Thursday, 10 June 2010

The world through her eyes

I was somewhere in Katong when I chanced upon this old house, surrounded  with plants outside. What a quaint little house. Its design dates back to the 1950-60s houses. And it reminded me of my Grandma's big attap house in the 1960-80s period.

This was my Grandma's attap house before it made way for new development in the 1980s. My mom and her siblings grew up here in this house. They also had lots of plants in the garden behind. I spent my childhood vacation here  too because my parents had to work and only Grandma and Great Granny were available to babysit. Here, I spent time cycling, playing house, playing with the dogs, roaming the neighbourhood, sitting on the swing at the big field in front of grandma's house, playing inside my uncle's car pretending to be a driver, and sometimes relaxing in the big porch area. Sometimes we could sit or even nap on top of the cool ledge. It was so fun, because there were no lack of things to do in the house alone.

My grandma moved into a HDB maisonette after that. This is a part of her living room, which still houses many antique items. Notice the unusual wooden teak cabinet with its intricate carvings. That was from the old house. Really an antique.

I don't quite like to be in my Grandma's flat because I always feel hot and sweaty in this house, unlike the old attap house. Maybe it is the direction the flat is facing and it gets a little of the afternoon sun. I always feel hot and stuffy here, no matter whether the weather is hot or cool outside.

And this is Grandma's balcony which is filled with plants, as usual. They block some of the sweltering heat in the afternoon. 

The seashells at another corner.

This is where my Grandma spends her afternoons if she is at home, watching TV and napping in the living room. My Grandma is a really simple thrifty person, who doesn't snack, so long she has her porridge for breakfast in the mornings and a bowl of rice for lunch and dinner with little dishes. She does not crave for expensive meals or seafood or meat. She is a vegetarian for half a day till 12 noon everyday.   

Even though she does not snack, she likes to buy Tau Sar Piah for us when we visit her or when she visits us. You know, the old school Tau Sar Piah which are not so common nowadays. Even though they are still at affordable prices, Grandma thinks they are expensive. She balks at a pair of panties selling for $3 at the pasar malam, saying they are expensive.  She even refuse to accept pocket money from us. Her sense of value of money remains in the 1960s-70s where she had to  run a big household and to bring up a dozen of kids with the allowance she got from Grandpa.    

Grandma is so thrifty that she doesn't ask us to buy her anything. She doesn't make noise even when her spectacles were already so old and there were many tiny scratches on the glass. So we brought her to the optician to get her a new pair of glasses. With our help, she chose a red frame which was quite cool. Lao hiao (old vainpot). Ahem. Hope she sees better now with her new pair of eyes. But we had better not tell her how much that pair of glasses cost.


  1. I've always wondered what it is like to live in one of those. It's so quaint and cosy-like.

    Elderly people are all the same. I don't tell my mom how much are the things i buy her too. She'll probably not use it and put it in some deposit box.

  2. i'm young but i really like hearing stories of these thrifty simple people. They are easily contented and dun create a mess in this world... nowdays our world and environment is so bad due to our collective greed and wanton usage of the natural resources... how nice to hear of people who are careful about what they use to the finest details...


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