Monday, November 26, 2007

Revisiting the past

History teaches us that a situation or an event or perhaps even a place has as much or as little value as a historian endowns upon it. At the same time, the amount of value that one accords to it changes over time. And that's where nostalgia comes into play.

I learnt that and some other more sophisticated concepts in History at NUS and appropriately enough, it was where they became part of reality in the most plebian of ways. When I was in uni, the worst time to have lunch was between 12 and 2. The canteen was hot and crowded. It always seemed more dark and dinghy at that time and hot to manoeuvre through because of unruly meandering queues that formed anywhere there was space.

But strangely enough, despite all its flaws, I have fond memories of it. So much so that when I went to Melbourne, I would still go back during my vacation just to eat there. There were stalls that had great food and others that had ho-hum food but all in all, it was a pretty good mix. I even introduced Packrat to it and he loved it, partly because it was good and cheap, partly because he just loves, even now, being part of the uni mix.

Now that we actualy have real jobs and lives and cannot just revel in the good things past, we hardly go back although on occasion when we're in the area, we'd swing by. Yesterday was such a day and when we got there, we were aghast! The dark dhingy 'hawker centre' had turned into a clean, pristine, airy, sanitised and clinical food court complete with a Christmas tree. How can???

To add to the travesty, the good food stalls were no more. I had good memories of the beef hor fun stall with long queues that didn't feel so long because one was just mesmerised by the guy who fried the stuff and danced and jigged at the same time, all in sync with the frying. Neither was the chicken rice and a whole bunch of other stalls. Packrat decided to be adventurous and ordered dried chilli chicken on rice and it was awful because it looked like it was cooked in ketchup and nary a dried chilli in sight. I thought I was playing it safe when I went to get some fruit, but even that was a challenge because my idea of fruit wasn't pineapple or jackfruit. A fruit stall that just sells that shouldn't call itself a fruit stall.

Oh! And on top of that, there was a Burger King, a Dome and a Thai place on an upper mezzanine level. Even more outrage. Packrat declared that unis shd not be a hotbed of commercialism. It should be independent and allow undergrads to discover their anti-establishment sides, not buy into and encourage the fast food, cafe culture that they're already doing so much of. Sigh. Isn't uni supposed to teach them more about life than just to perpetuate what they already know and do so well in?

Thankfully the iced lemon tea remained the same and I was brought back to the day where we drank copious amounts of it, I think that was when my addiction to the stuff began. We'd sit in the canteen and just drink and while away the afternoons instead of attempting any real work. Who could blame us? They were cheaper than bottles of water were. And tastier too.

$1 for the 2 cups. $0.70 for half a litre of water. Do the math.

So perhaps, I won't go back as much now. I'm disappointed and sad and want to remember an easier and simpler time.

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 23:20

2 thoughts...

2 thoughts...

At 8:24 pm Blogger merryfeet* said...

Yesterday, as in Sunday? Only 2 stalls will be open then. There ARE some good stalls, i.e., yong tau fu, and the si chuan stall, the rest just qualify for the "okay-only" category. Hor fun is now sold at the claypot stall. You can dish out your own verdict after trying it, it receives varying degrees of approval (:

At 9:59 pm Blogger yanjie said...

It should be independent and allow undergrads to discover their anti-establishment sides, not buy into and encourage the fast food, cafe culture that they're already doing so much of.

well, I don't think that is the main anti-establishment things that should be dealt with, as compared to the following lack of originality stuff
1) Every single club and society having orientation camps, regardless of turn out.
2) Endless pageants
3) Endless bashes
4) the same point rephrased and represented during tutorial by different groups over and over again.

NUS students, we are just not that creative and out of the box i guess.


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