We were in Joo Chiat. It was June, and we were experiencing unrelenting hot weather. Just the day before, I was sitting in my armchair and thinking, “It is too hot to be sitting in an armchair.”
Then we walked by Teong Theng, a shop stacked full of wood and rattan furniture. We love the old furniture shops in Katong but usually walked by without buying anything. I remembered that I wanted to buy one of those stools that, when placed on its side, became a baby’s chair. Not that we had anything to do with child-rearing; I was just courting nostalgia, hunting its delicate scent.
At the shop, I could not find those stools but was distracted by rattan chairs. If you are thinking about those outdoor chairs woven with bamboo and which might be used as dining chairs, think again. I am eyeing those that are minimal in wood, those that allow ventilation. If you need a visual aid, here it is!
The shopkeeper invited us to sit down, and to try the chairs. It was, as she said, comfortable and cooling. It was, as she said, well contoured to suit the human form. I chose one that was rather low and small, almost like a child’s chair, but I liked it because it reminded me of those rattan chairs you sit on at the front of your shop or house, fanning yourself and watching the world pass by.
The price was a bit of a drag and we weren’t any good at bargaining. (I wondered how much my grandparents had to pay for these things!) We only managed to get a wee bit of a discount because we did not have that much cash with us. But we did walk away from the shop feeling very pleased.
After all, we did get what we wanted – a piece of nostalgia, and a chair so suited for hot, hot Singapore. I also felt pleased that we were, in a way, contributing towards the survival of small local businesses, and keeping the spirit of craft alive. Next time you are in Joo Chiat, remember to pop by Teong Theng (369 Joo Chiat Road) and see if something catches your fancy!