Landmark Shutters Down

November 2, 2013 at 9:59 pm | Posted in itchy mouth | Leave a comment
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Middle of last month, Itchyfingers were shocked and disappointed to read the news…“Shutters for 54-year-old provision shop”. The accompanying picture was one of a familiar sight.

Newspaper article on The Straits Time, 19 Oct 2013

Actually, in fast-paced and fast-developed Singapore, almost everything old has to eventually give way to new development. Faced with stiff competition from a bigger supermarket nearby that is better stocked, this old provision shop’s 84-year-old owner decided it is about time for him to retire and enjoy life. 

It is kinda sad to see another old part of Singapore gone. This shop is located at Dakota Crescent, quite out-of-place for folks staying in the West like Itchyfingers. I didn’t even know of its existence until Tisu Boy brought me there…He used to stay with his maternal grandmother in that area when he was studying in kindergarten so he knew that shop though he was too poor to have bought anything there…

Tian Kee & Co, one of those old shops which sold different kinds of 
biscuits in tin containers. These are usually sold by weight. A pity we only
patronised them once for drinks, and we didn’t take any interior shots of the

So why did he bring me there? For this….

Remember this old mosaic playground that Itchyfingers wrote about? This
Seal playground is just opposite the old provision 
shop. This is really a very
quiet neighourhood, comprising mostly units for rental…Very worried that these
blocks will be demolished soon, again to give way to newer and taller blocks.
Then this old playground will have to give way too, like the Last Pelican of 
Singapore….so sad…

Anyway, it was because we came to look for this old playground that I found out about this old provision shop. If we didn’t go to the area, we wouldn’t have otherwise got to know the many beautiful community cats there….

One of the cute kitties that hung out near Tian Kee provision shop during our
first visit. He’s special cos the black fur on the body has a tinge of brown….
A sweet kitty who’s not afraid of strangers and immediately warmed up to us…

But he was bullied by another bigger kitty fighting for our attention….

Sweet kitty was eventually chased up this flight of stairs…Everything seemed
fine then…

I think the Siamese was a boy. Notice something unusual about him?
His whiskers were snipped off by a Chinese uncle staying at the same block
as the provision shop!!! He told us that he fed the kitty regularly and he
snipped off his whiskers for some stupid reasons that I couldn’t remember
now! We called him Snip for his lack of long whiskers….

Was a bit pissed off cos whiskers are very important to cats not for vanity reason! Whiskers help cats to navigate his way around as well as judging whether or not he’ll fit through an opening. (Read here for more information). I remembered telling him that he shouldn’t cut the whiskers, only to be laughed off as something casual and harmless. Should have reported him to the SPCA for being a cat abuser! The next few times we visited the area, we couldn’t find the man. The door was closed and it looked as if it was vacated. We only saw Snip once, this time with his whiskers grown back but the right eye was not in a good state. Poor Snip….we never saw him again after that…. 😦

But the other kitty seemed to be a regular near the old provision shop…Even when Itchyfingers were fondling and molesting other kitties in the neighbourhood, this friendly kitty would come and check us out…

Curiosity kills the cat….Once, Kitty saw us playing and photographing
other kitties, so he decided to cross the road and join in the fun. But halfway 
through he changed his mind and stopped in the middle of the road to observe
us instead…Totally oblivious of the danger of the road! Maybe he thinks it’s
really his “Grandfather’s Road”?!? A truly Singaporean kitty!!! Wahahah!!!
Luckily it was a relatively quiet road with few and slow traffic…

(Note to the uninitiated: Locals often use the term “your Grandfather’s 
road” to literally describe those people who behave as if they own the whole
road to themselves; or selfish or inconsiderate people who exhibit anti-social
behaviors towards others)

Itchyfingers like to give names to kitties who we are more familiar with. I was
playing with him just outside the old provision shop. Maybe it was the angle

where I was looking up, and partly due to the canvas that was blocking
the signage, I blurted out, “大记” (Da Ji) instead of “天记” (Tian Ji)….

Even though I realised my mistake,  I decided I shall christen the kitty
Da Ji from now on….wahahahah!!! I didn’t even know if Da Ji is a girl or boy! 😀

Cos the problem with kitty with black or dark bum, is that it is always so tough
to peep and check for their gender! Wahahaha!!!! Especially with active kitty like
Da Ji! Here, Tisu Girl played with Da Ji in front of the Tian 
Kee provision shop
on their off day…

Once we found the usually friendly and warm Da Ji running away and
hiding under a drain…

I thought his nose was a bit bruised…maybe he got into a fight with another
kitty and was traumatised?

Back to the old provision shop. On the newspaper article, it showed the shop with its shutter drawn down and the old blue signage was said to be bought by a heritage buff and it would be taken down in a few days’ time. As I happened to be working very near the area, I decided to drop by after work to take a last look at the shop, hopefully the signage would still be around. It was also some time ago since I last saw Da Ji…

Before I crossed the road, I could see Da Ji sitting on the staircase! Not too 
sure if he recognised me, or remembered his name when I called him,
or he was just excited to see a human being near dinner time…the sweet
kitty immediately meowed at me, and ran down the stairs! Oh, the old
blue sign was still around! Now you understand why I read it wrongly as
“Da Ji”? Hahah….

Da Ji was so excited that he kept rubbing his little furry head against my legs! Very restless and kept calling…Itchyfingers always joked that Da Ji has better be a boy cos it would sound not so nice for a lady to be called that name! Hahah….So this time, I was very determined to find out if Da Ji is a girl or a boy! Finally I got my answer!

Da Ji is a GIRL!!!! Wahahahahah!!!! Nevermind lah! Da Ji sounds cute and
special! Wahahah!

Was really surprised that the sign was still around since it was supposed
to be bought over….Aren’t they worried that some itchy fingers will secretly take
it home in the middle of the night?

Afterall, the old blue sign is so iconic that artist put it in his artwork at the
Dakota MRT station….

The old license – “No person under the age of eighteen is allowed to buy
intoxicated liquor at these premises”

Another old license to “sell by retail beer for consumption elsewhere than
on these premises”. It was getting dark as I shot these photos…didn’t check
to see that they were not so sharp…

Now, with the old provision shop closing for good, there are now only two chinese medical clinics left. I don’t think there are any people still staying in the block cos all door are closed. So it really worries me that it is a matter of time before the whole block be demolished as Dakota Crescent is one of the oldest housing estates in Singapore. Just on last Friday’s paper featuring the estate, it was reported that there is no long-term plan to redevelop the place yet. The estate may be used as interim housing for needy families waiting for their new flats. But who can be sure of what’s on the mind of our city planners?

Where will Da Ji hang out if the provision shop and its block is gone?

I went back again on my last day of work at that office. Now the two
licenses were gone…The blue sign was still around though…What happened
to the buyer? Changed his mind? Maybe can donate the sign to the History

Miss Da Ji was still around…

View from the other end. I 
think this block is quite unique with its two staircases
at both end…Should really 
conserve this!

Also see related posts:
When Margaret Meets the Queen#2
When Margaret Meets the Queen #1
Growing up in a One-Room Flat
> Gimme A Lift
Heartbreak Hotel in the Lost World
It’s Play Time! #3


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