Our first store was on 175A East Coast Road, on the second floor above a dark stairway. We pulled a long cable from the stereo down to ground level, to let people know there was a shop waiting to be experienced. We made our own shelves, painted Rossetti’s Winter, My Secret on the wall, ordered a box of brown paper bags and was ready to open shop. Goblin Market was born, with palatable dresses and girlie vintage dresses and crafty, woody, woolly and glass things we made in the backroom.
One day the landlord told us the row of shophouses was going to be turned into a boutique hotel. We had just adopted San Lang, he was getting a little too big for the small pantry area, and we were more than a little flustered. Some days I closed shop for a siesta. When I got up, I went downstairs to buy slices of fruit. The wonder years had to end.
This was the time I still had much hair.
So, on one of those siesta (quiet) days, I went for a hair cut at Far East Plaza. A ‘Flea Space Available’ sign looked quite right and I stepped in to ask. This became our second store. I Never Promised You A Rose Garden was “a plot of beautiful, aching things”, specifically less than a hundred square feet. I always came to the store with at least three bags, and bought at least a hundred packets of rice from the delicious food store – it has since closed down. I was always very hungry, the store was very busy, and by evening Hwee Yee always came from the office grumbling about “office people”. Both of us ate too much Old Chang Kee, because mall life gives fried food a cozy place in hollow hearts. When the store closed at night, we went to the 24-hour kopitiam to have dinner and agar-agar. When we were early enough, we could buy a baguette from Delifrance for San Lang. We always tried to beat the midnight surcharge.
By then San Lang had grown to be the ridiculous animal he is now and my eyes were turning as grey as a mall rat. We closed down INPYARG and had to think about life, direction, and if life is direct.
… Part II to come …