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World Wide Women:
Medha In Singapore

I am starting a travel series on my blog called World Wide Women, which focuses on the lives of women in different cities around the globe.

Perhaps it is unsurprising that I have picked my hometown of Singapore for the first interview. I spoke with my old friend Medha, a communications professional and occasional walking tour guide. Medha and I have known each other since my teenage blogging days (that really takes me back!) and I am a huge fan of her street portraits which you can see more of on her Instagram account @jalanmedha.
Ni Hao, Medha! First of all, what do you do for a living?

I do PR and marketing for the Singapore Government's digital services. For every initiative we roll out, we accompany it with publicity (online platforms and traditional media) to reach out to the man on the street to let them know that these services are available, and how they can go about using each service.

And what do you do for fun?

I like taking walks around Singapore, finding the new from the old and the occasional watercolour doodle.

Tell us about your guided walking tour Jalan Medha. What gave you the idea?

First of all, my walks have taken on the name Jalan Medha because my friends were thinking of a shorter name for me. So one guy said, "How about Jalan with Medha?" which was a contracted version of the phrase "jalan jalan" (which means walk in Malay) and I further shortened it to become Jalan Medha! 

I've attended a couple of guided tours both overseas and in Singapore, and I felt that sharing stories, oral history, is a forgotten skill that we dropped along the way as we allowed technology to overtake our lives.

Also, social studies was a favourite subject of mine in primary school, and I wanted to bring my friends and anyone interested to the places that mean something to me, to the eateries that may be expiring because hawkers cannot find their next generation, to the buildings that still have a tale to tell.

You take extraordinary photos of everyday, ordinary scenes in Singapore. Talk me through your process.

I have the most mundane of interests - tiles that we thought were too old-fashioned as children, peeling paint, and organised mess (for example, neighbourhood hardware shops). 

I just want to make people realise that the everyday Singapore can be interesting. So when I take a shot, I try to take it as though a person is looking at the same scene. I try to ensure that when you look at the photograph, you can pick out what made me stop in my steps.

Where is your favorite part of Singapore and why?

I’ve got too many favourites! I’ll just share about Balestier, an eclectic mix of new and old, with pre-war shophouse residences beautifully maintained alongside very run-down shophouses that are still operating family businesses.

I’ve got memories of my late mother working in a bank there, as well as our spontaneous car rides to buy piping hot boxes of tau sar piah (Chinese flaky buttery pastries).

Can you teach us a Singlish phrase today?

“Can gostan anot?” – What I’m asking is whether you’re sure you are able to reverse (your car). ‘Gostan’ is a Malay contraction of a nautical term “to go astern”, and the addition of the word ‘anot’ is a Singlish smash of “or not”.
You can visit Jalan Medha on Facebook for more information on Medha's guided walking tour. Please note that the availability of her tours are based on her schedule and donations will go towards her research and guided hours.

Xie Xie
Medha! Your photos are gorgeous and making me so very homesick.

If you know someone who could be featured in this series, you can email me at tricia [at] nihaonewyork [dot] net.

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