I made a trip back to my old school, NUS, shortly after I graduated, armed with little more than my trusty Leica IIIF RD and a mental map of all the places I intended to visit and photograph.
Call me crazy for making that oh so dreaded Journey to the West, but there was no way I could stop myself after reading the umpteenth article about how places on this sunny island are constantly changing (no thanks to a relentless effort to drive our country to modernity).
Being the sentimental person that I am, I wanted nothing more than to snap an album full of pictures before it undergoes a complete face lift over the next decade.
So. Let’s start with stairs. You’ll start to wonder, after a while, if the S in NUS stands for Slopes and Stairs. STAIRS ARE EVIL AND PLENTIFUL IN THIS CAMPUS.
But they’re also good for getting rid of fats. Sometimes. Although if anyone could magically turn all of ’em into escalators and travelators, he or she would definitely be regarded as highly as whoever brought the air conditioner to the tropics. *hint hint*
And with hills and slopes, as well as the overarching brand of our country as a “city in a garden”, it’s no wonder that you have lil plants creeping up on the school’s aged buildings over time.
Sometimes, walking through certain areas at certain times reminds you of an abandoned terrain that’s been overrun by wild plants growing amok, like the bridge between the Faculty of Arts and Social Science (FASS) and the Faculty of Engineering… which is kind of cool in a way. 😉
It might not look like it, but walking along this walkway can be pretty pleasant and exciting when you consider the couple of vending machines on the other end, waiting to dispense pleasure in the form of an ice cold drink.
It’s also here where you’ll find the most resilient of minds, and it’s not because you’re in the company of muggers who survived the grueling pre-university years.
It’s because it takes a rare level of concentration to be able to mug with a perpetual flood of people around, like the aspiring entrepreneur selling the odd pre-loved blouse at a week-long bazaar (true story).
I know that many remember our canteen, a.k.a. The Deck, for its quirky, circular layout, but but but, may I draw your attention to a couple of awesome drink stalls? 😉
From the Business faculty to the Arts faculty, or vice versa; whichever direction you were heading in, you’d be rewarded with a tall glass of the yummiest fruity concoctions this school has seen. Or a couple of warmhearted dudes dishing out warm tea in paper cups that sit snugly in your hand.
(No, I don’t care if I’m biased! :P)
Many hated the idea of walking back to Hall after class because of the crazy amount of schools and stairs we had to get through to reach our comfortable abode. Me? Let’s just say I hate waiting for the internal shuttle bus.
And along the way, I secretly grew to love the view walking down that huge slope from The Deck to the School of Computing. C:
I’m not sure if anyone has ever noticed this patch of green and trees leading up to LT 11, but it’s pretty beautiful and I seriously, sincerely hope that it doesn’t get bulldozed for extra classroom spaces. For all its exposure to the elements, it’s actually quite therapeutic to walk through after a trying day at school. And if you happen to drive by at night, look out for the lamps that come on; it reminds me of one of those floating lantern festivals. Just saying. 😉
Like Hogwarts, NUS is also full of hidden shortcuts. If you’re lucky, you’ll find them all in your first two years. If you’re like me, you’ll be pleasantly surprised the day you return for your graduation photo shoot. 😛
And hey, if you could choose between an open path or a stuffy staircase, which one would it be?
They say that every place bears an imprint of your doings, no matter how big or small, and it’s true. I might easily forget all those theories I so desperately tried to cram into my head on the eve of my exams, but the little moments in between will always remain at the back of my mind through these photographs.
Yet, it was on this trip down memory lane that I re-discovered my old school in so many ways. I originally intended to have these pictures as a keepsake, to be able to remember this place just the way it was when it played a huge part in my life. But as a photographer, I’m also primed to keep an eye out for the most significant details, moments and angles that can tell my stories. And in the process, I found so many things I never knew I never knew, nooks and crannies left undiscovered in my daily haste to get from one point to another.
People always say, get out there and explore. Some may even complain that this little red dot is too small to discover something new. But I don’t think that’s true. Sometimes, the most important thing is to rediscover something, and when you, I think that’s truly amazing. C:
It’s a lot like re-reading your favourite novel, and picking up on new nuances and clues each time. 😉
There’s a saying in NUS, that if you ever get lost, look up and follow the yellow paneled ceiling. Like a river, it meanders through the entire campus at Kent Ridge, connecting its faculties in ways we often take for granted. It might not be the quickest way around, and I sure as hell did not like climbing up and down those perpetual flights of stairs, but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t enjoy discovering a new, quirky corner every step of the way (even the staircase that leads to nowhere). 😀
I never got round to putting that claim to the test, but if another crazily sentimental old bird does, it would be the coolest thing to walk down that trail and see what else there is to discover. 😉
These shots aren’t perfect, but they were intended to be that way. Each frame shows what I saw everyday, and maybe I wasn’t the perfect student; I’m certainly not a perfect photographer, either. But perfection’s not what I’m striving for here. This is me saying that, in the four years I was here, I figured out that NUS has its own charm, in its own way, if you look in the right places. And I hope that one day, you will too. C:
Click here for the full journey. C: