Category Archives: S’pore my love

Life and death at Rochor Centre, Singapore

Built in the late 1970’s Rochor Center was recently listed as a landmark, and was supposed to be protected by the Urban Redevelopment Authority. But it will be demolished soon anyway, making way for yet another new multilane highway, one of those that make life in Singapore easier and more difficult at the same time.

Easier – because getting from one end of the city state to another will get smoother. More difficult – because it will make life noisier, towns more detached, and walking across the island even more infuriating, if not impossible. Cars will rule it to the fullest.

Rochor Centre, with its 180 busy shophouses, countless tiny offices, family lives staged across all 17 floors and void decks, something typically Singaporean –  all that will join countless spots and regions of the Singapore I love, that have been ground down by gentrification, the tendency of making things that have evolved naturally into something supposedly cozier and nicer. And lets not forget the cars – they will rule the place. It does not imply that Rochor Center was pretty in a regular kind of way, though…

In 2013 and 2014, while being an Outreach Fellow of Centre for Quantum Technologies, National University of Singapore, filming Reality Lost, I spent couple of days wandering at Rochor. I indulged my sentiment for things that are shabby and scruffy but, at the same time, displaying the full spectrum of life. The fact that I myself was brought up in a block of flats similar to Rochor might have something to do with it too.

Here are some pictures of the place I took then.


A night in Malacca

Two years ago Artur Ekert, a friend who is a renowned physicist by day and crazy pilot by night took me for an unforgettable ride. We flew his old Cessna from Johor in Malaysia up North, along the shores of the Malacca Strait, to, well, Malacca.

The latter is one of those places whose name automatically and subconsciously triggers some, usually imaginary, memories from a distant childhood – brings to life verses of the books long forgotten… those of the pirates of the Southern Seas, etc…

In other words – it was a pure joy to circle above this ancient trading hub, and then to walk the streets of the city, which, despite quite a heavy influx of tourists, remains surprisingly authentic and unspoiled. I was lucky – due to a storm forecasts we got grounded, couldn’t fly back on the same day, and “had” to spend a night in Malacca. This chaotic side of nature is something I cherish.

Since Ewa Jalochowska, an art historian and a writer, who happens to be my wife, is preparing a lecture on the Peranakan (as it is known in Singapore) and Baba Nyonya (in Malaysia) culture, I was obliged to dig into the archives, looking for the photos taken during that trip. And here’s a sample output.