Monthly Archives: February 2016

Escape From Sea Of Misery

It was not quite as fascinating as Jason’s Odyssey but for an ancient set of walking fossils like me – or whatever remains of a body after 6 decades on planet Earth – these vintage Japanese analgesic plasters have provided legendary relief from the aches and pains all over.

For those who read Chinese, the name is “Tuo Ku Hai” – meaning escape from the sea of misery.  What an insightful name !

Tokuhon came into my life at a very young age.  After a game of badminton, or a day’s work of sawing firewood for the family, my arms would ache at night, and dad was ready with his favourite patch-up job using pieces of this Japanese wonder.  From there, the old habits stuck on for life.

There were also other lesser known ones such as Tohtonku, but I remember Tokuhon best. 

It’s a Bird, It’s a Bat, It’s Superman !

That is what one gets when Robin, Batman & Superman got together for a wefie – in triumphant celebration of the immense power and allure of sporting underwear on the outside, augmented  by a matching cape over the shoulders.

Red, Dark Blue, Green…you made your choice depending on what you wanted to do – taking off like a jet fighter, gliding down from tall buildings after nightfall, or simply chirping around happily. The power was unstoppable.

Those were the traditional, enduring superheroes of our youth days.   We knew they were all fictional, but they were good for firing up the imagination of our impressionable young minds. But not to worry, we still wore our underwear inside, as we still do today.

Ada Ikan Di Sebalik Pelekat ?

Smell something fishy ?

Sometime during my primary school days, Nestle had beautiful photos of Fishes printed on the back of the labels of their Milkmaid condensed milk tins.  We took the bait, and persuaded our mums to buy Milkmaid, hoping to make a full collection – I think it was a set of 24 different fishes.  Nestle even sold a special album for us to stick the pictures on.

But often we got duplicated ones –  these were then exchanged with others that our classmates had.  Later on,  Milkmaid came out with the Birds series, Animals, etc…   I didn’t go beyond the fishes.

Later, folks realized that the scheme was a kind of Ada Udang Di Sebalik Batu, to make people buy more – but Nestle was wise enough not to have launched a Prawn series.  Otherwise, it would have been  marketing calamity. LOLX

Bushy Pit-Stops In Spiky Places

In my kiddo days, we never heard of Musang King, Black Thorn, Red Prawn and the whole gamut of fancy names.

Instead we preferred to buy durians from one trusted old uncle (I remember his nickname was “Kau Sai”) who always “reserved” the best fruits for us (or so, he said). Notably, he would recommend to us those with a hole gnawed through the husk by squirrels in search of their favourite meal.

Apparently our little bushy-tailed friends are nature’s king connoisseurs of the king of fruits, and they know which ones are the cream of the crop.

Folklore or ancient wisdom ?   You be the judge.

But these days, with the prevalence of animal-borne viruses that could cross-jump to humans, I would give those rodent-leftovers a miss.  I would pick up a fruit and do the sniffing myself.

To Sew With Love

You may want to call it Stitch – any which way, it was an art that required huge Passion, Patience plus creative Imagination.  Embroidery by hand ; which ladies of the old days – including many of my senior relatives – loved to indulge and excel in.

I remember that sometimes they also used sewing machines to do the stitching.

Haiz, it has been donkey (maybe for 2016 just call it Monkey) years since I last saw any lady, especially a younger one, doing it.    Perhaps it simply does not jive well with the fast pace of modern life.   Also, these days, with computer-aided machines, even extremely complex patterns can be sewn and reproduced by the millions in perfection.

A-B-C, Itu Semua Lori :)

Has anyone noticed lorries, and other goods vehicles in Peninsular Malaysia with white letter markings A, B, or C on a black circular patch ?  And does anyone know their significance, or differences among them ?   Perhaps few have noticed.

Long time ago, there were no such markings.  Per my memory, some where in the late 1960s,  the goods transportation industry was up for grabs and so the JPJ implemented a system of A-B-Cs, to defuse the looming “war” among the transport operators.

  • A = goods vehicles owned by professional haulage companies
  • C = goods vehicles owned by private business, and allowed to carry only their own goods
  • B = goods vehicles that may do both

I have not seen a ‘B’ plate for a long time : has it been discontinued ?

My Old Flame – Earthy & Fiery

The old faithful Kerosene Stove of course.   Earthy, as the fuel she used was called ‘Minyak Tanah’ which meant Earth Oil (“thor ew” in Hokkien) and Fiery, as she could burn and sizzle anything and anyone that got on top of her (literally)

It was in the mid 1960s when we made the Quantum Leap from firewood/charcoal to kerosene as cooking fuel — no more smokey fumes in a soot-coated kitchen.

The most widely used brand of stove was “Butterfly”.  As a matter of fact, I never saw any other brand.

With proper maintenance, the stove produced delightful blue flames that provided many happy hours of culinary excitement in the kitchen.  With the advent of LPG in the early 70s as the new cooking fuel, the old flames had to recede into the remote corners of memory.

The Friendly Flying Dutchman

Built in Holland by the Fokker Aircraft Company, this short-range turboprop airliner, called ‘Friendship F-27’ was extremely popular worldwide.  

The forerunners of MAS – MSA, and even Malayan Airways – were early adopters of this reliable workhorse. Besides MAS, later on smaller airlines like Pelangi Airways also flew these types (for some time). Haiz, I never had an opportunity to travel in one of these fabulous turboprops.

It began life in the 50s, and was upgraded many times – culminating in later versions as F50/60.  There were also military versions used by a number of air forces around the world.

However, in the fierce dogfights of the aircraft industry, friendship was not enough for survival and Fokker had to shut down in 1996.

What The Hacks !

These days, hacks of all sorts are given out freely over the internet.  But in those good old days, Hacks were cough drops stocked in a tall red tin, that featured a semi-botak man coughing into a handkerchief.  In the 1960s, we paid something like 5 cents for 2 pieces.  

Each sweet was about the size of an olive, but flattened and packaged in a brilliant orangey-red transparent wrapper.   Deep grayish-black in colour, it delivered a mighty menthol-mint punch to soothe our tender throats which had been ravaged by frequent bouts of cough.

Over the years, milder versions were marketed – the Honey Lemon first, followed by a variety of other flavours – to serve the later generations who could not endure the rigours of strong remedies, preferring softer options instead.  Never mind, I still stick by the old.

Eh hem ! Eh hem !  

Intimate Cover-up Of Old

Haha !   Sorry, no juicy scandals here.

As active kampong boys, rough-and-tumble outdoor play activities were the norm.  And in the process, inevitably our bodies received cuts, lacerations, gashes and an occasional nasty insect bite.

No worries, we got home and perhaps after a nice dressing down from our parents, we looked forward to dressing up with our good old friend, the medicated plasters from Elastoplast.   The pic shows the packaging during those days.

Never mind the misadventures that caused the injuries, those plasters (came in many sizes and forms) provided a much needed comforting cover-up for the wounds in a well-cushioned intimate embrace.