Sunday, November 05, 2006

Goodbye Clementi


It pains me to see this. Even though they are just introduced wayside trees for aesthetics and shade, it pains me to see any tree of that age, size and girth being cut down to make way for new developments. It's going to be another toa payoh hub.

"In April 2005, the HDB announced plans to build a 40-storey complex in Clementi Central on the existing bus interchange site. The complex will comprise housing and commercial zones, with a national library, while renovating the existing bus interchange. It will be ready in 2010. Currently, a temporary bus interchange is being built at a site across the road from the existing interchange." [Source: wikipedia]

Yet another old neighborhood with the 70s character in the process of being erased and redeveloped. Yet another piece of our history gone like the trees scheduled to be eliminated.

I understand the need for change but I cannot help but feel a sense of loss. I live in an old neighborhood too and I find my history, heritage and memories slipping away from me. 20 years later, who will remember that Clementi used to look like this?

I recall Sundays spent more than a decade ago at Clementi hawker center with my aunt after piano classes and a visit to the Emporium departmental store. Some recall the A&W restaurant at clementi. The glory days where the fountain burst into life with vibrancy. 3.5 years spent at Clementi interchange waiting for 96. The sterility of the new interchange lacks the vibrancy and diversity which greeted us when we waited in line on the old red brick corridor beside the shoe shop.

Life is full of juxtapositions

Now the sheltered corridor lined with mosaic tiles is being demolished as we speak.

I feel an infinite sense of loss that the place that has been a part of my memories from childhood, to teenage years and now my university days is being taken apart as I write.

X marks the spot

Nothing made the point more poignant for me than when I saw the red X that marks the end of the life of these trees that grew up with me.

From the biological standpoint, they are nothing impressive, no primary forest species lineage to speak of and are no centennians. Still, attachments cannot be wrought away from me with a wave of a chainsaw. Even so, it doesn't mean they are replacing the trees with native species, or even trees at all!

Find these plants familiar?

Do my children have to wait another 30 years before they get to see another tree at that spot? That is provided if they even plan to plant trees! Or perhaps they will merely replace these kind wayside shades with cowgrass and kyoto dwarfs? Or maybe they will just plant palms and weak little horticultural species that have taken over my estate after upgrading. That is afterall the concept of "green living in our heartlands" isn't it?

That's what HDB propose to scape my heart's land into

Well let it be known that my idea of green living paints a picture of trees as tall as my HDB flat and luxious greens that my children can run and play on. Not concrete gardens, palms with no shade, aesthetic exotics like trophy wives that nobody have any love for and rough cowgrass that nobody would dream of sitting on.

Nevertheless, to be forward looking, I've decided to create my virtual time capsule by documenting the last days of old Clementi for my children and their children. Help add to my time capsule by writing about your own recollections of Clementi please. Pictures would be fantastic! Flickr tag your photos "clementi" and drop me a link of your blog post here in the comments. Thank you!

More of my pictorial time capsule at my flickr set.

More clementi thoughts:
  • Urban Reflections by Hai~ren
  • Annotated Budak
  • The rambling leaf on


    pinto said...

    I used to live in Clementi, at Block 322, just across the road from Clementi Central. I about one year old (late 1970s) when my family moved there. We moved to Bishan exactly twenty years ago this month.

    I shall start accessing my organic hard drive and see if I can scrounge up some memories to share.

    ddxiong said...

    Such a pity indeed...