My Chinatown, Digital SLR on a Sunday.

I decided to pay Chinatown a visit yesterday. It was an impromptu trip filled with nostalgic moments, reflections and flashbacks.

My Canon 700D has been staring at me every since I shifted to my current location. The common thought, among many, is whether digital SLR cameras can continue to match up with the impeccable, Apple iPhone’s camera.

Browsing through the tons of Youtube videos capitalising on the new tech launch of iPhone 12, Pro and Pro Max, most technophiles and tech youtubers will agree that digital SLR cameras are coming close to its extinction. With technology improving so fast, common people like you and I could become a professional photographer, or film maker, with the help of persistent online masterclasses and self DIY e-books.

What is then the value of a camera as compared to a smart phone, I ask myself? It seems smartphones are becoming all encompassing, almost close to our personal assistant assisting us to get on with our every day life.

In this material driven, dynamic chase for new features, functions, colours, sizes, everyone is almost thrilled and expectant of all things new, perhaps to satisfy our void or emptiness, ironically propagated by the technological bandwagon we subscribed ourselves to.

As I step into People’s Park, I saw seniors pushing rubbish chutes around. I immediately think about all these talks about ageing, minimum wage and essential workers. Yet I cannot fornulate any probable hypothesis in my mind.

I wanted to capture some photos of the long-forgotten trades. Cobblers, Ice-cream men, newspaper vendors, came to my mind. Thankfully, I saw this group of uncles, clustering like there’s no social distancing. Luckily, all of them were wearing a mask, and somewhat in groups of five. Amidst the waiting for customers, friends crowd together to watch a Youtube video, perhaps admiring the high quality videos of iphone 12 purchased by the business owner.

Just when it takes forever for Teo Heng to open, uncles start their own karaoke session. You don’t need good vocals with the right tempo. Just happiness.

I thought to myself, why didn’t this picture appear in any ‘top 50 most instagrammable places in Singapore’.

The mood of Chinatown was never like before. No sight of tourists. No active shopkeepers touting for customers. I see a lot of locals wandering aimlessly around, as if it was a place I might see in Fukushima, after the nuclear accident.

I was visibly attracted to these four masks. And perhaps only ‘entertainers’ like them will continue to smile, and laugh, continuously, amidst the uncertain conditions for performers alike, be them singers, artists or theatre makers.

I need new photos, I told myself. Where else can I do it if not for the murals here. Even this grandma looked sad. Perhaps she has lesser tourists or locals posing beside her ever since covid-19 broke. I have to look away in case she ask me for money.

I need another shot. This time with hard workers, coolies who have helped built Singapore.

I really wanted to get this shot. Somehow the building shouts so much nostalgia . It reminded so much of the hongkong movies / dramas I watched in the 90s.

This is my favourite shophouse, notably because I used to visit the place when it was occupied by Diva Models. It was the first entity which gave me a chance in modelling. Thank you Rowena.

How could I miss this building? Structurally, it provides so much for tourists to awe over the scenic view of Chinatown.

The pain is real. Seeing this reminded me about the situation we are all in now. We are still in the middle of a pandemic. Businesses are suffering, closing, and finding it hard to survive.

Yet, the craze for technology is incredibly high. I was enquiring for the availability of iPhone 12 pro and they are mostly out of stock island wide.

I find myself wanting to change into iPhone 12 even though the current iPhone I have is still working perfectly well.

Perhaps I cannot see past the beauty and nostalgia Chinatown is bringing. For some, its a touristy place. For some, its a place for food, or a place to reconnect with our oriental roots.

Yet I am seeing how it is fading away slowly; the meaning, spaces and the spirit it means to us.

Just like how I use to marvel at the uncle who is selling ice-cream with his motor-cart.

I wonder where is he now.

Alright. I shall cherish my Canon 700D.

Follow Dennis Toh on IG

All photos are taken by my Canon 700D

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