14 February 2007

Losing Someone Over Small Stuff (1)

The New Paper of 13 Feb 2007 had the following headline:

S'PORE MUM TAKES DAUGHTER TO COURT OVER SALE OF HOUSE. Wins case, but loses daughter. Dies of hypertension 3 days after getting court papers. Mum says...

Inside, a sprightly 80-year old mum (left) recalled with sadness, "I didn't want to fight, but I had no choice... I just wanted my money back. It's a matter of principle..." She was finally awarded an undisclosed amount but she had already lost her daughter and she regretted that she would never have the chance to reconcile with her. Although a house cannot be considered small stuff and the death of the daughter was probably not caused by the law suit but still, it is a sad and depressing story. And they say that blood is thicker than water. It is probably not thick enough in this case.

This incident reminds of an experience I had with someone called CL (no relation to other CLs). The property involved was this one:

Photo by Desmond Wee published in the Straits Times 3 Jan 2007

Another front view of the bungalow

It was a grand neo-Renaissance style bungalow located in the east coast at No. 23, Amber Road. It was designed by Regent Alfred John Bidwell in 1912, the very same architect who designed the 'Grand Old Dame', the world-famous Raffles Hotel:

A new developer, AG Capital, bought the bungalow last year. The company said that "no corporate decision has been adopted" on future plans for the site. Early this year, there was a call to preserve this building by a group of about 20 people who called themselves Historic Architecture Rescue Plan.

Before land reclamation began, the bungalow stood at the seafront. It had an unusual crescent shape to let in as much seabreeze as possible.

Back view of the bungalow - note the crescent shape of the house

In the late 70s, I had meals in that bungalow. I also spent some time listening to music on the upper floor. In those days, CDs had not been invented yet. (MP3 music came much later in the late 90s.) Music was then recorded either on cassette tapes or black vinyl records:

Cassette tapes

Vinyl records

The former were played on tape decks with famous names like Nakamichi, Akai and Teac while the latter were played on turntables spinning at either 33 rpm (revolutions per minute) or 45 rpm. Sought after names in turntables then were Thorens, Audio-Technica and Denon. I was listening to the music of Abba, America, Cliff Richard, Eagles, 'Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young', George Benson and Chuck Mangione.

Do not be mistaken, I wasn't involved in a court battle with my family over the sale of the bungalow. We never owned it. It was my very good NS-mate CL who stayed in it before. I never asked if his family owned it but I think that they probably rented it.

CL and I were extremely close friends. (With all due respect to Chris Sim, I could safely say that I was closer to CL then than I am with Chris now.) His family knew me very well and conversely, mine knew him just as well. We spent most weekends together. Once, his family brought me out on a power boat trip up the Kim Kim River in Johore. We didn't bring along our passports because we didn't intend to land in Johore. Of course, it was still considered as trespassing but the Malaysian Customs was probably more lax then. Our state of relations with our neighbour then was also likely to be better than it is now. CL, his father and his younger brother could all ski very well. They took turns to ski behind the power boat and could execute slalom very gracefully, much to my admiration.

Quite often, we would watch a movie together in town. I remember catching shows like Car Wash, Grease, Every Which Way But Lose, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and some Chinese Kung Fu shows like 18 Bronze Men with him. We even stayed in a chalet together before. Sometimes we went for a swim in the sea at night.

At that time, I was staying in Haig Road - a short distance from Amber Road. With a new chopper bike that I bought, it took me only 10 minutes to cycle to his house:

He would then ride his own bicycle:

We invariably headed towards East Coast Park which was just behind his house:

More often than not, we ended up at Bedok Jetty:

As CL was considered overweight then, there were a few occasions when he jogged while I cycled. We went all the way from Big Splash to Bedok Jetty and back, a distance of at least 10 km. It was no problem for me to cover that distance on my chopper but CL would be perspiring profusely by the time he finished back at Big Splash. He would say that he must have lost at least 2 kg from the jog. "Probably all water", I would tease him as I always do. We often joked with each other and CL was a good joker. I thoroughly enjoyed the times I spent with him.

When I moved to Jalan Bukit Merah in the early 80s, our friendship continued but we seldom cycled together because of the distance between our residences. Not long after that, our friendship ended abruptly because of one minor incident. I was devastated. I was hurt not so much by the ending of our 5-year old friendship but by the manner it ended.

(To be continued.)


Anonymous said...

ive got a friendship that is similar to yours, and it has ended also.

waiting for your next entry...

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to the next part of your story, though it seems like it's not going to have a happy ending. In the meantime your readers can use this link to get a satelite view of the house at 23 Amber Road (the link will open Google Maps in their browser at the location of 23 Amber Road). If anyone wants to view the location in Google Earth, the placemark is here.

Anonymous said...

So you were staying at Haig Rd then; I was at Blk.6 Haig Rd too during the 74s onwards.

Victor said...

My dearest GNE,

Don't be so sad
Wait till you read the 2nd part
Then yours may not seem so bad
As what I felt in my heart

Victor said...

Hi Singeo. Nice to see you here again and thanks for providing the value-added service to this post by way of a satellite 'plan view' of the bungalow. You can really see the crescent shape of the bungalow from the top.

Oh BTW, will there be any issue if I reproduce the satellite photo for my sequel post?

Victor said...

Hi Laokokok (and not Lao Ko Ko, haha). Thanks for visiting my blog. So your blog is the rare gem which Chun See discovered recently? I will link you. Have you joined yesterday.sg yet?

Yes, I was staying in Blk 5 Haig Road from late 70s to early 80s. My 2nd brother and his family are still living there. Omigosh, I didn't know you were living in just the very next blog... I mean block. So you were my neighbour from 74s till when?

Anonymous said...

Hi Victor,
Thanks for correcting my nick hehe. I did join Yesterday.sg but somehow couldn't manage to login till now.

Leaving a comment in blogspot is a bit difficult for me due to the word verification (problem in visualising it haha).

I was at Haig Rd till probably early 90s before I moved over to Tampines St.32 here after I got married. I still go back almost every Sunday as my parents still staying there but most old neighbours have left.

Maybe we have seen or met each other before during that period.

Lam Chun See said...

I knew you would be blogging about something like this. I can even predict the ending. Becos of a small misunderstanding (over money of course) your sensitive friend got angry. (Haven't you told this story before?)

Unknown said...

It seems like lately we all seem to be caught in some kind of introspective, melancholic and soppy funk! I know how it feels to lose a friend over a small matter and it has happened to me in the past before. However, I believe that years after, when you extend a hand in reconciliation and make sincere attempts to patch back, it may work out too.

When I first joined my current organisation, I committed a major faux pas. It took me about 4 years to finally patch back with my colleague and to let bygones be bygones.

I have a certain premonition about how your story will end Victor, but I am not going to say it here.

Anonymous said...

Hi Victor,
Remember me, I posted a comment 1 or 2 weeks ago....glad that you took notice of 23. Amber Road........we would love if you would like to join Harp as well! You can also access http://www.irenelow.com/ for more information on Harp or 23. Amber Road. Here we are trying to save 23. Amber and it's amazing you have actually stepped inside it!


Chris Sim said...

Hello friend, can make up your mind or not? Wanna post about nostalgia or about friendship gone sour? Very long leh the story like dat. Hahahaha..

Aiyoh, get over it already lah... So long already, "delete" it from your memory lah.

Must be over a girl one. So many fishes in the ocean. Why let a small fish spoil the friendship. Sigh.

Victor said...

Thanks for all your comments.

Mr Lao (sure sounds better than calling you Laokokok when I am older than you), I am looking forward to meet you at the next yesterday.sg meet.

Chun See - You are only partially right, hence not so good in predicting after all. A lot of misunderstandings are about money, isn't it? Also, he was not the one who got angry. (Gave you so many hints already and you still cannot guess. Sigh.)

Walter - Sometimes, reconciling is easier said than done because there is such a thing called pride (felt by both sides). It prevents either side from making the first move. Also, whether true or not, our Asian mentality has us thinking that the one who makes the first move loses face.

Dawn - Thanks for visiting my blog again. Join Harp? The one who should join is CL himself because his family stayed in it for a number of years. Oh no, maybe he is a member of Harp already? Very paiseh for me to meet him or his family there, you know? Now I don't know whether I should go on to write a Part 2 to this post because it would not put him in a very good light. He might find out one day even though my blog is not famous. Okay, let me explore the website and take some time to consider first. Right now, I don't know what is required of me or how I could contribute. Finally, it's also amazing that you found this post of interest to you the very next day after I posted it.

Chris - Speed reading again is it? Please read properly lah. He is my NS-mate. What girl?

Victor said...

I just thought of a funny slogan for Dawn:

Join HARP and continue to harp on this issue.


How's that Chris? Like Chun See, I'm only human and can forgive but cannot forget. After a quarter of a century, I still remember enough details to harp on the issue and blog about it. Better don't antagonize me, okay? I remember forever one.

*Evil laughter*

Lam Chun See said...

In that case I can go ahead and hantam him becos not sure if I will be around in 25 years. Even if still kicking, dementia, Alzheimers etc. may come along. So won't even remember who is Victor Koo.

Anonymous said...

Pride does prevent one from making the first move. Another reason is that you feel uneasy what to say and how the other side would respond.

Victor said...

Frannxis - I agree with that. But I think what is even worse is when you've picked up the courage to make the first move already but the other person didn't even respond. He/she just ignores you, especially in these days of emails and comments moderation. Really malu and the lost of face can be felt. Nothing can be worse than a complete breakdown in communication or a cold war. ("Hahaha" has been deliberately removed because this is a serious comment.)

Chris Sim said...

Victor, I didn't speed-read. But I think you sped-read my comment. I knew CL was your NS-mate. I speculated that you two fell out because of a girl lor. It's either relationship, or money.

You're beginning to sound like a Li Dai Sor. Quick, all of us are waiting very impatiently for the other chapters of your life....

Victor said...

Chris, be patient. Lee Dai Sor told his story only once a week. I've never fought with my friends over a girl. Over a wife maybe but never over a girl, haha.

CL didn't exactly borrow money from me nor did I from him. But somehow, it did involve money. The plot thickens. Till the next episode, tune in same blog next week, haha.

Chris Sim said...

I think I know the story oredi. Was it something like "Brokeback Mountain"? You were having a sexual identity crisis. You were confused - couldn't decide if you were gay or straight. You were happy with CL, then the girl in question came along. You had to make a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea. Thankfully, "straightness" prevailed and you chose the girl who later became your wife. CL was broken hearted. He fought with you over your wife (you said one hor - over a wife). That's how your friendship ended.

Teo boh?? Did Ang Lee steal your script? Sue him for copyright mah. Hahaha...

Victor said...

What rubbish are you babbling on about, Chris? Stuffed yourself silly with too much bak kwa, meat and popiah, didn't you? Hahaha.

Chris Sim said...

Oopss silly me... it's Lee Ang and not Ang Lee... darned english and chinese name convention .....

Not over the wife? What? You want both ways ah? wahahahaha...

Lam Chun See said...

Thanks for the scoop Chris. Now cannot wait to hear the rest of the story.

Anonymous said...

Hi Victor

Talkback at 938LIVE is doing a story next Monday 25 June about the Cashin Mansion. We're wondering whether you could share your thoughts about the house - whether it should be preserved and what memories you have of it and old Singapore.
Could you contact me at talkback@mediacorp.com.sg or bharati@mediacorp.com.sg? Thanks

Chong-Yee said...

Thanks for blogging this. There is more information on the campaign to save the Butterfly House at www.irenelow.com