Chong Pang City
We stepped into Chong Pang City, just as dusk was breaking. Morning sunlight bathed us in its golden rays. The freshness of a new day’s birth filled us with its aroma.
The animals and people of Chong Pang rise early. By the eve of dawn they are awake; some prepare their stalls, some visit the wet market that opens only and only for these early risers. Everything is in action- it seems almost like a permanent vacation where everyone wakes up together, does things together, and where something is always happening.
It is the elderly people who run the show. In the morning there are the shoppers and meat sellers. As the day progresses, it is evident that the central pull of this community are the elderlies running the many stores that sell various extremities of thingamats and toodles.
What amazes us is the communal spirit in this place- buyers, shoppers, streetstrayers.. the place buzzes with the bond of a family and the happiness and laughter of one! We see such familiarity and comfort shared between these people that it radiates out into the atmosphere. There doesn’t seem to be anyone who doesn’t know everyone else. Laughter, smiles, shared jokes, hollers across the streets are heard as one walks through the throngs of people- an entire locality of aged men and women. This is their territory.
The question of ethics is particularly important for a person who is both part of society and works with a group. The development of community and collective self is impossible without the struggle of opposing ideas and positions, and the collision of different points of views and opinions through which it is possible to overcome contradictions and disagreements. The relationship within a team ...
Antiqued sells fill these shops we walk by, which are, by the way, not antique in the seller’s own terms, but quirkily precious in the outsider’s eyes. There is Mr Ronald and his old clocks, the aunty with her shop full of fashion for elderly women, Uncle Lee and his hardware store that hasn’t been cleaned or packed in 30 years, and a whole square full of other such shops! It is fascinating, as the line is so clearly drawn at the entrance of Chong Pang City; Before the 20th Century vs The age of Modernism. It is as if the entrance pillars bearing the sign of Chong Pang City act as guardians against Modernization and Digitalization to the doors of, whatever you call it, Tradition, Culture, Pre 20th Century, Uncompromise… Chong Pang City was by far the biggest and most complete of the neighbourhood centres until the arrival of Northpoint Shopping Centre and Yishun 10. It almost feels like this inhabitation of a generation seemingly almost lost in today’s fast paced society defies this very notion of, well, being the ones who are ‘lost’.
We do not claim however, that this ‘fairytale’ ending most people make when they compare the ‘wholesome, happy, contented’ older generation to the generation of ‘cars, money and technology’, is true or exact when one actually dares to look beneath the surface. Talking to the uncles and aunties in Chong Pang, we began to realize that a large void of fear, loneliness and discontent lay at the core of their beings- a kind of void that they woke up to everyday; as they grew older, and poorer. What saddened us was how they have resigned to such a ‘fate’, though who ever told them that this was the definite way life should end we do not know, and yet daily escape from the ‘truth’ of what they believe or FEAR their lives are at this point. Sure enough they are contented with not catching up with the ‘modern way of living’, thus giving many of the young philosophers of intellect in this day to conclude foolishly that it would mean they were, indeed, Contented. Yet Contentment reaches far beyond the variables that change with time, for example, Status, Wealth, Beauty, Education. These are not benchmarks for Contentment.
That is one thing that was evident and as we finished our visit to Chong Pang, there were indeed conflicting feelings about the place and the people as compared to what we first saw when we arrived- but that is what people are about. And it is for us, as women, as human beings, as photojournalists, to struggle out within ourselves an outworking of all that we see, hear, understand, connect to, and are convicted by, or choose to leave and forget all that the seeing has made us felt- for the tendency of escapism is not limited to class or age.
In the movie, The Gods Must Be Crazy, showed a clash of two diffrent cultures. The two cultures are very close together but nothing alike. Two elements of culture that cause the clash between the primitive society and the advanced society, were technology and religion. Technology is the inventions that improve everyday life. The tools that a culture has reflects the advancement of culture. ...
3 February 2010
The Chong Pang Gals