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.
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!
Pampered kids of today have midget mounts with outrigger “training” wheels, but in our times, learning to ride a bicycle was inevitably a thrill-and-spill adventure on a huge “Grandpa” two-wheeler.
Grabbing the handle bar with the left hand, and the seat with the right arm, and right foot on the right pedal, one had to “half-push, half-pedal” to try and gain some speed. After some trial runs, one would venture to also lift the left foot, onto the left pedal, and secure that elusive balance. For a second or two, things got rolling,…and then gravity took over the game. C-R-A-S-H !!
A few bruises on the knees, elbows or palms perhaps, but no big deal. We picked up our machines, and off we went again. And there would be many falls before a bona fide ride was finally achieved.
Per my reckoning, blue denim jeans came onto the local fashion scene some time in the late 1960s. Soon it became the universal below-waist cover-up for every Ah Beng, Arun and Ali. The supposedly casual wear began turning up at every occasion, location and function.
The ladies were not spared this viral apparel infection too.
At my workplaces, even the managers and the managing directors wore denim jeans. Yes, everyone, with one notable exception – ie., this writer himself.
I have NEVER worn a pair of denim jeans in my entire life! “Don’t ask me why…how come I did not try…”
Perhaps, the thought of putting on some thick, canvas-like fabric, with a rugged weather-beaten appearance did not jive well with my personal grooming habits. More correctly, the thought never entered my mind.
My long-time dream of owning a German-made car came to fruition in 1998 – in the form of a 4-year old secondhand maroon-coloured VW Passat. Being in Singapore, I had paid S$76,000 for that SOB (“Son Of the Beetle”).
I loved the clean sleek design, and the feel of tight, precision Teutonic engineering. Driving it was sheer exhilaration. However, my joy was short-lived. Spare parts were extremely expensive.
Worse, after about 6 months, the auto gearbox malfunctioned – always jumping back from 4th to 2nd gear unexpectedly. The agent – Champion Motors – told me the fault could not be fixed, and I would need to fork out S$10,000 to buy a new gearbox!! So, I took the car to an outside mechanic who did a temporary fix – and then I sold it for S$60,000/= (the Asian currency crisis was in full swing then). Sob, sob.
Lately, I came across one nostalgic “primeval-looking” gadget at a barber’s shop – I believe the proper name is “Wave Clip”.
I remember hairdressers of old-time perm parlours used these to clip on bunches of hair on their customers’ heads, as part of the process to create wavy forms. Oh yes, my late Mum also had half-a-dozen of these in a drawer of her dressing table.
It seems that these awesome (and fearsome-looking) grippers have fallen out of fashion these days, and no modern lady wants to be even seen in possession of the GrabHair thingy.
By the way, when I was much younger, my barber too used such a clip to grab a chunk of my hair at the sides of my head, so that he could do a clean trim. Maybe that was due to my “back-comb” style.
In the rough-and-tumble kampong environment of our childhood days, falling down and getting lacerations on our knees, elbows and other parts of the body was part of life at play.
Back then, usually no one sought professional medical aid for these minor injuries. At most, an antiseptic wash with a solution of Dettol was used, followed by a few dabs of a Blue Lotion. (cannot remember now what its proper name was).
There was a van from the local hospital which visited our kampong once a week, and it liberally dispensed this Blue Lotion for treatment of all kinds of wounds.
However, this Blue Lotion did not seem to work for me. Instead, my wounded knee worsened, after applying the medicine. And I had to be taken to see a doctor, who applied a different kind of medicine – in an ointment form.