Monday, April 29, 2013

How the things that I'm familiar with no longer exist

I was lamenting to wifey that a lot of things in Singapore had changed, for better or for worse. This  came on the weekend when I visited Bras Basah complex near City hall / Bugis area. I was there, intending to go to one of the restaurants there for dinner and alas, I realised that the restaurant had closed down. It's now changed to some sassy Korean BBQ place that is sprouting out like here and there all over the island. The place is complete with posters of Korean actors and actress with their smiles and poses.

Oh how I missed the steamy hot xiao long bao, the soft twirls of the white buns and the juicy meat inside the Chinese pizza... I would have visited it again if I had known that it's going to close down. But that's just part of life - you had to deal with the uncertainty.

Tian Jin - the restaurant I'm talking about. Photo courtesy of  ClaireChing's blog
I've many memories of that place, having visited it a lot when my wife and I were dating. I bought a few friends there for dinner too, so to me that place is more than just a place for food. It's also a place for small talks and big dreams. It's gone now.

During that weekend, when news of the veteran actor Huang Wenyong's passing reached me, it just deepens this sense of loss. It's a very generic sense of loss of something intimate and familiar to you, a loss of something that will trigger your memories whenever you see it.

Here's a list of 3 things that are precious to me but is now replaced/gone:

1. My primary school - Bedok View Primary school is no longer around. It's replaced by a special needs school for children. Spending 6 yrs of your life in a place means that the building isn't just a building to me anymore, it's like a second home. Near the school compound, there is an ancient tree that is cut off to make way for new buildings around the vicinity. THAT is unforgivable. In my old home, I can see THAT tree from the view through my window and that tree is part of a landscape that is supposed to be FIXED. The tree had been with me since I was near the sand pit playing hopscotch. It's gone now.

2. Marina sq - this place is filled with memories. I spent quite a fair bit of time here while dating. There used to be 2 or 3 food court in that place alone. I wouldn't use 'food court' in the modern sense of the word, it's really just a few plastic chairs and tables with metal frames fixed to the floor...a tad dirty but who cares, the food is great. I used to frequent the one nearer the cinema area, where there used to be a sort of tze char stall, called Ron's seafood. Beside spending a lot of time there with my wife, I also remembered spending a lonely Christmas eve there with a friend. It's supposed to be a group outing, where there's at least 3-5 people attending, but everywhere can't make it in the end. It's not a good experience but it's just my memory. It's gone now.

3. Tanah merah hills - this is the latest invasion of the old and the familiar. This is my neighborhood. I spent a a few decades of my life here and I recognised some of the trees that grew up with me. A condominium that sprang up not too long ago just bulldozed in and literally tore down a big part of that tanah merah hill. Ironically, the name of that development is called eco. It's very very sad when people treasure man-made landscape instead of natural ones...those trees are ancient, and they have to make way for new things to come. Eco my ass...if you have to tear down old trees so that you can plant new ones and call it green living, I want no part of it.

All these small things are pushing me away from this place. Maybe when the proverbial final straw came in, you can see me pushing all these away for good too.


Unknown said...

Ah, a fellow alumni of BVPS! :)

la papillion said...

Hi Antony,

Oh! Which yr did you graduate? I did so in 1990 :)

Unknown said...

I graduated in 1998. :)

Anonymous said...

I was from Bedok View Primary as well!

la papillion said...

Hi Antony,

Wah, almost 10 yrs my junior ;) I'm quite famous in my primary school, not for the academic results but for the art work that I did. I've got quite a number of my art pieces on display ;)

Hi anonymous,

Wow, so many BVPS graduates...

We in Bedok view,
pledge to do our best,
wisdom and virtue....forgot lyrics lol

Unknown said...

Wisdom and Virtue shall be our quest
With one heart and mind we seek progress
Always be humble in our success
Forward Bedok View, forward Bedok View

Singapore Man of Leisure said...


My Hua Yi Primary School at Margaret Drive. It's not even replaced or relocated :(

Lucky I still got my report book as proof it ever existed. But 10-20 years later...

I also missed the Commonwealth Market and "Da Zhong" emporium nearby. Many a lazy afternoons we gather there after school. Ice kachang and fish ball noodles!

I still remember that's where I saw the iconic Farah Fawcett at the emporium. And fell in love.


Singapore Man of Leisure said...

Opps! I meant her poster.

PanzerGrenadier said...


Indeed, one of the challenges of forging an identity is the loss of physical landmarks. Rootedness to a place involves people, places and things. The more familiar places are torn down in the name of progress and development, the more we lose pieces of memories of what were close to us.

Sad reality of living in Singapore Inc.

Be well and prosper.

PanzerGrenadier said...


I wonder if you could have been taught by mother as she was a retired Chinese teacher and had taught in Hua Yi Primary School for many years.

Be well and prosper.

la papillion said...

Hi Antony,

Well done, thanks for reviving that part of my memory bank again...At least now it'll be stored in digital space for retrieval for anyone who wants to search for the lyrics of BVPS school song.


Haha, we all have things that we latch on to from the past :) All gone now, only memories remained. When we're gone, even those memories will be gone...

I'm not sure who that HOT girl of the angels? :)

Hi PG,

Wow, small world...didn't know that SMOL and your mum are connected this way :)

Singapore Man of Leisure said...

1) Hello Panzer,

I from the 74-79 batch :)

Lucky at Facebook, we have a Hua Yi Primary School page and got one "shuei mei" got took lots of pictures before it was demolished.

When young, I didn't understand the meaning of "Hua Yi".

After going through my Chinese renaissance recently, I finally understood the deep meaning of "Hua Yi".

Do share it with your mom. I think she would appreciate it.

2) LP,

She only acted in the first season of Charlie's Angels. But she stood out as the blond one ;)

You can see her in my blog. I just found that poster in internet :)

Sweet memories!

ping said...

hi LP, I am coolstorybro...i want to chat in the chatbox but failed to

la papillion said...

Hi csb,

What you should have done is to email me the username that you wanted, and I'll email you the password and we can all proceed from there. If I don't have your email, I can't do anything.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. Bedok View Primary School. 1979 - 1984.

AL said...
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Anonymous said...

Batch of 1988 6N/1. Anyone else out there? Dax Yang? Teck Chew? Peili? Diana? Christopher Tan? Mark?

Tai Chien