the singapore idyll

a better place

J: Hey, remember A? The girl we met at the exhibition opening who works for that ad agency?
Y: Oh yah. What's up with her?
J: Nothing. I bumped into her last night and found out that she lives in that fancy condo by the river -
Y: That's nice!
J: Yah, lucky thing.
Y: Yah. But I love living where we are. I like living in a HDB flat.
J: Oh, I remember, it's your proletariat dream.
Y: Exactly! Since the flat's really just a 99 year lease from the government, we don't actually own any property. Legitimate proletariat.

Living in a HDB flat, you learn the names of the neighbour's children, observe the coming-and-going of the folks in the opposite block, guess from the free-roaming aroma what yummy soup the lady 2 floors down is boiling, note the rumbling engines of the feeder bus every 10 minutes or so, make small talk with the hawkers at the market, wander past the lady who insists on growing the stray cat population with her generosity, lament the passing of the faraway tree, avoid the visitation of your insincere MP, tolerate the karaoke braying of the over-enthusiastic old lady downstairs, skirt around the funeral wakes at the void decks and common spaces, watch that no one is loitering around the lift lobby when you get home too late at night, laugh for the 26th time when you walk pass the sign of the retro hairdresser's that reads "Permanent Wave Salon"... Living in a HDB estate, you cannot be cloistered from the rhythms and patterns of life. Similarly, you can't help forming associations and relations with these patterns and rhythms of community. And it's true, love is not only choice but also habit.


Tym said…
Thank you for saying what I feel, and for saying it so well.

(Except that proletariat bit. I don't think those particular political ramifications weigh so heavily on me :) )
Unknown said…
agreed! actually i always thought living in hdb would be cramped and unpleasant..but after moving into one (for holidays in sg) it's actually quite nice!
ampulets said…
tym - yah, the proletariat bit I think comes from having to live in my folks' nouveau-riche horror mansion of grecian columns. there's some mark on the pointed roof that someone once told me is armenian. uniquely singapore ;P

sb - it can be cramped if you have 8 living in 100sqm! lucky J and I are just 2, plus an elusive lizard. My only complaint is the low ceiling...yes, funny coming from a short person. If J jumps up excitedly while watching tv, I fear his head would be lopped off by the ceiling fan!
"love is not only choice but also habit."


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