By Al Lim.

Urban Vignettes Submission_Al Lim

I went on a search at 45 Stirling Road, our first HDB (Housing Development Board)1 building, for cracks—what we cannot cover up.

Instead, I found small peculiarities in an otherwise mundane scene that speak of Singaporeans as an urban population. The galas on laundry lines, crooked water pipes and half-ajar windows are details which give us clues about how we live our daily lives.

For the central garment in the picture, there could be various reasons for its lone presence on the clothesline ranging from carelessness to purpose. I assume the latter, for its semi-formal quality suggests that its owner needs it for a particular function and would undergo the trouble to wash and dry one piece of clothing for his or her event.

Similarly, the upside-down bike signifies how efficiency is treasured in Singapore, where individualism meets mobility. In our post-modern city, we don’t usually talk to each other in passing on the streets or on public transport, and transportation on bikes provide even less opportunities for conversation. Further, this bike is alone, folded for economic storage, as opposed to being stacked as part of a communal activity.

So, here is Singapore, observed from the apparent mundaneness of our first HDB block.


1. HDB refers to Singapore’s public housing initiative, where majority of the country’s population resides in.

2. “Gala” is a local term for the bamboo poles that Singaporeans hang clothes on.