I remember I used to hang out around Kampong Gelam quite often, sipping on my mint tea while watching life go by. Kampong Gelam was bustling with life, all day and all night.
having delightful meals at Bussorah Street, and taking beautiful “OOTD” shots at every nook and cranny. ou could hear music streaming out of The Blue Jazz Café and other buskers jamming it out along the streets. Kampong Gelam was vibrant and alive.
But alas! It has since become a ghost of its former self. Silence lies heavy in the hearts of its inhabitants.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic, many businesses have shut their doors. Those left opened are struggling to make ends meet. Livelihoods have been disrupted. No longer can you hear musical performances, people laughing, or businesses hawking their goods. Food bazaars have disappeared from its landscape – a first in many, many years.
The heart of Kampong Gelam has always been about its people. Both tourists and locals alike play an essential role in bringing life to its streets. Unfortunately, in a mere few weeks, locals have to stay at home and tourists are made to remain in their home countries. It is unbearably quiet now.
And the ones most affected are those that hardly make the news. The textile and fabric businesses rely on tourists as their customer base, but now have to close. Many waiters at the F & B outlets are from Malaysia, and some of them are unable to cross the border to work.
Others have to remain in Singapore without any pay for a while, as returning to Malaysia would effectively render them jobless. Families are relying on them and other workers for an income that is no longer possible with their workplace shut and closed. These are difficult times, to say the least.
But I truly believe that the spirit of this place is still alive; it is still there. The people, the heart of Kampong Gelam, have not left. We are resilient and stubborn creatures, still clinging onto this place with an almost desperate passion. Because we believe in ourselves, we believe in each other, and we believe the storm will pass.
One day, the streets of Kampong Gelam will once again be brimming with joy, festivities,music, and laughter.
And we will be here waiting to greet you with open arms and a tired but grateful smile.