Hindsight Was Mandatory

Up to the early 1970s (if I remember correctly), all lorries above a certain net tonnage were required by law to have an Attendant at the back.  Apparently, it was to help the driver in front navigate safely through the streets, especially when going in reverse.

“Kelindan Lori” was not a glamorous job by any measure; rather, it was often fraught with danger, toils and snares.  Be it rain or shine, the person had to sit or stand among the goods onboard, without any physical protection.  On top of that, the attendant also had to double up as the primary loader and unloader for the goods.

But in those days, jobs were hard to come by,  thus there was no lack of takers for this work.

By contrast, life for workers in the transport industry is so much better now.

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What’s The Name Of The Game?

In Malaysia and Singapore it used to be “Sepak Raga” but in other SE Asian countries the game went by other names.

Then in 1960, these nations got together and after much kicking, head-butting and bickering (or maybe wickering), decided to adopt the Thai version.  Hence Sepak Raga became Sepak Takraw.  Perhaps, “Sepak Raga” sounded dangerously close to “Kicking The Bucket” when translated into English.

I have always been fascinated  by the high-flying upside-down kicks executed by the experts.  But as a kid I was also warned not to do head-butts, as too many hard knocks “could lead to PHD (permanent head damage)”

I have not played a game for ages now; and was surprised to learn that the old rattan ball is now superseded by colourful ones made from synthetic resins.

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.

What A Close Shave

In my younger days, a visit to the barber’s – also known as “Hairdressing Salon” inevitably meant a close shave with one of the most sinister-looking tools on this planet. 

One look at that Cut-Throat Razor and I could feel lumps in my throat as I stuck my neck out.  I did not have much facial hair, but the barber took pains to execute precision scrapes to ensure every single bristle that appeared at the wrong place would be sliced off at its root.

However, at the end of the somewhat hate-and-love session, it was a clean and cool feeling – especially with a dab of aftershave lotion.

These days, these tools have largely been superseded by disposable razors.  Yes, with the prevalence of HIV, the old method would have presented itself as a very real close shave with death.

The Pink Panacea

A bit of exaggeration perhaps, but the self-proclaimed “Famous Pink Tablets” were probably the most highly-favoured over-the-counter medication of the ‘50s and ‘60s.

It was like the grand-mummy of the present-day Panadol.  As the claim went, 2 tablets of these pink tablets could quickly take the misery out of Headches, Fever, Body Aches, Influenza and Toothaches. I suspect women of those days must have used them for other needs too.

In any case, I must have eaten at least 10 dozen boxes of the pinkish stuff in my younger days, as usually we did not (and could not afford to) visit a doctor unless we were about to die.

These days, I think Vinac is not popular anymore; the familiar red-and-yellow packaging has been replaced by something nondescript.  I have not seen a modern specimen in real-life.

Beginnings Of Cake Expectations

Before the early 1970s, making a cake was somewhat of a hit-and-miss affair, having to deal with the unpredictable mood swings of a highly-battered dough taken to task in a charcoal-fired makeshift oven. 

All that changed, when we bought a circular flat contraption called an “Ovenette”.   After the dough was put in, and the cover closed, and the switch was flicked on, all that we had to do was to wait, see and smell. 

The cover had a circular window on top through which we could see our rising expectations.

Though there was no temperature control for user manipulation, the results were usually very pleasing and palatable.   At last we could have our cake and eat it as well.

These days, we have upgraded to built-in ovens in the kitchen, thanks to a wifey with very cakey tendencies.

Morphy’s Lore Of Ironing

An electric iron  that my aunty (then staying with us) received as a wedding gift, circa 1965, probably whetted our appetite for electrical gadgets over the years that followed.  It bore the label “Morphy-Richards”.

Ah, what a breeze and delight it was to set this red baby gliding over our clothes, taking out the creases with literally no sweat! 

Temperature control allowed us to set “different heat for different pleats” and, stopped Murphy* from making an occasional inopportune triangular-shaped ventilation hole in someone’s prized shirt or skirt. 

Of course, we, the children also loved to play with this new toy as little “kaypohs” helping mummy with the ironing.

Today, Morphy-Richards has vanished from the domestic appliance scene – nobody younger than 40 years would know this name.

*note : reference to Murphy’s Law