The “Karang Guni” Man


I love Singapore. Being a half American, half Japanese foreigner here, I feel like it’s the perfect blend of the East and the West. Since moving here in 2010, I have grown accustomed to most things that are uniquely Singapore – the food, the humidity, the busy culture, the language, etc… But there is one thing that my body refuses to get accustomed to and that is the loud horn of the “karang guni” man!

It is my firm belief that Singaporeans have a supernatural ability to block the noise of the “karang guni” man’s horn and keep sleeping. To test this theory, I recently asked my landlord if he heard that loud honking which was going on outside, to which he replied, “What noise?”

What I would give to have his ability.

Yet despite my hatred for the horn, I actually like seeing the “karang guni” men around my block. Whenever I see them I feel like part of me is transported back to “old Singapore” and I am witnessing something that perhaps I won’t get to see in the future, and I get a warm fuzzy feeling.

In fact, I believe “Old Singapore” is becoming a thing of the past. The one constant here in Singapore is change… and things change fast. Just last weekend I was walking down Orchard Road, amazed at how different it looked from my visit to Singapore in 2008. It’s barely recognizable. And it’s not just Orchard Road. The beautiful green field that was just across my office is now being turned into a condominium and as far as the eye can see, construction cranes are scattered all around.

It is my hope that people here won’t grow accustomed to this constant of change just like some may have grown accustomed to the loud horn of the “karang guni” man. I hope that in the midst of the rapid change happening all around us, we can all take a moment to enjoy the present instead of always striving for a “better tomorrow” by upgrading our infrastructure and eliminating symbols of our heritage. In a blink of an eye, things change and one day the loud horn will no longer wake me up.

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