Around Singapore: Kampong Days in Excerpts from "Singapore, My Country"


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Readings by author Nilanjana Sengupta and interaction with Mr M Bala Subramanion

M Bala Subramanion was born in March 1917 and stands on the cusp of his 100th birthday today and as civil servant and public figure is custodian to a century of Singapore's history. He has lived through times we, a part of another age, can only begin to imagine. It was a time when every evening a man from the Singapore Gas Works would come to light the street lamps of Serangoon Road and Bala, as a small boy would lie in bed listening in fear to the loud lamentation of pallbearers as they made their way to the Bidadari Cemetery. After that came war and the Japanese and then truly began his tussle of faith between his various identities - should he allege loyalty to the sacrificial bushido spirit of the Japanese or continue to recite in solitude the lines of Shakespeare he had learnt in school? Or push aside both and plunge into the flood of Indian nationalism that had swept up his community in a tempestuous tidal wave? And during this time of tribulation and enhanced emotional response, tragedy came visiting their household - he lost his father to the Death Railway and became a breadwinner for his family at a young age. Of course subsequently what happened, as they say, is history. He joined the postal service of Singapore and rose to the senior-most position of Postmaster General and was also instrumental in implementing multiple social interventions, particularly for the Tamil and the broader Indian community of Singapore.

The session will start with a reading by the author from Singapore, My Country: Biography of M Bala Subramanion, which in a recent review has been described thus: "The person sharing space in the book is the author, Nilanjana Sengupta. Her prose is brilliant, her descriptions of a time forgotten almost haunting". And then meander towards a deeper understanding of M Bala Subramanion's life and struggles as well as his growing up years in the vicinity of what is today, Little India.

M Bala Subramanion will also be present for the session to share his memories and take questions from the audience as we spend an evening hearing stories about Singapore unknown to many, stories which do not form a part of Singapore history text books.

  • Title was changed to "Around Singapore: Kampong Days in Excerpts from "Singapore, My Country" ". Orig#210890 2016-11-29 08:00:28
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Sat Dec 3, 2016
6:00 PM - 7:00 PM SGT
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Indian Heritage Centre, Activity Room
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Venue Address
5 Campbell Lane, Singapore 209924 Singapore
Indian Heritage Centre