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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

I write songs, I sing them... I play the piano and a little bit of the guitar.. I've released 5 albums of music, I love the scent of freshly fallen rain and the scent of lavender on bedsheets. I would drink tea all day long if the caffeine didn't keep me up at night. I hate driving in L.A traffic. I would love to one day catch the squirrel that steals the plums from my tree and make him a pet. I don't watch TV anymore. My 3 year old daughter is more entertaining than any TV show could ever be :)

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A trip back in time - Taking the train from Seremban back to Singapore.

We left Seremban on Tuesday evening, the 7th of August
at 11.30 p.m and took the night train
back to Singapore.

Kavin and I had booked the dual bed
cabin and I took the top bunk while he
took the bottom bunk.

A steward soon came by to take our orders
for supper and came back a few minutes
later with a pack of mee goreng, a pack
of nasi goreng, a hot cup of Milo and
a bottle of water.

The rest of the train trip was smooth enough
and Kavin spent the time reading his book
while I went to sleep.

The next thing we knew, it was 6.20 a.m
and a voice over the sound system announced
in Malay that we were approaching the Johor-
Singapore border and that the customs officers
would soon be checking our passports.

Once this was done, the train continued onwards
towards Singapore.

We went across the causeway, side-by-side with
the huge water pipes that carried water
from Malaysia to Singapore.

Water pipes carrying water from Malaysia-Singapore
as the sun rises.

Once we reached Singapore, we stopped
for a half-hour to clear the Singapore
customs and immigration, then
it was off again, back into the train.

I loved just standing by the window,
watching the scenery go by as the train
chugged along a route that unlike
most of Singapore, had remained
relatively unchanged through the decades.

It felt like taking a trip back in time.

The juxtaposition of wooden huts, with
chickens running wild along the railway
line and the tall HDB flats in the background
stirred something in my heart.

The sense of the old against the new,
the laidback against the busy,
the past against the future.

Natural 'longkang' flowing along the train tracks in Singapore

Chickens running wild!

I was surprised too to see that the old
Bukit Timah/ Woodlands train station
was still there, with people resting
on the wooden benches, even though
the train did not stop there.
It looked as if a page from history
had just come alive in front of my eyes,
and the only people that seemed to
share the joy of my discovery were a couple
of Caucasian tourists that I saw wandering
along the pathway close to the railway line,
exploring the last frontier of old Singapore.

The train ran past my former school, RJC,
and memories from that era in my life
flooded back for a moment.

Then it rounded a curve and ran
alongside the Ayer Rajah Expressway
for a while...the modern cars,
running past this train, this older mode of transportation...
juxtaposed against the new.

everyone stops to let the most senior form of transportation through.

Then it soon drew closer to its final
destination, Tanjong Pagar railway station.
And as the train approached the station,
I saw the guardhouse, unchanged from of old,
as it bore the signage for 'Singapura',

An old guardhouse still bearing the name 'Singapura'

The train from the front.

Pics of the railway station, the building mostly unchanged since it
was built in 1932.

In the midst of all the physical transformation
that Singapore has gone through, it was
heartwarming for me to know, that at least
a bit of the old Singapore was still a reality,
for this moment. In the midst of bewildering
changes, like the demolition of the National Library
and the tearing down of old buildings,
it felt good to know that some part of Singapore's
history is still there within reach.

It is the yearning for the familiar, the sense
of one's home, perhaps a yearning for physical
roots that sometimes tugs at my heartstrings.
If someone like me in my 30's feels this way,
I can only imagine how bewildering the lightning-
fast changes must be for people in my grandparent's

I like listening to my grandma telling me stories
of the Singapore she grew up in, the one
where she had to take care of the pigs and chickens
in the yard, the one where grandpa and her bicycled
through the streets of Singapore on their dates,
the one where ten cents would buy a good meal.

I like knowing how something came to be.
For in knowing one's roots, and one's history,
I feel that I can hold on to the strength that
comes from that sturdiness in the soil, and know
that whereever the branches may grow, there
is a common history, a common sense of family,
a shared sense of space and time.

A place I can call home.


Anonymous Marcus said...

A, i guess only singaporeans who so not stay in singapore regularly are able to differentiate the sg nw and then. Too often, we are caught up in our own work and lifestyle to appreciate our surroundings and environment. Nostalgia gives a close and yet distant feel.

Sunday, August 26, 2007 10:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Angelina Yeo said...

Another well-written, thought-provoking blog of yours! I'm also sentimental at heart and I miss the old buildings like the National Library. To think that it was demolished for a tunnel is ridiculous! Yes, I also recall my mum saying how 10 cents can buy a bowl of mee during their younger days. Hmm, life passes us by too quickly indeed!

Monday, August 27, 2007 2:37:00 AM  
Blogger flo said...

hi corrinne! you write very well..just like to say that I'm very proud of you, my senior from RGS and RJC! :) your music and lyrics have inspired me through the ups and downs of my life. keep writing music and i'm aspiring to be able to write like you one day! take care and God bless you :)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007 8:55:00 AM  

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