Blog To Express

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Location: Singapore, Singapore

A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Sep 17, 2009

Life in the Kampong versus Big Cities


A friend asked me to help his son, a pre-university student, to share my childhood experience about life in the kampung. He couldn't do it because he had spent all his life in the "Ang Sar Lee" (Serangoon Gardens) private estate since birth.

He knew that I was born and bred in the kampung...the Bukit Ho Swee kampung to be specific. I have no qualms about confessing that I was a "street Urchin from Bukit Ho Swee". Many of my buddies share this "title" too; but we were not the notorious gangsters ("pai kia" or "sum seng" in Hokkien) with whom most people tend to associate us with, often with raised eyebrows, as kampung dwellers of Bukit Ho Swee.

I wondered why my friend had approached me, of all people, to talk about life in the kampung.

After all, I am not an authority on the social conditions of kampung life. There were many kampungs and attap settlements in Singapore in the 1950s and 1960s. I can speak only for myself about growing up in Bukit Ho Swee and relate my childhood experience from a personal perspective. I do not have a glorious childhood past to blog or brag about, just some happy and fond memories of the carefree kampong days to reminisce.

He then explained that his son has been given a class assignment on "What type of Singapore do you want - a relaxed, quiet kampung, or a buzzling cosmopolitan city?"

This question was posed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during the dialogue session with undergraduates at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) on 15 Sept, 2009.

So, this is the "talk of the town" among most Singaporean students who grew up in an urbanised Singapore of the 20th century, and found it difficult to visualise how life was like growing up in the kampung.

Hey, this fits in with the reason my blogger friend Lam Chun See gave for starting the  "Good Morning Yesterday"  blog :

1) To reminisce about the ‘good old days’.
2) To educate the next generation about what life of their parents was like when they were young.

I wouldn't be dwelling on the "good old days" in this blog because the definition of "good days" and "bad days" is subjective, depending on each individual's perception about life.

However, I would like to chip in with my share of stories of my kampung experience as part of the Internet's "emergent culture of sharing" through this blog and the links in Chun See's and other "Blogs of the Same Feather" links.

One thing wonderful about the Internet and blogging is that I do not have to repeat whatever I have already blogged about if a particular topic had been posted.

Coincidentally, I had created the "I grew up in Bukit Ho Swee"   group at the Facebook social networking site in Febrary, 2008.

The collective memories and contributions of other group members who participated actively, helps to broaden the discussion about life in the kampung. This group is confined to the Bukit Ho Swee kampung though.

I hope that over time, more Singaporeans will come forward to share their personal experience "to educate the next generation about what life of their parents was like when they were young" (as stated by Chun See), a meaningful and worthwhile pastime activity which we can all contribute in a fun way for memory exercise through blogging.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Lam Chun See said...

Actually my guest bloggers and I have written several articles on kampong life; including things like games & toys, weddings, fruit trees etc. Your friend's son can just go to GMY and and some research. But I suspect the young people sometimes prefer to have everything written up nicely for them. At least some of those I have encountered are like that.

September 17, 2009 at 10:43 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Yes. GMY and other "blogs of the same feather" blogsites are resource-rich for young people to research on nostalgia in Singapore. So much time, efforts and "memory-backtracking" have been done to share and benefit those who were too young to experience the bygone days. Hope they will make good use of these helpful and valuable resources.

September 18, 2009 at 7:34 AM  

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