But peace and quiet – no chance! She never has that at home, especially not on the weekend. “A dozen or more flip flops and sandals at the front door are an unmistakeable indication of the number of people who come to visit,” jokes Liwani. Cousins, some of whom she doesn’t even know, relatives from Malaysia, neighbors from apartment block 15, her mother’s work colleagues and the people looking after her ailing grandmother. “My mother Nuraini’s cooking is simply irresistible,” she adds mischievously but proudly.
We imagine Singapore to be a super-modern metropolis. However, that isn’t really the case. Away from the grand boulevards and business districts, you discover residential areas which don’t really fit in with the glittering skyline: Areas such as Bedok Reservoir, where Liwani grew up. The buildings are functional, somewhat sterile and usually older, but family friendly. These are typical HDB apartments: Apartments which are on a 99 year leasehold. The abbreviation HDB stands for “Housing Development Board”, the most important state property developer on the island, which operates a kind of social housing development.
These HDB apartments are the epitome of concentrated construction. Connections to public transport, shops and shopping centers are guaranteed. Above all: Because of subsidies, they are affordable to the masses in Singapore, which is otherwise expensive.
Big apartments replaced by small ones
Of course, Siti Jaria, Liwani's 79-year-old grandmother, also lives here. She bought the apartment with her late husband at the end of the 1970’s. Falisaya, the great grandchild, is eighteen months old. Four generations under one roof is fairly unusual, even for Singapore, where family relationships are maintained in the typically Asian way. Liwani rolls her eyes: No, it has never been quiet in this apartment.