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30 September 2014
"When my wife was younger, she had a tailoring business. She was very hard working and business was good. But she still had to give almost all her income to her parents. They gave her away twice as a child but she still had to give them her salary! 

That’s how we met actually. I brought my jacket in for tailoring in one day. She tells people that I asked her out. But that’s not exactly true. The day she met me, she gave me her phone number and said, ‘You better call me!’ “

"When my wife was younger, she had a tailoring business. She was very hard working and business was good. But she still had to give almost all her income to her parents. They gave her away twice as a child but she still had to give them her salary!

That’s how we met actually. I brought my jacket in for tailoring in one day. She tells people that I asked her out. But that’s not exactly true. The day she met me, she gave me her phone number and said, ‘You better call me!’ “

30 September 2014
"My parents sold me for $800 when I was 9 years old. A family in Johor bought me to work on their rubber plantations. It was difficult work for a child. And once I even got injured. But they didn’t give me proper medical care so my leg never healed properly. 

By the time I was 11, I couldn’t take it anymore because they beat me. So I ran away. I knew that if I followed the railway track, it would lead back to Singapore. So I walked along the track and managed to find my way home. After that, my parents returned the $800 to get back my birth certificate. 

But they were still poor so they sold me again - for $880 this time. I was sold to a temple in Malaysia. I did cooking and cleaning at the temple… But there was trouble at the temple and eventually I had to leave when I was 17. Again I found my way back to Singapore. 

When I got home, I opened a business tailoring clothes. I was never trained but I’d seen the tailors working in the streets and figured it out. I had lots of business.

That’s how I met my husband. He came to the shop one day to tailor a jacket and later he asked me out…

I suppose my childhood was quite hard. My reading and writing is not so good because I couldn’t go to school all those years. And there were some hardships. But now I have a good life. I have three grown children and my husband is always with me. We are very happy.”

"My parents sold me for $800 when I was 9 years old. A family in Johor bought me to work on their rubber plantations. It was difficult work for a child. And once I even got injured. But they didn’t give me proper medical care so my leg never healed properly.

By the time I was 11, I couldn’t take it anymore because they beat me. So I ran away. I knew that if I followed the railway track, it would lead back to Singapore. So I walked along the track and managed to find my way home. After that, my parents returned the $800 to get back my birth certificate.

But they were still poor so they sold me again - for $880 this time. I was sold to a temple in Malaysia. I did cooking and cleaning at the temple… But there was trouble at the temple and eventually I had to leave when I was 17. Again I found my way back to Singapore.

When I got home, I opened a business tailoring clothes. I was never trained but I’d seen the tailors working in the streets and figured it out. I had lots of business.

That’s how I met my husband. He came to the shop one day to tailor a jacket and later he asked me out…

I suppose my childhood was quite hard. My reading and writing is not so good because I couldn’t go to school all those years. And there were some hardships. But now I have a good life. I have three grown children and my husband is always with me. We are very happy.”

25 September 2014
"Singapore is so ordered and organised that whenever I find a pocket of space that is in disorder, I love it. It feels like these places have been overlooked - they are mistakes in the big plan. Like Little India. The place is like one big wonderful mistake and I love it."

"Singapore is so ordered and organised that whenever I find a pocket of space that is in disorder, I love it. It feels like these places have been overlooked - they are mistakes in the big plan. Like Little India. The place is like one big wonderful mistake and I love it."

25 September 2014
The littlest Ghost Buster. 

Some very smart parents rigged up this simple toy which proved to be loads of fun for their tiny explorer.

The littlest Ghost Buster.

Some very smart parents rigged up this simple toy which proved to be loads of fun for their tiny explorer.

24 September 2014
"I’m experienced with death. Both my parents and my grand-parents all died. It is a hard topic for us to discuss. When we love someone, we may do everything we can to keep them alive. But if the fella is suffering, is it really the right thing to do? We surely all die - whether we die today, we die tomorrow, we surely die. We hope that we can die a happy way, a peaceful way. But sometimes it’s not so easy. And though you love someone very much, you cannot love them to the point of confusion - where you don’t see that your desire to cling on to them causes them suffering. To love also means to let go. "

"I’m experienced with death. Both my parents and my grand-parents all died. It is a hard topic for us to discuss. When we love someone, we may do everything we can to keep them alive. But if the fella is suffering, is it really the right thing to do? We surely all die - whether we die today, we die tomorrow, we surely die. We hope that we can die a happy way, a peaceful way. But sometimes it’s not so easy. And though you love someone very much, you cannot love them to the point of confusion - where you don’t see that your desire to cling on to them causes them suffering. To love also means to let go. "

24 September 2014
"He’s my third"

Kids come in all shapes and sizes. Dads too.

"He’s my third"

Kids come in all shapes and sizes. Dads too.

23 September 2014
This is a mural in Teck Ghee. I asked two uncles what it means. Argument ensues.

"It means we can’t think outside the box."

"No lah. It means that our brains are solid. OK? SOLID."

"Nonsense."

"It’s true I tell you. The man from the PA said so. So it is definitely true."

"You see? Talk like that - prove my point. I win already."

This is a mural in Teck Ghee. I asked two uncles what it means. Argument ensues.

"It means we can’t think outside the box."

"No lah. It means that our brains are solid. OK? SOLID."

"Nonsense."

"It’s true I tell you. The man from the PA said so. So it is definitely true."

"You see? Talk like that - prove my point. I win already."

23 September 2014
This guy just refused to speak to me.

This guy just refused to speak to me.

17 September 2014

The Spin Doktor is IN the house.

"We grew up in the kampong. There were six kids in my family. When I was 13, my father said he couldn’t afford to send us all to school. He said ‘So if you want to go to school, you must come help me in the cinema.’ My father worked in the Cinema. So my first brother’s job was to tear the ticket when people went in. My second brother worked the projector. Then he put me in front of two record players and said, ‘your job is to spin.’ So for half an hour before the show started, my job was to play music - to be DJ. Then he would give me my pocket money.

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17 September 2014
"We live in the neighbourhood and walk by here all the time. So when we heard Uncle Lim wanted to give up the shop and retire, we jumped at the chance. This provision shop is over 50 years old. It’s very tricky running a cafe in this old space because the power to the unit is about half what it is in new places. We have 30 amperes to run the entire cafe and the espresso machine alone takes up 20! So we had to modify a lot of our appliances to make it all work. 

Of course when we moved in, we knew the space would eventually be torn down. But we thought we would still have 15-20 years. Then one month after opening, we heard the news that the Dakota Estate would be closed down in 2016. What to do? We’re still hopeful that the schedule will get set back and we’ll have a bit more time. It is the realisation of a dream to run this cafe.”

"We live in the neighbourhood and walk by here all the time. So when we heard Uncle Lim wanted to give up the shop and retire, we jumped at the chance. This provision shop is over 50 years old. It’s very tricky running a cafe in this old space because the power to the unit is about half what it is in new places. We have 30 amperes to run the entire cafe and the espresso machine alone takes up 20! So we had to modify a lot of our appliances to make it all work.

Of course when we moved in, we knew the space would eventually be torn down. But we thought we would still have 15-20 years. Then one month after opening, we heard the news that the Dakota Estate would be closed down in 2016. What to do? We’re still hopeful that the schedule will get set back and we’ll have a bit more time. It is the realisation of a dream to run this cafe.”

16 September 2014
"My family moved here from China when I was 7. I don’t tell many people that. I’ve lived here for 20 years and am a citizen. I’ve been through the school system, I work in the government, my accent and mannerisms are local… and I’ve never considered myself anything but Singaporean. 

But I’m always afraid that someone will say I’m not Singaporean enough. I wonder: ‘What is enough?’ Is it enough to go to school here? Do you have to be born here? Do your parents have to be born here? It has made me afraid to embrace my Chinese heritage. But as I get older, I’m starting to feel I need to explore that aspect of my identity and learn to accept it as part of myself.”

"My family moved here from China when I was 7. I don’t tell many people that. I’ve lived here for 20 years and am a citizen. I’ve been through the school system, I work in the government, my accent and mannerisms are local… and I’ve never considered myself anything but Singaporean.

But I’m always afraid that someone will say I’m not Singaporean enough. I wonder: ‘What is enough?’ Is it enough to go to school here? Do you have to be born here? Do your parents have to be born here? It has made me afraid to embrace my Chinese heritage. But as I get older, I’m starting to feel I need to explore that aspect of my identity and learn to accept it as part of myself.”

"I started with the tats about 40 years ago and just didn’t stop."

8 September 2014
Culture & Sub-culture

Culture & Sub-culture

8 September 2014
"I’ve been living in Japan for 5 years. And I also lived in Toronto for a while. When you live abroad, you see what a skewed impression people have of Singapore. Only the weirdest Singapore stories go viral. And then those stories get mutated beyond their original weirdness. So people in other countries can have very strange ideas about what life is like in Singapore."

"I’ve been living in Japan for 5 years. And I also lived in Toronto for a while. When you live abroad, you see what a skewed impression people have of Singapore. Only the weirdest Singapore stories go viral. And then those stories get mutated beyond their original weirdness. So people in other countries can have very strange ideas about what life is like in Singapore."

7 September 2014
Does whatever a spider can… if he catches the bus on time.

"We’re friends. Actually there’s one more. But Spidey 3 is late."

Does whatever a spider can… if he catches the bus on time.

"We’re friends. Actually there’s one more. But Spidey 3 is late."