In the kampong where I lived till 1973, nightfall meant that high-flying females of the insect kind would be coming out in swarms looking for a Happy Meal of the bloody kind.
Thus, a mosquito net or kelambu over the bed was mandatory, if one was to avert the bloodshed that would have otherwise ensued, with the endless scratching, and possibility of an infection. The net effect had desperate mozzies buzzing helplessly with envy, as their dinner and supper slept peacefully beyond their reach.
Well, some folks preferred to use mosquito incense coils, but an overnight long exposure to those toxic fumes left them half dead by daybreak.
I have not used a kelambu for decades now – thanks to the clean environment.
But these days, China-based manufacturers have rejuvenated mosquito nets with many exotic designs and lifted the Net Effect to a new romantic high.
During my college days, I discovered that many of my fellow students had a vital tool in their survival kits – namely a portable Immersion Heater.
Day and night, the rat race never ceased. A hard evening’s study, pouring over the day’s lecture notes, and flipping through numerous reference texts exerted a huge drain on energy resources. The tummy often needed a top-up to prevent flame-out as midnight oil was burned.
Ah hah! The trusty immersion heater came in handy. A koleh was filled with water, and the heater dipped in. Within minutes, there was boiling water, to make instant mee, boil an egg or brew a cuppa to get much needed oomph going.
I have not seen nor used one for at least 3 decades now. Not sure what happened!
Decades ago, life was a hard struggle for the villagers, who had to toil physically the whole day for some rather meagre incomes. The need for an escape path for mental and physical stresses was dire.
For many, this came in the form of a cheap illicit booze known as “moonshine” or in the local Hokkien term that I knew – ia kha chiew (meaning alcohol brewed under coconut trees). Apparently, in the depths of many of the cocounut plantations, something more exciting, more intoxicating and more profitable than going nuts was brewing.
I had a neighbour with a bicycle-repair shop front, but made most of his money selling this “comfort drink” for 20sen per small glass. Come evening time, many customers would leave the shop tottering in a happy daze with the moon shining on them.
Towards the end of the ’70s, Nissan Motors introduced two models into the Malaysian market, which I clearly remember — the Datsun 120Y, and the bigger brother Datsun 160J.
The 120Y gained fame as a miserly sipper of precious gasoline, and found widespread adoption by taxi drivers all over KL (especially). On one occasion, I borrowed my cousin’s prized possession for a drive from Butterworth to Sungei Petani — guess what, the fuel indicator hardly moved from the “Full” position for the entire two-way journey.
On the other hand, on a second run of the same drive using a friend’s Datsun 160J, it gulped down half a tankful before arrival at SP, requiring a top-up for the return leg (just to be safe). Of course, the 160J had a 1600cc twin-carb engine versus the 120Y’s 1170cc single-carb one.
Sipper or Guzzler? One had to decide.