Monday, December 19, 2011

Ode to Parkway

It had been the one unchangeable I could always count on, the one shopping mall I've always been able to find my way around virtually blindfolded since I was allowed to visit it by myself when I was twelve. But I guess two years is a long time to be away and in my absence, my beloved Parkway Parade has finally succumbed to the metamorphosis that seems to have beset so many familiar locales around the island. Having lived in the East of the island all my life, this shopping center has always had a special place in my heart, even with the fancier, shinier, brighter malls sprouting up in the city. In its own modest way, it had (well, still has, I guess) everything I need in a mall-- sundries, groceries, food, shopping, and services like my optician and watch repairman.

And having spent so much time there these past twenty some years, I knew exactly where everything was- every shop, how most of the owners and vendors looked like, even how competitors' prices matched up (particularly amongst the mall's many optical shops). So imagine my utter discombobulation when Jude and I popped by for what I thought was going to be an easy (and quick) errand trip. Armed with a list of things to buy and Sophie happily napping at my parents', I was certain I could get everything I needed within the two hours of Sophie's nap. In fact, I was convinced that if we were strategic enough in our shopping, we might even be able to do it all in under an hour, with time leftover for coffee and a snack. Clearly, I didn't factor in 1) the Christmas shopping crowd; 2) the many makeshift shopping carts that have sprung up in every available space all over the mall; 3) an expanded basement food court that I had to meander through just to get to the elevators; and 4) all the shops that have newly opened, expanded, shrunk, moved, changed names, or closed down. It actually made me feel a little sad-- disappointed almost-- like having an old friend change on you... In the end, we did manage to get our shopping done, but in two hours instead of one. There was coffee-- but to go-- and no time for a snack.

Five years ago, I blogged about something similar; five years later, I pretty much still feel the same way. Like I told Jude as we sat in an inexplicable traffic jam in the middle of the day along Orchard Road last week, every generation of Singaporeans has-- and will-- grow old in a Singapore that is nothing like the Singapore in which we grew up.

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