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.


Ummie said...

We have no more such traffic police as above, but such a sight can still be seen in China.
Thanks for rekindling the memories in Kg Ubi.
I used to go there as My auntie's MIL was there.

BaitiBadarudin said...

Wah, I should go to China to say hello to thier hapless traffic police!
You're most welcome, Ummie.
I have vivid memories too of visiting my mother's relatives in Kg Ubi.

Sustainable Living Institute (SAVE) said...

The first time I went to Singapura was in 1960 (Darjah 3) or earlier with my late father to see 2 relatives working with BMA. We probably boarded the train at Btg Melaka the nearest station. All I could recall in the train was the smell of minyak Cap Kapak which my father had one also. As to which part we went I don't know.

BaitiBadarudin said...

SAVE: There were many people from Melaka who were with the armed forces. My neighbour, Pak Cik Chot (perhaps arwah by now), was one. I don't remember ever stopping at Batang Melaka train station. But the train journey can surely cause motion sickness that'll rob you of joy from sightseeing.