Bukit Timah Market
Our First Outing
Hello! Whenever people ask each of us 'what first attracted you to Neil/Vera?' we don't really know how to answer. That's because we were just friends most of the time, Neil was too in his own world and Vera was too independent-minded to think about potential boyfriends! So, if you are curious about where we went on our first date, I actually don't know – I don’t even know what counts as a date. However, there is a significant first place we went to together, and that is the pigeon-filled Bukit Timah Food Centre.
We went there as friends, but it was significant because Vera doesn't go anywhere with just a male friend. It wasn't supposed to like that: planned as a lunch outing with two other university friends to celebrate the end of final exams that morning, the two friends backed out last minute, leaving poor Vera and Neil to celebrate post-finals with each other. (We were left in out in the cold in the Cinnamon Residential College lift lobby for a while.) It was a nostalgic lunch for Neil - he had regularly relished the duck rices and sugar canes with his grandmother after ending school at Pei Hwa Presbyterian Primary just next door. Vera was just excited to try delicious hawker food. We bought Neil's old favourites and shared pie tees. We wouldn't have known it then, but the context of our first outing marked the flavour of our future relationship - simple, safe and warm like a star anise.
Anyway, after lunch, Vera went off to Kinokuniya to look at books and buy stuff for her friends back in Cinnamon, all by herself, her favourite thing to do! Neil just went back to Cinnamon to practise his guitar. Evidently, this one lunch outing was not going to bust Vera's independent-minded bubble nor Neil's bumbly bubble. Nevertheless, for them, it quite distinctly marked the start of their one-on-one relationship, an experience shared just between the two of them.
74 Bus Stop
After that first duck-rice-sugar-cane lunch we proceeded to spend a lot of time together at Cinnamon College. As we grew closer in our friendship we also noticed a corresponding decline in our productivity and grades despite our efforts to study together. Eventually Vera stopped staying at Cinnamon college but we continued spending much time together, and each night we would walk to this bus stop for Vera to take bus 74 back home.
Bus 74 is especially significant to us because we've given the service way too much business. Since the beginning days of our friendship, through the time in university when we were actually together, through Vera's NIE days and Neil's work at Yale-NUS, all the way till now and for the foreseeable future, we have and will continue to take 74 a lot. Besides being a direct hour-long journey between our homes, it's also been a big part of our journey together!