One of our first non-book project was to develop a walking tour for the NUS Baba House. At that time, the Baba House was just set up and the team wanted to have a tour of the neighbourhood to complement the museum.

One of the first things we did was to recce the area, which was very rich in history and architectural heritage. The challenge laid in selecting appropriate pit-stops. What can best represent the history of the area? What is the best example of the area’s historical and architectural legacy? Besides, we also had to take into consideration if the selected stop is 1) safe for the group – the area is very built up, has pretty heavy traffic and little pedestrian space, and 2) does not disturb the residents. The second point is a major consideration since the bulk of the tour went through residential areas.

Setting up the tour and delving into the history of the area was fun. The hard work comes when the tour kicks in. It’s always stomach churning to have to stand in front of a group of people to guide, lecture or talk in anway. Even if we know what we are talking about, somehow, trying to deliver the knowledge in public is a harrowing experience. But it was part of the job and I just had to grit my teeth and do it.

So, for a few years, on several occasions, I played tour guide for the NUS Baba House walking tour, guiding various groups, including the Baba House docents, around the area. It was my good fortune that many of the visitors were interested, and we always had a good time (and almost always overrun our time). I was always parched by the end of the session, my brain fried and my feet hurt, but to see people go, “Oh, I didn’t know that” or “I never thought that way about this place” made it all worthwhile. ~ Jaime

That’s me (in black) playing tour guide to a group of earnest docents – and trying not to be run down by traffic.

In the Workroom: Of tours and tour guides

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