Monthly Archives: November 2015

Brush From The Past

Those were the days before plastics invaded planet Earth. Remember these brushes ? Let me share a blast from the past.

They were used by practically every household for scrubbing laundry, kitchen sinks, floors, dishes, shoes, etc. The brown ones were softer than the black ones.   The latter were used mainly to tackle stubborn stains and deeply-entrenched hardcore grime from all kinds of surfaces.

I learned that the brown ones were made from coconut tree fibres – can anyone verify that ? Am not so sure what the black ones were made of. 

For some years these organic, environment-friendly brushes became scarce as cheap plastic ones flooded the market.  But lately, I notice they are making a comeback.  Not only in brown and black, but even with stripes.

Beauty And The Brick

In 1984 the once-almighty Motorola launched the world’s first cellular mobile phone, the DynaTAC-8000X.   It was huge by today’s standards and aptly named “the brick phone”.    Some sources said the price then was US$3,995 which would be like US$9,000 today.

To many, it became a status symbol – announcing to the world “I have arrived”.  We had a senior neighbour in our apartment block, whose son bought one for him.  Everyday, he would be seen at the void deck stone table, with The Brick exhibited prominently, attracting the covetous gaze of passers-by.  It added a lot life to his years.

Fast forward 20 years to 2004 – when big M introduced the world’s sleekest and most glamorous flip phone, called Razr V3.    Thanks to the exponential rate of advances in micro-electronics.   It was such an aesthetic and ecstatic fusion of form, and function and visual appeal that I ended up buying 2 of them.

When Romeos Roamed The Streets

In the earlier years, especially before Proton was born, our mata-mata trafik used to cruise around in one of the most prestigious marques of the auto industry – no less than Alfa Romeo.

The earliest and most numerous model was the 1.3 Giulia – as shown in the photo.   It had all the unmistakable features of the glamour boy in town – the signature husky throaty roar of the engine, the high speed and acceleration, the ability to gulp down booze – petrol, that is – gallons at a time.

Alas, it also had the notorious reputation of being extremely prone to rusting.   Many a time, we could see the lower portions of the body panels partially eaten away by rust.

Romance Of The Three Cylinders

Some time in 1980,  a maverick little car from an “unknown” Japanese automaker, Daihatsu (what ? Die Hard 2) sprung onto the car scene in Malaysia.

Charade was its name, but there was no pretence about it.   The most interesting part was its use of a 993 cc, 3-cylinder engine.  Daihatsu claimed that the “most efficient” cylinder displacement was 331 cc – hence, superior fuel economy.

However, as a mechanical engineer, with classroom lectures still fresh in mind, I was totally thrown off-balance by this “shaky” heretical configuration.

So went I, to a showroom to check it out, and even took one sample for a spin around town.  Hmm, not bad it was, no strange vibes, quite zippy.   But I did not settle for this one, becoz I felt it was a little small, for an aspiring family man.

The Mother Of All Cubs…

Was also a cub – the Honda Port Cub 240, with a 49cc engine.  Introduced in 1962, it was the forerunner of all the  ‘kap chais’.   The earliest versions did not even have signalling winkers for turning.

Most interestingly, the kickstarter was on the left side (see photo) and the gearbox had only two speeds.   I remember we had a second-hand specimen in the early 60s, until my dad traded it in for a C50 Cub.

The success of these Honda runabouts spawned a host of many copycat versions by Suzuki and Yamaha.

For Honda, later updates had bigger engines, from 65cc going up to 70cc, 90cc and eventually 100cc.    In my first 3 years in MU, I had a C70cc model, which I used for the daily commute between campus and Section 17 of PJ.

We Ate Our Scrubbing Pads

They were “Ding Gua Gua” (顶呱呱) as Scrubbing Pads and could be eaten as well.

A routine Operations Clean Up at the kitchen sink this morning reminded me of a kind of gourd that we used to grow in our kampong house compound. The young gourd could be cooked and eaten – quite nice actually.

But if we left the gourds to grow to maturity and eventually dry out, the skins could be peeled off to reveal a net-like core of fibrous innards. We then cut this core into several pieces to serve as scrubbing pad or sponge, mainly for washing dishes in the kitchen.

The name is called “luffa” gourd, or “petola” in Malay, but am not sure of its Chinese name.

A truly environment-friendly lifestyle it was. Wonder has anyone used these stuff, or is still using them ? 

Redeeming The Shine – For The Base Is Metal

The name Brasso came very early into my life.    As a kid,  I had gleefully joined in my father’s love for polishing metallic objects to a high shine, be it some old coins, some partially oxidized ornamental items,  parts of his old motorbike, and what not.

It was kind of rewarding experience to see how a dull brown copper coin – and some even green with oxidation – could be brought to a glistening glow by rubbing hard with this  fascinating light brown liquid.  The shine was redeemed and the glory restored !

The smell was initially annoying, but later I almost got hooked to it.    The picture shows the packaging bottle as I knew it — that of the 1960s~70s.  Note that metallic cap.