I think the year must have been around 1984. At 32, I was still single and my sister Pat was not happy. Her reputation of being a highly successful one-woman SDU was being tarnished by her uncooperative brother. SDU, in case you do not know, stood for Social Development Unit. It was formed by the government to match-make university graduates. It was the product of the Great Marriage Debate triggered by then prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew during one of his National Day Rally speeches.
My sister was really scary. She still is actually. She doesn’t ask for your permission before she arranges blind dates. She simply gives you the phone number and tells you everything has been arranged; just make the call. Even if you object also she doesn’t care. It was a real torture for me.
Anyway, I spoke to this girl on the phone. For some reason she did not want me to go to her house to fetch her - too far, I may not be familiar with that area etc. As she lived in the northern part of Singapore, we agreed to meet at the Imperial Theatre car park in Upper Thomson Road. I gave her a description of my car. I believe at that time I was driving a Subaru 1600GL which I bought for only $13,000 from an Australian colleague of my brother’s at Citibank. The car had only clocked a mileage of less that 30,000 km.
Map of Upper Thomson in vicinity of Imperial Theatre (From my 1981 Street Directory). Notice the Thomson Village, Kampong San Teng Road, and the Little Sisters of the Poor, which is still there but now has a different name.
At the appointed time, I arrived early and once I got there, I realized that I had inadvertently chosen the perfect place. There was no way she could miss me.
You see, the Imperial Theatre was a small theatre that we used to go to when we stayed at the kampong in Lorong Kinchir off Lorong Chuan. (Read story here). But since we moved out in 1974, we seldom went back there. And so I did not know that in the eighties, Imperial had become an Indian movie theatre.
When my date arrived, one show had just ended and another was about to begin. There I was in the car park, standing next to my car, the only Chinese in a sea of Indians.