All Routes Led To Puduraya

Of course this is an exaggeration (not all roads led to Rome, even in its heyday).  But this was the base terminal from which many express buses from all over the country operated.

During the 4 years of my studies at UM (1975-79), I called at this “mother-of-all-bus-terminals” at least 2 dozen times, as I travelled between Kuala Lumpur, and home in Penang.

Back then, it was already a hive of hyper-activity.  The upper floor which housed numerous ticketing booths and eating spots was always swarming with travellers of all shapes, sizes and colours, as well as hordes of bus touts crying aloud the names of almost every major town in Peninsula Malaysia.

The lower floor roared with high decibels of engine noise and fumed with diesel smoke from the arriving and departing buses. 

Those were the days – I have not been back there since 1980.

Olden Day No-Fly Zones

Back in the old kampong, wherever there was food, the environment would be abuzz with houseflies. 

Thus in every household there would be at least one food cover – usually a large one with a diameter of about one yard – to enforce a No-Fly Zone against the airborne invaders.

In those days, these covers were usually made of rattan, though some wire-mesh types were also available. 

Ever since moving out of the kampong, I have seldom seen such covers.  Perhaps, the general hygiene of the environment has been greatly improved, and thus houseflies have found it hard to eke out a living, and called it quits.

There are modern types that are made of plastic material, and have some degree of transparency.  Too bad for the flies – can see, can smell but cannot get to eat.

Timely Reconciliation

Prior to 1 January 1982, Malaysia had “One Country, Two Time Zones”.   “Waktu Semenanjung” and “Waktu Sabah dan Sarawak” were qualifiers that radio and TV time announcements had to be tagged.

Probably many Peninsula folks were traumatized by the fact that they were always  30 minutes “behind time” as compared to their compatriots in the East.  Such was the legacy left behind by the British.

I think it was Dr M who provided the final push to achieve this  Malaysia Standard Time based on GMT+0800 (which probably delighted Sabahans and Sarawakians).

Singapore had to be persuaded to adopt this MST: with hindsight, this re-alignment of time with China, Taiwan and Hong Kong greatly facilitated economic development of both Singapore and Malaysia.

Good foresight and vision, Dr M, for the “timely unification” of Malaysia.

Only Two Strings, But No Second Fiddle

Besides the harmonica, this quaint 2-string “Er Hu” was the earliest musical instrument that I encountered in my this earthly life.

Everyday, my only Chinese neighbour in my Butterworth kampong would do his routine solo in the late morning.  His pieces often sounded soulful and melancholy.  Unsurprisingly, sometimes he was asked to play at funerals.

In more modern times, this ancient two-stringer is riding on a wave of renaissance in the music scene, being placed in the same limelight as western instruments such as the guitar and the violin, and deployed in all genre of music, including rock.

China groups such as the 12-Girl Band have also endowed the Erhu with much needed glamour. 

My regret :   I never approached this neighbour to ask him to teach me how to play this instrument.

Strollers Only, Babes Not Needed

It was the early 1970s that their music came on the airwaves via the good old Rediffusion service that we subscribed. Yes, The STROLLERS – a truly Malaysian pop band that was all the rage among the teenagers of that time.

I recall, on a weekly song dedication program hosted by the very popular DJ, Patrick Teoh, The Strollers’ songs were sizzling hot picks.

I was not particularly into pop songs, but their style of music and their lyrics (their English and diction were very good) exerted a magnetic attraction on me.

So on this occasion, perhaps I reveal a lesser known side of me, Just As I Am, and get myself to “Do What You Gotta Do” for DML sake. Hope it will not be regarded as a Silly Joke.

(recognize the embedded titles? )

My Brief Civic Engagement

1984 was the landmark year for me.  With a new family and a career brimming with great expectations, I was about to embark on my next great acquisition – a brand new car.

The 4-door saloon version of the 2nd Gen Honda Civic had just been launched, and it had all the qualities that set my heart aflutter, and an affordable sticker price of RM20,500.  That Honda salesman probably closed the easiest deal of his life, as I practically sold the car to me on his behalf !

A week later, I was offered a new job in Singapore, and after much heart-rending discussions within the extended families, wifey and I decided to uproot from Penang to settle on the Little Red Dot.  The RM1,500 deposit had to be forfeited.

Inexplicably though, I never owned another Honda nor Civic after this brief engagement.

Her Heart Was Willing, But His Body Was Weak

50 years ago, on 3 December 1967, Denise Ann Darvall of South Africa died in a car crash, and her father donated her heart to 54-yr old Louis Washkansky in the world’s first-ever human heart transplant. That brought international fame to Dr Christiaan Barnard, the heart surgeon.

Denise’s kidneys were also donated — to a 10-yr old boy, Jonathan Van Wyk.

That epoch medical achievement made headlines in the local newspapers and became a much-discussed topic.  In our primary school,  our principal even held a quiz contest based on this event.

Denise Darvall’s heart went on to beat for another 18 days in the chest of Louis Washkansky. And then the latter died after succumbing to pneumonia as a result of an immune system medically weakened to suppress the body’s rejection of the new heart.   What an irony!