Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Geylang Serai (1920s-1970s)
Here's another video about growing up in a kampong in Singapore, but this one's in Kampong Ubi, Geylang Serai. I'd like to thank 'pandanwangie' for sharing his compilation of snapshots of life in GS which spanned about half a century, from the twenties to the seventies.
Note the smiles and laughter, tears and joy amid the destitution in the underbelly of society hidden by the hustle and bustle of the rows of shops, the wet market, the crammed stalls and the bus terminus at the intersection where GS collided with Jalan Eunos and Joo Chiat Road.
From a sparsely populated area in the twenties, where electric trolleys or trams plied the streets and the canal flowed by tall coconut trees and derelict houses, the community almost burst at its seam from the influx of people seeking a 'better life' coupled with rapid population growth after the Great War.
Wooden houses with bamboo shades or laundry on their narrow and wide verandahs, narrow wooden or wide concrete stairs, ladies in batik sarong and kebaya, carrying their babies in their shawls or dressed in western gowns admiring her (?) quadruplets, and children playing and bathing in the public tap.
Notice too the gasoline lamp, the flood, the politicians on their campaign trails, the new structures of high-rise flats, emporiums, cinemas and the vocational institute which sprouted in the sixties, the loaf-shaped red and white buses, the concrete bus shelter, the traffic police marooned in the middle of the road and the tragic reaction to the demolition of 'a whole way of life' to make way for modernisation.