Monday, June 1, 2009

exploring the area around mount sophia

today, while exploring the mount sophia area, along niven road, i met someone whom i had dealings with many years ago. (niven road is a short stretch of road that links mackenzie road to wilkie road.) i was surprised to find him still in the same line of business, selling sports goods. i made a brief mention of his shop when i blogged about the bras basah area. his shop is ratna sports. the shop was started by his late father.

he is 73-year old naresh gupta. i had always refer to him as ratna, not knowing that it is a girl's name. i found out that his father had named the shop after his sister. i learnt also that his two brothers have migrated, one, a doctor, to australia and the other, a lawyer, to india.

mr naresh is semi-retired. he works half a day, usually up to 11 a.m. and leave all the running around to his three employees. in his younger days - when the shop was in the bras basah area - he would make the deliveries to schools himself.

niven road is in a conservation area. the facade of the houses cannot be altered too much. you can still see the saloon-type of swing doors at some of the houses. at one time, the authorities restricted the height of the buildings in that area because of its proximity to the istana. it is a quiet area although it is in the central business district.

if you look closely at the first picture (on top), you can see a small horseshoe on top of the doorway. why do they have the 'horse-shoe' above the door?

the horse-shoe is considered to very lucky and used to hung in many homes to protect and attract good fortune for the family residing inside.

as with many superstitions, there are contradictions to be found with the beliefs associated with the horseshoe. for instance, many believe that to hang it with the ends pointing upwards is good luck as it acts as a storage container of sorts for any good luck that happens to be floating by, whereas to hang it with the ends pointing down, is bad luck as all the good luck will fall out.

others believe that no matter which way you hang the horseshoe, good luck will come. according to this superstition, the ends-pointing-down display simply means that the good luck is able to flow out and surround the home. if the horseshoe is hung over a doorway, ends up will catch good luck and ends down will let the good luck spill over the door and stop evil from entering.

this horseshoe serves a purpose similar to the round mirror or pakua mirror which some chinese families placed over their front door.

along niven road, there is a sikh temple - the khalsa dharmak sabha. there are two sikh temples in the mt sophia area. the other temple is along wilkie road. free meals of dhal and chapati are usually served at sikh temples.


Lam Chun See said...

When I was blogging about Middle Road I also took the opportunity to take some photos of the old buildings in that area.

fr said...

Visiting your blog is like being taken on a tour round Singapore. I learn a lot from your posts.

I guess during your outings you are always armed with a camera and on the lookout for blogable things.

yg said...

fr, thanks for the compliments. every time we explore an area, we learn new things. for example, this morning we discovered lai chun yen along trengganu street. i am sure you - as an opera fan - know about this well-known cantonese opera theatre. we had walked past this place many times before but did not venture in until today.
yes, like andy said the pocket-size camera is a very handy thing for everyone, especially bloggers.

yg said...

chun see, yes, i read your posting and the one by ordinary guy. i must confess that i had been to sun sun bar in david elias building when i was a teenager. a friend's brother used to work there and we would drop in to pass him things on some mornings .

Victor said...

I used to visit Sophia Rd and Wilkie Rd area almost daily as a kid in the 1960s. Reason is that I was taking a lift from my neighbour. He owned a Ford Anglia which I blogged about here. He had a son studying in the same school as me while his daughter studied in St Margaret's Primary School near Mt Emily Swimming Pool, on top of the hill. He always went to pick up his daughter after picking us up.

Victor said...

About the horseshoe facing upwards collecting all the luck - that was what my car saleswoman told me about the suffix letter of my car registration plate. It is a "U". But still yet to strike it rich.

peter said...

That place full of Sikhs. When i was small I saw them wash their hair and they let it loose for it to dry before curling into a small "bun". Sometimes when the weather is hot, they pull out those big single beds made from jute and sleep in the open looking into the sky. Maybe there was this Sikh temple nearby that accounts for the small population of Sikhs.

We usually took this route to get to the back of Cathay Cinema, after passing MGS.

In the 80s I came here to patronise Prince Room in Selegie Complex - now I just found the place demolished.

yg said...

peter, we too used to go to prince room for dim sum. a packed and noisy place. a brand new building now stands on that site. i think it is either a hotel or a hostel.

unk Dicko said...

Yg, glad that u met up again with my good ole friend Gupta. He knows me well from back in the early 70's. One good thing about RATNA Sports is their friendly, open approach. Gupta and his people have succeeded where many have fallen because of among other things their dependability, service and very good relationships with customers like myself and even yourself.
Do send him my WARMEST REGARDS if u see him again!

yg said...

dick, according to mr naresh the situation is different now. those days, he had to deal with one person in the school - the sports sec. these days, he sometimes get 3or 4 calls from different persons from the same school ordering the same items. then when the items are delivered, they sometimes want to make changes and even though the specifications may be different,like a longer racket, they want to have the items at the same (quoted) price.
he makes enough to get by.