A sign of Singapore

‘On the edge of the equator’

When I visited Singapore for the first time in 1984 there were neither subway lines nor people movers as a feeder between a station and living area.
All visits thereafter with shocked amazement I followed the construction but also pace of progress, within a relative short time span a substantial system was build and by now a full grown up to date sophisticated mode of Public Transportation. Together with the numerous feeder and non feeder bus routes one can say: in Singapore there’s no need for a private car.
However, this is not the wish of many Chinese, Indian and Malay people forcing the government taking harsh measurements in order to keep things moving because nothing worse than an everlasting gridlock. If they will succeed is a matter of time but above all if the individual aspiration is prepared to restrict itself for the well being of a community as a whole?
The latter I doubt more-over while people driving around on four wheels consider this as the ultimate freedom. To bad, their dreams lacking a certain philosophy, on purpose I suppose, because we are not alone saying so on a mild manner. “Room enough,” one could accentuate. “Yes, on earth but not restrained on a limited surface called: metropolis.”
Singapore is; a city-state on a small isle connected by a dam in the Johor strait with the peninsula of Malaysia for traffic and train. The latter recently run only a few meters on Singaporean soil till the Woodlands Station. The rest of a round and about twenty kilometre long line till a head-end station on the Keppel Road was closed. Build in the twenties it showing the splendor of that time and will be preserved, the city learned a dear lesson. In the eighties it was all about progress that counted and so the slogan: ‘tear down the old walls!’ Just in time they realized that a bit of visible history doing well and not only pleasing the eyes of a visitor. The reminiscence of the railway will be kept for the future youth, for me it will be remembered as the place where you entered the city after arriving by train. On the platform the custom facilities and always some fear that the officials won’t let you get through due to the strict rules. It never occurs, others where less lucky. Long hair, chewing gum, to name just a few. Drugs would have brought you straight to the gallow.

It’s the image of a lovely old building, a dilapidated house struggling to keep her status of the past alive. The characteristic Chinese style with a romantic touch of European architecture. Memory lane, in thoughts British soldiers marching in their distinguished tropical outfit, wonderful English names and hint to a wilted period of a romantic but also burdened past, times wherein Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles (July 6th 1781 – July 5th 1826) didn’t have a heroic status but busy founding the city.
In the old culture there’s so much desirable and simultaneously forgotten the existence. The meter gauge steam tramway (1886-1894), the electric tramway (1905-1927) and the trolleybus, they all are gone without any traces. A place were the clock is ticking vigorously can’t afford it to linger with the past. A pity on one hand but on the other not bad either, in the limelight of modern urban rail Singapore is always worth a visit. The rest a picture with an always undisclosed feeling what it must have been in reality, the dream goes on.


About Robert von Hirschhorn

Author / Performer or in Dutch: schrijver / dichter
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