“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relatives.”
With its rustic charm and interesting character, Serangoon Gardens is home to a large cluster of private homes. However, what sets it apart from many other estates is what lies in the heart of it. Lining the Serangoon Gardens Circus, one of the rare few remaining in Singapore, are rows of two-storey shophouses, many of which are filled with visitors from both near and far. These shophouses are home to many eateries, with cuisine from all over the world amply represented, ready to cater to the varying tastebuds of any visitor to this space.
To put it simply, food bonds. It doesn’t matter your age, your race or background, a common identity that anyone can align to would be that of food. Serangoon Gardens provides a backdrop for these culinary exchanges to take place. A quick glance around the area and you would find a Hawker Centre that is chock full of patrons in the mornings and afternoons. As night falls, the crowd shifts towards the Chomp Chomp Food Centre, where famous local dishes can be savoured. The shophouses contain eateries, both cheap and pricey, and there is certainly no lack in variety.
But what ingredients have contributed to the establishment of this community? I would like to suggest that this has very much to do with the Identity of Place. As someone who frequents the area since I was young, the physical space has most definitely changed. Renovations have been carried out; shops have moved out and have been replaced with new ones. However, the character of the area has not changed, and this has very much to do with the community that frequents it. Physical spaces are tools to facilitate social interaction. People bring life to spaces. Memories are etched both in stone, but also very much in our heart. Serangoon Gardens is a place many identify with; they have spent their entire life growing up around this place. In that aspect, a community transcends a specific activity done by a group of individuals on a regular basis, a community is formed based on memories and experiences.
I have fond memories of Serangoon Gardens. These memories continue to be built as I spend time there. Though I do not specifically live in the estate, I can identify myself as being part of this community. My friends are here, my favourite food places are here, and my memories are here. Communities aren’t forced; they are formed.