Wednesday, September 5, 2012



The green field and small woodland stretch near my home is going to be developed and I'm heartsick with sadness about it.

I grew up in a much less urbanized part of Singapore and I never minded my long commute to work or schools because my housing estate was just so incredibly green and quiet.

The area where I live is (roughly) bisected into north and south by the train line. I live on the southern side where there is still a tiny stretch of woodlands on a small hill and a large green field surrounding the estate. The enormous green field on the northern side was developed about 5 years ago and it's now all shiny new condominium projects. When the north side was being developed, the public response to the new condominiums was huge - people actually stood in line to get in and buy a unit. I knew then that the woodlands on the south side of the train line were doomed.

What can we really say? We need space. People need homes. And apparently, Singapore needs more people.


But I was surprised by the community response; people in my estate actually started an online petition to try to hang on to the woodlands. They took photographs of the woodpeckers, squirrels, kingfishers and palm civets and posted them online in a bid to try to keep the green space. They didn't succeed but at least I'll have the photos. Plus it's nice to see people try - gives us some hope for Singapore civic society.

It's too late for that big green field on the north side of the estate though. I wish I'd walked around and taken some photos - it was that big. There was a stream that ran through the middle of it with a tiny concrete bridge and every day, I'd peer over the bridge to check out the fish. My favourite memories of high school are of walking through that field, the sky a constant blue and the stream sparkling in the sun.

(I wasn't nuts, it's just that my school sat on the other side of the field and that path through the field was the shortest route home)

Once - and this is one of my favourite memories - one of my classmates, a short spunky girl, S, came up with the plan of following the stream to see when it ended. That was one of the best afternoons. We  stepped off the path and started walking by the side of the stream. Further along, we alternately waded and walked on the side of the stream, stopping to peer at fish and birds and got thoroughly dirty. I don't remember if we managed to find out where the stream ended (or began) - it was probably inaccessible but it was so fun trying.

Royston Tan has directed a film - Old Places - and I think it has come at the right time. The kids of the 80s are growing old up and realising that the remnants of old Singapore that they knew in their childhood have gone or are going so... this helps preserve the memories at least.

There must be progress - so help us God - but least we'll hang on to our (green tinted) memories.

Oh Singapore. You make it so hard for us to love you.

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