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Location: Singapore, Singapore

A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Mar 18, 2010

Reading Carnival @ Changi Simei

MOLLY (Mobile Library, NLB) - Reading Carnival @ Changi Simei

The "Reading Carnival @ Changi Simei" was held at Changi Simei Community Club on Sunday, March 14, 2010 from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.

This blog is not written in any official capacity of National Library Board, Changi Simei Community Club, People's Association, Changkat Primary School, PAP Community Foundation (PCF) and other supporting partners for this community event. With about 350 participants and residents to attend, it was a very meaningful occasion for young and old, every language library readers.

I blog to express on a personal perspective which brings me joy, as memories surged into my aging brain as I remembered slightly over 28 years ago on February 23, 1982 when I had initiated with the help of the project team a Book Exhibition , which is self-explanatory blog on April 21, 2009. Fortunately, I could manage to retrieve a long forgotten Berita Harian after a tedious effort with the help of so many people and friends.

The book exhibition event was somewhat primitive, simple display on wooden tables, no seats for the visitors in the void-deck, and yes, not even air-conditioned hall with stage for schoolchildren performances to enjoy. MOLLY was not in existence! With 100 visitors then was considered a record-breaking crowd at West Coast Zone 3.

Doesn't matter whatever creature comfort and luxury (most children seldom complain for such stuff during those days. Parents are parents at every generation then and now, value the importance of education and the benefit of reading at the National Library.

It means to many people about personal memorable moments, these are the defining "loving moments with my kids" as I will share to reminisce with the every parents would love. To each and every parents, their own loving moments. For those who are not yet parents, they would still have children of family, relatives, even neighbors with whom they love.

To each person with one's own memory, real life of a person over each thoughts of moments in reverse is surreal. Don't watch it for others, do it yourself rewinding backwards only once in a lifetime. Watching our kids and smiling themselves on candid camera after many, many years when they are no longer kids. Its real, not drama. What a wonderful kids are!

"Was that really me as kids?" they would all have a naturally good time laughing with unconscious "paiseh" (shyness) at ourselves. I have happened myself too in such awkward situations and behaviour when young and innocent once upon a time on thoughts (not video) and it makes me smile. Its fun.

At "Reading Carnival @ Changi Simei", it feels like my thoughts was turning back in a compressed time-warp through personal pleasant history of the past. Its everyone would enjoy children with habits with reading, not necessary to be children of one's own.

Several topics were written on my blog about the National Library, tracing all the way back to my first visit to the Raffles Library, oh..."nong nong ago" ; )

My friend Victor Koo blogged on "Old National Library Revisited" just a few months ago.

Were there any some photos available for the 28-year-old "Book Exhibition" or if any of the former Residents Committee at West Coast Zone 3 members or those who attended the event, please contact me if they have any photos? Even if any of these photos are found around, maybe most of these old photos have been fed to their hungry silverfishes ; (

My gratitude to all to make the "Reading Carnival @ Changi Simei" to make this event possible; to fulfill my dream of walking down memory lane to be the 9-month-old member of the youngest National Library member, registered as my daughter at the "Book Exhibition".

Thanks to the memory, and to every parent who visited a similar public book event in the future in another two decades later, when your children would have been adults.

Thanks to the organisers and everyone to make the children, parents and myself who attended the "Reading Carnival @ Changi Simei" to make this memorable event a childhood experience to last for a long time.

Happy Reading!


Mar 13, 2010

Supermarket Shopping

Photo Credit: Derek Tait

This is an old photo of the Fitzpatrick's supermarket at Orchard Road in the 1960s.

How many of us could remember about the modernised supermarket shopping concept in Singapore, the first-ever Cold Storage and Fitzpatrick's (no longer in business in Singapore now)?

Established in 1903, Cold Storage was the child of the Industrial Revolution and Pax Britannica, when Singapore was the “Clapham Junction of the Eastern Seas”. Together with electricity and refrigeration, it allowed European agents of change - the colonial civil servants, merchants, miners, planters, traders - to acclimatise to living in the tropics. It can thus be said that if there were no Cold Storage the modern history of Singapore would probably be quite different.

In its early days, the Company's primary concern was to have a quick and profitable turnover of its imported meats and range of products. Later, Cold Storage shifted from counter-service to self-service, introducing the supermarket to Singapore. Then the Company pioneered the concept of multiple retailing, capitalising on bulk buying and economies of scale. [Excerpt from Cold Storage ].

For the first person experience from my classmate Tan Kim Choon, who contributed his essay on "Supermarket Shopping" published in the Outram Annual 1962 to share with the alumni group discussion on Facebook at "Outram Secondary School Alumni Group" on Facebook.

Photo Credit: Derek Tait

The supermarket is one of the best places to shop in. We can shop in air-conditioned comfort, in either Fitzpatrick's or the Singapore Cold Storage, the two supermarkets in town. Although things are a little more expensive, people like doing are a little more expensive, people like doing their shopping in a supermarket because it is much easier, and cleaner; the customer is free from annoying attentions of the counter assistants and she can take her own time to make her choice.

One day my aunt took my sister and I to Fitzpatrick's. As soon as we reached the entrance, we stepped on the doormat and the door opened at once. Wow! our eyes nearly popped out at such a variety of goods displayed so attractively. We went in and Aunt took a push-cart to carry all the things we were going to buy. As we walked among the rows of tinned food, Aunt took a tin of cocktail sausages and one of peaches. Next she bought a pound of ham and some other frozen foodstuffs. The she said, "I think we'd better go home, for the longer we stay the more things once. Wow! our eyes nearly popped out at such a variety of goods displayed so attractively. We went in and Aunt took a push-cart to carry all the things Aunt took a push-cart to carry all the things we were going to buy. As we walked among the rows of tinned food, Aunt took a tin of cocktail sausages and one of peaches. Next she bought a pound of ham and some other frozen foodstuffs. The she said, "I think we'd better go home, for the longer we stay the more things we'd be tempted to buy." But my sister and I pleaded with her for a treat.

So she left the things in the care of a shop assistant and brought us up to the restaurant to have a snack. I had club sandwich and a cup of tea, and so did my sister and Aunt. After our snack we went down. Aunt took her purchases from the shop assistant and placed them on the paying counter where she paid for them. Than a peon carried the things to her car and she tipped him for his service. I went home happy because I had enjoyed myself thoroughly at the supermarket.

Sec IB, 1962

Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS


Mar 1, 2010

What happened to the former New 7th Storey Hotel?

When Derek Tait visited Singapore in 1990, he would not known what had happened to the former New 7th Storey Hotel as it appear today.

In his 22 February, 2010 blog on "Singapore in December, 1990", Derek said:

"I'd love to go again some day. I bet it's all changed and even many of the places in this small film will now be gone".

Photo Credit: Derek Tait

Take a rewind to yesteryears at the youngsters swinging away their disco dance at the 7th New Storey Hotel in 1990. How different are our Singaporean party-animals at Zuok, St.James Power Station entertainment complex or anywhere else for young people today?

Whatever fashion-lifestyle, dance music or dance-style ten decades ago, the joy and fun for teenagers are the same, doesn't matter in a new or old dance floor; new building or old ones.

This is an update from Derek at his memorabilia leaflet of the hotel, courtesy of Derek.

Since it would be a long story to tell Derek about the "New 7th Storey Hotel", I decided to take my personal trip today to the location in Singapore. His travelling to this place was last here 9 years ago.

The landscape cannot remain unchanged, even for the interests of curiosity for tourists exclusively for their benefit. The development of the Beach Road and Rochor Road would provide the MRT network for the fast and convenient transportation in Singapore for everyone soon.

See what I said, how different conditioned things become in a realm of time and space.

On an impulse on 07/07/07, I remembered my "Walk Down Memory Lane" phlog at "The Day of the Century". Unfortunately, the Phlog website is now closed.

The most poignant and sentimental are people who feel sad of an 'obituary', but whether people, places or events, nothing could last forever. These are temporals which even feelings are momentarily of feelings, thoughts and ideology. Nothing remains stagnant, every society in every country improves to progress for every people for the future.

Updated on 5 March, 2010 following from Chinatownboy's comments in the singaporeheritage@yahoogroup on 5 July, 2008:

Hi Victor,

The 7th Storey Hotel has an online Guest Book section at its website has been closed.

This is part of the collective memory of the hotel guests which some heritage group could host online after the hotel is demolished. Although the hotel in brick and mortar would soon be gone, its memories as a traditional boarding place for many visitors to Singapore for over 5 decades, could be stored digitally in cyberspace as a heritage archive for building and monuments.

On 07/07/07 when I wanted to blog about this special date of the century, I took a picture of the 7th Storey Hotel and posted it at a previous Phlog link.

I really like CK's novel suggestions of holding a 'funeral wake' on the last day of its life....and your imaginative ideas of professional mourners (like those from Sago Lane ; ) signing of condolence book and what else...a funeral procession around the hotel before the sledgehammer strike the building and it would be gone forever.

There is still time to prepare for the 'sending off' event for the hotel, unlike the Sichuan earthquake which wipe off humans, homes and monuments unannounced....

A year later, after all last rites with propriety and formalities for the land-owner (of New 7th Storey Hotel) and the State Land (LTA) amenable accordingly. Else the Land Transport Authority (LTA) could not proceed with the major construction for Bugis Station extension route.

The "reincarnation" of the transformed land could be "reborn" as MRT by end-2011 when completed. A "simplified analogy" between human life and land...

The non-stop active construction site stretching from Beach Road to Rochor Road "Delivery a People-Centred Land Transport System" at Bugis Station soon.

So a building will pass on! Every building and place have to be "remaking", and if those religion who believe in "reincarnation" it referred to "being reborn". Just using as an analogy for human and things. I beg your pardon. This is not being flippant or blasphemy regardless of whatever belief or ideology.

In several of the photos taken to review the construction sites at the former location of the "New 7th Storey Hotel" may be totally changed and transformed.

This is not a wasted land to remain stagnant though. The physical changes should be urban renewable resources for development to benefit and maximum lives usefulness for a longer period. In some ways, the land of some cemeteries are replaced by housing or industrial estates.

Over a matter of several years or even months, whatever that is transformed would be replaced by new places, new transportation routes for communication, fast paced convenience and speed travelling to live, play and work.

Elderly friends like me may lament about things familiar, common, already prefer our comfort zones, to have the same things forever. On the contrary, the youngsters would prefer to create new thingy, as often changes as possible, more excitement, more "cool". Perhaps during our days as youngsters, speaking about the latest fashion lifestyle, modern stuff, happenings..."don't want to be bored". So changes, is the phenomenon for every generation in every country is ever-changing, ever-developing, ever-moving in the advance of modern technology.

Once upon a time, our parents in the 1960s was also changing the lifestyle in the days of our grandparents in the 1920s or 1930s. The collectible items and antiques have become and nice to have for memories, but not for practical reasons of the majority people... as the slogan: "same, same, but different"!

Just my blog to express from a personal views. To each his own opinions with due respect to all.

Let me ask my Martian friends what they think...lets not argue until the cows come home! What does Martian cows look like to us ; )