Sunday 20 December 2015

When worst comes to curse: How Orchard Road has become Jem this Christmas

When I read about a fire at a shopping centre on Friday, I thought it was long overdue.

Jem hasn’t had an incident since June when a ceiling pipe burst at the Din Tai Fung restaurant there, drenching dinners with what was euphemistically described as “waste water”.

“It stunk like faeces,” a witness said.

Black water gushed out for about three minutes, before slowing to a drip, according to the witness. A couple sitting directly under the pipe got the brunt of it.

“The pregnant lady let out a horrified scream, and they were both stunned for a few minutes.”

“Minutes”? Really? Under a faeces waterfall? How “stunned” were they?

I wonder how the couple went home after that.

I mean, did they get a new set of clothes at the mall first? Or did they just head straight for their car? No amount of Ambi Pur is going to get rid of that smell.

Or did they take the MRT? I’m sure they wouldn’t have any problem getting a seat. They would probably get a whole train carriage to themselves.

Anyway, this happened six months ago.

I went to Din Tai Fung for my mother’s birthday last month and I’m happy to report I didn’t smell any faeces at all. It was just my breath.

Since its delayed opening in 2013, Jem has been bedevilled by plumbing problems, fires, a shattered glass door, a power failure, a ceiling collapse and a partridge in a pear tree.

So for the Jurong East mall to go without incident for half a year seems almost unnatural. Something has to happen.

Naturally, when I read about Friday’s fire, I assumed it was at Jem.

As it turned out, the fire was actually at Lucky Plaza.

I guess you could call it Unlucky Plaza. Ha!

That would be funnier if there isn’t already a local movie called Unlucky Plaza directed by Ken Kwek last year.

And it’s not just Lucky Plaza that’s unlucky. The fire is just the latest in a chain of mishaps this month that is turning Orchard Road into the new Jem.

Some have even called it a curse.

The curse of Orchard Road. Mua ha ha ha!

The Jemony Snicket’s series of unfortunate events began on the night of Dec 2 with a burning Christmas tree near the Abercrombie & Fitch store at Knightsbridge.

You could say it’s to help the shirtless male models keep warm, except Abercrombie & Fitch doesn’t have shirtless male models hanging around the entrance any more.

Trust me. I’ve looked. A few times.

Then on Dec 9, a falling concrete slab from under the bridge linking Orchard Plaza and Cuppage Plaza narrowly missed killing someone.

The next day, a Christmas decoration on a lamp post outside Orchard Road caught fire.

The day after that, in the same area, a tree fell on the road in a storm, blocking traffic. Not a Christmas tree, but a tree tree.

The day after that, another storm caused a power failure at Orchard Central. As if the businesses there weren’t suffering enough.

The day after that, in the Hilton hotel driveway, the ceiling collapsed, sending four people to the hospital.

Then it was reported last week that Orchard Central (the one with the blackout) will be undergoing a major renovation, causing 21 tenants to leave.

One of them is burger place Everything With Fries (EWF).

To me, the closure of EWF at OC is the greatest tragedy of all.

Where else am I going to get my Har Jeong Kai burger with curry fries?

Or my Hainanese pork chop burger with curry fries?

Or my duck leg burger with curry fries?

At Bugis Junction? Oh.

Never mind the fires, the falling tree, the falling concrete slab and the falling hotel driveway ceiling.

The definitive proof that Orchard Road is cursed is that I can longer get my curry fries at EWF at OC after New Year’s Eve.

You know another reason I will miss EWF?

All the times I’ve been there, a ceiling pipe has never burst and poured “waste water” on me while I’m pregnant.

Now I don’t know where to take my mother for her birthday next year.

Din Tai Fung again?


- Published in The New Paper, 20 December 2015

EARLIER: The fault in our Jem: Here come the waterworks

DEC 21 UPDATE: Another fire at Orchard Road