A lady with her whiskers in a twist peers from the topmost level of a former warehouse near the confluence of the Rochor and Kallang Rivers. The eight-storey block is one of the few survivors of fires and financial ruin that razed this district in decades past, turning a shanty town of sawmills, boatyards and carpenters into a waterfront in waiting. Left to rot for more than a dozen years, this tiny tower has acquired in the past year a fresh coat of paint, a touch of Mondrian and the homage of the young and artless.
Apparent isolation (and the allure of an old fig tree) was what drew the current proprietors to this corner of the city that boasts a regular bustle despite its distance from the hippier hearts of town. A modernist solidity, walls shorn of steel and glass, and the cheek of a space with none of the frills of fancier hills hide floors of establishments that aim to feed the body and fuel spare time. There's a school of hard rocks, classes for the long run and a hub for Hawaiian strings. Fine grounds are served at sea level while meals that pull their weight are prepared from a balcony of fresh airs. A scruffy cat lurks in the surrounding culvert, emerging to doze on a platform of moss. Ukuleles sing and kingfishers reply with shrieks from a ghost town of fire. It's a scene that will last until these banks begin a new cycle of constructs that will leave no room for the stories of a maritime village, lose no sleep over demolished memories and never, ever look back.