Went to visit friends from uni this afternoon. We took the same course, they fell in love and got married. Today, made a trip to Pearl Bank to visit the 3 day old product of their love, a restless baby who looks every bit as long and slender as her parents.
We know where the parents live, but had never been up there. There is a staircase behind Pearl Centre (where Yangtze cinema is, that infamous cinema visited only by lonely ah pehs) that leads up to Pearl Bank apartments on top of the hill. The climb was a lot steeper than it looked from the bottom, and we were out of breathe by the time we reached the lifts at the top of the hill. No wonder she’s so skinny! Rarely do you find housing at the top of steep staircases in Singapore. I have seen them in Japanese and Korean dramas, but never before in Singapore! What a romantic setting!
It gets better when you see it from the top. The hilltop apartments was in a peaceful and quiet world of its own, away from the bustle of Chinatown just at the bottom of the hill. With a few benches along the corridor that overlooked the greenery below, it looked like a good place for a boy to hang around with a girl just before sending her to her door. With the corridors linking the main apartment block to the nursery building, it was just a little bit like Kun Lun Mountain, in the midst of clouds, where halls are linked by narrow bridges hanging above steep ravines.
Back in the older days, civil servants had a lot of privileges. Some had pensions schemes that paid perhaps half of the salary they drew when they were serving the statutory board, and they continue to draw the monthly pension until they kick the bucket. Some had comprehensive medical schemes that took care of all medical expenses of their family members, even those that are not at all life-threatening, such as flatfoot. And there were lavish 3-storey HDB apartments with security guards that were sold only to civil servants, complete with a pond, rock garden, 1 lift for every 2 units (which we are getting now only after the upgrading). There is even a gate at the multi-storey carpark controlled by a security guard, operated via pushbutton.
The schemes they used to have were really fantastic. It is nothing like what we have these days in the private sectors, and the next generation will have it a lot worse. The previous generation lived during the boom times when property prices and personal networth keep going up. This generation can still make it if they watch their savings and buy the right insurances. The next? Life can be very unfair. It’s not about working hard, sometimes. It’s about being born into the right place at the right time. The difference can be like that between the subsidised exclusiveness of Pearl Bank and the commonality of Chinatown. Blessed are those born with their needs all taken care of.