Thursday, 17 July 2008

No nostalgia please, we're Singaporean

PI was going to take a picture of the lay by, or at least the sign next to it, as it was a quirky reminder of times past. A few yards down the road from the local supermarket, it was barely long enough for 2 cars and I half imagine the sign was for explanation, rather than making a rule:

"Lay by for map reading. No parking."

In an age with GPS satnavs in most cars, it's a nostalgic reminder of well-thumbed city guides on passenger seats; the fingerprints providing a greasy vote on each location's popularity.

But this is one motoring respite that is no more. Indian (Punjabis I'd guess) have already ripped the tarmac and are setting the new kerb stones in line with the road. By the weekend, it will be fresh cow grass and the odd mark from the digger's tracks.

There just isn't any concept of If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix it. The lay by only protruded into the grass margin, not the pavement so apart from looking straighter on Google Earth, there is no utility from spending money to remove the feature.

Singapore is unremittingly modern and progressive; there is a simmering debate over the older buildings and their fate in an ever developing cityscape. Pretty much without exception, after much hand-wringing and consultation, the old stuff is pulled down. Sometimes it's for technical reasons like the foundations (no piles) into clay are not secure enough for the underground tunnel they want to build. Usually it's because modern office requirements don't match older interiors and there is serious money to be made with redevelopment in prime property areas.

I'm pretty sure you can be too protective of old things. Europeans tend to over value age whereas Chinese traditionally don't and shun hand-me-downs, not least because of potential spiritual entanglements with their previous owner. I shall say farewell to the lay by; I'll be the only one to do so.