Wednesday, July 23, 2008

From the ashes arose a Phoenix

Abandoned school buildings seem to be the right candidates for hostels, or now, boutique hotels. Many could be the older buildings with some older characteristics of probably the 50s.

But here by the Pearl's Hill, a rather modern looking school building, although it has a long and interesting history with some proiment people coming from this school (see my earlier blog) , has become a hotel!
And, so this tallest school in Singapore has reincarnated as the Re! Hotel.

Would anyone have guessed that once upon a time, children ran up and down this first multi-storey school? Ah, many fathers and mothers would be telling their children about their days in this school, when they pass by or come to this hotel.

An interesting name, Re! In Chinese it is Re Li .. and this Re - pronounced as Swee in Hokkien -could it be part of the Chin Swee Road that runs by it?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The washing machine

It must have been decades since the last I saw this modern gadget that was part of the bathroom, where we would use to help us rub off the dirt, probably using the AXE Brand bar soap. The grooves helped to trap some of the soap onto the clothing and hence helped to create a lather.

It was fun to watch Mum doing the scrubbing or just using the hands to rub the clothings off the groves of this "suay-sa-pang" (Washing Cloth Wood as literally translated from Hokkien), resulting in plenty of soap lather. From time to time, Mum would dip her hands into a pail of water to splash a little on the drying clothes as the water ran off. Often, Mum would sit on a small stool (ah, some of you might have seeen hawkers selling from real small stools to tall ones, as they walked from house to house), which gave her a good leverage.

As we grew bigger and Mum had to go and work to supplement income - talking about dual income families, but with more kids than these days - we had to take over the duties. Amongst brothers and sister, we divided our chores, washing clothes and preparing meals.

Using the bar soap (versus the detergent of today) and the scrubbing board, we tried to make the clothings as clean as possible. In a less than clean environment in those days, I think, the clothings were dirtier than these days. Sweat (yes, on aircond!), dirt and possibly after days of wearing the same clothing agan and again (no, not like one per outing these days), it was a challenge. White shirts just cannot stay white! So, we use the "lam-chi" by putting the powder into a pail of water to make it blue and then putting the white shirts in them to give a light bluish hue. And to make the shirt lasts longer and probably less likely to get wrinkle, we put the shirts into a pail of starch before handing them in the sun.

The final part is to iron the shirts with a charcoal iron. Ah, but that's another story. Ah, someone has decided finally to part with the scrubbing board.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Couldn't he have a better aid?

As I was coming home one day, I had to slow down to allow this man to take his time to walk down this narrow road. At first I thought he was using the four-legged gadget to help him walk, as is the case with older people where a walking stick is not enough.

On closer look, I saw that he had only one leg. I couldn't help thinking if he couldn't have a better gadget to help him? Like an artificial limb? Was it a case of ignorance?

Which brought me to another case where there is this old lady (maybe in her 60s) who uses a stool to walk to buy food from the coffeeshop. Her back was bent and apparently she could not stand straight. The only way to help her maintain her balanace was to put her hands on the stool and walk, each step at a time.

There must be something that we could do for our older folks, who have contributed much to what Singapore is today? We still have a fair number of older people who are illiterate and could only speak dialects.