Monthly Archives: December 2016

We Sent Them Reeling….

But they had the last laugh…all the way to the bank…after fishing out our hard-earned money while we ‘pretended’ not to know it.   Apa nak buat ?  Life was kinda tough in those days (as compared to today) and  therapeutic hardship diversions were few and far in between.  Thankfully, we had cinemas to provide the much needed analgesia.

As the poor folks soaked in their favourite reality-escape fixes and got their hallucinatory-cum-delusionary highs,  operators in the backroom were busy spinning reels of film.

No regrets though, we enjoyed many epic movies that were screened in the Rexes, Capitols, Odeons, Cathays, etc, and many people went gaga over the movie stars, both males and females.

Those were the heydays of the big-screen duo, viz., Cathay and Shaw.   Shaw was a much larger outfit, with dozens of many cinemas throughout Malaysia and Singapore.

Ikan Kekek Enak, I Like I Like

Haha, my version of the classic childhood song.   Either crispy deep-fried in oil or cooked in simple soup with pieces of ginger, this smallish (about 3 inches x 3 inches) plain-looking fish was a delight, guaranteed to make one polish off an extra plate of rice.

As kids we “fought” over the ultimate prizes — the roe that came in little balls about 1 cm in diameter, slightly flattened.  The poor man’s caviar !

Haiz, I have not seen nor tasted this ikan kekek for at least 3 decades now. Am not sure if it is just not available in Singapore or that it has been hunted to extinction. Maybe I have not searched hard enough.  What to do ?  As consolation, I just go to YouTube and fish out the familiar music – tak dapat makan dengar pun jadi !

Really pathetic lah, I.

Elementary My Dear, What’s On…..The Table ?

Folks, remember this colourful table from our Science classes ?   Just to refresh some dormant memory cells, this Periodic Table organizes the whole earth — if not the Universe — into an orderly array.

We learned that this world comprises of all kinds of elements, from lazy inert ones that do nothing, to aggressive ones which react angrily  with almost anything that crosses their paths. Yet others will make rapport with consenting members in the neighbourhood near and far to form all kinds of bonds (ionic, co-valent, etc) resulting in myriads of compounds, including you and I.

Some extreme elements can also gang up with others to become radicals, when conditions are ripe & right.

It amazes me no end to realize that the seeming randomness of the universe is indeed really quite systematic.  Sherlock Holmes and his assistant Dr Watson might be astounded.

“Walk The Talk”

Here I don’t mean that mantra which all politicians, from aspiring wannabes to seasoned veterans, chant feverishly in order to look legit. (But most end up just talking).

Rather, it is about a team of talented engineers at Motorola Malaysia Sdn Bhd, Penang.   There, circa 1980~84, they developed the first “designed & built in Malaysia” two-way radio, aka, Walkie-Talkie.  The product was launched in 2 tiers, a Low-Tier model HT90 and a High-Tier model HT440.  Both series were identical except for the outer case.  The HT440 had a two-tone casing.

Daily, the R&D engineers would walk up and down, testing out the prototypes by talking (and listening).   Kudos !  Malaysia pasti boleh.  Penang lagi boleh.

Oh, where was I ?  

As a process engineer and NPR coordinator, I provided manufacturing support to the program — cari makan lah !

Calling A Spade A Spade ?

Sometime in 1970s, on a visit to my relatives in KL, two iconic buildings caught my attention, namely the Parliament House and, Wisma Angkasapuri.    The simple elegance exuded by the geometric orderliness of the facades had (and still have) a curious attraction for me.

Wisma Angkasapuri really struck me — I asked my uncle who was driving us, “Why do they put up so many spades on the outside walls ?” Uncle kept silent (he was a civil servant). Well, according to the architects, “the shield-like form at the facade was inspired by the shell of a horseshoe crab….” oh ya ke ?

Perhaps the architects were asked to convey an unspoken message, that messages beamed from this tower would be truthful, calling a spade a spade, 296 times over — no craps, or crabs, horseshoe type or otherwise !  Hear ! Hear !

Tunnel Visions @ Bukit Berapit

In the early days, a KTM train jouney on the Butterworth-KL sector took something like 9 gruelling hours with the slow mail train making umpteen stops along the way.

For kids, every trip was an adventure.  The most eagerly anticipated events were the encounters with the 4 tunnels of Bukit Berapit.   Two long and two short ones. (The British were clever not to have made it Three Long and Two Short, 三長兩短). If I remember correctly, the second tunnel south of Taiping was the longest of the four.

With the opening of the new twin-tunnel in conjunction with double tracking and electrification,  these tunnels (and tracks) would probably fade into history or else be reclaimed by the jungle. There are some proposals to preserve them…will there be new light at the ends of these tunnels ?

Shady Deals Behind Bamboo Curtains

In the old days, as I  wandered along the five-foot ways of shophouses (especially the pre-war types) in towns, I noticed that almost everyone of those shops sported a bamboo sunshade — also known as “chick blind”

These were made of long strips of bamboo, tied together with strings, and could be rolled-up or let down using a simple rope-and-pulley system.

I know Penang had plenty of those.  I think it was a great idea.  These shades provided a cool environment in which customers and shopkeepers could comfortably strike their deals, screening them from the blistering heat and glare of the sun outside.  Besides, they also provided very convenient spaces for self-advertisements — content and colors limited only by the owners’ imaginations.

Alas ! These bamboo curtains are getting scarcer with time.

Fry Your Own Cuttlefish

For Penang Chinese womenfolk, mastery of the classical Jiu Hu Char was one of the requisites that maketh a bonafide homemaker.  If a wife failed in that skill, she would probably be retrenched and served fried cuttlefish — 被炒鱿鱼.  Just kidding.

When my Mum was around I used to help her,  slicing the “mengkuang” and red carrots into thin sheets and then further into fine strips (these days we use a shredder) — and also cutting dried cuttlefish into fine slivers.

With added strips of meat, mushrooms, onion, garlic and of course, the cuttlefish slivers, the whole lot was well stir-fried with some bean paste.  The  final mesh of supreme savoury delight was sure to send taste buds quivering in sensational expectation.

Better still was to have a handful wrapped in raw lettuce laced with sambal belacan — rasanya betul2 meletup !

Life Was A Motorcycar

This little Honda could have well been the grand-daddy of all micro-cars in Malaysia.  Produced between the year 1967 to 1970, the N360 was tiny and tinny.    Also known as “LIFE”, it was for all intents a motorcycle with 4 wheels — I called it a Motorcycar.    Its 354cc air-cooled engine came from the CB450 motorbike !

I never had an opportunity to drive one (too young and too poor at that time), but a neighbour of mine had a ‘many-times-preloved’ specimen sometime in the mid 70s.   To me, it looked pretty flimsy. Some folks said if you scratched the body panel, Milo powder would spill out.  With some imagination,  the noise from its engine as the car passed by did sound like someone stirring Milo drink in a “koleh”.  LOL.

Notwithstanding, Honda powered on from strength to strength, to be a giant today in the auto world.

An Extra Leg Up On Coughs

Coughs bugged us kids on and off whole year round.   But we had an extra leg-up on those ailments — the trusty Three-Legs brand cough syrup.  It was cheap, readily available and quite effective.   (Only in very bad cases when our lungs threatened to jump out of our mouths did we visit the doctors)

Dosage was kinda flexible.  I remember we used to take 1 tablespoonful at a time, maybe hourly.  If the cough was bad, then more often.   But one uncle of mine used to drink half a bottle at one go, claiming that it afforded him a sound sleep at night.  (He did wake up the following mornings).

Why was it branded as “Three-Legs” ?  Maybe to give the doctors an extra run for their money.   Has anyone any idea ?