No sooner have I sent you the experiment of rubbing Vicks on the soles of my feet to stop a cough another remedy came in via cyberspace. It said drink the juice from a steamed orange!

Take an orange and slice off a flap at the top. Then pour in some salt. Replace the cut off flap and stick a toothpick to keep it in place. Put the orange standing in a bowl or saucer. Steam it in the rice pot while cooking rice or just steam it the way you like and for as long as you like.

Drink the juice in the orange spooning it out with a teaspoon. Do not forget to drink the juice collected at the bottom of the bowl or saucer too.

 Orange for Cough

I have tried it and felt the juice most soothing to the throat. That might be the beginning of the cure for the cough!

MY FIRST PASSAGE TO INDIA - first installment

By Harbans Singh @ Harwan Singh

Here goes !

After my teaching career at MES ended, my mother packed me off to India to meet my grandfather for the first time in our lives.

It was December 1959.
Remember - First time! NO knowledge of travelling overseas, no friends accompanying to show me the way, nothing.

We took a train to Penang from where I was dumped on a ship called Sangola. Why we? My mother and I but she turned back after Seberang Prai. Why? She just wanted to see that I went aboard the ship and not slipped away heading somewhere!

All I had with me was a bedding roll: an inch thin mattress and some clothing plus a few dollars.

On boarding the ship I followed what others were doing - spreading their bedding rolls next and squeezed in between other passengers. We looked like an overcrowded cemetery where we risked stepping on to some poor soul the minute we put your foot down.

Even when one turned on his side during sleep, he or she risked touching the one on either side. It was that close and packed, you see!

The vessel carried goods and human cargoes - people. There was a crowd of displaced Indian Indonesians and later displaced Indian Burmese. According to these people they were asked to leave the respective countries because they were undermining their economies. They said they were in fact the lifeline of the local businessmen and traders because they were small time moneylenders and traders. They were on board the ship with whatever they could carry.

On the lower deck there was a band of Gurkha soldiers and their families going back to Nepal. One moonlit night I happened to stumble down. The sea was calm. But I wondered why the ship was rocking. I looked around. Gosh! There I saw what the couples were doing. Just under their blanket or beddings. No wonders in calm waters the boat was rocking and rolling!

With so much cargo and so many people, the ship was quite low in the water. In fact I could touch the seawater from the canteen where we ate.

There was a space with open charcoal stoves for those who wanted to cook their own food.

Then there was the canteen. It was very interesting to note that the canteen floor was below the sea level outside the window. The water on the floor would not drain away and if you were in the canteen for a while you would see the greatest show on earth.

Especially the Indian men wearing veshtis/dhoti coming down the steps would slip and be sprawled on the canteen floor water and all.

STOP PRESS. Censured. NO lunch, some cases NO veshtis!

In their haste to retrieve whatever they could some would slip over and over again.

Men wearing veshtis/dhotis to cover the lower part of their bodies.

I made friends with the crew and managed to eat alternately from the canteen and the sailors' kitchen.

We sighted some flying fish, sharks or whales, I could not tell. These huge critters would swim alongside the ship or crisscross here and there.

Some days later the ship docked in Rangoon now called Yangoon. The river that our ship was anchored was strewn with shipwrecks, probably the ruins and remnants of World War 2.

Then loading and unloading of cargoes were done with the onboard cranes clanking away.

I watched the people on shore going about their daily lives. The men wore only sarongs. Topless.

I saw a bus that looked very much like the first one we had going to Bilut Valley. It was just a rickety converted moving lorry!

As the ship headed to the open sea we again sighted the huge fish - possibly dolphins, playfully racing along side the ship.

Some days later we saw what looked like islands of sand. Right there in the middle of nowhere. I was told they are known as sand bars.

One fine morning we entered the Hooghly River and started to travel upstream. It was so wide that the banks appeared to be kilometers away on each side. Even by evening we were nowhere in sight of any port.

While the Irrawady's water was muddy, the Hooghly was all sea water. By evening the ship dropped anchor in the middle of the river for the night.

Being winter in the northern hemisphere we started feeling the chill of the cold wind. I was not prepared for the winter and was shivering through the night.

I had to huddle in my thin bedding roll to stay alive.

One night I thought I was dreaming as I saw standing over me a figure that looked like Jesus Christ. I paid no particular attention to it.

The next morning when I woke up I found myself covered with a thick blanket used in cold countries. While still wondering about the blanket I saw the Jesus Christ like figure standing nearby looking at me.

I had just found my saviour! It happened to be a Singh - a Punjabi who had converted to Christianity! Not only that, he was travelling to the Punjab, close to the village where I was heading!

I had found a saviour in more than one ways.

The next day the ship started moving up the Hoogli again. After some hours of moving where I noticed a BATA shoe factory on the bank of the river.

Finally we saw a bridge across the river - the Hawrah Bridge in Calcutta - now called Kolkata. I thought we were going to go under the bridge to the other side when the ship stopped. We were in a sort of a valley with high banks on both sides of the river.

A tugboat appeared as if from nowhere and started towing the ship. It was led into a what looked like a large swimming pool with high concrete walls on each side. Suddenly we noticed the river being left below while our ship started rising. Once the water level had reached the next level with our ship the process was repeated until we were at the same level as the town proper.

Another tugboat then turned the ship around to face the journey into the harbour. The space that the ship now had to travel was like the banks were almost touching the ship.

A bridge along the route lifted itself and the ship proceeded on to the docks.

Next - my sight seeing of Calcutta. - Harbans

 Flies Fly

Cut and open up a lemon. Embed some cloves in the lemon. Flies will not come around there. That is what they say!

JULY 1960

Two interesting things were mentioned this month in our mentor’s diary. There was a mention of the circus that came to town. Those days, the big top was around created a lot of excitement. The whole town would be alive and bustling. Adults and children, young men and blooming maidens would be going to see the greatest show on earth.

 Elephant Circus

There were the attractions of the animals especially the elephants that were led into town by walking on the road either from Kuala Lumpur or from Raub. The circus people also offered prizes like radios and bicycles. These attracted more people.

Another thing mentioned was the discovery of the existence of three communist bandits around Bentong. For that the government organized a public rally to urge the people to help flush out the bandits. Troops of soldiers also converged in Bentong, making it seemed to have to fight 3,000 bandits around!

Names mentioned in the Ted Miles diary were: Zubir, AbuAmin, Dzulkifli, Say Kuang, Santa, Anthea, Steve Theraviam, T.S. Nathan, Dick Babcock.

 Curry Leaves Left
 Curry Leaves Right

Curry leaves are derived from a beautiful, aromatic and more or less deciduous shrub growing up to 0.9 meter, or a small downy tree, up to 6 meter in height and 15 to 40 cm in diameter. The leaves are slightly bitter and aromatic.

Curry leaves posses the qualities of herbal tonic. They strengthen the functions of stomach and promote its action. They are also used as a mild laxative. The leaves may be taken mixed with other mild tasting herbs. The juice extracted from 15 grams of leaves may be taken with buttermilk.

An analysis of curry leaves shows them to consist of moisture 66.3 percent, protein 6.1 percent, fat (ether extract) 1.0 percent, carbohydrates 16.0 percent, fiber 6.4 percent and mineral matter 4.2 percent per 100 grams. Their mineral and vitamin contents are calcium, phosphorous, iron, nicotinic acid vitamin C.

Fresh leaves on steam distillation under pressure yield a volatile oil. Besides the oil, the leaves contain a residual gluucoside named as koenigin.

Botanical Name - Murraya koenigi

Health Benefits of Curry Leaves
Below are some of the medicinal properties of cumin seeds:

- Fresh juice of curry leaves, with lime juice and sugar, is highly beneficial in treating morning sickness, nausea and vomiting due to indigestion and excessive use of fats. One or two teaspoons of juice of these leaves mixed with a teaspoon of lime juice may be taken in these conditions. The curry leaves, ground to a fine paste and mixed with buttermilk, can also be taken on an empty stomach with beneficial results in case of stomach upsets.

- Tender curry leaves are valuable remedy for treating diarrhea, dysentery and piles. They should be taken, mixed with honey. The bark of the tree is also useful in bilious vomiting. A teaspoon of the powder or the decoction of the dry bark should be given with cold water in this condition.

- Eating ten fresh fully grown curry leaves every morning for three months will help to prevent diabetes due to heredity factors. It also cures diabetes due to obesity, as the leaves have weight reducing properties. As the weight drops, the diabetic patients stop passing sugar in urine.

- Curry leaves can be used with gratifying results to treat burns, bruises and skin eruptions. They should be applied as a poultice over the affected areas.

- Fresh juice of curry leaves suffused in the eyes makes then look bright. It also prevents the early development of cataract.

- The root of the curry plant also has medicinal properties. The juice of the root can be taken to relieve pain associated with the kidneys.

- Liberal intake of curry leaves is useful in preventing premature graying of hair. These leaves have the property of nourish the hair roots. New hair roots that grow are healthier with normal pigment. The leaves can be used in the form of chutney or the juice may be squeezed and taken buttermilk.

- Fruits of the tree, which are berries, are edible. They are green when raw, but purple when ripe. Juice of these berries mixed with equal proportion of lime juice, is an effective fluid for external application in insect stings and bites of poisonous creatures.

- When curry leaves are boiled in coconut oil till they are reduced to a blackened residue, the oil forms an excellent hair tonic to stimulate hair growth and in retaining the natural pigmentation.

 Smiley Love

Often I receive books as gifts on my birthday or Christmas, and there's nothing I like better. Not only do I enjoy the reading experience (as a rule), but I'm also forced to direct my thoughts to the giver whenever I pick up the book - grateful to have such a thoughtful friend.

As a prelude to their Christmas / birthday shopping (and thus letting the secret out about what they're going to give me), some have asked, "What kind of books do you like?"

If you look through my bookcases, you'll find just about every type of writing there is. That's not to say that I chose all the titles myself, that I've read them all, or even that I liked the ones I read. But if variety is the spice of life, then my reading life is very flavorful.

I like biography (from Nelson Mandala to Chin Peng, to mention two in my collection), historical novels (anything by Alan Moorehead or James Michener); mysteries (yes, even Agatha Christie, lighter reading than something by Robert Ludlum, for example); the classics (from Charles Dickens to Thomas Hardy - those Senior Cambridge books we went through page by page and swore we’d never open again after the Exam, but now read for pleasure); short stories poetry,; drama (modern-leave off the Shakespeare, please). I also like books of essays, jokes, sayings or musings, but (and this may surprise you) I try to avoid motivational / self-help books overflowing with advice. Cookbooks come in handy and give me great ideas to experiment with. Hours of enjoyment come from the coffee-table books with photographs and paintings that require little text but say a lot visually.

Well. There you have it -some of the types of books you'll find in my bookcases. You're welcome to browse; you're welcome to borrow. Books are not meant to collect dust. They're supposed to be read - and shared.

- Ted Miles. -


You are getting this Mesian-message 104 early. This is because I want to beat the deadline to take advantage of the old postage rate. If I send it beginning of next month, it would cost double postage as envisaged.

In the last issue I enquired if you wish to have this newsletter posted to you to continue. I have received a few replies. Thanks for your co- operation.

The rest I might have to guess. Should you feel a strong urge to get the Mesian-message and you do not receive it, just give me a tinkle and I will send it to you as per request.


Birthday Cake - Green


 Book and Quill
Written and edited by Chan Suy Sang

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