A Chinatown rat

All my usual lunch buddies were busy today, so I was left to my own devices. The imperative of having to run certain errands and the fickle weather conspired to trap me at Chinatown Complex, where I spent a meandering hour amidst its rabbit warren of hawker stalls, sundry shops and dank staircases.


The kind of people who run stalls at Chinatown Complex are the kind of people who work all year round, except when they take advantage of the Chinese New Year for a short break. Fortunately for me, the cheerful tailor I was looking for had reopened for business, and business was busy enough that at first she wanted me to come back for my bag only after work. But as always, all it took was a smile and a polite request for her to say, "Okay, you come back after lunch."

Now by "after lunch", she probably meant "another 45 minutes to an hour or so". So what to do when I had finished lunch within 15 minutes?


Well, there's CK Supermarket, where shoes go for $10 a pair and ching-chong clothes never go out of fashion. Then there's the entire maze that is Chinatown Complex: this way seems to lead towards stalls specialising in all things red for Chinese weddings, that way seems to lead to an explosion of auntie fashions. But take a different turn, and instead there'll be a coterie of Chinese deities to greet you, as they await installation on someone's ancestral altar. Or maybe just an industrious old grandfather bent over a key press, his stall encaged by locks of every shapes and sizes.

Touch-touch here, touch-touch there, buy a couple of things --- and the hour passes.

The tailor's not only mended the strap of my bag, as requested, but also stitched up the torn lining inside, even though earlier she said it couldn't be done. My own friendly neighbourhood miracle worker. A handwritten sign parked beside her sewing machine informs me that she'll be relocating come May, because Chinatown Complex is scheduled for upgrading later this year. As my colleague so eloquently put it, "They're going to fuck it up all over again."


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At 4/20/2007 7:13 am , Blogger john said...

Love the commentary. Your observations are succinct. I love Chiantown. Wish I was back there. Please feel free to explore the images of Chinatown here.
Cheers, John


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