Orange Is More Auspicious

The circle line is really orange because we do not do trendy colours, such as those two Pantone says are the colours of the 2021

By Gordon Goh

Chinese New Year is not even here, and we’re talking about orange(s), just as Fairprice and Cold Storage are displaying CNY goodies before Christmas could get out of the way. Love letters are suddenly more enticing than stollen. Anyway, out of the blue, hotly discussed online during this holiday season is apparently the colour of the visual representation of the MRT’s Circle Line: is it orange or yellow? Frankly, I have never pondered this question before. As I was impertinently told to get my eyes checked when I daringly suggested that on the MRT map the line looks rather yellow to me, I thought it best to actually confront the line itself. Seeing is, after all, believing.

I live in the east, so I frequently commute on the East-West Line. Times were a lot simpler in, gosh, the old days. There were only two lines then: the one I used almost daily (and still do) and the North-South Line. I never bothered with the colours of the lines even when it is easy to remember that the first two MRT lines share the same colours usually associated with Christmas. Even now, I get on the train, get off at City Hall Station, walk across the platform to take the other train to Orchard Station, where I alight for most of my social activities. It’s really that simple. No colour required. Nor name.

It seems that people do identify MRT lines by their chromatic distinctiveness. Someone purportedly wrote to SMRT to clarify the Circle Line’s colour identity. Last week, an “Aleza (Ms) from SMRT Customer Relations replied, in the spirit of the season: “We wish to share that SMRT Circle Line is orange in colour.” That should have settled it. Auspicious colour et al. Until Xia Xue shared—’tis the season!—that reply and commented “I also think it’s orange are the rest of you blind (sic).” Missing punctuation followed by missing word: well, that is the way some Netizens communicate. But to be sure that I am not blind, I looked up from my seat on the train of the East-West Line, where I was reading what was on my phone, and saw a woman in an oversized T-shirt that allowed her to look like she had gone pant-less. And coincidentally, the tee was orange. Or was it yellow?

I made a trip to the Paya Lebar Station. The mission was to be sure that I would not later need to go to the National Eye Centre. Paya Lebar Station is one of those that is always busy and this day was no exception. On the map from the East-West side of the station, the line still looked yellowish to me. But by now, I was no longer able to trust my colour judgment. I headed towards the platform of the Circle Line, our fake Yamanote Line (in Tokyo, it’s a real circle, as in a loop service!). There they were, above the doors, the signage that bore the orange line, looking all bright and, er, tangerine? I was still hoping to see the colour of lemons. And I know another friend who would be too. But really, was I expecting SMRT to be on-trend and adopt one of the two that Pantone declared to be the colours of 2021: yellow? The issue is in no grey area at all.

Illustration: Land Transport Authority

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