Monthly Archives: March 2019

Be Done With The Stork

In the old days, having a baby delivered in a hospital was somewhat of a luxury, which the kampong folks could not afford, or maybe had a prejudice against.

Thus, the services of a “Bidan” or midwife were highly sought after.  In my kampong at Bagan Ajam, Butterworth, there was my neighbour Aunty Bidan.  She must have had a very busy schedule, as many of the couples back then had at least half-a-dozen children.

In fact, two of my cousins were helped out into this world by her skillful, loving hands.  No storks needed.

Aunty Bidan (she was a Mrs Tan) had also the distinction of being one of the two persons in the village to own a car (I think it was a Simca) and a telephone (which she graciously ‘shared’ with all her neighbours). I still remember that 5-digit number.

Rice Discrimination

It has been years since I last ate one “kee chang” (碱水粽) and decades since the last occasion when we made them ourselves.

Back then, we had to sort out the glutinous rice first.  For some unknown reason, the “pulut” rice was always adulterated with perhaps up to 10% of ordinary rice.  Maybe glutinous rice was much more expensive then, so the rice millers tried to make some unethical gains.

The family would gather around the dinner table, and painstakingly pick out the unwanted grains with a “lidi” (wooden skewer made from the spine of coconut leaves).   But all that labour of love and rice discrimination was sumptuously rewarded whenever a piece of the cooked alkaline dumpling was opened and lo, before our eyes, was that glorious orangey-brown near-translucent bouncy pyramid of chewy temptation. 

Old Font Memories

Reading of newspapers began when I was 10 years old – The Straits Echo first, then later The Straits Times.

I was awestruck by the old English font used for the header on the front pages. It looked so artistic and stylish – especially the graceful embellishments on capitals. In the years that followed, I managed  to gather the complete set of alphabets in both upper and lower cases. 

I even got myself a “manuscript” pen so that I could emulate these fonts with my own hand.  That went on for years.  Notably, after wrapping my textbooks in brown paper, I would write the names of those books in this old English font.

Oh yes, one of my favourite pieces of handiwork was a reproduction of the popular poem “Desiderata”, which drew a lot of attention from my peers. 

The Fine Lines Between Imagination And Fruition

35 years ago (as of 2019)  I entered the second phase of my working life – doing what I love best, ie., designing products.

In those days, there was no CAD yet, and everything had to be done by hand, aided by drafting machines.  Many people were still using pencils, but in the company that I worked for, we used “Drafting Pens”.  These were high quality instruments that produced very uniform lines of precise widths.

There were several brands then, such as Faber-Castell, Staedtler, etc.  But the “Rolls-Royce” of these pens were from Rotring – every draftsman worth his lines had to be seen in possession of a set.

With these pens, our ideas were put onto drawings, which were then used by toolmakers to produce the tools and products as required.

Alas, these prized instruments are now museum pieces.

Give The Men A Tiger !

Circa 1975, after years, if not decades of putting up with flying “junk” from the obsoleted fleets of other countries’ airforces, TUDM decided it was time to upgrade and get up to speed, literally.

Bravo !  Give the men a Tiger !  And yes, 14 single-seat F5E Tiger II fighters and 2 two-seat versions were purchased from Northrop and added to the fleet. For the first time the airmen went supersonic, at Mach 1.6.

The salient features of this aircraft were the long sharp nose, and small wings.  It is amazing that such ‘tiny’ wings could bear up to more than 11,000 kg maximum take-off weight.

I think they have been replaced by other modern jet fighters and fighter-bombers.

Interestingly, in Dec 2007, several of the J85-21 engines that powered these jets were stolen and sold in the Uruguayan black market.

Oh My Oats !

Hah ! It took me about 50 hours to create this composite “photo”, using a combination of some old photos from the internet, extensive painstaking Adobe Photoshop makeovers, a glossy paper printout, an ex-Milo can…..just to show the good old Quaker Oats as I knew it in my childhood days.

The can came with a “key” with which we engaged the tear-away strip on the can body, and rolled it up to separate the lid from the body of the can.  Interestingly, once separated, the lid could be inverted to close back on the body.  But the can was tightly packed with oats and these would spill out once the lid gave way.

Quaker Oats used to be a staple breakfast item in our youth days….until “economic progress” struck us, and soon many other “goodies” came along to supplant it.