may not have seen as much you did, but i realize i was old enough to have seen Singapore made the big many things/places kena modernize in afew years so fast...when the yesteryears seem so 'forever' back then. :|

2/24/2005 03:26:00 PM  
Blogger KnightofPentacles said...

Mr Miyagi, you certainly know how to tug at the heartstrings. Unfortunately the heart attached to those strings has been since shattered many times over.

With the notable exception of a few human relationships, there is very little left to hold my heart to this land anymore.

Even in the worst of economic downturns, even in the worst of external threats (real or alleged), even in the worst of political situations.. we serfs want to look around and say "this is the house I grew up in and where I peed behind that tree" or "this is the patch of sand where I played gorlee (marbles) and got whacked by the local ah seng" or "this is the hump where I crashed my first BMX bicycle and cut my leg badly and got rushed to the hospital".

For us serfs totally uninterested in lofty theories, this is who we are. Take that away from us (in the name of progress, or whatever) and you take away part of who we are.

People do not give up their lives (literally or figuratively) for 99-year HDB flats, 10-year COE cars or NSS/ERP shares. It is about looking around and thinking this is where I belong and thinking therefore this is where I will bring up my kids in .

The Singapore I know and love is fast becoming an unperson - to steal an idea from 1984.

The SAF recruitment poster says: "From this land, we are made. For this land, we will fight." It rings hollow to my ears. The problem is.. the land from which I was made does not exist anymore. Instead, we have the Fabrication of a Nation, indeed!

"Because every place I hold close to my heart in Singapore is rapidly being torn down, redeveloped and upgraded into glitzy souless tourist attractions." - from Emigration Essay

2/24/2005 04:00:00 PM  
Blogger cour marly said...

My family (along with grandma visiting) actually went to opening day of McD's at Liat Towers. Grandma loved the free pencils they were giving away and she took me and my brother past the pencil guy multiple (multiple!) times to amass a gigantic bunch of pencils. There might still be some in the house.

2/24/2005 04:13:00 PM  
Blogger restlessly said...

Every Singaporean politician who thinks Singaporeans are apathetic should read blog posts like this one.

The days being described here are a bit before my time (I'm 24), but I can relate to the sentiment. It's hard to feel rooted here, beyond just the vague feeling that I grew up here (of course there's the fact that my family are all here). Buildings that have been around for decades can be torn down in days, and the area can so quickly look like those buildings never existed. Yet buildings that are supposed to be around only for months look so permanent. If you've ever had temporary markets etc while the original premises were being renovated, you'd know what I mean.

2/24/2005 05:01:00 PM  
Blogger Daryl said...

Incidentally, the Liat Towers McDonald's was the busiest McDonald's in the world in the year it opened, IIRC.

2/24/2005 08:27:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Miyagi said...

Yeah, sold a record number of burgers in a day or something like.

2/25/2005 02:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Shawn said...

Most of my fondest memories are actually those from my primary school days.

The 1-leg games during recess, hide-and-seek at the playground opposite my school...the ones with those metal bridges and fireman pole.

Playing 'catching' at the multi-storey carpark.

Buying sweeteened coloured drinks from the uncle outside our school and getting stomache.

Going to school through unconventional ways like under the drain, or down from a 'hill' slope.

And more..but they are slowly fading away...

2/25/2005 03:28:00 PM  
Anonymous ci'en said...

I like this mr miyagi, this triggers off a lot of nostalgia. remember when going to Swensens at Thompson Yaohan was such a big deal as a kid? those were the days.

2/26/2005 03:48:00 AM  
Blogger Mr Miyagi said...

Swensens Thomson Plaza is still there! Went there with a friend last year, and couldn't stop laughing thinking about how it was when we used to bring dates there because it was the poshest place in the area.

2/26/2005 06:53:00 PM  

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