I was introduced to Singapore when I was just eleven years old. Wide-eyed, I took in everything about the island-state. It was still British territory at the time and I used to be fascinated by the RAF jets that flew overhead. I remember clearly going to a fair where the highlight, for me, was the skydiving display by British specialists.
I recall being dumbstruck by the fact that the taxis were Mercedes-Benz vehicles, no less. From memory, most of them ran on diesel. I wondered if my classmates in school would actually believe how many times I had sat in the plush interior of a Merc.
I even made an unexpected visit to an RAF base when I was stung while swimming at a Singapore beach. But more than anything else, I remember being fascinated by Orchard Road. Why? Not because of the architecture. Not because of the colonial history. Not because of anything remotely artistic.
The place grabbed my attention because of C. K. Tang’s, the department store where I was instantly fascinated by the huge area devoted to toys. Hey, I was only eleven years old, remember?
Over the years, I returned several times to Singapore on way to and from overseas assignments as a sportswriter covering cricket and tennis. More recently, I have been there on holiday or to visit friends. Orcahrd Road, which once fascinated me because of its retail nature, now holds me in thrall because of the many images I have been privileged to photograph.
A few years ago, we were there as a family and I took the first available opportunity to take our children to Orchard Road and, specifically, to C. K. Tang’s. But maybe things had changed. Maybe their toy section was smaller than it was during my childhood. Maybe our own perceptions had changed because of the arrival of mega toy stores that totally dwarf my own memories of the toy selection in this particular store.
During our week there, we also had an interesting experience. I took the Authorbloglets out for the day and took some travellers’ cheques with me, as well as my passport - just in case I needed some more money. As it turned out, I didn’t need any more cash. But when we got home, Mrs Authorblog - who had stayed home because she was unwell - fixed me with a gimlet eye.
She asked if I had managed to change my travellers’ cheques.
No, I replied, I still had some money in my wallet.
Which was probably a good thing. Because as my wife pointed out, I had erred badly. Instead of taking my own passport, I had taken my son’s by mistake.
For the home of ABC Wednesday, go to Mrs Nesbitt's Place.