An apartment at People's Park Centre, where she still lives today with her family. From her window, Weizhen has had a front row ticket to Singapore’s changing skyline.
I have lived here since I was born, right smack in the middle of Chinatown. It is a lucky and happy feeling. People always ask me if it is very noisy. It is very vibrant. There are all sorts of people here.
Over the years, you do see the changes. There have been a number of people from China moving in at an exponential rate, giving Chinatown a different flavour. We have lost some of its original character but then again that’s how things change, along with the rest of Singapore.
People in this building have lived here for a long time and I’ve known my neighbours for as long as I can remember. My mother told me that when I was a baby I cried so badly they didn’t know what to do as first-time parents. A grandmother living next door, who’s about 90 years old now attributed it to ‘wind’ in my stomach and solved the problem with medicated oil.
This whole area, for lack of a better word, is a bit haphazard but in a nice way. People connect in these different spaces and hang out from the market to the Coffee Bean in Chinatown Point, where everyone knows everyone else. No matter how different the places are, you always see the same familiar people. So while Chinatown has become very touristy, to me it is still a neighbourhood like any other.
When I was young, I played classical piano competitively and spent most of my childhood practising piano. Our grand piano was so huge it could not come into the house; so they had to remove take apart the piano frame and legs to transport the piano to the 27th floor of the building.
I remember there was this piece called ‘Cat and the Mouse’, a fast moving piece where the song jumps all over the piano keys. Once where I was playing, my mum was making me count the rhythm of a jazz piece, which wasn’t an easy thing to do. I cried and played at the same time. Now and then, my neighbours would walk past and pop their heads in, going: “Wah, very nice!” I either did play very nicely, or they are very nice people. Over the years, they probably grew accustomed to it because I have never heard complaints although the piano can be very loud.
Home to me, is an escape. Although people usually escape out, I escape home. I think that family knows you the best and no matter what, they probably would expect it so I don’t have to hide anything from them. My family is quite open and we are usually all together in the living room. Everyone knows what everyone is doing and it’s comforting that way.