i never thought i’d be going on this walk as part of my road to singapore traipse. i thought mr lee kuan yew would be there on the ninth of august, 2015, at the parade ground, enjoying and celebrating sg50.
aj and i had planned on going to admiralty road in the north today, but we decided otherwise. both of us wanted to come and walk around the parliament house where mr lee was lying in state and the public could come and pay their respects till friday. a funny restlessness…
around 10.30, we reached boat quay which is opposite the new parliament house, across the singapore river. there were people everywhere. hardly any noise though. they were mostly in black and white, some carried flowers, some were in larger groups, some by themselves. the queue meandered along the quay, past the skyscrapers abutting and disappeared into the lanes leading to the major downtown roads.
we could see a stream of people on the other side, along the bridge and the pathways by victoria theatre and the asian civilisations museum. the sun was already up overhead, bright and hot. umbrellas were out. newspapers protected heads.
as we made our way following a curve that took us right around parliament house, there were queues and more queues. all along raffles place, behind the parliament, beyond that toward north bridge road… my eyes strayed to the padang where the big fiftieth celebs will be held. right in front of it the old supreme court was getting spruced up, soon to be a fabulous art gallery. a city of constant change, upgrade, building, making, at pace, surviving.
i saw a father pushing two babies in a pram, one of them held the flowers, the mother walked alongside. there were people on wheelchairs, a man was on crutches, old ladies sat to rest a bit; office goers, men, women, schoolkids… chinese malay indian others… people everywhere.
and a wait.
and that restlessness.
we sat down for a cup of tea at the corner coffeeshop on circular road. the crowds were thick, two lane queues by now. more cops came over, new barricades went up. channel news asia reported visiting time had been extended till 12 midnight, so people need not rush down. later i heard, it’s now going to be open for twentyfour hours.
on the way back home in the taxi, we saw people had gathered right up to clarke quay. the taxi driver tried to articulate his feelings… one should not look back, he said, but see how to keep this whole thing, the systems, everything, going. look ahead. he struggled to find the right words, then said, it’s like,
前人种树,后人乘凉 “qian ren chong shu, hou ren cheng liang”
which translates to: the older generation plants the tree, the next generation enjoys the “cool” under the shade. thanks to my friend geraldine for the mandarin characters and translation.
(please watch the video on hd. thanks.)
road to singapore, around parliament house, 25/03/2015 #SG50
end of 1997, we moved to singapore from india. in 2015, the country celebrated fifty years of independence. singapore has given me much and i am fascinated by the spirit of this gutsy city state with hardly any land or resources, but oh what dreams and chutzpah (the finest interpretation of the word), the ability to reach big, hunker down and hold and strategise and act and grow. despite my many years here, i haven’t seen a lot of the island, which started out at only 28 miles by 18. now of course it’s bigger, thanks to that spirit i spoke of. so anthony john or aj as i call him, my walking partner, and i decided to do fifty walks in the island to celebrate #SG50. well, we didn’t stop at fifty; couldn’t. there was still so much to see and feel and also how not to let the hot, merciless, climate-change sun not have its way with us. so the walks continue, as does the walk talk. hope you enjoy, try to bring an umbrella.