At Novus Asia, as much as we know how to handle various projects, we also know how to take breaks from time to time. Our smokers have their usual gathering corner downstairs, but as a non-smoker, I much prefer to wander around the neighbourhood with my trusty iPhone camera.

 

Tanjong Pagar, where Novus Asia is located, is a neighbourhood teeming with interesting things and people. I am not a professional photographer by any means, but as a writer, my primary role is to be a storyteller. Taking pictures, then, is just another way for me to tell stories. Here are some of my recent favourites.

 

This picture was not taken around Tanjong Pagar, but it is work-related nonetheless.

 

I interviewed Deen for URA’s Going Places Singapore microsite last year. Deen is the owner of a mama shop along Townshend Road in Jalan Basar. And like every other mama shop in Singapore, business has not been good for the past decade. But he gets comfortably by because selling shampoo, snacks and insecticide is all he's ever known as a livelihood.

 

It also helps that he owns a handful of mama shops. I remember him telling me: “I am a serious businessman!”

 

The way home from the Novus Asia office takes me pass Sri Mariamman Temple, the oldest and largest Hindu temple in Singapore. Theemithi, or firewalking, has been practiced here since 1840.

 

During the ceremony, a 2.7 metre long ditch is prepared, with a separate, smaller pit dug out near the end and filled with milk. Visitors here are told to leave their shoes at the door before entering because, as true believers, you do not need shoes to walk on fire.

 

If you work around Tanjong Pagar, you may have seen this man in the narrow lane between Peck Seah Street and Tras Street.

 

When he is not fixing motorcycles, he is cooped up like this and working on Sudoku puzzles. The overwhelming smell of gasoline and burnt plastic do not affect his daytime hobby, it seems. 

 

It is not uncommon for foreign workers to gather on this field outside Tanjong Pagar MRT station. Before the trucks and buses come to pick them up, I see some of them perform their evening prayers.

 

This man was facing towards Mecca when I took this photograph. I find it beautiful how, despite the hustle and bustle, he was able to find a small moment of peace with a higher entity.  

 

Tucked behind the Air View Building next to our office is a little door accessible by a short ladder. Inside the door is nearly everything that this man owns.

I believe he is one of the many cleaners that Air View Building employs, and I see him relaxing in the back alley from time to time. At his age, he should not be working at all. Yet, for some of us, we have to do what we can to make ends meet.

 

 

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Novus Creates: Street Scenes of Tanjong Pagar


BY Chin Wei Lien

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