5/11/07

Catmasutra 1 - The Usual Please

There's a systematic way of forgetting... "Systematic" is probably the right word for it, done on a mass scale and in the name of progress and profitability, and in this case, the passing of the old-fashioned coffee shops. We forget so much about it that it's enjoying a renewal, with some eateries bringing in the nostalgic tables and chairs , the coffee cups... It has become a franchise even (Kiliney Kopitiam), and sometimes I'm grateful for that. It's nice to remember!

Food courts are all over the place now, and in truth, they're like a factory (probably because it is) producing identical plastic-tasting food with an apparent lack of pride ... There is something about the old coffee shops... the old cups and saucers, the marble-top tables, the high ceiling fans, and the old man at the cashier calling the shots. They feel real somehow. The system has a way of wiping out memories making things homogeneous, identical, boring, fake. Like when they design a new bus-stop... this aerodynamic looking shelter that looks out of place if you drive by in an old -about to be scraped but still love because of the memories but no longer worth the COE kind of car. Before you know it, they're everywhere. The cute looking orange-top bus-stops I used to remember as a kid have now vanished.

Layer by layer, something is wiped out from one generation to another. What comes back to us are just fragments that surface once in a while and we smile when we recognize them, like a stored away memory dislodged. Where there's memories, there's identity, and memories must be remembered and lived, not brain-washed, and then transplanted. Each part of our island has a little identity because we live there... It would be nice if the area I live in has only orange-top bus-stops, and an authentic kopitiam that remains since my childhood. And when I visit another place where my friend lives, it would also be different with little quirks that define it, that makes it real. Old provision and coffee shops will continue to give way to 7-11 and cheers and the pretentious 24 hour- charge a bomb for drinks "kopitiams".
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