Monday, 27 June 2011

Between the old and the new

We just watched "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" yesterday. At one point, I was mortified that a whole generation of youngsters might grow up thinking that mermaids were beautiful but dark snarling creatures of the sea, unlike Ariel, beautiful AND kind.


Also watched an episode of South Park, "The Losing Edge" over dinner. The kids didn't want to win their baseball game; they wanted to go home to play computer games.

More than once, I have found my generation to be at the crossroads - of exactly what, I could not articulate in just a word or two.

Generations of children before me grew up with simple games using simple tools that were cheaply available. Mother told me about games of marbles she played in the 1950s-1960s.


I still saw marbles growing up and going to a school in the heartlands, being tall and sitting among the boys. And flag eraser "wars". And um, "fencing" with metal rulers. The girls had different pursuits - "zero point" (I always wondered about the name; a search gave a more apt name, "jumpsies"), hopscotch, drop-the-handkerchief. I always lost.

My favourite was catching. No, not catching a ball. Someone had to catch everyone else playing. There was always a lot of running. My cousins and I would modify the game to a hide-and-run or seek-and-catch game, and we would use the lifts to hide, run, seek and catch one another scattered in any corner of the 11 floors! And we usually had "safe home" where we could catch our breath before running again. I lost too but I loved the thrill!

This is the flight of stairs opposite more letterboxes, which was our choice "safe home" :) We were so cute! You can easily spot the 8/9-year-old mf even though I had a horrible ulcer on my lip back then!

CY was telling me some time ago that Straits Times ran an article on playgrounds in Singapore. I couldn't find that article but I found another one instead. Check it out for interesting reads on playgrounds.

I remember photos of little mf at the playground downstairs. The playground used to have a sand pit. I loved making sand structures - they were definitely far from being sand castles! - but I often dug up ants *.* On the sand pit were a few swings and two slides with red and white mosaic walls, a dragon? I don't remember now. But I remember a playground near my Grams at Toa Payoh, with grilles that formed a dragon. I don't know if it is still there.. Anyway, my playground also had a blue rusty merry-go-round one step down from the sand pit. I remember falling when the other kids pushed it too fast and scrapping skin off my knees.

During Mid Autumn Festival, we would go to the playground with our cellophane lanterns, a rare find these days. As adults, CY and I still went downstairs - to the pavilion mostly, not playground - with our paper lanterns, candles, mooncakes and Yeo's packet drinks to chat :) And speaking of that, does anyone still remember the old "Chinese" paper bags that contained lovely mooncakes? I had totally forgot about such bags until 2007 - we made bags in this shape for our goodie bags at Singapore Day in New York. And here's an article on old bags in Singapore - check out the interesting bags we used to carry!

Anyway, back to games.. We also had more hi-tech games. The luckier ones had Nintendo, first on the tele, then as a bulky handheld - the predecessor of the PSP and DS Lite of recent years. My otaku side showed itself one day when I decided to stay longer at my cousin's place to play video games. I ended up missing a trip to the swimming pool and cried into a pillow, thinking it might as well just kill me *.*

This article traced the history of handheld games. But in more recent years, there is no need for a separate handheld when everyone has a mobile phone, which is yet another sign of the change of times. My peers were carrying pagers in JC. I got mine finally when I was working between JC and university. Mobile phones became popular/viable only during university time. Now, I guess primary schools? Even two-year-olds are playing games on the iPhone - colleague's kid beat me at bowling, all the way screaming excitedly, fancy that..

Even the old playgrounds with sand pits had given way to plastic structures and padded floors to cushion falls. This was taken in 2006 on the way to visiting Grams. By then, the "new" plastic playground was old and they were replacing the entire playground.

The resulting playground had a little fitness corner for the seniors. Nice for intergenerational bonding but the grannies mostly sat at the benches :p My Grams on the left :)

Compared to our parents' generations, many of whom do not use the computer or even speak English, my generation is among the first to be able to MSN or Skype with children who are internet-savvy, tagging them in photos etc. Or maybe not, given how things keep evolving. Who knows what's after Facebook and Twitter? One thing's for sure - we have to keep up and acquaint ourselves with the latest offerings in cyberspace. Or risk being "grandfathered" by our kids, not grandkids! Now that's mortifying indeed.

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