Empty Chairs on Sungei Road

Empty Chairs on Sungei Road

The day before, I took a walk from my house to the Immigrations building to collect my passport. It was long and lovely and although I did not intend to, I ended up having to do this trip twice because I forgot to bring my old passport on the first trip.

However, as a result of this oversight, on my walks I observed a female construction worker/surveyor doing some measurements and annotating on the ground with a correction pen and had a leisurely walk home again from Lavender to Little India. There are many new markers on the ground that have only just appeared in the last day, and surveyors can actually be seen everywhere. The trail is hot!

All the annotations refer to C935, sometimes also represented with a LJH which stands for Leighton-John Holland, a joint venture between two Australian rail building companies. You can see plastic road dividers being sloppily sprayed with the initials LJH all around the Sungei Road area, and many large objects around the area such as the electronic traffic diversion signs are also labeled with C935.

Later that night after Korean classes, I walked home from Bugis to Jalan Besar/Little India. The Victoria Street Wholesale Market was already being demolished, and with the shops taken out of the buildings, you could see the huge bricks which had been used to construct it in the first place. It is funny because my memories of it are less as a market but rather as a night time playground, walking around its empty but fishy corridors and imagining all the dried produce stored within.

The compressed and cramped roads of Sungei Road are still active even at night. As always, the chairs have been stashed on the posts of the very fences that were used to keep the people out from the empty grass and on the pavements. It is a funny thing when there is a market place but the place is fenced off to the people such that people are only allowed on the roads – and yet one can see how the people have also fought back so much to keep this space in spite of everything.

And there used to be fewer chairs before they dug up half of the road – I remember this clearly as we used to “borrow” a few of these chairs and sit on them at night so being able to find the chairs was crucial – but for some reason the number of empty chairs seem to have suddenly multiplied recently. As I walked past late at night, a group of old men were still sitting and talking in the middle of Sungei Road. Were they trading old stories or talking of new ones, or keeping an eye on the street? Its hard to tell, but this is visibly a major transitional phase for Sungei Road. I just hope that it remains full of life even after they construct the new station in the middle of the Thieves Market…