Monthly Archives: June 2016

Fire In Their Bellies

Remember that 5kg of brass with which our mothers used to iron our clothes ?  The charcoal iron, of course.

These heavy implements required frequent fanning (by hand mostly) to blow away the ashes, and also topping up of the charcoal pieces in order to maintain the heat.

In those days, married women were a very hardy lot; besides painstakingly taking out the creases and putting a glistening shine on the clothes of their hubbies and children, they were expected to do the same for all other unmarried male members of the extended family staying in the same house.  Heat, Sweat and Tears — as they toiled day in day out.  Yet no complaints.  The Fire In Their Bellies impassioned these Iron Ladies of our times to serve their families.  Kudos !

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Stressed By The Ties That Bind

I first encountered neckties in 1963.  Didn’t like those “kiddy” types at all – one which came with an elastic band, and another with a Y-shaped plastic catch (this one made my skin sore).

I wanted to have those which adults wore.

But getting the knot “right” with the correct lengths to be left dangling was quite tricky.  In those days,  the prevailing style seemed to resemble a scalene triangle, which I called the “ketupat”.    I hated that shape because it was asymmetrical.

I spent many hours perfecting the twists and turns to get that ultimate symmetrical “samosa” knot, along the way inadvertently producing some  “bak chang”, and “kuih abok abok” as well.  Quite stressful, just to put a tight noose around our necks !

Do you have a knotty story to tell ?

A Case Of Vanity

What is a vanity case ?  Asking our younger folks this question might be in vain.  But for the ladies who were in their primes in the 60s~80s, this would be kinda showcase item of pride, a vivid testimony of their beauty which needed utmost tender loving attention.

A bride-to-be would look forward gleefully to a spanking new case to house all the colors and fragrances that would make her totally irresistible.    At other times,  ladies would carry these with them in their travels.

Over the years, I think this item has slowly fallen out of favour and I have not seen one for a long time….till this morning.  Haha, this red one hidden in my wardrobe was one of my first gifts to my GF 36 years ago.

Wow Everyone Could Fly

A quarter of a century before Tony Fernandes laid claim that “Now Everyone Can Fly”, Boeing rolled out its first 747 Jumbo Jet (Sept 30 1968).

It was a truly milestone for aviation history.   With a capacity that doubled those of the prevailing 707 and DC-8, and powered by 4 super-efficient turbofan engines, it made air travel much less costly.    Few people now realize that.

Whereas in the past air travel was the domain of the rich and famous, WOW EVERYONE COULD FLY thenceforth.   Yes, every Abu, Ah Kow and Arun boleh juga.

Interestingly, whereas previously air travellers dressed smartly (coat & tie for men), a new breed of passengers in skimpy shorts, Japanese slippers, singlets and backpacks had come to form a major and important class of customers for the airlines.

Harmony — On A Wind and A Player

I wonder if the younger folks know what these are.   Harmonica – the wind instrument that was once very popular decades ago — my dad and my late uncle used to be quite good at playing these.

Some how, I have not heard anyone playing these for a long long time.  Perhaps the harmonious soothing notes that flow out from the vibrating metallic leaves inside do not go down well with successive generations of people who are more into cacophonic ear-jarring, nerve-wrecking noises of drums, guitars, synthesizers, keyboards.    Or perhaps I am from  Another Time, Another Place.

I regret not learning to play any musical instruments in my younger days,  having just bolts and nuts in my mind all that time.  Or perhaps my MQ (musical quotient) was simply zero.

Imitation Was The Swiftest Form Of Flattery

Quite unexpectedly, on 31 December 1968, the Soviet-made TU-144 made its maiden flight.   It beat the much-publicized Anglo-French Concorde as the world’s first supersonic passenger jetliner to fly, by slightly more than 2 months.

The western press nicknamed it “Concordski” as it closely resembled the Concorde. Powered by 4 gigantic turbojets, it could fly faster than its rival.  Two retractable front canards were added later for improving low speed handling.

It was rumored that the Soviets were snooping on the Concorde’s design in the earlier years, and Anglo-French counter-espionage agents deliberately let loose a lot of bad design data for the Soviets to pick up and put into the TU-144.  Perhaps some of that might be true, possibly contributing to the infamous crash at the 1973 Paris Air Show.

Oh Deer They Could Fly

Between 1966 and 1973, RMAF received 18 of these rugged short-haul transport planes.  Made by DeHavilland Canada, the DHC-4A, was also better known as Caribou (which is a very large species of reindeer).

I remember seeing these rather ungainly-looking aircraft — note the huge tail fin — flying at low speed around the airbase in Butterworth, with the typical low-frequency droning from its two piston engines.  They could carry up to 36 troops, or 3640kg of cargo, and land on grass strips.

These have been retired since September 2000, and replaced by Indonesian-made aircraft.   But there are specimens on static display, one at the RMAF Museum in Sungei Besi (KL), and another one at the Army Museum in Port Dickson.  I have visited both places in recent times.