Category Archives: lighting

Operation Dessert Storm

More than half-a-century ago, on trips to Penang Island with my late mum, we never missed a chance to call at one very unassuming 4-wheel pushcart cendol stall – along Keng Kwee Street at the junction with Penang Road.

Slurping down a bowl of that tantalizing santan-deluged, gula-melaka-laced icy dessert was pure elation, especially on a hot afternoon.  Yes, good enough to cause even the most insane health nut to crack up and dive in !

The stall ownership might have been passed down to the later generations or other people, but thanks also to the proliferation of social media, this dessert has definitely whipped up a storm of global proportions. 

Everyday there would be a long queue of ardent customers. While waiting for their “ketagihan” to be fixed,  cellphones would be out in force to do the mandatory selfies and wefies.

Earth, Water, Air, Fire & Durians

Haha, am not about to demolish the ancient Greek postulate about the 4 elements of nature.

Recall that carbide lamp of olden days?  Lumps of smelly calcium carbide – we called it “chao thor” (臭土,stinky earth) – was put into that galvanized iron can, and water was then added onto it. (I cannot remember the detailed internal construction of that can now). In  a short while we had acetylene gas coming out from the tip of the slender vertical pipe.

A lit match touching the tip would cause the gas to burn with a bright flame.

What about the durians?  Well, my best memories of this lamp are associated with the durian sellers who plied their trade by night in my kampong.  For its time, this lamp was indispensable in helping to put their “king of fruits” in the proper limelight.

The Bulb Was A Lamp Unto My Nights

Decades ago, everyone used incandescent lamps for their homes (provided they had access to electricity).  

Each bulb was affixed to a 2-pin “bayonet-mount” socket, with just a slight push-in and a quarter-turn twist.   There were two types, one with clear glass and the other with frosted glass.  And they were cheap.  I remember a 100W type cost something around RM0.30.    We had half a dozen of 100W’s and some 60W’s in our kampong house.

These bulbs had a nice warm white light but were not very bright, and they cast sharp shadows on walls — giving us kids fun opportunities to create animal patterns with our hands.   This playing with shadows was not possible with the use of the newer fluorescent tubes – something the modern kids are missing.