Balestier

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There is nothing exciting about my childhood.

I did not grow up with wolves nor was I raised in a whorehouse.

But I cannot forget what it meant to grow up in a Balestier Road shophouse during the late 70s and 80s. Pretty much of who I am resides in a building that burnt down in 2000.

In fact, I didn not know our ancestral house was visited by arsonists until I saw my uncle on the front page of The New Paper. At that time I was not working in the paper full-time yet, so thankfully I did not have to cover the demise of my ex-home.

My mum was watching television and I showed her the front page. She said, “Is it?” and went back to watching her show. I agreed with her. Too many painful memories, too much history was embedded in that prewar building. In fact, I thought it was the right thing to forget 233A Balestier Road and move on with my life.

Today (Dec 2005) I regret being so foolish. Without documenting the last days of our home, we let history dissipate as developers moved in and built yet another condominium on the land. I guess it is time to write some chapters on that period of my life.

Part I : The Architecture

The longest house in Balestier Road contained more rooms than a modern mansion.

Part II : Haunted

The house was old and had its fair share of hauntings, of which I experienced a few.

Part III : The Neighbourhood.

We were surrounded by gambling dens, durian sellers, two famous temples, a python pit and even a martial arts school.