Slow ride to Mumbai
The train was crowded as usual in the morning. I closed my eyes after finding a spot to rest my feet and to enjoy a quiet morning ride. The air was scented by a little bit of jasmine and other flowers, and a heavy dosage of coconut oil. Then came the beat of Bollywood that filled the whole cabin to complete the experience. My fingers started tapping, and slowly my head and shoulder too responded uncontrollably to the catchy beat. My memory slided back to the 1950s. Three blocks of 4 storey flats bounded by Nelson Road and Borneo Road facing Gate 5 of the then Singapore Harbour Board were the quarters for its workers. I don’t remember that they had to pay for rent. The centre block was occupied by the Chinese coolies working as stevedores and riggers or just plain labourers. The other two blocks were homes to the Indian labourers in the same trades. Traffic was sparse and the air was quiet in the early morning hours. And sound travelled far and loud. And there was music in the air from radio in full blast. The older version beat before the times of modern Bollywood greeted everyone, and every morning, in the neighbourhood. And there was some incense too, curry and prata delighted the taste buds of morning workers. Then the speaker came on, ‘Next station, Raffles Place.’ Immediately I was brought back to the 21st Century city state. For a brief moment I thought I was heading to Mumbai. Thanks for the memory, SMRT.