Monthly Archives: August 2017

Squeeze Me Baby With All Your Might

Rummaging through my kitchen cabinet one day, I found this piece of magnificent ancient glassware. I guess it must have been with us for the last 4 decades or so – I might as well call it an artefact instead.

I am not sure what its correct name is – shall I call it Manual Juicer?

That same day I got hold of a couple of oranges, slit them in halves and then revived my hand muscles to get the juice flowing.  Man, it was hard work – I really had to squeeze the fruit halves with all my might, while simultaneously rotating them around.

I remember it was a rather easy job 40 years ago.  But this time round, my hand joints felt sore, and I had to rub in some analgesic balm afterwards for relief.  

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On A Nutshell, We Had Fun

Back in those days of the 50s and 60s,  we kids had a lot of time to be just kids.  Though we had very few factory-made toys, that did not stop us from having a good time.  We laid our hands and feet on whatever that were available  and made them entertain us.

Coconuts were plentiful in my kampong as my house was in the midst of a coconut plantation.  

So, one of the favourite pastimes was to put a coarse string through two-halves of tempurung and then we stepped on the inverted coconut shells and walked with them.  The string had to be pulled up and gripped between the big toes and the 2nd toes, like how one wore a Japanese slipper.  Klok-klok-klok….

Well, in a nutshell, we had great fun on a nutshell !

Can’t Get It Right? Try This..

Hmm, I have not seen nor used that L-shaped thing for a long, long time.  When I was in my LCE year in 1970, we used that quite a bit in our Industrial Arts class.   What is that ?

For folks who still are not able to get it right,  it is called a Try Square.  We used it to mark out lines on a piece of wood or board, so that the line would be at Right Angles to a particular edge of the wooden piece.

After that a hand saw was used to cut along the marked line.  Skill, determination and practice were needed to get it right.

These days, with fewer and fewer people keen on D-I-Y work, preferring swiping touchscreens with their finger tips to flexing their under-used muscles, these ‘vintage’ tools are getting rarer by the day.

All Routes Led To Puduraya

Of course this is an exaggeration (not all roads led to Rome, even in its heyday).  But this was the base terminal from which many express buses from all over the country operated.

During the 4 years of my studies at UM (1975-79), I called at this “mother-of-all-bus-terminals” at least 2 dozen times, as I travelled between Kuala Lumpur, and home in Penang.

Back then, it was already a hive of hyper-activity.  The upper floor which housed numerous ticketing booths and eating spots was always swarming with travellers of all shapes, sizes and colours, as well as hordes of bus touts crying aloud the names of almost every major town in Peninsula Malaysia.

The lower floor roared with high decibels of engine noise and fumed with diesel smoke from the arriving and departing buses. 

Those were the days – I have not been back there since 1980.

Olden Day No-Fly Zones

Back in the old kampong, wherever there was food, the environment would be abuzz with houseflies. 

Thus in every household there would be at least one food cover – usually a large one with a diameter of about one yard – to enforce a No-Fly Zone against the airborne invaders.

In those days, these covers were usually made of rattan, though some wire-mesh types were also available. 

Ever since moving out of the kampong, I have seldom seen such covers.  Perhaps, the general hygiene of the environment has been greatly improved, and thus houseflies have found it hard to eke out a living, and called it quits.

There are modern types that are made of plastic material, and have some degree of transparency.  Too bad for the flies – can see, can smell but cannot get to eat.

Timely Reconciliation

Prior to 1 January 1982, Malaysia had “One Country, Two Time Zones”.   “Waktu Semenanjung” and “Waktu Sabah dan Sarawak” were qualifiers that radio and TV time announcements had to be tagged.

Probably many Peninsula folks were traumatized by the fact that they were always  30 minutes “behind time” as compared to their compatriots in the East.  Such was the legacy left behind by the British.

I think it was Dr M who provided the final push to achieve this  Malaysia Standard Time based on GMT+0800 (which probably delighted Sabahans and Sarawakians).

Singapore had to be persuaded to adopt this MST: with hindsight, this re-alignment of time with China, Taiwan and Hong Kong greatly facilitated economic development of both Singapore and Malaysia.

Good foresight and vision, Dr M, for the “timely unification” of Malaysia.

Only Two Strings, But No Second Fiddle

Besides the harmonica, this quaint 2-string “Er Hu” was the earliest musical instrument that I encountered in my this earthly life.

Everyday, my only Chinese neighbour in my Butterworth kampong would do his routine solo in the late morning.  His pieces often sounded soulful and melancholy.  Unsurprisingly, sometimes he was asked to play at funerals.

In more modern times, this ancient two-stringer is riding on a wave of renaissance in the music scene, being placed in the same limelight as western instruments such as the guitar and the violin, and deployed in all genre of music, including rock.

China groups such as the 12-Girl Band have also endowed the Erhu with much needed glamour. 

My regret :   I never approached this neighbour to ask him to teach me how to play this instrument.