I have done Karang Guni before. The first time I did, knocking on doors, collecting loads of newspaper, clothes and anything in between, it was a tough job. It made me realize how tough Karang Guni is. This time however, I did for 2 days consecutively, on a weekend.
Though I am prepared to get exhausted, it was pretty fun if you do it with your friends. And seeing that truck filled up to the brim at the end of the day was quite satisfying indeed. I managed to snag a few items that people threw away. And mind you, they are in good working condition (and clean too).
The first thing I got was a cloth banner with the Team Singapore Logo. You are supposed to wave it above your head to show support to our local athletes. I must have guessed that this was either issued out, or the previous owner bought it without actually ever using it. It was still wrapped in plastic. So I bought it home. Whoever says that I gave zero support to our local athletes in the Games?
The second item was a surprising find. It was a working and clean copy of Crysis for the PC. The box, the manual and DVD-ROM is still intact and relatively scratch free! I haven’t played Crysis, so this is like the best find ever!
Another friend of mine found a good black blazer for a girl to wear. Although it was too small for her, but I think, if you wash it thoroughly, I think it would look just like new! I am not surprised that it might have cost quite a bit back then.
All in all we collected almost a thousand dollars from the items we collected and sent for recycling. Not too shabby.
Ang Mo Kio is a very old estate. I have never done Karang Guni at Ang Mo Kio, so it was no surprise, that the amount of doors I knocked, most of them were occupied by the elderly. I would say, roughly 8 out of 10 doors I knocked, there is at least an elderly living in those apartments. Either by themselves, or as an elderly couple, or with their children. I saw a number of them were taken care off by a maid, while their children goes of to work or are out with their family. They are either too old, or too weak to venture outside. And there are more chinese speaking residents than malay or indian residents. Communication is quite difficult for me, especially towards the elderly who cannot speak English. So I have to resort to asking my partner to translate it for me if I do encounter such situations.
There were all sorts of people. Grumpy uncles and aunties, who were not receptive to such greetings from us, asking for newspapers and old clothes. Still, a number of them were kind, deliberate and patient, willing to hear us out on what we were actually offering. What could possibly lead to such polarity I sometimes wonder. On one hand, we have the grumpy and sometimes rude ones, and on the other extreme we have those that are kind, always smiling and willing to give whatever little old newspapers that they have.
There were also young couples who just moved it, young families with a young kid or two. Middle family, with a teenage son or daughter. On my second day, I encountered several kids of various ages, studying or doing their homework in the living room, either aided or unaided. Reminds me of the good old days when I did that too. Sundays, always trying to complete their homework. Parents assisting their child and coming up to me, asking when is it that I wanted. Seeing their kids’ eyes keen on finding out what’s happening at the door.
I like young couples. They are mostly friendly and more receptive to us. They can speak English too. Makes it easy for me And their interior is sometimes more modern. Using cheap, practical Ikea furniture with a simple layout. You can also tell if they invest a bit in their interior design by also changing the gate and the door to stand out from the rest of their neighbors. Some are truly outstanding, with an almost condo like design to their homes.Others, take meticulous care of their plants and flowers along the corridors. Sometimes you would walk through a mini garden!
I encountered 2 houses with red and black paints stained on their gates and doors. Victims of loan shark activities. And those homes are equipped with security cameras outside along the corridor. I also encountered a unit whose owners could be a hoarder, hoarding all manner of stuff to the brim. There were so many things stacked high everywhere that you could not see the kitchen at all on the other side. Newspapers, cardboard, boxes, old electrical appliances and many other stuff that cannot be identified. The owners were no where to be found. I worry for them for a moment.
It was a good experience overall. It really reminds me to be humble at all times during the Karang Guni sessions. Awesome!