Instead of heading straight home on the MRT, I took a bus to Bugis, and leisurely made my way to City Hall with a cup of soya bean drink in hand.
It was a cool night and despite being in the dense urban center, I wished I had a light cardigan or scarf around me. It was still early for the night and the party-goers had yet graced the streets. Skirt hems still fell beyond mid-thigh and necklines stayed respectable. In the mall, the economy was being driven by people buying shoes, clothes, gadgets etc. Restaurants were still serving despite being way past dinner time. Couples and friends seated around the table, the former often not talking while the latter talk too much. I’m not a fan of the type of restaurants you can find in mall. Having sampled food in London, I just think that here in Singapore, they are not value for money. And when I stand on the outside looking in at the full tables, I wonder if I’m the only one thinking this way.
But I’ve moved on from the temple of money and stepped onto the pavement that, searing hot in the day, have become cool enough for couples to linger, chat and play. And they are always couples. Half-hidden in the shadows, some lost in each other, some clinging on.
The National Library emerged around the corner. What excitement and controversy surrounded this building when it was first launched! Excitement because it was new and environmentally friendly and so on, but controversial because of its predecessor–the old National Library. And there it stood, a modern building bathed in a soft glow, surrounded by greenery. I liked the National Library. It brings back good memories of younger years.
Even though it had been several years, my instinct showed me the road from the NLB to Raffles City Mall, passing by Bras Basah complex and I recalled that this was where I was told I could find plenty of second hand books. I remember this place. My family used to go to the Popular here each year, to buy stationary, books (for my dad) and assessment books (for the kids). There were several floors of it, and people standing around reading.
That was many years ago.
And I remember the Mac Donalds there, for some queer reason although I’m sure I was never allowed to eat there when I was younger.
Passing by Raffles Hotel, the streets became busier with pedestrians, spilt out from City Hall station? There’s a Brotzeit at the corner of the mall, facing the road and its so busy with people. Even at half 9, there were people waiting to get in. I wondered if those glasses of beer on the table were Erdinger. A lovely white German beer.
Some part of me yearned to see the river. Perhaps I was trying to capture the feeling of standing on the Jubilee Bridge, staring out at the darkness hanging over the Thames and feeling the wind pull against my coat. Or perhaps I was trying to conjure up an old memory.
But the river was simply too far and my feet were aching, so instead, I hopped on the train home.