Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 (Singapore)

WALKING THROUGH A CEMETERY WITHOUT GRAVES: Today I headed to the northeast section of the city to check out what's left of Bidadari Cemetery. The place is important to me because that's where my grandmother's only sister was buried--for a year--before she was exhumed and transported to a final resting place in Worcester, Mass.
My great aunt Dorothy (right) died of typhoid in Singapore on April 1, 1909, while on an around-the-world tour with her parents. She had turned 19 years old only a month earlier. Her presence hovered over the family when we grew up because a fabulous close-to-life-size portrait of her hung in my grandmother's house. The word "Singapore," therefore, seemed to always have a mysterious and gloomy cast to it.
She went to the General Hospital in Singapore on March 27, for treatment for typhoid. The Straits Times noted that medical officials thought she had become sick while in India. She died on Thursday evening April 1. She was embalmed by a Dr. Handy for transport to the United States probably James Muthiah Handy. According to the Straits Times she was put in the ground the next day at Bidadari Cemetery--once it was determined that the shipping of the body was too difficult to arrange at short notice. The Straits Times described the service in this way:
"She was buried at 10:30 p.m. on Friday, the scene at the ceremony at Bidadari being most impressive in the moonlight, the officiating clergyman reading the burial service by the aid of a lamp. Several of the nursing staff of the General Hospital were present at the graveside." (ST, April 5, 1909, page 6)
A year later, her body was exhumed, as mentioned in the Straits Times on April 7, 1910:
"The remains of Miss Dorothy Lincoln, who died in April 1909, and was buried at Bidadari, were exhumed on the 4th inst., by Mr. Albert L.A. Daley, undertaker, and shipped by him on the steamer Indravelli to New York."
For the record, the hard-working Mr. Daley handled a lot of death-related needs in the area, as you can tell from the advertisement he had in the Straits Times on the appropriate--but somewhat ghoulish--date of Oct. 31, 1910 (right).
Many other exhumations were to follow because the Bidadari Christian Cemetery, and its neighboring cemetery for Muslims, have since been emptied of bodies. What's left is a vast greensward (above), poised for the ongoing and never-ending development that is Singapore.
There's plenty of signs of life nearby, including the well-uniformed students of the Cedar Girls Secondary School on the far side of a chain link fence (right). On the other side, Upper Serangoon Road hums with commuters.
Within the wide open spaces of the former cemetery (and the contiguous Muslim cemetery) skitters the occasional lizard, squirrel and bird. Many people seem to enjoy the setting as a place to walk or jog and worry about the encroaching building. It's certainly no Botanic Gardens, but it was an island of peace.

A PUZZLING T-SHIRT: We first saw this shirt on Sunday on Sentosa Island. We assumed this dealt with a college football game and anticipated mentioning the sighting to nephew Tim Driscoll (who's at Alabama).
Amazingly, I spotted it again today, being worn by a man on my subway car. Trying to act nonchalant, I asked him about it. There was a bit of a language barrier between us, which, added to my own dimness of mind and focus on football, failed to resolve a key issue. What I got out of the conversation is that Selvin is quite a personable chap and that he really likes cricket. I assumed the shirt dealt with college football, and never asked if there was anything on the back, which was covered by a backpack. I have since checked the University of Georgia football media guide and I don't think the Bulldogs have EVER beaten the Crimson Tide in football by a 29-28 score.
Furthermore, the seal at the bottom of the shirt (right) has nothing to do with either university as far as I can tell. This is puzzling. What match is the shirt talking about? Debate? Softball? Cricket?
If I see him again, I'll bother him again. Is a third encounter possible? Stay tuned!
By the way, we saw another interesting T-shirt on Sunday. The wording was in RUSSIAN. Sandy translated it as "I am an alcoholic from Moscow." If I run into that guy on a subway car, I will NOT stop him to ask him about that message. He was about 6 feet 8 inches tall. (In metric terms, that's about the height of 6.7 bottles of vodka.)

S&P MIGHT HAVE BUMPED THE CRANES UP: Did Standard & Poors' "outlook downgrade" have an impact on the cranes at the Tanjong Pagar Container Terminal????? Not sure, but things took a minor turn for the worse yesterday, according to the Singapore Crane Index Limited Economic Indicator. The UPs beamed UP:
Date: April 20
Time: 9 a.m. (Singapore time)
Cranes Up (bad): 10
Cranes Down (good): 14
CRANES MISSING (neutral): 3

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