Monthly Archives: November 2018

Stripping To Look Good

Disclaimer : This is not about flaunting of private assets in public.

In the late 70s through to the late 80s, it was fashionable to affix a thick strip of rubber, called “side molding” to both sides of one’s car doors.  These supposedly protected the sides of the vehicle against accidental knocks by the doors of other cars parked adjacent to one’s mobility pride.

More importantly, I suspect that these side moldings endowed the stripped cars with a perception of added strength and a touch of machismo. 

Thus, when I got my first ‘proper’ car in the form of a second-hand, first-gen Mazda 323, the first thing I did was to drive it to an accessories shop for a stripping job.  It looked great afterwards.

I think these days such side moldings are no longer cool or chic.

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In An Eggshell, A Century Passeth In Weeks

Today’s memory replay takes me back to the late 50s.  Grandma and my parents were relishing on some “egg-shaped” things, which they said had been soaked in horse urine. Yucks!

When these “pi dan” (皮蛋)were sliced into pieces using a thin string, I saw the grayish “yolks” which sometimes looked like mud and, the outer jelly-like covering which had a dark brownish colour.  As for the smell…oh..please !!! No amount of intimidation or persuasion could get me to eat them.

It was decades later that I had the courage to try them – thanks to encouragement from my wife.

There is a lot of information online, on making “pi dan”.  But the greatest puzzle is how they became known as “century eggs” in the West, when the process of making them takes only weeks or at most a couple of months.

Hungry Ghost Soap Powder

One could be forgiven for thinking that this was the stuff those chaps from “the other world” used to wash up after having their once-a-year Happy Meals during Chinese 7th Month.

In the late 1960s,  a new washing powder came onto the market.

The English name was “DRIVE”, but the Chinese name was literally “Hungry Ghost Laundry Powder” – 饿鬼洗衣粉 (“Serbuk Cuci Hantu Lapar” when translated into Malay).

What a name !

The powder came in a yellow paper box, with the word “DRIVE” boldly emblazoned on it, plus a prominent exclamation of the “Bio-Zolve” agent it contained.

There were also those iconic Blue Dots which supposedly were champion eaters of stains.

My family tried out this detergent for a while, before reverting to our trusty old FAB. I cannot remember why – perhaps it was too aggressive for our hands.

Da Plane ! Da Plane !

Hong Kong could well be a Fantasy Island to many folks from around the world, but landing on the old Kai Tak Airport was something of a nightmare for airliner pilots.

Kai Tak was un-enviably sandwiched between the mountains (of southern China) and the deep blue sea (of the Fragrant Harbour), and the landing paths airliners took had to almost scrape the rooftops of the densely packed high-rise buildings.

One misjudgement could crash the plane into the mountain sides or the buildings or the sea. 

For the passengers who survived those landings, looking out the windows was either a thrilling or harrowing experience to recall.  Sometimes one could see people waving up from the roof-tops.  “Da Plane ! Da Plane !” perhaps.

The last flight out was on 6 July 1998 – some 20 years ago.

Confessions Of A Music Pirate

Like most of my peers in the 1980s, I thought of it as nothing seriously wrong.  We desired the music, and there were ready suppliers plying the trade, by day and by night. After all, we paid for it.

I would buy a blank 8-track cartridge (later, compact cassettes),  and drive down to a record shop in Penang Road, and then made my selections from a variety of LPs in the shop, and the latter would copy all the marked songs onto my tape. 

I think it cost about 10 ringgit per cartridge.   Everyone was happy (except the folks who produced the songs) – the shopkeeper was thankful and, I was delighted with my new set of “playlist”.   I was more concerned with the music pieces being copied right, than with the copyrights.

Those were the days….

Can’t Beat Them, Eat Them !

Please fasten your seat belts and get ready to puke !

Mice and rats are prolific breeders and have since time immemorial been the bane of human kind. They compete voraciously with us for food and also they spread many diseases.

So how to beat them ?  My dad told me that in his youth days, people used to hunt for freshly-born baby rodents (less than a day old or so) and then eat them alive, just like that, or else dipped in a sauce or wrapped with a large banana split.

Folklore maintained that those pinkish, hairless and blind newborns “were effective for treatment of asthma and a good general tonic for the human body”.

I learned that in China, this practice of “pest control” is still popular.  Anyone else game for this squeaky “delight”?

Confessions Of A ‘Kaki Bangku’

So the cat is out of the bag.  I was never a sportsman, much less a soccer fan or player.  Perhaps it was because of the allergic reaction of my limbs to grass.  But that was a different story.

In my youth days, we used to make low-rise stools to provide posterior support while we worked on household chores like washing and cooking or even while playing games.  

All that were needed were a piece of wooden plank (preferably half-an-inch thick at least), a handsaw, some nails and a hammer.  Just had the plank sawn into 3 suitable sizes and then bang-bang…voila, we had our “bangku”.   Length and breadth were flexible — could be custom to suit any bum size.

By the way, Penang Hokkiens call them in such Hokkienized way, that one would think “bangku” is a Chinese term.