When Mr Lim Keng Yong was in primary school more than six decades ago, his hobby was to kick around a piece of rubber with feathers nailed to it.
Yesterday, Mr Lim, now 74, relived his chapteh-playing days at Bedok Town Square, a sheltered space that links Bedok Mall to the hawker centre next door.
"When I was young I could kick the chapteh 200 times. Today, not even 15. But the chapteh is not the same," Mr Lim lamented, pointing at the mass-produced feathered shuttlecock at the game stall. "We used to make our own using rubber from old tyres and feathers from the chicken stall at the market."
Mr Lim's trip to yesteryear took place at the Balik Kampong Festival, part of a series of events organised for the needy and vulnerable by young people under the People's Association (PA).
In a first for a town plaza, the Housing Board had formed a team, which includes grassroots workers and students and teachers from neighbouring schools, to seek residents' views on the type of events they wanted held there. The Balik Kampong Festival was the most popular when residents were asked to vote for their favourite event idea at the launch of the Bedok Town Square last May.
The square, which boasts a high ceiling, huge overhead fans, seats and power outlets, was also the first of HDB's new-generation town plazas to be completed.
Previously, organisers of events in Bedok used a large empty space nearby and had to spend money on tentage and electrical generators.
It would cost around $20,000 to rent tentage for an event similar in size to the Balik Kampong Festival, said Mr Kenneth Wong, 32, chairman of Kampong Chai Chee Community Club Youth Executive Committee, which organised the event.
The new Bedok Town Square is a good place to hold events as it has high foot traffic, compared to a community centre, he said.
"One issue we face, as properties (are) developed, is that it's difficult to find community space to hold events," added Mr Wong, who has organised PA events for the past 10 years. He suggested that the town square could be improved by adding a permanent stage with an LED screen and an in-built sound system.
The square had been constructed under the HDB's Remaking Our Heartland scheme.
Said Ms Carol Ow, 49, an account executive and Bedok resident of eight years: "I like this place because a lot of functions have been held here recently, so it is very lively. It's also sheltered, so I pass by it often on my way to the hawker centre."
Other estates that will be spruced up under the programme include Woodlands, Pasir Ris and Toa Payoh.