Monday, 9 June 2014

Findings at a cul de sac

Sian Teck Tng at the end of Cuppage Road.
SOMEHOW, I never knew the existence of this nice Chinese building (built in 1883) at the cul de sac of Cuppage Road -- though I have been to Centrepoint numerous times. (Centrepoint is just a building away.)

According to this blog, the building, Sian Teck Tng, was built for widows and orphans --  a vegetarian house. When I was there on a Saturday afternoon (trying to take some pictures of the end wall of Cuppage Terrace) its front doors were closed, though the front gate was thrown wide open. So I didn't have the opportunity to nose around the interior -- or partake in any free vegetarian meals :)

You can also read about this temple by The Intercontinental Gardener.
Statue of Kuan Yin (Goddess of Mercy) in the front garden.
It would house some inner courtyards, judging by the gables.
Incense lit at the front. 
Red pomegranates in abundance.
Looking through the front gate (into Cuppage Road), from the garden.
A wall mural at the gate depicting the Eight Immortals. 

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Ways to keep your socks up

WHEN we were kids, even getting new socks was a luxury. Though it wasn't often that we got new socks, we didn't have to "darn socks" as often described in Enid Blyton's books (we kept wondering what that was). Socks were hardy in those days (and present days too, I suppose) -- so we seldom had to mend holes. But what usually gave way was the elasticity at the legs so that they drooped further and further down to the ankles and even further as the day passed. So that when the bell rang for home, you found your socks had slipped right down, bunching on the in soles of your shoes. Hmm, not good.

An ingenious idea was to use a rubber band to keep the socks up. You then fold the flappy end over the rubber band to hide it. But it got painful after a while as the rubber band bit into your flesh. (There was a myth during my school days that rubber bands sucked blood.)

Another less painful way -- you roll the loose ends of your socks (like rolling Swiss rolls)  all the way down to almost the ankle So the "roll" should just sit on top of the heels of your shoes. So "stylo". This worked only if the elasticity wasn't totally non-existent.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Memories of Kapok

D Chord, my favourite.
THE guitar was one of the first instruments I learnt to play from friends. Before I progressed to chords, I was just picking out tunes. I can play by ear, so I could pick out tunes quick easily. But it wasn't fun enough doing just that. And my friend, Margaret, could strum quite well.

She showed me a song book from the "100 songs" series -- you know, those thick books with lyrics and chords, and charts at the back?

"OK, just learn these chords first, C, D, G and A. Ok, G7 too. Good chord. Might as well learn A7, D7 and C7."

So I did. My first guitar was a "Kapok" from the Chinese Emporium. This is a Chinese brand originating from Guangzhou which has been around since 1957.  (When I started work, I splurged on a Yamaha classical guitar and took proper lessons. My teacher vomited blood over my rhythm and timing. But hey, I could play half of Romance de Amor and almost progressed to Classical Gas and Deer Hunter before I stopped.)

Anyway, back to those early lessons by my good friend, Margaret -- "You strum, strum, strum... then until here (she pointed to the place on the page of the song book) you change chord. Then strum, strum, strum...."

Granite or concrete "seats" at each of the gate pillars. These were
 common for houses, especially terraced ones built in the 50s and 60s.
It was a very truncated way of playing. And I didn't quite dare to sit on the "stone" (there were two rectangular granites at each end of the gate) outside the house -- and strum. Margaret used to do that each time she came to visit with her guitar (her brother's actually) -- her long hair falling over the guitar, and her bell bottomed legs crossed.

What were those stone seats for, if not for sitting on and strumming on the guitar in the evening -- and looking cool. All teenagers in the 70's seemed to be able to do that.

An afternote on the Kapok -- it was kaput for my Kapok when my brother used it to swing at a bully tom cat which chased our kitty into the house through the window -- two fluffed-out fur balls. A few pegs went flying as the guitar smashed against the window grills, narrowly missing the errant tom cat.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Old gables

Gables of Pahang Street. Amost "house of seven gables" -- short of one. 
Gable walls at Arab Street.
Pahang Street.
WHEN I first read "The House of Seven Gables", I was wondering what those were. It's the portion of the wall exposed, shaped by the roof -- so usually it is triangular in shape. I like those old gables in Singapore. Those retaining old markings of the next building (that is no longer around) could be rather interesting. Or those with a little motif just below the tip of the triangle -- or the "knob" that you see in old Chinese buildings -- like the one in the picture shown below:
Bali Lane.

 Gable wall at Amoy Street. Interesting how the markings on the wall denote separate floors of the building. These markings could have belonged to the next unit which was torn down.

In the pink. Armenian Street. 
Serangoon Garden Way.
I wonder if anyone (in my era) can remember those toy building bricks. They were not at all like the Lego sets of today. Each set came with ready made windows (with green or red cellophane window panes), balustrades... and yes, gables. The pieces were made of light wood. When the house was completed, it looked like a simple version of this one at Brighton Crescent.
Bt Pasoh.

Gables with spiral staircases  of shophouses (backview) at Amoy Street.
Adis Road. Picture: 1982.
Not sure architecturally, this is considered a "gable".  This is a wall of the communal centre of the Sri Krishna Temple at Waterloo Street, added  in 2002. The temple itself was erected in the 1870s when there was a large community of Hindus in the area. It started the shrine of Sri Vigneshwara and Sri Hanuman at the foot of a banyan tree. Later, the image of Lord Krishna was added. (Lord Krishna is the ninth incarnation of Vishnu). 
Gable wall of a row of shophouses as seen from the busy Temple Street.  Picture taken: in April 2013.

A very cheerful gable wall, if I may say so, belonging to Tin Sing Goldsmiths at South Bridge Road.

At junction of Upper Cross Street and South Bridge Road.
Gable wall belonging to the last house at Cairnhill Raod before it meets Orchard Road. This picture and the one below taken on 7 June 2014. Slightly overcast skies. A sweltering hot day. It's school holiday and the Great Singapore Sale too. So, beware the crowds :)
Old gable wearing contemporary badges at Cuppage Road.
A rather "skinny" gable belonging to a row of shophouses at Lorong Bachok, Geylang. 
Gable of a three-storey house on Simon Road, seen through the gateway of a temple at Simon Lane (off Upper Serangoon Road). The house seems to be renovated as it rises above its one-storey neighbours with red-tiled roofs  along the road.  Picture taken April 2013.