An article appeared in the papers today about gentrification, and how the influx of new age hipster cafes, cappuccinos and ice cream parlours (why are they called parlours???) are driving up the rentals and competition in traditionally sleepy and laid back neighborhoods.

I’m all for a rejuvenation of the scenes – most neighborhoods are downright boring for a young person. Even if one is intrigued/amused by the old style shops, kopitiams, food stalls and cheap goods, one can’t really hang out or buy clothes and live there. And on the other hand, mega shopping malls built with mega corporate money and REITS are charging the sky for sterile shop spaces in sickening air conditioned boxes that only open from 11am to 9pm. The modern life – the internet age – does not come on during 11am to 9pm and then go to sleep. It continues on past midnight and the retail world just doesn’t accommodate that. (Online shopping is one option, yes.) The mix of shops in malls is also an annoying formula for chain outlets – the only ones who can afford the rents and marketing. The independent proprietors and startups are squeezed out. The government out to provide affordable rental spaces, if nothing but so that residents will continue to access shops that are local and affordable, not just those run by MNCs and listed companies.

Cafés and ice cream parlours. While they are lovely places, and probably lower investment, I hope the young and upcoming dream bigger and venture beyond the same tried and tested templates. Are lattes and gelato the only hip things?


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