Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Pasar Malam

The rabbit key chain which mum bought
for me at a pasar malam -- as I remember it.
I LOVED going to pasar malam or night markets. Where I used to live, there was one every Thursday, first near the Serangoon Garden Circus (the roundabout) and later, along Lorong Chuan. I distinctly remember that the market was always held on a Thursday evening  because we used to refer to it as "Thursday Night" (or Bai Say Man in Cantonese). Just mentioning the words would cheer me up no end.

Almost the entire length of Lorong Chuan would be lined with stalls, with goods spread over canvases on both sides of the road. Kerosene lamps lit up each stall. The stalls were not covered and so if the evening looked like rain, there would be no pasar malam. And it would be a great disappointment for me.

My mum usually spent a long time pouring over crockery. She also loved looking at bales of cloths and picking up suitable materials for our clothes. There was a lot of bargaining -- and walking on -- so that the stallholders could call us back with offers to lower prices.

I was one for instant gratification -- my favourite stalls were those selling handkerchiefs. In those days, tissue paper was unheard of. We all used handkerchiefs and they came in lovely laced ones, checked and floral ones with scalloped edges, and those with embroideries at the corners. It was such a joy to sneeze into a new cotton hanky in the classroom.

I also liked those stalls selling costumed jewellery -- stainless steel and silver rings, chains and pendants... Mocked jade made from plastic. They were usually sold with other small knick knacks like vases, key chains, etc. My priced purchases were a tiny locket which could be clicked open to insert two tiny photographs; and a key chain in the shape of a white bunny.

I can't remember when the ones at 5th Mile and 6th Mile (Upper Serangoon Road) were held. But sometimes, we would even walk as far as those places from Serangoon Gardens. We would get very tired after a while and the walk back was always a drag. We would badger our parents to hop on to a "pirate taxi". But usually no such luck as Dad liked to walk, a firm believer in exercising.

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