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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Impressions of Home: Toronto, Positano, Singapore

In my travels, what always fascinated me the most was where and how people lived. Yes, visiting national monuments, heritage sites, ancient ruins, beautiful cathedrals, weekend markets, pulsating arts districts, and Grimm fairy tales villages are de riguer for when I'm visitng a new destination, but I'm also that type of tourist who like shlepping through residential neighbourhoods, checking out the architecture details (more of than not, they don't have the expensive, high-profile stamp of rah-rah celebrity architects on them,) getting glimpses of regular, day-to-day life (generally by eye-balling people's homes from the street, car, train or bus,) pondering real estate ads in storefront windows and trying to visualize the living spaces, and play-pretend that I'm a local, even for a few minutes or hours.

To that end, I suppose it's inevitable I've put together a series of images comprising of my own personal, extremely subjective, impressions of "home" in some of the cities I've visited (and those that I've actually lived in) from the past.

Here are Toronto, Positano, and Singapore.
For about four years, I looked out at this predominantly Jewish surburban neighbourhood
pretty much day in and day out, from my bedroom window in my parents' condo
on Bathurst and Clark in Thornhill.  This view is pretty much what people would think
about living in Toronto is like - heck, it's what I still think today: cold, long winters, frigid temps,
exposed brick homes, suburbia, middle class, central heating, icy driveways, and
lots and lots of puffy insulation to keep out the, yeah, here it is again, cold.

Everytime I see photos of Positano, I'm dumbfounded by the homes, restaurants, shops and farms that are all precariously perched cliff-side, layered on top of each other, miles on end, with all those narrow winding roads linking them and fully utlized by the non-stop stream of pedestrians, cars, scooters, trucks, and those mega tour buses.  How is all that even possible?
Ahhh...Singapore....what's that wonderful stat again?  That more than 80 percent of its residents live in public housing (Housing Development Board) flats that are on average worth more than private homes in other major cosmopolitan cities around the world?  I totally believe that little OMG nugget.  I don't understand it, but I believe it.  Especially when you see multiplied everywhere variations of the pristine, utilitarian, cookie-cutter, mega multi blocks like this set in
Chua Chu Kang on the upper west side of the island.
(All photographs by Weng Ho.)

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