Author Archives: happyrecall

About happyrecall

Just a very plain old man, with some knowledge of English

“L” For…

…”Liberty”, maybe.  1973 was the year when I started learning to ride a motorcycle.  Of course, it was the ubiquitous Honda Cub (mine was a 70cc), otherwise affectionately known as “kap cai”.

In those days, learner-riders had to prominently display a pair of white plates with a big red letter “L” – one in front and the other at the back of their mounts.  People used to call these “Lembu Lesen”. 

The new-found liberty and mobility was sheer exhilaration for an 18-yr old, and running errands to town became happy excuses to get the motorbike for a spin.

I am not sure if it is still required by law to display such “L” plates for newbies, as I have not seen even a single motorcycle bearing such plates…in quite a long while (both in Malaysia and Singapore).

Of Snakes And Ladders

This was the favourite board game of my childhood and the only one that I have ever mastered (Shhh! Don’t tell anyone, please).

Unlike chess – both ‘international’ and Chinese types – very little (almost zero) cerebral prowess was needed to play this game.  Just rolled a dice or two, and let nature take its course, as whether to climb up a ladder or be swallowed by a snake.

Maybe this game is too old-school and a no-brainer for the young folks of today.

In a way, it represented my working life.  As I toiled to climb the corporate ladders, plenty of snakes – anacondas, pythons, etc – laid in wait to ensnare and pull me down, and tried to swallow me.  Therefore I always had to watch out in all directions, at all times.  Still, occasionally, the dice rolled unfavourably.

Kisah Orang Minyak

Relax! It is safe for you to read this story alone on a dark moonless night.

From the mid-1960s, many homes started replacing traditional wood and charcoal stoves with kerosene-fuelled stoves.

A simple metal handpump was commonly used to siphon kerosene fuel from the big 18-litre tin, into an intermediary bottle, before the final transfer to the “reservoir” on our kerosene stoves.

It was easy to use.  Just had to dip the mainshaft into the liquid, and move that metallic rod in the middle up and down steadily, until the liquid came out from the nozzle.  The motion had to be maintained to keep the flow going.

At home, I was usually assigned this rather boring duty; but I as did my job, the dreamy I imagined myself to be some future Oil Sheikh extracting his liquid gold.

Another Time, Another Place

A man nonchalantly riding his bicycle, a woman sitting peacefully at her front gates, kids having fun on the road and a dog freely crossing (without fear of being flattened into a carpet),…and look at the coconut palm trees and the row of casuarina trees.  Oh, what peace and serenity!

That was how Pantai Bersih (Bagan Ajam, Butterworth) looked in the days of my childhood and early youth. Only about 10 minutes’ walk from our attap house, the beach was the family’s go-to place for cheap and good recreation in the late afternoons.

We had  lots of fun, playing with in the sea, and the sand, and of course, digging for siput (plentiful in those days). 

Alas, today, the place is a mess, with all kinds of makeshift food stalls sprouting all over like wild mushrooms.  ‘Bersih’ no more!

Note : photo is not mine – taken from the Internet

What You Got Was What You Shot…

Reminiscing the bygone days of film photography, when we could see the results of our shutter works only after the exposed film was sent to a studio lab, developed and prints made from it.

Previewing of shots on film was not possible, so we had to be judicious with our shooting.  There was no second chance. Alas, sometimes, precious moments, or those super lovey-dovey poses we thought we had captured turned out to be boo-boos – ranging from the hilarious to the cringeworthy — with no recourse for correction.  It seemed good old Murphy was well into photography too.

Digital photography changed the rules of the game. Bye, Murphy!

Today, with the pandemic proliferation of smartphones, everybody is shooting everything and everyone else on sight. If one is not happy with the results, “Shoot again,…, and again”.  What a stark contrast!

About Dummies…For Dummies

In October 1991, a quaint book, with yellow covers and a quirky title of “DOS for Dummies” was published, promising to simplify and de-mystify nerdy jargon into everyday idiot-friendly plain-speak.   Sounded a bit snobbish and perhaps insulting at first.   But, then I fell in love with the humour.

Since then, many titles have been published (I have lost count) and in the years that followed, these yellow books have populated prominent bookshelves in many a bookshop.  The range of subjects has been widened to cover almost any topic under the Sun, not just the technical stuff of the earlier years, like “Understanding PC”, “Excel”,etc.

I suspect that with the advent of high speed internet, the appeal of the Dummies series might have waned.  So, it might be useful to let present-day Dummies know that there is a Dummies series of books.

Carry On…Writing

Missing episode of the “Carry On” series?  🙂 As kids, we did all our writing with pencils, until sometime in Standard 5 or 6. 

Aaah! Each pencil had to be sharpened frequently with a “sharpener” (which seemed to have a voracious appetite for slender wooden things with a graphite core).  Every sharpening shortened the instrument by about 3 mm. Eventually the length was reduced to about 2 inches; then it became difficult to grasp properly in the hand and produce good handwriting.

Help came in the form of an “Extender”, into which the shortened pencils could be inserted and locked.  In that way, the short pencils were given a new lease of life, and we happily carried on writing, until all that remained of the pencils were stubs of half-inch lengths or so.

Are these Extenders still being used?