23 October 2005

Vanishing Scenes of Singapore - Part 3


Several days ago, Chris reminded me that my blog was gathering spider web again. I blog when I feel like it and have the time. I would not like to feel pressured into writing a post because that would take the pleasure out of blogging. It then defeats the purpose of blogging, one of the purpose of which (Chris claimed) is to relieve pressure. On the other hand, I would also not like to vanish for too long while writing a series titled ironically 'Vanishing Scenes of Singapore'.

In my last post, I mentioned about my regular barber who was in his 70s whom I met in the 70s. Well on 9 Sep 05 (Fri), I was on leave. I took a nostalgic cycling trip around Kampong Glam (in the city near the North Bridge Road/Beach Road area). Guess what I came across as a surprise find? There were not one but two barbers operating in a backlane off Aliwal Street (see photo). The second barber's reflection could be seen in the mirror. In fact, there were 3 barber chairs - the third barber might be also on leave like me or taking a toilet break. They were exactly like the barbers of yester year. I never expected that such barbers still existed in modern Singapore, what more right in the smack of the city area. Mind you, they did not have any lack of customers even on a weekday morning - see the guys reading the newspapers and patiently waiting for their turns?

I am sure that this scene qualifies to be put under my post here because it is very likely that it would vanish one day from the face of Singapore, sooner or later.

8 comments:

Chris said...

This is one of the dying trades that will one day be wiped off the face of Singapore. There are other trades that have gone the way of the dinosaurs. Growing up in the Chinatown area, I remember people hawking their wares in the 1970s. There was the 5-cents peep show on a mobile trishaw (I think). For a mere 5 cents that we slotted into a machine, we could catch a 60-minute black-and-white film of people having some "pillow" fight. I wonder how the uncle peddling this trade survived because I the film is always the same year in year out.

Then there was the uncle who sold household stuff such as the broom and dustpan. His cart (a trishaw again, I think) was filled to the brim with such stuff and it was a wonder that he could travel from one place to another!

There were other trades that I remember fondly; but let's come back to the barber! Yes, I too went to such barber when I was a kid growing up in Club Street. The barber uncle practically watched me grow up! In fact, my dad, my brother and my cousins all had our haircut done by the same uncle who knew only 2 styles - botak or "aeroplane". I hated it every time I looked at the mirror after the cut. My sis used to tease me saying that the “4 by 2” haircut made me look like a "kuku". But then again for the price of about 30 or 40 cents, what could we expect? Those were simple days where unisex saloons and Super Cut were not very common and were considered expensive.

These days, I go to the Malay barber stall near my house for a $9 cut. My kids are more up-market then their old man - the Slim Lady brings them to the Saloon and each of their haircut costs about $16!

Lam Chun See said...

Hi Victor,

Glad that I discovered your blog. I think we have many things in common. Like you I too miss the old landscape of Spore and have recently started a blog to reminisce about the 'kampong days'.

Do drop by. The address os www.goodmorningyesterday.blogspot.com (Haven't learnt how to insert link yet).

I will yread our blogs later as it is quite late now.

Lam Chun See said...

For a long time, I used to go to a Malay barber in Queensway Shopping Center called Din. I think he has retired becos I don't see him anymore. I like his slow lsisurely style. Unfortunately we didn't talk much becos of language barrier.

Before Queensway SC was built the area was a circle and there were also barber shops there. I can't remember how I came to become a loyal customer of Din. Before that I used to patronise the Malay barber near my house at Farrer Road.

Victor said...

Welcome to my blog, Chun See (hope you don't mind me addressing you this way). It is indeed a very nice surprise for me to have someone else other than my regular visitor to my blog. (By the way, he is Chris, my good friend and also colleague.)

I would post a few more entries of Singapore's past scenes but I may not have the photos to go with them (but here's where I can get creative and resourceful, hehe).

I will visit your blog in due course. Thanks again for visiting and hope to see you revisiting my blog soon. Cheers.

Lam Chun See said...

May I suggest you write about Sungei Road before the govt "cleans up" the place.

Victor said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Victor said...

Yes Chun See, Sungei Road is one of my favourite haunts. I will try to do a post on it as suggested by you. Some 2 months back, I bought an old cheque writer there for $20. It had a price tag of more than US$100 stamped on the name plate behind. (Can't remember the exact amount and the item is safely stored somewhere deep in my storeroom.) I think it was manufactured in the 1960s. I bought as a birthday present for a good friend who is an avid collector of antiques. (Oops, if he reads this, it would no longer be a surprise for him.) This is the first time that I am buying him an antique. I hope that he will not be disappointed.

I visited your blog just now. My, it was very professionally done with so many interesting old photos to gawk at. Your profession is no less impressive. Hence, I just suspect that you might be pulling my leg when you said that you do not know how to insert a hyperlink :). Anyway it is to Chris' credit as he was the one who taught me how to do it. Below is the code on how to put a hyperlink to your blog. (I have replaced the < sign with a [ and the > sign with a ] because if I put the original signs, blogger will interprete them and hence you may not see the syntax. You just need to replace these signs with the original signs and the link should work.) Btw, I hope that you don't mind that I have put a link to your site in my blog as I found your blog to be very interesting.

[a href="http://www.goodmorningyesterday.blogspot.com" target="_blank"]Lam Chun See's nostalgic Singapore[/a]

Please note that there is a space before href and target. The target="_blank" portion is optional and its purpose is to make the site appear in a new window.

In fact, you can check the html codes of any web page in Internet Explorer by clicking on "view" in at the top and then choose "source". You will then see all the html codes for the page in Notepad. Then choose "edit" and then "find" to look for the string you want.

Hope the above explanation helps.

Lam Chun See said...

Hi Victor, thanks for the lenthy explanation. I have successfully added a link to your page. Hope we can attract more Sporeans of our generation to share their memories.