Buses, Progress and Botox

I took a long bus ride today, enjoying the afternoon off. We wound through the busy Orchard streets lined with glass and concrete, passed structures that brought back the whiff of old memories forged in a sky blue pinafore. Then the bus turned into Novena, where I took my first job at the tax masters, and where I learnt that no matter what their background, all taxpayers get testy when talking to the representatives.
And as the bus rolled past Novena Terrace – or what used to be it – I saw sky. No more row of bustling shops topped with houses. I sucked in my breath, surveying what was left, an uneven hodge-podge of wires and concrete.
I was sad. My home turns 48 in two days, but seems more like a botox-filled middle aged woman with nary a wrinkle to be seen, only smooth porcelain skin. Or like a high-flier who’s practically done it all and keeps re-inventing herself, setting new levels to reach.
And I wondered: whatever happened to aging well? Some quarters call this progress. But as someone born and bred here, I call this regression. We’ve pursued excellence, but at what cost? It seems like we’ve lost our way, and no one really knows what it means to be satisfied anymore.
So Singapore, it’s your birthday soon. I still love you, but I hope you’ll love yourself even more, and embrace all of us sons and daughters.

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