After I posted Mighty Mouse (Episode 11) below, I received a private email from one of you, basically complaining that I did not say much about the provision shop and the people gathered there to watch television. She felt that I needed to reveal something about the occasion, environment and atmosphere of the time.
Okay, here goes…
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*** Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2011 ***
Thank you for your kind words. I hope I can deserve them. They mean a lot to me.
I just went to Chong Pang City on google maps and “drove around” on the street view, which actually covers quite a lot of Singapore. What a transformation you must have seen over the last few decades! The places I have lived, except for one, did not change so much during my life. One of them is unrecognizable now, but the others do not lose me. When we moved to this place in 1986 from the city of St. Louis we did some research, and when we found a place whose population had not changed at all in 150 years, we moved there. In other words, this area is economically stagnant, but it nonetheless has four universities. The population, though stable, has migrated off of farms and into the “cities” we have. We are on opposite sides of the world in several ways, I guess. Google street view does go through our town, but not into our neighborhood. You can, however, “drive” past my wife’s church if you wish. It is in Norwood NY. The sign is bleached out by the setting sun, but it is a brick church, not the white wooden one.
It was a great thing for you, I suspect a great benefit to you, that there were other ethnic groups in the village. When I was growing up, in the small towns I was living in, everyone was white, mainly of English descent. In Texas, when I was young, I know there were Mexican-Americans, but I never saw them. They kept separate and we kept separate. When I was older, in Mississippi, it was the same. I know there were many African-Americans there, but everyone was separate. It is not like that anymore, in most places, but I know there are some who want to go back to segregation. I think it did damage to us, as a people, that we have not recovered from.
We didn’t have any places like Towkay where the whole village might gather. Even families were segregated from other families. I think we missed out on a lot.
America is so vast that even now people can be born, grow up, live and die without any real interaction with other races, I reckon. The race issues of America, starting with the Native Indians, is well documented. As I see it, there are a multiple of causes…One thing going in your favour is language > at least all speak English. But not anymore I see – Spanish is now prevalent, a step backwards, I reckon.
Yes, you are right – you probably missed out on some…
Singapore too is a nation of emigrants – mostly from China, India and the Indonesian islands. We did have our racial problems but not anymore. Now, more than 20% of all marriages is across racial divides. The people born and bred here see everyone as Singaporeans.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of recent emigrants from China, India, Asia, Africa, Europe and America – those who arrived in the last 10 years and now constitute 23% of the population – have formed enclaves and do not readily mix with the local born Singaporeans. For example, there are Arabs and Jews, Indians and Pakistanis, and various African races – all living here. Some among these people have carried over much baggage, I reckon. The locals have complained, the government is aware – hopefully full integration (rather than mere media events) takes place.
I fear it is a powder keg awaiting a fuse > not if, but when!
I hope not. It would be nice if one place in the world could have all people together in peace. Maybe Singapore. I just read that in America now 10% of all marriages are across races and that is a hopeful thing. In our small town we know five or six such marriages. But there is a reaction. I believe America’s problems have stemmed from two sources: guilt over the horrible way we took the land from the Native Americans (my daughter-in-law is Mohawk and speaking with her family I know how much bitterness is still unhealed – not to mention, unrepented) and guilt over slavery. I think we have some very good and worthwhile ideals when we began our country, but we compromised very quickly. Still the only thing any of us can do is walk in the light and not in the darkness.
I love and admire your words of Peace, Love and Wisdom. I consider it my good fortune to have met you.
I’m turning in for the night.
Good night my friend,
Remember the rare ocassions we had money to treat ourselves – invariably spent on sweets or cream filled biscuits. The Towkay picks the biscuits from those glass jars, which had with screws caps, and wraps them in newspaper.
And we chew the biscuits in teeny weeny bits so they last forever. We also love the ice pack with different flavours – red bean, pineapple, prune, sweet corn, etc. The best sweet was lollipop in grey wrappers – taste like F&N sarsi.
Yup those were the days!
I like to go to the neighbouhood provision store too – there’s so many things to eat but no money to buy. “Stock Take” is alien those days. Yes, how could Leigh/author forget this favorite haunt.