Monday, June 09, 2003

On the 54

I used to take the SBS bus to work in Singapore - hopping on the number 54 daily from Bishan to the River Valley Road, dropping off at the bus-stop in front of Liang Court. I generally avoided the rush hours, preferring to go slightly later after nine.

It was always a pleasant ride, this half-an-hour journey on the number 54. It takes you through Thomson Road, Newton Road and Scotts Road, slicing through the heart of the Orchard shopping area - past Shaw House and the Borders bookstore. Passengers included students, housewives and working people like me.

It is the trendy habit of the young in Singapore to carry with them a portable stereo Walkman whenever they commute. One can see these youngsters in MRT trains and buses, plugged into their personal auditorium, ocassionally swaying their head and tapping their feet, oblivious to the bustle of the surrounding.

It got myself into the habit of carrying a Walkman with me too when I was commuting daily on the 54. But instead of pounding my ear-drums with the latest hits from the boy band of the day, I took the opportunity to "read" by listening to my audiobooks.

Those were pleasant mornings for me, with the sun streaming in through the window and the bus gently cruising down tree-lined roads, past parks and walkways lush with greeneries; I would engross myself in an exciting narration of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina or lose myself in a sonorous rendition of W.B. Yeats' poems. Ocassionally I would doze off, missing entire chapters. But that's the advantage of audiobooks, you can always rewind and listen to them again and again without the strain and boredom of visual reading.

Listening to audiobooks helped me to catch up on the reading I had missed, especially those on the classics. Now I think back on those commuting days of mine in Singapore with fondness, especially those daily rides on the 54 - my moving university.

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