Thursday, June 25, 2015

bye, jamal

(Going to have to back-date my holiday posts because work has piled up once more!)

My 60-something friend called me up yesterday and even before she said hello, shrieked: They’re closing!

Well, only one person I know would shriek like that, but what is closing?

Turns out my (and her) favourite Indian coffeeshop down the road, Jamal Restaurant, would be gone forever today.


It’s part of re-development plans for Siglap, to tear down the four HDB blocks comprising the area's only HDB enclave for what was at first thought to be the MRT station but is now a complete mystery. (though everyone swears it will be another icky money-making condominium development with over-priced shops, probably including yet another pretentious artisanal coffee joint, on the ground floor)

The old shops, which have mostly been run by the same people for decades, are on the ground floor.

* HDB blocks in the background

My friend is furious: What is the Government doing? That is the only place I can buy a whole load of cooked vegetables for $2. $2! I’m so ANGRY! Development is fine, but not when it’s being replaced by something worse!

I think it’s hard growing old in Singapore. For her, things are changing too fast. Everything she knows is going.

Me, I never get angry. I sigh and take photos to say farewell.

The article on the re-development was written in the news in 2013. But the moving out only became apparent several weeks back, when the shop signs were ripped off and people who had been there for decades emptied their shops. The time has finally come.


The uncle who has been there forever Mr Soh - who developed our photos and whom Day loved to buy drinks from (because it cost 80 cents at his shop instead of $1.20 elsewhere) - left this sign outside his door.


The ladies next door who have been cutting hair there since they were young and curvy, apparently cried when they cut the hair for their last few customers.

Jamal is our favourite haunt in the entire row (our meaning the kids and I. KK didn’t like it very much, he prefers Starbucks). Prata, briyani, teh tarik and drinks, while I enjoy the free newspapers. It was the only place I could get prata and a hot drink for $2.

* Day's favourite briyani with a chilli egg

* Last day: A quiet Thursday

Jo and I go today. “Prata bawang”, I say. The onion prata is my favourite. “No prata”, they say disconsolately. My heart drops. A cup of teh tarik later, I wave goodbye. They are not moving anywhere else. One says he’s going back to India.

* The sign calling for workers still up on the wall

* One last glass of my favourite teh tarik

For the first time, I look at the Indian workers in the coffeshop, whom I’ve been seeing but not really seeing for years, in the eye. We are mutually bereft.

(Other blog posts about the Siglap HDB blocks are here and this great one by an Opposition MP who grew up in the area, thank God he wrote it.)


Dee.. said...

I feel what your friend said. They always develop it to something better and that comes with a price tag. Better is relative, I say. For prata, you can come to Springleaf prata at Jalan Tua Kong and also drop by the playground at Elite Park!

Dee.. said...
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