Tuesday, October 07, 2003

I miss those days when I stayed at the HDB flats. It was the days when I frequently get to soak in the atmosphere of life in the heartland. I miss the noise, the traffic, the neighbours and the good food that was just a stone throw away. All these were only possible if one was to stay in HDB flats. Now, the condo is my abode. There is nothing but silence when I come out of the lift. Nobody is creating a din on the corridors, nobody is loitering and the worst is there is completely no sound of traffic. Ok, there is an occasional Biker trying to test his engines but besides that the sound of the first bus in the morning is gone, so too is the honking of frustrated drivers that were once ubiquitous just below my flat.
The eerie silence is spooking me. Actually the nostalgia did not hit me till I was walking along Tampines(my previous home). It suddenly occured to me that the noise surrounding this buzzing place is never present at my current place. This feeling of being a Heartlander is no longer present anymore in me! Where once I possess the eloquence to convince those Mats to let me play soccer with them is now lost. I could strike up conversations with them so easily in the past and they would let me play in the best team. Now I am not even allowed to watch.
Anyway, u can see staying in a condo is spoiling your social interaction skills. Besides, I knew that Hokkien Mee uncle very well too before I shifted. He used to give me extra prawns because firstly, he stays in my block and secondly I can patronise his store every weekend. Now.. I have to take a bloody bus there. Forget it. It kills my appetite. That uncle has also forgotten me too which is sad.
But nothing beats the atmosphere of the neighbours present on my level. When there is soccer on the weekends, my immediate neighbour would open their doors and blast their TV sets and the cheering and cursing makes one feel like he is in the stadium itself. Then there is the famous "naughty boys" gang. A term that I used to refer to them ever since I was in primary school. This was because they often run along the corridors when I am having tuition and scream at the top of their voices when they call out to each other. And they smoke so much, my house is often clouded in a haze. I miss my mother's tirade whenever this happens.
You people can say that I am spoilt and unappreciative of my quiet surroundings now but I beg to differ. Sure, I have a bbq pit just downstairs, I can play tennis whenever I feel like it and swimming is not a problem as well. But it is the atmosphere that makes staying in the condo is unexciting. Everyday, I come home and see the doors of all my three neighbours shut. They rarely talked and when they do they ask you about your results or what school you are in. Until now, my neighbour, "friendly Uncle Ho" does not even know where my junior college is. Such is the bonding amongst neighbours here.
I wish I was staying in the heartlands once again. But really, this is just a case of preferring the land beyond the fence right? Humans are greedy and desire everything. They can never be satisfied even when the place they stay in is so secure and peaceful. When it is peaceful we desire noise, when it is noisy we desire peace and when I dream of Hokkien Mee I cannot get it. Now that is deprivation. Heartlanders, enjoy your neighbourhood. Take it from a reluctant Condo Kid.

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