When I browse the Travel Section at the bookstore, sometimes out of sheer curiosity, I flip through a guidebook on Singapore. Somehow, they always seem a bit odd to me. Strange in a way I can’t quite put my finger on. If I were to attempt to explain the strangeness, I would say they don’t reveal what Singapore is really like. Perhaps they flatter us too much, but I have to remember that travel guides are written to entice visitors. Usually the griminess is left out for you to discover. A traveller would probably only spend a few days here anyway.
Perhaps only a local who has grown up here and heard stories from their parents about the old Singapore, can attempt to reveal the secrets of a city. It’s the same way a New Yorker has an intimate knowledge of his city, beyond the Sex and the City glitz and what we see in the media. Local knowledge goes beyond the ‘off the beaten track’ section in a travel guide.
As a third generation Singaporean (my grandparents migrated here in the 1920’s from Ceylon), I feel excited to share my thoughts on what Singapore is actually like. I hope to also reveal what it was like growing up and working in Singapore. Most of all, what I can’t capture in words, I hope my photos will reveal.
Singapore Actually was an appropriate blog name, because if you’ve been here long enough you’ll notice that the word ‘actually’ peppers our speech. Lazily drawled by teenagers, it sounds like ‘ek-cher-ly’. Someone not familiar with Singlish might find the word closer to jibberish. So Singlish is not all about ‘lah’ which I think we using less and less these days. The pun on ‘Love Actually’, a movie I adore, was icing on the cake. And that was just my little introduction of how this blog was born.
I included the photo my partner took of the beautiful cat sitting in a stack of plastic basins in Chinatown, because it’s so Singapore. Older folk in Singapore, still use these when they wash dishes. The buckets are used for the old fashioned way of bathing, where water is collected in a bucket and a small vessel with a handle is used to scoop out the water to pour over the head. Buckets were also used to collect water when it rains. It’s all very environmentally friendly if you think about it. Although grandma and grandpa are doing it to save money and not the environment.