Monday, July 29, 2013

How the Brownies found my grandparents.

In December 2011, I blogged about how I feared for my paternal grandfather whose burial place might be affected by the announced plan for an expressway that was to run across the old Bukit Brown cemetery at Adam Road (article here).

I had never known my grandfather in life and had last visited his grave as a very young child over fifty years ago. None of my living relatives knew where the grave now laid.

By a stroke of good fortune, it was then that I came across a group of enthusiastic heritage conservationists of Bukit Brown Cemetery. I followed their exploits online, both on their webpage and on facebook. After a while, I decided to write to them asking if by any possibility they might be able to trace a lost grave amongst the hundred thousand there.

A young lady, Ms Khoo Ee Hoon, replied almost immediately that same Thursday evening asking for a bit more details of my grandfather. I directed her to my blog article which was basically all I knew of him.
She read it and came back with a few unusual questions...did he take part in any sports (dunno)?,  was he a clan member (dunno)?,  what did he do (he was a towkay at Boat Quay) ?, what year did he die (dunno)?
The only thing I knew was what my mother had told me from her sketchy memory, which turned out to be completely wrong, except for  the clue that the grave was near a pavillion.

On the following day, I received a note from Ee Hoon. I found your grandfather ! He's located at Hill 5, plot 172 and buried beside your grandmother at plot 179! 

I was astonished and impressed, truly I was amazed at the speed at which they went through their own information database and records and found details of my grandparents.
What's more, the next day, Ee Hoon actually located the grave on Hill 5 and sent me photos of it! for this, I am forever in her debt.
Thankfully, their graves were not affected by the planned expressway except that it would be running very close to it in future.

My paternal grandparents graves at Hill 5, Bukit Brown.

Though I did not become a 'Brownie', I continued to follow and support their cause. Even meeting up with some of them, including Ee Hoon, as our paths crossed through other internet forums.

Last Saturday, I finally joined them on one of their free guided tours through Bukit Brown Cemetery.
I would encourage anyone who has not been there to join one of their weekend tours. It would be an eye opener for many and you will feel the dedication, the enthusiasm and passion of the 'Brownies'.
I dedicate the following video that I made to them for all their efforts to preserve this part of our country's heritage.