“There was a time when you could hardly find a car on the road. We moved around walking, cycling or on bullock carts,” reminisces Sandra Segaran.
The Brickfields of his childhood was one where boys gathered in the evenings to play football, where boats paddled down the Klang River to the kampung houses here.
Today, a walk through the neighbourhood is an assault on the senses as cars crawl on the streets, exhaust fumes linger in the air, music blares from the shops and crowds of people pass by. Yet every step one takes is steeped in history.
As Brickfields evolved, more structures were erected, some of which still stand today. Along Jalan Tun Sambanthan (formerly Jalan Brickfields) is Vivekananda Ashram, a colonial structure built in 1904. Just down the road, on Jalan Rozario, is “100 Quarters”, the former dwellings of railway workers, mostly Indian immigrants brought in by the British administration to work on the railways when Brickfields was the main depot for Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM).
The visually challenged are a common sight in Brickfields. The Malaysian Association For The Blind (MAB) houses its headquarters in Kompleks MAB on Jalan Tebing. Also, visible from the main road is Brickfields’ most notable landmark, the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) and hostel, built in 1905.
Brickfields is also well known for its diverse religious structures; the Buddhist Maha Vihara, the Holy Rosary Church, Sri Kandaswamy Temple and Our Lady Of Fatima Church.
According to Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), the 203 ha Brickfields borders Jalan Travers in the north, Jalan Scott in the east and the Klang River in the south.
With the proposed makeover and ongoing development by MRCB, more changes are in store for Brickfields.
But whatever the future may hold for Brickfields, one thing is certain as far as Sandra Segaran is concerned — he is not leaving Brickfields.
“My son asked me to move to another area in Petaling Jaya a few years ago. I told him, no. Brickfields is my home, I was born here and I have everything I need right here,” the 69-year-old says proudly.
This article appeared in City & Country, the property pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 805, May 10-16, 2010.