Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Beauty World cha cha cha

Beauty World is the title of our home-grown musical based on a local play. I watched it years ago and it brought back so many memories of my growing-up years in the area.  Back then, there was a wet market, filthy and much dreaded by me each time my mum took me there. 

I remember the smell of the grimy drains, the puddles of dirty water, how chicken was slaughtered on the spot once chosen by the customer and how the feathers were hand-plucked by women seated on low stools behind the cages packed with  squawking birds. Those were the days when birds had a good reason to be angry.  

I also remember the dried goods store and how money was kept in a tin that was tied to a string and dangled high above our heads and could be pulled down when the stallholder needed to put money in. Those were also the days before Singapore Pools came into the scene to legalise 4D betting and I often wondered why my mother would make trips to the back of the grocery store to pay money for some numbers to be recorded on a small notebook full of scribbles. Little did I realise that the grocer was also a bookie. 

Next to the market were small wooden stalls that was our shopping centre. If you can imagine one of our heartland malls on a smaller scale and project the image of each shop into a 1960s setting, then you will have an idea of what I am talking about. My relatives from Malaysia love Beauty World for its variety and shopping appeal. I remember the cologne 4711 that was so popular with my aunties. Powder compacts, cosmetics, clothes, shoes, handbags, pyjamas and the list goes on. My family moved into this area when I was in secondary school. We moved out for a year or two when I was in Pre-U and then moved back again. Beauty World never left our hearts.

The Beauty World that I remember with fondness disappeared one year, wiped out by a fire and the place where it stood remained a vacant piece of land for many years. Business carried on in modern shopping complexes and the only reminder of its colourful history was the name - Beauty World Plaza, a far cry from what Beauty World had been. Gone were the wet markets, the clogged drains, the compact wooden stalls, and the friendly stallholders in my memory. The colours of life died in that fire. Half of that land is a public carpark now and in 2015 when the MRT station (Beauty World Station) is completed, I reckon that the carpark will be gone and another transformation will take place.  

One day last week I happened to park my car on the seventh floor of the Bukit Timah Shopping Centre and got a bird's eye view of Beauty World area and a glimpse of the massive engineering work that is going on in the construction of our Downtown MRT line. In the background, parallel to the construction of the line are the Chun Tin Road shophouses comprising Malay and Chinese eateries. Behind them are the private housing estates and my mother's house is near the top of the hill. The land where the famous Beauty World stood once upon a time is not shown in the photos and is to the left of the shophouses. I seldom write so much on my blogs. I guess I got carried away reminiscing about a part of my life. Well most people would do the same.

A stitched up photo of the four photos above.

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