Saturday, December 31, 2005

Why I Started Good Morning Yesterday

The last day of the year is a good time for reflection. I think I should explain in more detail why I started this blog.

Basically I have 2 reasons:

1) To reminisce about the ‘good old days’.
2) To educate the next generation about what life of their parents was like when they were young.

Firstly, I notice that people of my age group or older like to talk about the past. Whenever, my friends or relatives get together, at Chinese New Year gatherings, or dinners or even funerals, they like to exchange stories about the past. The reason of course, is that Singapore, especially the physical landscape, has changed a lot during our lifetime. There are very few places that have not changed during the past 30 years. Many of the places that I saw during my army days in the early 1970’s for example, like the kampongs in Jurong, Bt Batok, Marsiling, Hong Kah, Tampines and Ponggol have all gone. Therefore, I thought, a blog would be a useful place for people like us to network and exchange stories. It is no different from a kopi-tiam or a void deck really.

The second thing I notice is that our children seem to be very ignorant about life back in the old days; and about things of nature in general. Maybe life in Singapore is too fast-paced nowadays, and they have too many material distractions. Consequently, they miss out on many of the simple pleasures of life.

For myself, I make a special effort to tell my children about what life was like when we were kids; and the kind of things we enjoyed as kampong children. For example, I described to my son about how we caught fighting fish from the ponds in our village. He became very interested, and today he has taken up breeding fighting fish as a hobby. My children also keep many pets in our home, including a cockerel they fondly named Mellow. They are fortunate in a way, because my wife is a Malaysian. Our frequent trips back to her home town in Ipoh helped to expose my children to life in a less urban environment like Singapore.

I bet you have never seen a chicken ride bicycle

By the way, do you know what my son calls some of his friends….. ”乡上人“。That’s the opposite of a country bumpkin who is ignorant about modern things. So my second reason for starting this blog is to educate the “乡上“ young people of Singapore.

But what triggered off this project was something that happened during a recent trip to Myanmar. On my way back to the airport, I shared the hotel car with a Japanese man who was a frequent visitor to Singapore. During our conversation, I remarked that Yangon was very much like Singapore during the time when I was young. Many of the old British-style buildings resembled those in Singapore, and they have many crowded old buses like our Tay Koh Yat buses of the 60’s. He was surprised and said that Singapore must have changed a lot during the past few decades. Yes, and too fast, I replied. It was then that I decided I should start this blog.

I must say that I have been heartened and encouraged by the response that I have received so far. Many of the young people who visited my site actually enjoyed reading about all these old stuff. Initially, I was afraid that they may not like it. Some say that reading a first-person account was quite different from learning from the history books. They say they look forward to hearing more stories in my blog.

Another benefit of this project, which I did not realize before was that it helped to promote bonding between the 2 generations. Quite a few young people said that they want to ask their parents to read my articles. Apparently, their parents are quite afraid of the internet and IT; and so they hope to use this blog and my personal example to educate their parents.

I will try my best to live up to these young people’s expectations. But of course I cannot do it alone. I intend to get my siblings and friends to chip in. For example, my old friend, Simon Chu Chun Sing has contributed a few very interesting articles about Chinatown and promised to contribute some more. I have extended an invitation to other people of my generation to share their stories here, but so far I have not received any. I don’t know why. I hope it is because they too would like to start their own blogs; then I will have more blogs to read. Right now, other than Victor’s and Chris’ blog (see links section) the blogosphere does seem to be a rather lonely place for people my age.

In conclusion, I also want to remind myself that it is not healthy to live too much in the past. Like what the title of 尤雅’s song says, 往事只能回味. So I remind myself that our life on this planet is brief ( 短暂). We must also look to the future. That’s why I included a verse from the Old Testament of the Bible at the bottom of my blog which says (in Chinese);

“ 至于世人, 他的年日如草一样。

Happy New Year everyone!

12 comments: said...

History is not limited to "official accounts". In fact, if we take a longterm and collectively perspective, blogging is "history-in-the-making". What is currently posted today, what seems whimsical and mundane, will be the digital archive for future generations (if the digital archive survive that long). And I think there is no expectations by "young people" reading your blog. I'd suggest that bloggers really write for themselves first and foremost.

Lionel Tan said...

Yong people like me read your blog! Ha! Ha! HA!

Happy New Year! Best wish!

Chris Sim said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Chris Sim said...

I think what Chun See did is quite commendable - blogging about the yesteryears of Singapore and giving the young readers a taste of how life was like in the days of yore. I, for one, find it heartening to learned from the various comments that some of the young readers actually told their parents (many of them aren't internet savvy, though are in the same generation as Chun See) about this blog and the various posts on the old Singapore have become points of discussion to them.

Having said that, I think blogging in order to fulfill others' expectation takes away the fun of blogging. Like what Ivan said, one should firstly blog for themselves and should not feel pressurize into doing so by others.

Lam Chun See said...

Chris, Ivan - Thanks for your inputs.

Anonymous said...

Chun See, I feel that bloggers around your age also writes in more grammatical english - most probably due to the rigours of grammar rules that they had been through in their school years.

The younger ones could also learn better english from your blog.

Anonymous said...

hmm, well, when talking about "younger" ones with bad grammar... you don't mean all "younger" ones right? would that include you then? language is all about interest i believe, and the household with which one was brought up in. then again, we are not here to debate about that, i do apologise. i have to admit that uncle chun see's blog written in proper english, coupled with various interesting and personal annecdotes, makes it a much better read than most nonsensical "famous" ones you read about in the newspapers nowadays. uncle chun see, i think your blog has enriched me a lot culturally and i can't wait for your future entries. heres a BIG BIG thumbs up from me! happy new year!

Lam Chun See said...

I think Frannxis is probably of my (and Victor's) age group.

I am not able to comment on younger generation's grammar; but my kids' English quite OK. Though sometimes I have difficulty understanding my daughter's sms.

I believe it is more an issue of style and habit. For younger people, when commnunicating via email and sms, they do not feel the need to conform to proper grammar, punctuation or spelling discipline (like our Singlish). But it is an effort to break old habits, so older guys like me prefer to type in the full words rather that the short forms.

fuzzoo said...

I think it's fine to be blogging with someone other than yourself in mind. Chun See has said that one of the main purposes of his blog is to tell the younger generations about the old days so naturally he blogs with young people in mind and wants the content to be interesting for them. I blog mainly to keep my parents and my sister's family, who are overseas, updated on what's happening with us over here so I mostly write about the kids (their lives are more exciting than mine) and not stuff that wouldn't interest them like TV shows I'm catching, my latest good buy, etc. Many bloggers seem to blog with no one in mind altho' they want people to visit their blog. Maybe that's why there are so many blogs full of inane ramblings.

Anonymous said...

In the old school of education, getting a good grade in the English language was extremely difficult, let alone a distinction. It could be probably due to the emphasis in grammer proficiency. I could be wrong in this judgement.

Anonymous said...

It's exactly the same in the uk kids are hopeless but my guess is those in Singapore are better behaved and more willing to learn than there UK counterparts. That pic of the chicken on the bicycle, my I remember my dad taking one of a local near to Tengah, he had a fully grown pig on his cycle!

Anonymous said...

Dear Uncle Chun See,

I am one of the many young patroniser of your blog. I love history and am curious about how Singapore or malaysia were like in those days. So, I wanna give you 2 thumbs up and pat on your shoulder. You have done a great job in educating the younger generation on the Singapore's heydays.....

Keep up the good work