Category Archives: lighting

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 the 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.