A more recent past that soon will be forgotten

11 06 2012

Passing through a neighbourhood that I am familiar with, I was greeted not by the familiarity of its faces, but by an unfamiliar silence that now fills it. The neighbourhood is one that, having lived near it for some fifteen years, I have had many interactions with. It is one in which, compared to the neighbourhoods of my early childhood, doesn’t go back as far in time, and one where my memories are much more current. Despite its more recent past, such is the pace of the change that sweeps through the island we live in, that this neighbourhood is not spared from it. The neighbourhood is one that sees its heart and soul – the people and business that brought life to it, displaced by the cruel winds of change.

The colours of a now colourless world that will soon be forgotten

The world that has lost its soul is one that has also lost its colour – the only colours left seem to only be that of a playground that has outlived its usefulness. As I look beyond the empty playground which bears the marks of neglect and abandonment, it is the neglect and abandonment of the shuttered row of shops that stares at me. The eerie quiet seems to scream at me. It seemed like it was only yesterday, that the shutters had been raised to reveal businesses that in the relative isolation of the neighbourhood – were ones which had been insulated against the passage of time.

The wheels of time that have started to turn?

At the end of the row, as if in a show of defiance, characters sprayed on in black paint stand out against the pink of closed metal doors, remind us of what once had resided behind the doors – a electrical goods and repair shop. The three rows of characters painted on the doors are of two telephone numbers with the word ‘Service’ below.

The shuttered and abandoned units of shops where time did once seem to stand still.

A defiant reminder of a past that will soon be forgotten.

I look down a corridor that even when it was alive has always been one that seems to be haunted. It is not the ghosts of today that I now see, but the ghosts of yesterday. As my eyes move to the right towards the part that I am most familiar with – a General Practitioner that I often consulted had his practice at one of the units, it is the reflections from the glass of an un-shuttered unit that distracts me. Beyond the reflections of a world that is about to change, it is the secrets of the former world that existed beyond the glass panels that I see … one which belonged to a certain Annie Song. I also see a face – one that is perhaps the face of a ghost of the past. It is a face that will soon fade, as will the world that it now looks at. And when the face and all that is around does fade, the physical link that many will have to a world that had been a part of whom they were – will be forever lost. What will survive will be the memories, memories of lives, of growing-up, of children taking their first steps and perhaps of romances … memories that is time will be ones of a distant and what will certainly be an almost forgotten past.

Silent corridors where only the ghosts of the past now walk on.

Ghosts of the past staring at memories that will soon fade.

There is no more to reflect.



10 responses

11 06 2012

Ah, you were so inspired. ;D

12 06 2012
11 06 2012

are these pics recent? where is this?

12 06 2012
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

Yes, taken on Saturday (10 June) … Ang Mo Kio Street 21.

12 06 2012

a derelict awaiting a new phase of life (circle game)…..to be resurrected yet!

14 06 2012
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

Reminds me of some Singaporean’s artwork which he tried to depict the inevitability of what he called “Deconstruction, Destruction and Destination” …

6 02 2013
Rachel Lim Shuling

Hi Jerome,

I’m marketing a property near Ang Mo Kio St 21 and was doing some research when I stumbled across this post of yours. I feel so grateful that someone has captured the existence of this area. Someday soon, these photos will be what’s left of what used to be homes for hundreds of people (beside memories). As I type this, demolition works for Blks 250, 251 and 252 are already happening… So thank you Jerome.

6 02 2013
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

Thanks for dropping by and leaving your feedback Rachel! Very much appreciated! Capturing what was left of it did seem appropriate as I had missed the opportunity to capture the once familiar sights and faces before the neighbourhood was vacated … so it’s nice to know that it does mean something to someone out there 🙂 It’s sad however, to hear that the demolition works have started and that soon all that will be left of the area will just be the memories of those who knew it.

18 11 2014

I started my career as an engineer in ang mo kio town. Those were the days . We designed and built the towns from base zero. Glad to see such posting which captures happy memories.

29 09 2017
Peter Shieh

Hi Jerome!
I googled ‘Bee Loh Camera’ and found nothing except a passing reference on ur website. I was studying abroad in the 1970s and when i got back, it had closed down. Any info about the 2 sisters who were mostly acting as cashiers? They were the daughters of the owner, if i recall correctly. I wanted to marry one of them!

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