My friends and I used to head over to Haji Lane after exams for much needed therapy sessions. An eclectic mix of the whimsical and passionate, Haji Lane has always possessed a certain charm. As I stroll through Haji Lane, I have constantly been overcome by a sense of calmness, tranquillity, and strangely, acceptance.
A sense of freedom is the lifeblood of this place. Vibrant colours co-exist alongside muted pastel shop fronts; pulsating dance beats blends in with the breezy indie music. Passers-by drift along the street, stopping whenever they fancy or to pose for insta-worthy shots against the colourful backdrop.
In the 60s and 70s, the area provided lodging for poor Malay families, and gave shelter to pilgrims on their annual pilgrimage ‘haj’ to Mecca. This history of giving and hospitality is perhaps still reflected in the particularly laidback and soothing charm of this area, that has birthed a vibrant and close-knit community. One Kampong Gelam businesses gather for iftar, to break their daily Ramadan fast together. Shopkeepers greet each other with an easy familiarity, while newcomers are welcomed heartily into the family.
I was talking to the team of Sultan Gate, and what really struck me was how these individuals truly believe in the power of arts, music, food, and culture to transform lives. In fact, they view these passions as a way of being, and essential to life itself. To be able to find a passion and devote yourself fully to it, is something that I personally have yet to discover. Perhaps that is why I find myself continually wandering towards Haji Lane throughout the years.
For me, Haji Lane is home to the bold and the beautiful, the unique and exceptional; it is the sweet abode of those individuals who truly dare to live. And one day, I hope I tewill be one of them.