House Of Flaming Mitres

[Preface: This is a fake flame. Fake because the author of the target post has since clarified what he meant, and I therefore bear him no hard feelings. But I’ll post this anyway because sometimes flaming is fun! (Right, singaporeslut? :P) He is, of course, totally welcome to fake-flame me right back.]

This makes me laugh. Brandon decided that because I (and a friend of his) like the Mitre Hotel, and because he doesn’t like the look of it (he’s never actually been there), this is a manifestation of “overreaching on the part of Singapore’s fashionably non-conforming youth.” Because “y’all don’t have to hang out in a shithole just cuz you’re sick of Zouk, yo.”

He discusses the issue with his friend.

They feel we fashionably non-conforming youth “duno whats cool”. (My thoughts: No one ever called me fashionable before! YAY!)

They wonder, “are they trying to rebel against the cleanliness of singapore?” (My thoughts: Dude, I’m Singaporean. Rebellion against anything whatsoever is not in my genes.)

His friend vows, “if someone brought me there i’ll kill him/her.” (My thoughts: No need. The roof might collapse and do it for you.)

And finally, “fuck them la. what they know. just sit down at void deck with 4-5 80 yr old uncles spewing stories in hokkien. everywhere oso got lor.” (My thoughts: Can! But got problem. Old uncle tells moving story in Hokkien about how he survived the war by eating cockroach exoskeletons, taught his kids to read with kacang puteh newspaper sheets, and now they are all President’s Scholars and so incredibly virtuous that none of them have even broken bond. Old uncle looks at me expectantly, waiting for me to respond. Speechless with admiration, I fumble for words, since like many young Singaporeans, although I can understand dialects all right, when called upon to speak them the right words don’t come to mind. Finally, I desperately splutter the Hokkien words I am most familiar with – “Uncle…KA NI NA BU CHAO CHEE BYE!”)

So there you have it, the real reason I go to the Mitre Hotel: I’m not welcome anywhere else.

The Mitre Experience

It takes a special sort of person to appreciate the Mitre Hotel, which is why the only people I’ve ever taken there have been the Orgers and Alec. Last week a second Orger outing was organized by Don and Yen, who hadn’t had the “Mitre experience” yet but were determined to before the place either got a) more popular or b) razed to the ground by order of the public safety powers that be. And of course, as we knew they would, they loved it. (Read Yen’s love here.)

We perched on the dusty couches, sipped our sub-$4 beers, and talked about ghosts. (Terry and Don had just seen Shutter and were impressed.) At first we were the only ones there. Later, a couple swam into view, apparitions emerging from the black deeps beyond the porch lights. At some point a dog started howling in the distance.

I forgot to bring my camera this time, so these pictures are from when I took Alec there. They’ve been left fairly dark and dingy rather than sexed up too much in Photoshop, but still don’t even come close to evoking the atmosphere of the place – they lack the creepy walk up the driveway, the smell of musty decay, the feel of the brittle upholstery crunching beneath you as you sit down and crane your neck at the gaping holes in the ceiling.

Interior of Mitre Hotel bar
From the bar, looking towards the door
Mitre Cat
On the wall next to the bar
Old Door Grill
A close-up of the door grill, including the pack of stray chairs which lurk outside

Non-Grouchy Moments

I meant to write about the Friday night before Chinese New Year: the prosperity god in a Suntec City atrium with enormous breasts that turned out to be unfortunately placed oranges, the first yu sheng of the season on the outdoor balcony of NUSS bar, $6 cocktails, filthy conversations which were hopefully not overheard by too many people due to their extreme offensiveness, the astonishing ability of Mundian To Bach Ke to collectively transform Fay, Yen and me from house-music-induced sleepyheads into dancefloor divas in the Boom Boom Room, the astonishing ability of Yish to climb large sculptures in Raffles Place and get dragged on stage by drag queen cabaret comedians, the astonishing discovery by me that I was thoroughly enjoying myself in Singapore.

I meant to write about judging a debating tournament the next day at Serangoon JC, and being told by a particular teacher that he would never forget how, two years ago, I had rebuilt his team’s shattered confidence after their day of losses and harsh criticism.

I meant to write about last Saturday’s excursion to the mindboggling Mitre Hotel on Killiney Road (Directions: Walk down Killiney Road, away from Orchard Road and past all the food joints. You will see “145” spray-painted on a pillar, and a scary-ass pitch dark driveway on your left, which every intuitive bone in your body tells you not to walk up. Walk up it. Round the bend there will appear a quiet, dimly lighted building vaguely reminiscent of the Bates Motel. You’ve arrived.), where we swigged cheap beer, sat gingerly on ancient dusty mismatched furniture, tiptoed up unlighted staircases to gawk at the unbelievable dilapidation of the first storey, and somehow loved it so much we’re adamant on going back and becoming regulars at the bar.

I meant to write about beginning to find some shreds of meaning in my life in Singapore, but I was too busy living it.