On National Day, we had grand plans of camping at the Marina Bay area to catch/shoot the fantastic SG50 fireworks.

On National Day, the boys – yes, all three of them – napped until 430pm, which made it impossible for us to head on down to Marina Bay area without being squashed like sardines.

In the end, we decided to go for an early dinner and then watch the parade live at the field near our home. We had seen posters advertising the free event in our lifts and since the organisers had promised fireworks, we thought that it would be a great alternative to the real thing happening at the Padang.

So that’s how we found ourselves taking the (free!) bus out to the interchange and squelching our way down to the muddy field, stroller and two kids in tow.

SG50 in our hoodIt was not a fancy do, for sure, just a tent with plastic chairs and a makeshift stage with a giant screen. Occasionally, the festivity would be punctuated by off-key singing from the organisers/emcees. Which was, frankly, quite hilarious. But yes, the mood was so amazingly festive. The attendees who managed to snag seats under the tent were constantly clapping their hands and cheering and singing loudly and waving their flags. And when the emcees called for some enthusiasm, the attendees – comprising all sorts, from the elderly to aunties and uncles to parents with children – would deliver the goods proudly.

Initially, we were standing at the fringe, having arrived too late to get seats. But as I queued up for free (!) ice-cream with Aidan perched on my hip, one of the organisers suddenly waved a red plastic chair at me and asked, “Do you have a seat? Here, take this.”

Since I was waiting in line to get ice-cream for the three-year-old, there was no way in hell I could have left the queue without getting screamed at by said child. So I shook my head and said that it was fine, I didn’t need the seat. To my astonishment, the man waved me out of the line and said, “You go sit down, I’ll get the ice-cream for you.”

I left the queue to go grab the husband, Zac and the stroller, and lo and behold, there were two chairs waiting for us AND two ice-cream cones. They even offered us (and everyone else) bottled water AND snacks. Aidan was most certainly the happiest of the lot as he sat on the chair munching on the ice-cream while it dribbled down his chin.

As the parade ended, all of us were ushered out of the tent to the field for the fireworks. They were baby fireworks that did not last very long. But you know what? We were so happy. Sure, they weren’t as extravagant nor fabulous as the ones at the actual parade.

SG50 in our hood

It felt like home being there.

I was amazed by the kindness that was shown to us, the thoughtfulness of the organisers. There was a sense of camaraderie bubbling within the community and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Ever since the boys came along, I have been thinking a lot about the environment that we are living in, and I always feel happy that we are dwelling in the heartlands. Sure, our surroundings are not fancy. But there is a sense of warmth here, a simplicity that I appreciate. It’s a place where he can befriend kids from other races at the playground and play gleefully with them. It’s where our neighbours’ kids and ours can shout across the corridor to one another. And this is what I hope for our Singapore: this sense of kampung-ness shared by all of us.

Besides catching the live event at our community, we also headed down to the Marina Barrage to watch the Black Knights. What a thrilling spectacle that was!

It is home.

SG50 in our hood

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