Category Archives: lifestyle

What’s The Shape Of Your Bottom ?

Does it matter ?  Yes, I mean in the old days, the shape of the bottom of your shirt (called “hem”, right?) determined whether or not your shirt should be tucked in.

If the shirt was a long-sleeved one, it came with a nice rounded hem, which must be tucked into the pants.  For courtesy, modesty or formality, or all three, having an exposed rounded bottom was a frowned-upon “No-No”.   But it was OK, if the shirt, especially a short-sleeve “hawaiian” type which always came with a straight bottom.

But times have changed.  These days, we see our young men strutting smugly around town in shirts with exposed, untucked rounded hem (worse still, with a half-done tie, and shorts) going arm-in-arm with  girlfriends dressed to the nines.  

Tastes have changed too. Ironically, anything goes, just tuck it in.

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The Men With Golden Teeth

A recent visit to my dentist to get  a stainless steel crown done brought home memories of a time in the past when it was very fashionable for folks – especially the men – to have a tooth or two or several, capped or cladded in gold.

They were not the gypsies mentioned in “Love Potion No.9” but just ordinary (and rather poor) kampong dwellers.  Am not sure how the golden layer was done, but it intrigued me.   Perhaps, for most of them, they were not born with a silver spoon in their mouths, so a gold-capped tooth or two psychologically placed them on even footing with the richer compatriots.

Anyway, I have not come across anyone sporting such glittering dental ornamentation in the last few decades.  I think the younger ones prefer to pierce their ears, noses, lips, etc.

Dam Nice

It was (and hope it still is) one of the most serene and beautiful places on Penang Island – The Air Itam Dam and Reservoir. 

In the early 1980s, it was one of the favourite places that my GF (and now wife) and I loved to go there early on weekends, admiring the scenery (and each other) while soaking in the twin morning glories of fresh cool air and cozy gentle sunshine. Oh ! What A Feeling ! Those were most cherishable memories.

On most occasions, we drove via a small road through Air Itam village up to the Kek Lok Si Temple carpark, and then went on foot up the rather winding road  to the dam. 

After 1984, we only went back there once – in 2014.  We were glad that much of the old scenery was still intact.

“I’ll Meet You Halfway”

You needed not be a member of The Partridge Family to sing this out in celebration of the climactic thrill generated when the upgoing tram met the downcoming one, and passed each other at the mid-point of the funicular railway – with passengers on one car waving and hollering at those on the other track.

Yes, Penang Hill had always been a favourite destination for family outings.  My first visit was made when I was around 5 years old.

Back then, the trams were of wooden construction and without airconditioning, but the natural ventilation was cool and refreshing, and the trams travelled at a tranquil, leisurely pace.

Sadly the trams today are too modern – fully enclosed, with aircon, and shoot up and down like express trains.  To rub it in, the Middle Station has also been eliminated – sorry, can’t meet you halfway.

A Bird In Cage Is Worth Thousands In The Bush

Keeping a bird in a cage was a very popular hobby among many of the menfolk in Malaysia in the kampongs and smaller towns in the olden days, and probably the hobby might have gone the way of the dodo in modern times – or so I thought.

I was surprised when I moved to Singapore in 1984 and saw that this pastime was very much flapping and alive.   Even today, the government has allocated specific corners of HDB void decks, and playing fields for enthusiasts to hang up their feathered captives, and hear them sing (or maybe cry) and gossip about their unfeathered captors.

Oh yes, these birds are not cheap!  The record price stands at S$96,000 for a super merbok that could out-croon anything with wings.  So much truth in that age-old proverb !

Ia Nya Papaya

A big advantage of living in the kampong was that one could grow all kinds of fruits.  Around our house then we had 4 papaya trees, of which 3 were prolific producers.  (The sole barren one turned out to be a male tree, as we later learned).

My father used to put a dozen or two in a basket on the back carrier of his trusty Grandpa Bicycle, and pedalled all the way from Butterworth to Sia Boey Market on Penang Island to sell them. 

Also, we would take along a couple of the fruits to our relatives and friends on the island when we went visiting. Haha, “buah tangan” in the very essence of the word.

These days, however, papayas have become  ya ya in price.  In Singapore, a sizeable one costs between SGD2.00 to SGD3.50.

A Statement In Black And White

In the 60s and 70s, when Adidas was mistaken for a mosquito breed, and before other so-called sports shoes stepped into the footwear scene, men took great pride in wearing leather shoes.  Of these came a fashion – an essentially white-bodied leather ornamented with shiny black patches in strategic places.

In fact, as a kid and in my youth, I had worn through several such pairs.  (My parents must have skipped many lunches to buy them).

Oh yes, one of my school principals was a dyed-in-the-leather fan of these shoes. Without fail, he would strut up and down outside the classrooms daily, making an unmistakeable B&W statement that he was serious with discipline in the school.

Of course views are different today – people prefer 50 shades of gray (or more), interspersed with a revolt of colours.