THE MESSAGE NO. 108 NOVEMBER 2010
THE FOO CHIN FONG SERIES - THE ALAM SHAH 3RD EDITION
MY EXPERIENCE IN PUNJAB AND BACK TO MALAYA, IN 1960
By Harbans Singh
As the weather started getting warmer towards end of March the houseflies came to life. One had to have a net over ones face if one did not
want to swallow some flies each time one opened his mouth. By then the wheat had grown quite tall and whenever there was a strong wind it
would flatten some of the plants.
I thought it was time to return to Malaya. So I booked a ship's ticket.
My mother's sister sponsored the ticket and presented me with a 4 gallon tin full of home made ghee. My journey back started from my
grandfather's house. My second uncle carried my roll on his bicycle to my uncle Bhajan Singh's village and returned to my grandfather's village.
The next day Bhajan's son Gurdev took me by train to aunt Bhagwan Kaur's house, collected the ghee tin and dumped me on a train to
Ferozepur. I was in a daze when the train arrived in Ferozepur late in the evening. I did not know which train I was supposed to take to Delhi
from where I have to change trains to Madras.
Fortunately I saw an army guy and picked up enough courage to tell him my plight. He became my next saviour. He was also going back to
his camp in Madras. I not only had a guide but the previlege of travelling with him in the coach reserved for the Armed Forces! How lucky can I
get. For the rest of my journey to Madras I was in safe hands and a secured/reserved coach. The next morning the train from Ferozepur reached
Delhi and we disembarked. I had to buy my ticket for the next part of the journey from the Delhi railway station. As the train was leaving only at
night, my saviour took me to the railway station's store to park my luggage there. We then went upstairs where beds were provided for transit
travellers. We had our breakfast in the station canteen and then lined up to purchase my ticket from Delhi to Madras. After securing the tickets
we went for a walk to see the surrounding shopping areas. We returned after having lunch and decided to have a rest.
After dinner we collected our luggage and started looking for the train to Madras. We were told it would be leaving from platform 29. 29? Yap.
So the search for the train began. It took sometime before we reached the particular train. But there was no problem getting in as a guest of the
Armed Forces. So in we went to the allotted coach.
As it was night when the train left there was nothing to see along the way until daybreak. As the train passed through the desert the next day we
saw a fragile looking farmer with mini sized oxen trying to plough the earth close to the railway line. In the same scene we saw someone riding
a camel towards a castle situated on a hillock some distance away. I thought this must be the Rajastan Desert where history stood still.
Then there was the experience of the train shooting out of a tunnel and flying in thin air and moments later on into the next tunnel. The bridges
over the little valleys between mountains were the type with no metal frame over the line like we are used to seeing in Malaya. You can
compare them to the latest train from China to Tibet running high above the ground supported by high pillars and suspension bridges. While
sitting in the train one cannot see the bridge at all. Hence the flying sensation.
In India the passengers are informed earlier about the station where the train will stop at lunch time or dinner time. Once it reaches there we
walked out of the train and into the restaurant (part of the station) have our lunch or dinner and hop into the train again. Passengers are told
that there is sufficient time for a good meal as the train will leave in an hour or so's time.
One night when we went to sleep I was facing the direction that the train was heading. However, when I woke up the next morning the train
was heading in the opposite direction. I immediately thought that we had been hijacked or something. I was assured by my army friend that
everything was ok. After the third night the train finally crawled into Madras. There my for the Sikh Temple. He said that lodging and food is
provided for travellers and I would be able to meet others who are travelling to Malaya by the same ship. He was right and I met two other
punjabis ( both elderly gentlemen ) there.
The next day I followed them to the ticketing agent to collect my ticket. When my turn came the agent said I had not booked my ticket.
Suddenly the person behind me nudged me and said "give him 10 rupees." When I did that my name appeared on the agents list as if
We stayed at the temple for 2 days before it was time to board the ship, We got into a taxi and headed for the customs check. When they saw
my tin of ghee they said I was not allowed to take it along. After a lot of pleading they decided to give my tin a thorough search for drugs. A
piece of bamboo was shoved into the tin and they moved it around inside the tin. Once they were satisfied I got my tin back. The other two
gentlemen were almost strip-searched. I later heard that they were regulars on this route. After the search one of the other gentleman got the
ghee soaked bamboo from the customs man and licked off the ghee. The interesting thing here was that before you enter the customs
inspection area the porters force you to hire them. The reason is that if you want to get through the customs the porter will take you to a lenient
customs officer's counter.
We boarded the ship and I was shown my metal bunk. Only a metal grill separates the side by side bunks and you are as exposed to your
neighbour as he/she is to you. I chose to spend my nights at the bow of the ship. The very forward tip of it. It had a metal bench-like space
perfect for lying down on. I noticed that as the ship sailed the seas it did a slight forward dipping act. This was very pronounced at the bow.
Each time it dipped there would be a fine spray of water up where I was sitting. After some time I decided to lie down on the top deck and
watch the stars in the clear night sky. Imagine the ship gently rolling from side to side with the masts pointing towards the sky. As the ship rolls the
whole sky and not the ship seems to be moving from side to side. And all those stars were moving with it. It was fascinating!
As we know today that the airplanes do not fly in a straight line from one airport to the next but change course at given points, so do ships.
One fine day the ship seemed to veer off course. This could be seen from the trail it leaves in the water as it turns. When I asked a sailor I was told
that they were adjusting their course, I also saw a string hanging out at the rear of the ship. I was told it had a wheel like attachment at the sea
end, which spins as the ship moves to measure the ship's speed. A speedometer.
Before we reached Penang I heard shouts of Malai, Malai. There were some Indians on the deck pointing to some islands that we were passing.
Finally we reached Penang, docked and it was time to leave the ship. As soon as the door was opened and the ladder ready we rushed out so
as to avoid the crowd that would follow.
The train ride from Butterworth to Kuala Lumpur was a nightmare compared to the train rides in India. Our coaches swing from left to right and
sway and the noise of the couplings and the clatter of the wheels on the rail joints is terrible. I was back.
- HS -
The Amazing Hair Dryer
( by Z. D. Zhou )
Not long ago a friend took her ten-year-old boy to my house looking for my wife, saying that her child had hiccups all day long. The child was
very uncomfortable and unable to eat at all. After she checked, my wife said there was a muscle spasm in his diaphragm. Without hesitation,
she took out a blow dryer, turned on the power and started blowing at the boy's stomach. About 10 minutes later, the boy burped and felt
relieved. We were surprised that this thing can do the trick. But my wife just smiled.
A few days later, I had a stiff neck when I woke up in the morning. I could hardly turn my head. I recalled my stiff neck problem was treated a
few times by acupuncture and cupping when I was younger. I asked my wife for the similar treatment. She said there weren't any needles at
home nor any suitable small jars for cupping. She just took out a hair dryer. I couldn't help laughing. Again? This thing can cure stiff neck too?
She blew on my shoulders and my neck for about 15 minutes. My neck was really loosened up. I could turn my head now. Later in the evening,
she repeated that on me once more. The pain in my neck was significantly reduced. I crowned her the "queen of blow drying".
She explained that the method people used in the old days inspired this. In hospitals, with all the modern equipment we have, doctors do not
need blow dryers. Back in the old days, in rural villages especially, doctors were poorly equipped with medical supplies. So they came up with
other means to treat patients with common pains.
Suddenly I realized this is the thermal effect on pains with the heat generated by a blow dryer. Modern physiotherapy equipment such as
electric, laser, thermal, ultrasound and others can easily generate heat for effective treatment. They are, of course, more powerful then a blow
dryer. However, when they are not available, using a blow dryer to generate heat will also work, temporarily at least, on common pains such as
back pain, muscle spasm, stiff neck, leg cramps, etc. It is easily accessible and easy to operate as long as there is electricity. The blow dryer is
really amazing. Try it. Hope it works for you too.
NEWS, NEWS, NEWS. GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS, NO NEWS
Recently, I went for my medical review. There were good news. My body weight has reduced. My blood pressures had gone downhill, too. The
upper one was 121 while below it was 72. I am no more the sweet person as I used to be. Now my blood sugar after food was just 7.3.
Why all these vital statistics for a geriatric? What am I up to? Just to tell you how you could achieve these figures too!
Physical exercises. Every day, one hour of walking, arms swinging, waist twisting, squatting, dangling, etc. It must be about a full hour, as Zainal
Lisut had told me. To effect the exercises on the cardiac muscles, exercises must last forty-five minutes at least! An hour's exercise in the morning
is now my fixed schedule. Thus I got the good news, now it is up to you.
Of course I have always been having my regular medications - popping the appropriate pills. But as to food or health supplements - none. I rap
and chase away any direct sales agents.
During my regular exercises I had met a fellow regular walker. He was bedridden for two long years after a severe stroke. However, he was so
lucky, after all the treatment he forced himself to walk. And walked he did and now he jogs.
There was the good news from a Mesian in Temerloh. He informed me that octogenarians in Pahang were entitled to some free money from the
government. I passed the message on to someone hoping that he would receive a handsome sum.
One day a text message flashed into my handset. The sender asked me to switch on the TV set. What was the show, do you know? It was some
murder scenes in our mentor's bungalow! The show was filmed there years ago. "Villa Maya" was the title of the TV show! Seen it? I remembered
Mr. Miles told me that during the making of the show, the filming crew stored chunks and chunks of meat in the fridge. They were used as
dismembered human torso! Such an eerie show!!
A peninsular friend now working in Sabah tried to talk to me through my hand phone. Unfortunately, at that very moment the hand phone was
not in hand for me to answer him. Sorry Loh Kok Keong I missed you recent call.
Another guy just had to refer to me to get his buddy's contact number. Immediately I text-messaged him. He was so appreciative of the service
that sent me a message praising me sky-high.
Also from Temerloh generosity poured in from the Foo siblings. Now, there is fund to send a few more of the Mesian-message to you for your
reading pleasure. Thank you.
TO CONTINUE..... NOW READ THE BAD NEWS.....
A lady by the name of Irene sent me an SMS. She told me that her mother Doris Low Ah Moi had left for the other side two years ago, after been
bedridden for two years or so!
Yet I kept on sending her the Mesian-message all this while. Even her name was on the birthday list in some of the issues. Sorry for the error and
my apologies for digging up old sores. But the bad news of her demise should have come earlier to avert my blunder. Irene, thanks for the
message and sorry for the mistakes.
Next, Lee Kim Thye has called me and prompted me to insert the following Obituary:
WE WISH TO EXPRESS OUR HEART-FELT CONDOLENCES AND SYMPATHIES TO LAU FEE CHU'S FAMILY WHO WERE BEREAVED BY HER DEMISE ON THE
23RD OF OCTOBER, 2010. FEE CHU LEFT BEHIND HER HUSBAND, THREE SONS AND A DAUGHTER. MAY HER SOUL REST IN PEACE.
Hey! there's no news from you. People used to say no news is good news. I hope this "no newsness" is really good news to you. Or could it be
that you aren't in a position to send me your news! Then I hope someone else will send me the news about you!!
WHAT HAPPENED THIS MONTH?
50 YEARS AGO NOVEMBER, 1960
THERE was reported a lot about our mentor applying to become a Malayan citizen. Even the official he approached for the application
expressed surprise why he wanted to drop his American citizenship. Then another American came to be the new pastor and he too was
learning the Malay language. Was he also thinking of becoming a Malayan citizen due to our mentor's influence? Till this day DonTurman is still
American politics became the talk of the day. Jack Kennedy was in the race with Nixon for the American presidency. Even students knew a lot
about American politics those days. Local government officials and most educated people were talking about the American presidential
elections. Read Volume II of his Past Notes to find out our mentorís political inclination.
Names mentioned in the November 1960 diary: Don, Murad, Koon Peng, Mohd. Noor, Chee Weng, Zainal Lisut, Ahmad, Zamri, Zoraida, Tengku
Jamil, Vanasadchy, kim Tiau, Goh Tsu Hei, Samad, Tengku Ibrahim, Lau Kang Hoe, How Seng, and Sohan.
FROM SIR WITH LOVE
A taxi driver who often brings me home from the market always asks, as soon as I get in and chose the door, "Uncle, sihat?" to which I reply,
"Sihat - dan kuat," just like the Milo ad.
People often ask me, "What's your secret?" They're referring, of course, to my apparent good health and the fact that I don't act like an 83-
year-old is supposed to act.
Time and time again, well-meaning friends advise me to see this big old house that requires so much of my time and effort to kept clean and
look after. "Move into a small apartment in the city," they counsel, ď"then travel around the world and enjoy yourself."
That's probably good advice, but it falls on deaf ears.
The main reason, Iím quite sure, for my good health and low blood pressure is my relaxed, laid-back lifestyle in green surroundings beckoning
me to go for walks and potter around among the plants. Climbing up and down stairs a dozen times a day can only be beneficial to the old
So maybe this big house in the country is my "secret".
Be that as it may, a lot of old-timers I come across act like they feel theyíre already "over the hill", and that that's where they're supposed to be,
couch-potato-ing in front of the TV.
I prefer to think that I'm up on top of the hill (both literally and figuratively). N up here on top I can look back, and I can also look forward:
back on many memorable experiences with countless wonderful friends, forward to new experiences, new friends. I'm not ready to start down
the hill yet.
- TM -
HAPPY DEEPAVALI TO
ALL FRIENDS & ACQUANTANCES OF THE HINDU FAITH & ALL THOSE WHO CELEBRATE