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road to singapore

road to singapore

yishun one evening

i can’t describe the quiet of that road. it was dense and light at once, it was old and perhaps came there many many years ago, maybe centuries, and decided to stay on. even as the skyscrapers rose, the mrt lines went underground, the helicopters lifted up straight and went toward the sunset, and the shopping centres got bigger. even as the birds sang on the hooked poles near the hdb block for the aged, and chong pang became famous…

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road to singapore

look out for the butterfly

that day aj was very excited. he had spotted a path veering off from somewhere close to his wife’s office in biopolis; it seemed to disappear at one point, but he’d noticed graffiti and perhaps it was a new road being created for cyclists or something? he had no idea, but he wanted to go and explore, if i agreed. among the brand new skyscrapers of biopolis, in the innovation and entrepreneurial centre of singapore, it is hard to imagine…

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road to singapore

bridge to samulun

not a fancy part of town this, here it’s all helmets and overalls, machinery and tankers, rugged and tough end of the island. i’ve never seen a shipyard before and was looking forward to our walk in the west around jurong shipyard in the jurong industrial estate. aj had worked in atlantis shipyard before and of course regaled me with tales of fire and hazard and excitement. even without it, i would have felt the energy and macho air of…

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road to singapore

walking slowly in hougang

i kept feeling i was walking on hallowed ground. this is where the different and defiant lived. this is where a city often viewed as not really democratic, said… you know what, people have a choice. hougang, the second longest held opposition ward in singapore. ever since 1991, when the worker’ party’s low thia khiang won the seat, this single member constituency has given its vote to the other guy. aj was excited, it’s not often you get to visit…

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road to singapore

the streets of geylang

thankfully, soon after coming to singapore i landed a job as copywriter in a local ad agency. i say thankfully because, a) the recession had just started and jobs weren’t exactly easy to get, and b) the people i met there, including my two bosses, were some of the best to work with and also to get to know this new city with. every once in a while a plan would be made to go and eat the famous something…

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road to singapore

no battle on waterloo

“i often see chinese people coming from the kwan im temple stop in front of the krishna temple and light joss sticks and pray… why, ah?” i asked my ex-colleague, a lovely chinese girl who had once actually persuaded a client not to change a full stop to an exclamation mark because i had requested her to. she looked at me and said with that open, friendly grin of hers, “respect, lah!” her head bobbed up and down a bit,…

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road to singapore

leave my village alone

come with me to holland village. it’s not far from my place. it’s never been far from my place. ever since 18 november 1997, when i first came to this island country, it’s been just a few minutes away from my home. sometimes twenty, sometimes 30; right now, about 15. if you take the bus it’s two stops. if you drive, it’s two minutes. the first time i stepped out of my home in singapore, i went to holland v.…

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road to singapore

thoughts taking off from an old airport

style. you really are born with it. i stared at the building sitting elegant and gorgeous on a plot of land most unremarkable with deserted paths and green patches all around, barbed wire fences, not a soul in sight. behind it rose the towers and skyscrapers of a modern city, in front of it was the brand new indoor stadium with its gleaming retractable roof and other swish things. yet, all i could see and what was making me grin…

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road to singapore

the last kampong

kampong. i’d never heard the word till i came to singapore. but in the last eighteen years i’ve heard it and what it means so often, feels like it’s part of my memory too. “you live in jalan lim tai see, ah ? last time it was malay kampong, lah.” “these days no one knows their neighbours, leh… not like kampong last time.” “nostalgia for kampong spirit.” “oh, indi, kampong days were fun… real fun… we used to climb up…

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road to singapore

streets of sembawang

bermuda road, canada road, ottawa road, lagos circle, kenya crescent, pakistan road… at some point it strikes you, the empire was right here. the commonwealth, the colonies… never is all that too far away, is it. sometimes, i wonder how it all would have been if colonization was not a part of our history. well, i guess then i would not be writing in this language, nor perhaps living in this city, or going on this walk through the sloping…

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