I cannot remember when I stopped watching National Day Parades. Probably when I started working. Every hour of every public holiday was used to catch up with sleep and rest. And truth be told, one can only watch so many parades that rehash the same theme/narrative over and over and over and over and over again. Same old in different forms. But still same.
My strongest memory of NDP parades was watching it with my grandparents in our one-room rental flat in Eunos on the small box-type TV whose screen is probably smaller than my iMac screen. The front door was usually opened and there’d always be a nice breeze blowing through the house. We were on the 11th floor and we had a clear view of the vast land in front of our block. This was the 1980s, and the landscape was still not so densely dotted with high-rise buildings. The skyscrapers of the town area were mere blurry silhouettes in the far horizon.
We would always be the first to see the helicopter bearing the gigantic national flag making its way to the Stadium before the audience did. We’d always see the jets flying their formations and covering our ears at the din they made. Then, we’d always be able to see the fireworks in the night sky at the end of the parade.
All these, I watched from our front door, through the grilles, with my grandparents just lounging about in our living room. Those were simpler times. The parades were less snazzy and slick, but it felt less manufactured too. Perhaps, being in the same room with people I adore gave it a fuzzy feeling.
If I can be with my grandparents in my childhood home, I’d gladly watch the parade.