Friday, August 19, 2005

Blinking Against the Twilight

After my course at SIM today, was due to meet Chan & Wilson for dinner at Purvis St. Decided to pop over to the new central library to explore the famed building.

Approaching it from far, one would spy a white mass of newness towering over squatter buildings nearby. But truly it is an emblem of Singapore's progress, though some protest if it was necessary to tear down the old one which bore much sentimental value - myself included (all those times of photocopying horn concerto scores)!

Headed for the basement first, was delighted to find so many different newspapers available. As usual, the magazines were a mess. Decided to flee from the crowd.

As I rode the escalators, I peered up & down, left & right, looking to discover some fancy thingamajig. To my disappointment, nothing really caught my eye except for the ledges that hug the building. I imagine that they can be extended at will to divert wind or shade the occupants from the shifting sun. Maybe should have taken the guided tour.

Realized that there were exhibits happening on every level, briefly explored the HYPE gallery. Discovered the Straits Times' 160th anniversary photo exhibit on the 13th floor. Wonder why they put it so high up - the only reason I got there was because I wanted to visit the Rare Collections which turned out to be restricted to authorized personnel.

Photos courtesy of

The photo exhibit turned out to be quite a joy and also very educational - never mind the national education slant. A few have been published in ST's 160th anniversary edition, but many more are waiting to be discovered. Photos spanning a century of our past captured all of famous (& infamous) events and the Singaporeans' life back then. Some provoked a wince, a grimace or a sympathetic "oh dear..." in me.

One captured a picture of a chinese communist whose car bomb went off prematurely. Another showed nurses protesting against being exploited. One was of children peering into a peepshow contraption to view a short movie for 5cents a pop.

Halfway through, the fire alarm went off. Instincts told me to dash for the exit, but apathy held me back. After a minute, a fire-proof partition dropped down slowly to seal the exits leading back to the lifts. A family of aunties & kids hurriedly dashed through a la Mission Impossible style, i.e. just in time.

The rest of us could do nothing but wait it out. Turned to be a false alarm and didn't wait too long, though the thought of burning to death briefly crossed my mind.

My exploratory mood unspoilt by the alarm fiasco, I headed to the Southeast Asian collection on the 11th floor.

Ahhhhh, utter peace & quiet. Grabbed a book on the history of Ang Kor and the Khmer empire and sat next to the window facing Suntec City. Took in the wonderfully calming view of the darkening sky against the awakening city lights.

Finally Chan called. Lingered a short while longer before rushing over to meet them for Hainanese tze cha - deep-fried pork chop!

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