A night at the opera

Charlene journal 2 Comments

I came across a beautiful set of portraits that Chia Aik Beng made of the Teochew Opera troupe, Lao Sai Tao Yuan recently. I have returned to this series a number of times, compelled by the intimacy of his portraits, and this facet of Singapore I’ve had no contact with. Then chance stepped in. After some hours wandering around the Ramadan bazaar in Geyland Serai the other night, Flemming and I found ourselves in front of a big red and white striped tent with a performance by the very same troupe in full swing. We sat down a while to take it all in. This was my first time watching a Teochew opera. I didn’t understand the language, nuance behind the make up, gestures and various stage elements. But its story was universal enough for the gist of the tale to come …

Thieves Market, Sungei Road

Charlene journal 3 Comments

My father used to bring me to the Sungei Rd Thieves Market on weekends, to have a browse. You never knew what you would find there. The market used to cover a much larger area than it does today, with most of it already eliminated by the construction of the expanding rail system. What remains will eventually surrender to the same fate. Picture: Fujifilm X-T10, 35mm, JPEG only.

Kopitiam, Singapore

Charlene journal 2 Comments

In an old coffee shop somewhere in/near Bugis with Chia Aik Beng: She made us teh peng and kopi ice (ice tea, ice coffee) and then scurried around serving other customers , refilling containers, clearing tables. I am frequently unbalanced by the land of my birth. When I am here I want to leave; when I have left I long to belong. Places like these are a sliver of the Singapore that I remember as a child in the 80s, tagging along with some adult, being scared of the crusty old characters that run them. I have no personal association with them, but they feel oddly accessible, unlike the things that are familiar. Thank you ABC for taking the time out of your day to meet with us. Picture: Fujifilm X-T10, 35mm, JPEG only.