Saturday, June 01, 2013

Finally I met someone who knows the Nine Bridges

Long time readers of this blog and those who have read my book will know that I grew up in a kampong near the present CTE called Lorong Kinchir. Lorong Kinchir only got its name after Lorong Chuan was completed in 1963, joining Braddell Road to Serangoon Gardens. Before that it was a dirt track which ran from Braddell Road to Upper Thomson Road and did not have an official name – at least not that the kampong folks knew of. At that time our address was 288 Ang Mo Kio. The local folks called it Chui Arm Lor in Hokkien, or Water Pipes Road. Another name was Kau Tiao Kio or Nine Bridges. This was because the nearby Kallang River and its tributaries crossed our road nine times from Braddell Road to Upper Thomson Road.

Over the years, I have yet to meet anyone outside of our kampong who knew this name, except perhaps, Freddy Neo. But two days ago, I finally met a 79-year-old gentleman who did. He grew up in a kampong just like ours in neighbouring  Yio Chu Kang. He was being interviewed by a group of Sec 4 students from Nanyang Girls’ School, and I was helping out as an interpreter in case the girls could not understand Chinese dialects. This event was held at the Lions Befrienders Senior Activity Centre @ Blk 150 Mei Ling Street. It was organised by the Singapore Memory Project.

It was a meaningful session. Both the seniors and the young ladies enjoyed themselves. The girls certainly learnt a lot about the Singapore of the past; something they might not be able to learn from the textbooks. I think this initiative to involve school children in interviewing senior citizens to gather memories for the SMP is an excellent idea. It kills several birds with one stone. Both young and old benefited from the session and SMP harvested many memories at one go.