Date: 05Sep (Sun)
Venue: Lorong 44
He was diligently at work on the Slumberland bed by the refuse dump site, reminding me of a skilled butcher at work - skinning and deboning.
With a paper cutter, he painstakingly slit the bed open around its side length and breadth wise. When it’s done he flipped open the top of the padding – exposing a neat array of spring coils set in a metal frame. He then meticulously removed the cotton stuck to the edges of the frame and coil.
When the last of the cotton padding and tattered cover were removed and dumped into the refuse bin, he then neatly bundled up the metal frame and spring coil so that it could be loaded onto his bicycle.
In between - I started a conversation with him as he went about his job, praisign him for his diligence and his virtue: 刻苦耐劳 –kekunai lao.
He said that his home town is in Jiangsu – 江苏省- Jiangsu Province. He came to Singapore a year odd ago, and sort of regretted the decision – for one he’s not gotten used to the hot and humid weather.
He said that the reason he decided to sign up as migrant indent labor because of the quarrel with his wife - 和我老婆吵架才出来的 - he wo laopo chaojia cai chulaide.
He had built a small apartment in his hometown. However his wife was not satisfied with it – and clamored for a bigger one. As such he told his wife, he would then venture abroad to work. He has two children at home.
I asked if he was taking the salvaged metal to sell it at the re-cycling shop across the road – he replied with a grim no for he knew of another location which would give him a better deal.
As if a hunter that has gotten his prized catch for the day – with a satisfied grin on his face, juggling his load he weaved his bicycle precariously into the busy evening traffic & down the neon lit Geylang Road.
Well, if you have any old refrigerator or spring mattress to dispose of – have them re-cycled…… Geylang style.
1. 街头街尾芽笼巷 - jietou jiewei Yalong xiang
- Literary the Lorongs of Geylang – from the first lorong till the last.
- Lorong - Malay word for lane, or a side road
- Close to a distance of 2km in length – straddling on both sides of Geylang Road are the odd and even number Lorongs from Lorong 2 to the last Lorong 44.
- A colleague mentioned – “My wife will never want to go Geylang.” , even though he’s a long time resident. Perhaps it’s the notoriety & he should he forgiven.
-Geylang is so uniquely Singapore – without savoring the many good food there, one could not claim to be a true resident of the island.
- Just like a long-time resident of Tokyo would not have savored all of Tokyo without going to Shinjuku and the Kabuki-cho.
2. 刻苦耐劳 - kekunai lao
- to bear hardships and work hard (idiom); assiduous and long-suffering / hard-working and capable of overcoming adversity
3. 7D, Paya Lebar Road
Back of a row of old residential building along Lorong 41 as viewed from Paya Lebar Road, next to the Paya Lebar MRT station – Circle line exit.
7D, Paya Lebar Road used to be located here, however the block of building was torn down to make way for the Circle Line around 2004.
Rented a room here from Dec 1989 till Sep 1994.