Friday, September 24, 2010

Satay Club

2010年,最新出炉的名胜世界和金沙各出奇招,披上以IR为名,赌博为实的糖衣,加入综合娱乐场的行列。多了两大赌场,新加坡的旅游业为经济贡献了大约4%GDP。

相比之下,1950与1960年代间,新加坡还处于纯朴的年代,大型游乐场和旅游胜地不多,同学们在课堂写作文离不开三大游乐场:大世界、新世界、繁华世界;三大旅游名胜:植物园、虎豹别墅、伊丽莎白道(Queen Elizabeth Walk)。直至1970年代,动物园、飞禽公园、裕华园、圣淘沙等热带园林逐步诞生,旅游景点才多元化起来。

当年年幼无知,天地离不开水井,如果同学篆文介绍麦里芝蓄水池、龟屿、双林寺、天福宫,我们必定目瞪口呆,说他故意炫耀自己博学多闻,自以为读万卷书行万里路,其实是--橄榄屎(连屎尿都不如)。

就三大旅游名胜而言,植物园和虎豹别墅位处“郊区”,今时今日还大幅度保留着当年的风范;位于康乐通道(Connaught Drive)的伊丽莎白道属于城市的一部分,是早年的“中央公园”,见证八十年城市面貌的物换星移。随着城市的发展,伊丽莎白道已经面目全非,少了原有热带公园的风貌、少了观海的辽阔视野、少了椰林婆娑低语,多了延伸的尼皓大道、从海中冒出来的鱼尾狮、艺术中心的榴莲壳地标、运转财气的摩天观景轮、还有三炷香般三柱擎天,一帆风顺的金沙娱乐城。

伊丽莎白道原本是一片汪洋。1843年填土后,海边多了个Raffles' Plain,为今天政府大厦前草场(Padang)。1890年第二轮填土, 多了条沿着海滨的New Esplanade Road,1907年易名康乐通道。1922年第三轮填土,新加坡多了个Esplanade Park。1953年5月30日,Esplanade Park易名伊丽莎白道,纪念伊丽莎白二世登基。

(1887年的Esplanade . 康乐通道(Connaught Drive)还不存在)

(1900年的Esplanade,多了一条沿海的康乐通道(Connaught Drive))

(伊丽莎白道,1959年)

(伊丽莎白道,1970年)


(伊丽莎白道,约1972年)


所谓民以食为天,或许我们这一代人对伊丽莎白道的共同记忆离不开沙爹俱乐部 (Satay Club),填饱肚子后还可以顺道踏上衔接康乐通道的独立桥(Merdeka Bridge)。桥的另一端跨越加冷盆地(Kallang Basin),通往旧机场路(Old Airport Road)。其实真正的独立桥横跨梧槽河与加冷河,桥的两端为尼皓大道(Nicoll Highway)。对当年一般市民来说,反正尼皓大道和独立桥都是那条笔直的快速公路,久而久之,尼皓大道也统称为独立桥了。

我们受过“旧时代”洗礼,知道新加坡曾经拥有独立桥这个非凡意义的国家级宝藏,年轻的朋友、外国的访客和新移民就未必知道独立桥这个地方,而所谓的现代与旧时代其实也不过是间隔了短短的五十年!

话说回来,Satay Club 身处名胜地,沙爹自然跟着水涨船高。1970年代沙爹的市价是每串10¢至15¢,Satay Club 则是20¢至25¢。在那个五分钱大过牛车轮的年代,只要两个五分钱就能尝到一串地道佳肴,我们宁愿从水仙门住家向左走,往大坡哇燕街的沙爹摊走去,也不愿向右走,越过大草场,光顾Satay Club。

(Satay Club 1980)

(Satay Club 1980)

印象中只在Satay Club吃过两顿,都是在自己有经济能力后。第一次是在1980年代约了几个在美芝路军营工作的正规军人,饱饕一顿后徒步沿着美芝路走过人潮涌涌的邵氏大厦、夜阑人静的批发市场、自成一格的Plaza酒店(现在的Park Royal Hotel), 到以放映主题健康的影片起家的黄金戏院看了《半边人》,深深为半理想半现实的社会平民所感动。人的一生不断的在茫茫人海中寻找失去的另一半人与事,让自身重新获得圆满。生活中面对理想与现实的困境、抉择,在平衡中徘徊,在矛盾的处境中遗憾。这是80年代涌起的新浪潮电影所带来的冲击。

第二次在Satay Club吃晚餐还是1980年代,跟一位从美国念书归来的朋友会面。那个时代没有互联网,一个月她从美国捎一封信,下个月我回一封信,约定俗成,时空交叉中飘过岁月。拨开尘封的往事,蓦然回首,年青的震撼原来没有消失,“半边人”似的追求依然深深地烙印在心田。

Satay Club落户伊丽莎白道过程一波三折。据父亲的回忆,当年他还是个过番客,初到南洋的时候(1949),Satay Club就在海口路(Hoi How Road, off Beach Road),尤华摊贩(Javanese)沿街摆卖。海口路是美芝路邵氏大厦(Shaw Towers, 翡翠戏院,太子戏院)所在地,以前这个地方也有两家戏院:Alhambra 是新加坡第一家冷气戏院,专门放映好莱坞电影;曼舞罗 (Marlborough)则放映邵氏华语影片和印度片。看完戏吃沙爹,赶上最后一班巴士回家似乎是绝佳的选择。

(城市地标:旧貌新颜)

海口路也是1号巴士的巴士总站(Tay Koh Yat Bus Company),巴士排出的滚滚浓烟成了“城市”沙爹的“香料”,父亲倒觉得加料的沙爹特别美味可口,以后再也找不到这么令人如痴如醉的沙爹。巴士进出频繁,制造许多惊险百出的镜头,还发生过严重意外。基于安全考量,1950年代中Satay Club搬迁到国泰戏院前的空地,但生意一落千丈,后来又搬回原址。1970年才在伊丽莎白道找到栖身之所。

(Alambra Theatre 1969)

(Marlborough Theatre 1969)

(Alambra Padang Satay, Esplanade Mall. 从招牌看来,上一代应该是海口路的过来人)

食味离不开感情,找不回当年的口感是因为少了当年的情意结。老婆大人介绍旧机场熟食中心的“选记沙爹”,选记夫妇看着她从年幼到孩子长大,她则看着选记夫妇迈入老年。牵着一条感情线,我们都吃得津津有味,父亲终于找回沙爹的古早味。

http://navalants.blogspot.com/2009/06/blog-post_17.html



Satay Club在伊丽莎白道风光了25载。1994年,Satay Club的28个摊位接到搬迁通知。1995年5月,Satay Club拉下帷幕,让位给新一轮的城市发展。

相关链接
从沙爹谈开去(Satay)
Satay Club
走入博物馆的非一般传统美食 NMS Food Gallery
家常菜闲话家常

Friday, September 17, 2010

The East India Company

Whenever I asked Eugenia to name the city that sinks deepest into her heart, she would mention London without a single second of hesitation. It is understandable as we spent our most precious time in London once upon a time in the early 1990s. We spent our weekends exploring the city and culture during that honey year (not honey moon). We also gave birth to our first baby in the city where the local teased it as “a first class city with third class infrastructure”. In late 1990s, we florished with two children and stayed in London again for a year.

The city of London is quite well conserved. For our subsequent visits, we had no problem in going around the various corners to rewind the time. The changing face of Docklands is a separate matter. They have now been redeveloped for commercial and residential use.

Our memories of Docklands fell back on the street names such as Cinnamon Street, Penang Street, Manilla Street, Taeping Street and Mauritius Road. They are perhaps the best indicators of the spice-ridden eastern heritage.

Further down the Theme river in Greenwich, the Cutty Sark was the only surviving tea-clipper to have emerged from this once teeming dockyard. The 64m Cutty Sark was a legend of the past glorious. It was built in 1869 and sailed between London and China. The ship provided historical evidence of the importance of tea in 19th century trade and cultural life.

(Cutty Sark under sail, circa 1869)

(Cutty Sark, year 2000, Greenwich)

In 1600, the international HQ of the East India Company (EIC) was established at East India House in Leadenhall Street near the famous Tower Bridge. However, EIC can only find itself now in the archives of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. A great deal of imagination is needed to recapture its past.

The sea-born trading company was begun in 1600 to challenge the Dutch-Portuguese monopoly of the spice trade. When Queen Elizabeth I granted EIC its first royal charter, its initial activities remained fairly limited, and it only began to develop in the later 1600s after having ventured into the previously unknown Indian market.

The Mughal Emperor, Akbar, was aware that his realm was being slowly strangled by the Mahrattas in the south, the Gorkhas and Sikhs in the north and west, and the Spanish and Portuguese at sea. He was happy to grant a trading franchise at Hoogly River to the British after hearing of the enmity between Britain and Spain and receiving a report of how an English ship had sunk three Spanish galleons in Surat Bay.

Eventually, Calcutta was born and became the focus of the EIC’s activities into Bengal. During the 18th and early 19th Centuries, EIC consolidated its operations in India around three ‘presidencies’ at Bombay, Madras, and Calcutta. Penang and Singapore came under the Calcutta Presidency. Singapore began to establish itself as a major trading port and attracted massive immigrants from China and India. Singapore began to florish then.


(The British Flag was planted at the South bank of Singapore river by the EIC, 1819)

The 18th century wars such as the Wars of the Spanish and Austrian Succession, left Britain with a dominant role in Asia. After the French Revolutionary War and the Napoleonic Wars, Britain’s world-wide role was effectively imperial. Thereafter its position on the seas and docks of the far-east became more and more unchallenged.

The EIC had a number of sea routes from London to the shores of Guangzhou in mainland China. These included several key stop-off points on the way where ships would change sailors. This provided the ships with a constantly renewed crew, and a great deal of human movement and cross-cultural exchange between countries for two hundred over years. The key stop-off points on these routes included the Cape of Good Hope, Somalia, Yemen, Zanzibar and the East African coast, the Bay of Bengal, the Malay Archipelago (Bencoolen on Sumatra, Penang, Singapore and the Spice Islands) and Guangzhou. Later routes took in more of the Indian coast and the Arab world.

(The EIC Flag)

A large part of the trade goods from these ships were woollen cloth and manufactures from Britain in exchange for sugar, tea, coffee, silk, cotton, and china porcelain. Britain had also developed a reliance on spices (especially cloves, cinnamon, ginger, pepper, and nutmeg). Spices was an important commodity in the trade with India and the Spice Islands.

In the 18th century, Britain had a huge trade deficit with Qing Dynasty China. In 1773, EIC created a British monopoly on opium buying in Bengal. As the opium trade was illegal in China, EIC ships could not carry opium to China directly. Instead, the opium produced in Bengal was sold in Calcutta on condition that it would be sent to China.

Despite the China government reaffirmed in 1799 the ban on opium imports, opium was smuggled into China from Bengal by traffickers and shipping agencies averaging 900 tons a year. By 1825, most of the money needed to buy tea in China was raised by the illegal opium trade. In 1838, with opium smuggling approaching 1,400 tons a year, the Chinese imposed a death penalty on opium smuggling and sent a new governor, Lin Zexu(林则徐), to curb smuggling. This resulted in the First Opium War (1839–1842) and led on to the Second Opium War (1856-1860).

(林则徐)

China lost both wars and was forced to sign the Treaty of Nanking (南京条约)and the Treaty of Tianjin(天津条约), also known as the Unequal Treaties(不平等条约), which included provisions for the opening of additional ports to unrestricted foreign trade, provided British with extra territorial rights and cessioned of Hong Kong. British achieved its strategic objectives through the Opium wars: legalising the opium trade, expanding coolie trade, opening all of China to British merchants, and exempting foreign imports from internal transit duties. The opening of ports and coolie trade had benefited Singapore and eventually settled the population demography. This proportion of three major races (Chinese, Malay, Indian) has more or less achieved its fine balance and enabled Singapore to move on then, now and probably the near future.

To protect EIC ships against piracy, the merchants in London commissioned a special type of ship to sail to the Indies: a merchant vessel armed like a warship. This gave born to the famous East Indiamen. Soon its ships were collaborating with the Royal Navy in hunting down pirates in the Indian Ocean, Malay Archipelago and the South China Sea.

The British government became concerned with the power of the EIC. In 1784, the new Prime Minister, William Pitt convinced King George III and Parliament to accept a new India Bill. This measure created a new Board of Trade and helped to transfer the political, financial and military power of the EIC to the British government. The EIC found it more and more difficult to make a profit from its activities. In 1834 the EIC ceased trading and instead acted as a managing agency for the government. The EIC finally closed its curtain in 1873 and Lloyds took over East India House.



Friday, September 10, 2010

从1949延伸......(十八)陈顺花之起坟(2 of 2)

Johnny和我在万里骨灰塔实地考察后,原以为可以在古旺附近买个空位,到office询问后却说不行,现在只开放三楼搬出的空位,二楼可要慢慢等。原来买个灵位也像买屋子一样有游戏规则,不是要就有的。那就两个骨灰瓮一左一右安放在古旺的家,你浓我浓吧!敲定。

Johnny的职员说万里骨灰塔古旺的石碑上的出生年份大有问题。安置30年了还会有什么问题?我核对一下,辰酉年,确实是大有问题!

(按天干地支并没有辰酉年,该好好学习,避免被瞒天过海)

十天干: 甲乙丙丁戊己庚辛壬癸。 十二地支: 子丑寅卯辰巳午未申酉戌亥。农历以天干地支命年,辰酉都属于地支,没有天干,那还成什么年份呢?跟阿好慢慢推敲,逐步找回零星的记忆,己卯年生是最接近的答案了。

2010年8月5日,庚寅年六月廿五清晨,我又回到似曾相识的地方。两位挖坟的客工身手灵活,虽然湿漉漉的黄土加重了挖土的负担,他们只花了一个半小时就挖出五尺的深坑,见到棺材了。这个坑类似当年服兵役的时候所挖掘的战壕,在我当年最年轻力壮的时候还得和军中同僚两人挖上一个晚上,从深夜到黎明。



(这两位来自大马和泰国的客工,不消一个时辰便挖出五尺的深坑)

连高地的泥土都湿漉漉的,棺内会是什么景象呢?Johnny说27年的棺材浸在水中这么多年,还那么结实硬朗,一定是Chennai木了。

开棺和捡骨是另一组人。捡骨师祖孙三代都与尸骨为生,一代传一代。正如所料,棺内积满泥水,顺花的尸身早已腐化,死时所穿的寿衣则还很完整。人生前也许有许多执着的人与事,死了多年以后,留下的只不过是一堆尸骨骸骸。

陡然间觉得我们的“外曾”关系是那么遥远又是那么接近,我们的缘分被五尺的黄土分隔了这些年,现在又近在眼前,看得到摸得着,只是以不同的形态与心态续缘。但相信很快的,这些记忆也会随着人生的步履,渐行渐远。
(开棺)

(捡骨)

(他祖孙三代都与尸骨为伍)

捡骨师说根据他捡骨的经验,三年左右尸体就完全腐化,只剩下骨头。不腐化的尸体称为荫尸,又称养尸。根据古老的传说,荫尸会吸取日月精华,或者吸取自家家中的“旺气”,毛发、指甲都会生长;要是荫尸还张开大口,传说会吃人,对象是从自家子孙开始,对后代是很不吉利的。

现代医学的验证则认为,人刚死,呼吸先停止,继之心脏、大脑逐一失去活动,但此时体内的细胞并没有一下子死绝,仍继续新陈代谢,制造养分;毛发指甲就因吸取皮下的养分而继续生长,因此荫尸的毛发指甲仍生长,不足以为奇。至于张开大口,那是筋骨伸缩自然现象,就像有些人睡觉时张着嘴巴一样。

我问众人从事这个“死人”行业多年,是否遇见过灵异事件?他们说吃这一行饭的,通常是命中带火,火势很高,阴魂鬼怪都会退避三舍。如果要看戏,可以在星期六和星期天凌晨来坟场一趟,有些人会在新下葬的坟前求财,也有人载着一车车的金银元宝和纸扎豪宅佣人来答谢鬼魂。

(清理后的棺材,来去空空)

(寿衣)

(尸骨骸骸,还有什么执着放不下的人与事?)

(以白米酒清洗骨头)

Johnny则重复已经问过我多次的老问题,为什么27年后的今天会想到为顺花起坟,把顺花和古旺安置在一起,他说有许多后人之所以劳神伤财是因为先人托梦,或是生活不如意,经过高人指点后才这么做。

我也是阳气鼎盛,并非受到指使,所谓精诚所至,金石为开,终于获得长辈的同意,做件认为该做的事。Johnny说夫妻本就应该团圆,我这么做必能造福子孙,开枝散叶。往后的事我不知道,对阴界之事更是一无所知,不过对我从哪里来,该往哪里去之事还在不断探索中。 他的祝福我绝对心领。

(破镜重圆)

骨头送到蔡厝港坟场火化场,两个小时后骸骨化为小石子,盛在骨灰瓮中,送到万里。两个骨灰瓮一左一右,换上新的石碑,希望从此古旺顺花破镜重圆,比翼双飞。

了却多年的心事,我也轻松地回家去了。

Friday, September 03, 2010

从1949延伸......(十七)陈顺花之起坟(1 of 2)

新加坡西部的蔡厝港坟场埋葬着各个族群各种信仰的人,分为华人、兴都教、回教、基督教和犹太教坟场。它是新加坡唯一继续运作的土葬墓地。当更多的家庭选择火葬亲人,就能循环利用更多墓地,单一个蔡厝港坟场就足以循环再使用,应付未来的需求。

新加坡法律规定埋葬超过15年的遗体必须挖掘出来,为“新移民”腾出土地,轮流分享,但由于供过于求,很多老墓地还是超期使用。现在,新加坡正在继续开发近市区的坟场,“疏散”死者,为新一代腾出生存空间。

其实生人霸死地并非新鲜事,广惠肇碧山亭本是粤籍人士的坟山,创立于1870年。1973年封山,1982至1983年间十万先人的遗骸火化后多数安置在万里骨灰塔。之后,山坟被夷为平地,开辟成产业价格年年水涨船高的碧山(Bishan)。

(童年的碧山亭坟场)

说起坟场,我为了安排给顺花(外曾祖母)起坟,重新“安家”,今年初起踏着晨光,到了蔡厝港坟场数回。

http://navalants.blogspot.com/2010/02/1949.html

清晨的坟场是宁静的,就只是因四周缺乏树木而感觉到空气中有一股闷气。在坟场兜一圈,觉得它还是个自成一格的“文化城”,墓碑上刻着晋江、安溪、厦门、泉州、台山、番禺、鹤山、海口等地方名,标志着死者的出身,可见早期来新加坡的过番客以南方人居多,冥冥中记录了新加坡早期移民的一页历史篇章。至于生辰死忌的年份,则多数通过天干地支来记载。


(蔡厝港坟场)

顺花已经在蔡厝港坟场安葬了27年,根据法律,她应该是属于非法居民了。不过既然政府不需要这块地,所以许多1983年的住客还留在这儿。因为是私人起坟,一切手续必须自己包办,挖坟搬迁也自己安排。

(顺花, 蔡厝港坟场)

多年来阿好(外婆)都执意让顺花继续在蔡厝港坟场住下去,新年期间我再向阿好提议把顺花接去万里,跟古旺(外曾祖父)团圆,也与淑意(祖母)等人为邻。也许年事已高,许多想不开放不下的人与事都逐渐看开看化了,这回阿好竟然没有异议。

http://navalants.blogspot.com/2010/02/1949_19.html
http://navalants.blogspot.com/2010/01/1949_15.html

在坟场的办公室,办公的马来女士对我这个外曾孙的身份十分好奇。我说阿好年事已高,不良于行,记忆已日渐模糊,就行个方便吧!

另一类证明自己的合法身份的方法是报上顺花的英文名,方便核对。我说中文名不行吗?英文名只是译名,也不晓得当年是怎么个译法。Law by law, 不行。我只好拼几个名字出来。刚好碰上电脑系统提升期间,运作不正常,Search Engine慢得可以,不过马来同胞可好耐性,找出几个大致相同的名字。接下来的核对法就是当年的地址,这我倒还记忆良深,当年潮州街(Ellenborough Street)的临时替代组屋,耸立在新加坡河畔。那个地方经过城市打造后,就是今天的中央广场(The Central)。

http://navalants.blogspot.com/2009/10/blog-post_23.html


(潮州街(Ellenborough Street)的临时替代组屋)


(中央广场 The Central)

拿了土葬证件,接下来是找承包商。跟Johnny会面洽谈,再去坟场办公室注册起坟的日子。坟场有规定,每天不能超过三起私人起坟;Johnny也有行规,非黄道吉日不起坟,农历七月也不起坟,以免得罪鬼神。这样排一排日子,最快也得五个月后。除了起坟之外,安装在万里骨灰塔也交由他打点。