Sunday, November 13, 2005

Celebrating Knowledge Conference - Networking Night

Came back from the Networking Night dinner (sponsored by Hewlett-Packard as part of the Celebrating Knowledge Conference) at CHJIMES about 2 hours ago.
13nov05 002Celebrating Knowledge Conference - Networking Night

Prof Tommy Koh, Ambassador-at-Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, gave a speech where he shared his experience in using the National Library when he was a young boy in the 1950s, and how he liked to visit the New York Public Library and the Library of Congress during his overseas posting, among other interesting annecdotes.
Celebrating Knowledge Conference - Networking Night

First time I've had dinner at CHIJMES Hall. There's something unique about dining under a large hall. Wished my wife was there but then it was work after all.

More about CHIJMES' history here and here. It's a national heritage site cum dining, shopping and entertainment site.

I've always thought the name CHIJMES (pronounced “chimes”) was brilliant. The grounds used to be a Catholic school/ church. The school was called the "Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus" and popularly referred by its initials "Cee-Hage-Eye-Jay" (CHIJ).

After its facelift, they added the letters "M, E, S" after "CHIJ" as a word play on the sound of the church bell -- although the actual sound of the church bell would've been closer to a resounding "Dong" than a "chime" (but a entertainment place called "Ding-Dong" just wouldn't sound right, would it? Especially when "Ding Dong" could mean "mad" or "crazy" in Singlish).
Celebrating Knowledge Conference - Networking Night

Oh, I couldn't resist taking a picture of the huge christmas tree outside Raffles City Shopping Centre (across the North Bridge Road entrance/ exit of CHIJMES).
Christmas Lightup

Tomorrow is the start of the two-day conference at the InterContinental Hotel. If they provide free WIFI access, I might even try to blog it 'live'.



  1. CHIJMES invokes mixed feelings in me. You see, I am close to a couple women who actually spent much of their childhood studying there.

    It is very strange to walk through the place, hear the stories and see it through the eyes of somebody who grew up around that school/church. Somehow fancy dining and partying there just feels so out-of-place.

    Feels like somebody gutted the soul of the place, and cleaned out the shell to make it a tourist/business attraction. The same sort of feeling I get with the 'redeveloped' Bugis area.

    Still I suppose it beats having it torn down and another shopping mall put on the site.

  2. Hi knightofpentacles: Thanks for sharing that perspective. I agree with your last statement. My view that in land-scarce Singapore, the pragmatic approach is the reality. Preserved buildings have to serve a practical function. At least having the physical building around (regardless of the interior) allows future generations to look at an old photo and say "ah, that's how it looked like".


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