Deliberate amnesia

IMG_0043

IMG_0043 (Photo credit: Wong Kee Wee)

I often bring friends who are visiting from overseas around Singapore.I do this, maybe once of twice a year. Each time, I noted there would always be a new place of interest or new shopping center to introduce to them to.

Some of my seasoned travelling friends have made observations about how they felt a disconnect between the glittering city and how people behave or dressed here.

I tried to explain and paint the picture for them that Singapore had not been this glittering city for many years. It was not like Europe whereby they had taken centuries to develop to the stage they are currently at. I told my friends, how I still remember going to the wet market to see live chickens being de-feathered and killed on the spot,people going to markets in their pajamas,the power outages that would occur every once in a while as well as the buses with conductors.

I realized as I went through some of my memories with my friends that I sounded like an old woman telling young people about how things used to be. But many of the experiences and places I was re-telling were only 10-20 years old.

Singapore has changed and is changing so fast that its own people are unable to keep pace with it.

People I meet who are just a few years younger than me are not even able to share the same memories of a place or experiences with me. The difference in ages between people who causes the disconnect of shared memories and experiences seemed to be getting narrower and narrower. It is no longer a generation of people who can share the same recollections, rather it is the year that you are born.

It is one thing to renew and another to preserve simply for tourism. It is as if Singapore strives hard to wash the slate clean every few months. History is for the romantic while the pragmatic sees only the future, the past need not be remembered, unless of course, lots of profit can be made off it. (Check out Chinatown for a concrete example of what I mean)

Singapore sounds callous (hey, voted most emotionless country! I don’t know whether to be proud or ashamed of this fact) but then again I have never known anyone or country to do middle ground well.

In a small island with limited space, can we really be afford to be sentimental or it is just inevitable that what are just old buildings for many, would have to go and make way for taller and more space efficient replacements.

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