|Learning to bid at a neighborhood charity auction with Ah Ma|
As a child, I liked my orange peel salty, sour and sweet
If I ventured a little further west, I could lean against the gates of Chongfu Primary School as I unwrapped my sweets and admired the five-storey-high building, the tallest structure known to me at age five.
|Chongfu: The big school on the block|
|Thian Hock Keng was built with donations from Chinese immigrants grateful for safe travels from the motherland|
|The cross-generational appeal of half-boiled eggs and coffee-shop coffee|
Finally, across our shophouse was a mosque -- which I later learned was our landlord -- and Telok Ayer Green. The latter may be the tiniest park in Singapore, but at that time, crossing it felt like an exhilarating excursion that would literally bring me to the edge of my childhood world.
|In the 30 years since I'd left, Telok Ayer Green has been spruced up to include bronze statues of coolie immigrant life in colonial times|
Years went by and I would go on to live in many different neighborhoods around Singapore and within Europe and the United States. During this time, Telok Ayer underwent massive transformation to scrub away its grittiness and increase its tourist appeal.
When I last visited in 2011, my beloved shophouse had been turned into a little food court, flanked by a Korean eatery and an espresso cafe. Office workers from the nearby skyscrapers were pouring onto the street during the lunch hour, fighting for space alongside the many tourists seeking proof of the co-existence of a temple and mosque on my narrow little street.
Despite the gentrification, Telok Ayer remains the ‘hood where my heart is, the place that I believe most shaped the person I am today.
I never thought I’d feel so strongly about anywhere else I’d ever live. Until a recent move to my third neighborhood in New York.
Ah Gong and his giant homemade starfruit juice strainer at the back of our shophouse
|Telok Ayer the way I will always remember it|
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[Some pictures taken from the Internet]