Monthly Archives: October 2015

Life Was A Bed Of Canvas

In the days of old, life was not a bed of roses and most of the folks were poor and slept on straw mats laid out on bare wooden floor or cement floor.

A Canvas Bed was a luxury. For a poor tired soul worn out by a day’s hard toil, it afforded him/her that proverbial cosy rosy slumber. It was nice to sleep on, especially on a warm humid night, with convection cooling reaching underneath the body, and the canvas providing contour-compliant support for the body. Sounds rather advanced, right ?

In retrospect, the design was simple, elegant and low-cost, and it could be folded and tucked away for space-saving.   Periodically, the canvas had to be scrubbed with detergent and dried out in the sun for hygiene reasons – human body odour, mites, etc.

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The Original “One-Trick Pony”

Yes, the wooden Rocking Horse was almost universally present in all homes with kids.  It came in as many designs as the imagination would drive any maker.  Still, it could do only one action, ie., rocking back-and-forth on a pair of curved wooden sleds.

Despite that, it seemed to bring much thrill and fun, to all kids of all ages.   I think the rocking motion must have somehow triggered a rush of serotonin and endorphin (the “happiness” hormones).

But caution was needed : one had to take care to ensure that no toes or fingers accidentally got under those wooden sleds, otherwise, ouch….it would have been very painful.

They Tok Mee Into Eat

Do you know that your favorite Wantan Mee or Yuntun Mian (hanyu pinyin) was also called Tok Tok Mee since a long long time ago ?

The name originated from the sound of a piece of wood hitting against a handheld rectangular bamboo plate.  The hawker would go round the neighbourhood with his pushcart, and then commission his assistant to entice the folks with his “tok-tik-tik-tok,tok-tok-tok” rhythmic siren calls.

In those days, this delicacy was relatively expensive.   Still, when the “tokking” came around, the saliva glands would be whipped into convulsive overdrive and we would dig into our little piggy banks and see if we could get 30 cents out to buy a plate of this noodle. Aiyoh, tak boleh tahan liao !

When We Were Small, TV Antennae Were Tall….

Now we are tall, and antennae are small…. (old Bee Gees song still rings)…hahaha

Before the advent of cable TV in Singapore and satellite TV in Malaysia, we used to see very tall TV antennae in the southern states of peninsular Malaysia, notably Johor, Melaka, and perhaps Negri Sembilan.  Their heights were in proportion to the distance from Singapore, it seemed.

Reason : To capture the TV signals from SBC (Singapore Broadcasting Corporation).  At that time, all the programs were “free-to-air”, and the hearts of men were not so desperate for money.

Over time, I believe most of these tall aerials have been dismantled, as ASTRO came into being, and small satellite dish antennae became the norm.

An Off-Roader And A Genteel Van

2015 marks the 45th anniversary of the launch of the 1st Range Rover.

Mention the name Land Rover and the older folks among us would immediately think of the ubiquitous jeep-like vehicle that was a favorite with the mata-mata (police) and various other jabatan kerajaan (government departments).   Main virtues were its simplicity, ruggedness and off-road capabilities.   Ride and comfort were relegated to a remote second place.

All that changed in 1970, when the company launched the Range Rover – which became the Grand-daddy of SUVs, if I may say.    Main focus was on ride and passenger comfort, while not forgoing the renowned off-road terrain capabilities.  Since then, the Range Rover has become an icon among the luxury SUVs and a favorite among the well-heeled and well-wheeled. Now it is a vehicle of choice for both the Officer and the Gentleman.

Hottest Member Of The Rolling Stones

It’s name is Batu Giling – or a rolling stone grinder.

Long before there were electric blenders, this tool – in conjunction with the mortar & pestle – was used to grind up chilli, onions, garlic, belacan and other spices into a paste.  The actual compositions would depend on what the end use was to be – what type of curries, for example.  Every home had a set.

It required a fair bit of workout for the womenfolk as the rolling member was moved back and forth repeatedly.  Hands would be roughened by the constant abrasion of the ends of the roller.  But one Indian lady told me that it was good for the development of the chest…oops, is that true ?

note : The Rolling Stones was a British rock group of the 1960’s

I Came I Sawed I Wondered ….

Yes, I wonder if anyone remembers or has used one of these big Lumber Jack saws.   In the days before the advent of Chain Saws, these simple yet effective tools brought down lumbering giants of the forests.

But there were smaller sizes available for domestic use as well.

In those days, kampong folks used firewood as domestic fuel for cooking.  And we bought both small uncut logs from sawmills and carted them home using bullock carts.    The logs would then be cut into handy lengths of about half a metre, using this kind of lumberjack saws.   Not an easy job, but with one person at each end, the push-and-pull action was fun for us as kids.