THE MESSAGE NO.123 - FEBRUARY 2012
THE ANNONYMOUS LADY'S SERIES
SUDDENLY I FOUND A LONG LOST CLASSMATE
SUNDAY, 5TH FEBRUARY, 2012:- I was early and ready to go out. Destination: the Sri Petaling Hotel. Purpose: for brunch with KK Chin, Steven Ong and his spouse Gladys. I did not know the way. However, I groped around and later I drove straight to the hotel. When I arrived Chin was already there with a couple and another man. I was introduced to them. "My brothers." He said. We started eating. I started with fruit. The others ate all sorts of things from the buffet.
I BUMP INTO SOMEBODY FROM BENTONG.
I was introduced to the couple. The wife said she came from Bentong! I began to inquire which part of Bentong. As usual I asked if it was Perting Village, the village nearest to the town. She said she comes from Loke Yew Street. Which shop, I wanted to know. She said the shop where towkay Lem Swee Weng used to stay. Oh! She must be one of his daughters? Yes, she is Lem Foong Yong. Then all the Lem sisters came back to my cranium. I mentioned of Lem Foong Lan, Foong Ngoh, and then Lem Foong Tee.
The last named was my class mate for years in the Methodist English School in Bentong. I remembered Lem Foong Tee used to always sit in the front seat in class. She had her hair tied into a pigtail. Foong Tee always wore a smile on her face. She was then a sweet young thing who always giggled till her face turned pink.
I inquired of how to contact Lem Foong Tee. Well, I was given her contact numbers.
The brunch went on and from their conversation; I learnt a few things especially on healthcare. Foong Yong's husband, as he is Chin's brother must be another Chin, told me:
SOME TRADITIONAL CURES
(1) to remove stones from our body we can consume CHINESE WATER CHESTNUT (MAH TAI). I will certainly try. After all Chinese water chestnut is a crunchy and juicy fruit.
(2) A traditional remedy for skin diseases is: steam a toad and then consume the broth. The toad treatment for a bad sore or boil is also mentioned. Cut open a toad, then slap and wrap the martyred creature over the spot. Remember, it is toad not frog. But I have heard some locals said cooking porridge with some frog meat would help to cure some skin diseases. Don't think it is scary as frog meat is available in Chinese restaurants as a delicacy. It tastes like chicken but more tender.
(3) to stop a round of unceasing cough take PAAT KUA TAN. What is that? ONLY LATER I BOUGHT IT IN BENTONG WHICH IS CALLED PAGODA PASTILLES. Stramge! that Chinese medication is now produced in Indonesia as indicated on the container.
These were all the paat kua (time wasting talks) that we bragged about. But who knows when all treatments fail to work, then try it as a last resort.
Our friend Steven Ong and his wife Gladys came late - almost an hour late. Actually, it was they who made the arrangement for the brunch. Steven Ong is a good listener. Gladys his wife is a chatterbox who bragged and prattled non-stop. All and sundries were in her talks.
REMEMBER THE OLD LOKE YEW STREET?
I remembered in the last Mesian-message, I wrote about some of the prominent families in Bentong. Yes, meeting Lem Foong Yong awakened from the corner of my cranium about Loke Yew Street. Those days during the 1950's and 1960's that was the main street of the town with all the business houses. The whole row of shops facing Chop Kwong Weng, was the busiest and most visited by the local people. There were shops like Kwong Cheong, Sing & Co, Thye Thong, Hup Fatt Cheong, two prominent Mumbai shops and Thye Long Tong the pawnshop. No money to shop, go turn in your gold chains, gold rings and gold bangles then you can shop till you drop for those days with some money you could buy a lot. And there was the famous Seng Lee Coffee shop just opposite where Chop Kwong Weng was.
FATHER OF FOONG TEE A LOCAL SOMEBODY
Speaking of Kwong Weng, it was the shop of the local rich towkay Lem Swee Weng, father of the Lem sisiters. He had a residence on a hilltop just beside the ESSO and Shell gas stations now. I presumed it had been demolished to give way to the new business centre now called Vega Mall. It stands now at the spot of the Cathay Cinema before.
BENTONG CINEMAS OF YESTERYEARS
Oh yes! Talking of cinemas, it comes to my mind in Bentong those early days there were two: The Globe Theatre and the Sun Cinema. They were the cash cows of the local owners. Every show was churning in cash for them. There were three shows a day and sometimes four when there were morning shows called cheap matinees at a much cheaper admission fee. Those cheap matinees were mainly meant for children.
Yes talking of the cinemas again, they were dark, smelly and suffocating - stuffy. Dark because the Sun Cinema used the normal cheap yellow light bulbs. The Globe was better lighted. Smelly because the floor was all littered with snack food wrappers, fruit and peanut peels plus wet with urine the jobs of small children who dared not go to the loo for fear of ghosts and of missing parts of the shows. Ghosts? It was rumoured that the Sun Cinema in Chui Yin Street was inhabited by creatures of the otherworldly! The Globe Cinema situated where the Tong Fatt godown is now looked a bit modern those days. Suffocating Yes, when the show was on all doors were shut. Ventilation was almost none. Those days there was no air-cond. Perhaps the aid-conditioner had not been invented then or we could not afford to import. The cinema also became a smoke house, for then smoking everywhere was allowed.
Getting tickets for the shows in the cinemas was a total nightmare. Those days, people have not known the queuing culture like nowadays. At the little six inch by six inch ticketing windows, we squeezed in our hands to buy the tickets. Sometimes too many hands were squeezed in that after grabbing the tickets we had to pull hard to extract our hands.
After getting the tickets we waited for the gates to open. Then pandemonium broke out when the flood gate was pushed aside. Cinemagoers crashed in and rushed to find seats. There was shouting and calling, for friends helped friends to occupy the best seats. If we were slow, then we sat in the front rows and raise our heads up to enable us to watch what was on the screen. But any show those days was a game - so relaxing and entertaining that when we left the cinema we thought we had been in another world.
Those days most shows were broken up with an interval. Half way through, the show would be stopped. The lights would be on. Why? The guy manning the film projector had to put in another reel of celluloid. Normally, the two-hour show had two reels of films. After 10 to 15 minutes of interval, the show would resume.
Now about the intervals, as lights were switched on, people dashed off to the latrines to piss and relieve their almost bursting bladders. And it was during the interval we could see dating couples. From here we could see who was dating who! I remembered an outstation guy who came to work in the town council. He dated his secretary almost every show. They were so prominent in the cinema as the two were from totally different ethnicities. Of course, gossips spread like wild fire about their so ostentatious and daring dating game.
The Methodist English School principal, Mr. Ted Miles used to patronize the Globe. Sometimes, there was a line of students in tow to see shows. Of course, he was not involved in any dating game like I described before.
POPULAR EVENING STROLLS OF YESTERYEARS
One very popular pastime those days was to walk around the streets when darkness enveloped the surrounding villages. Was it because of the street lights that people those days like? Youngsters, maidens, and even elders seemed to like to walk down Loke Yew Street, turned at the end near the Chinese temple, strolled up Ah Peng Street, turned and entered the eerie feeling Chui Yin Street. Why the last mentioned was scary? It was because there was a coffin shop there! Those days, that stretch of Chui Yin Street was dark and almost deserted. In the 1950s and 1960s cars were seen very rarely.
FOOD WAS CHEAP IN THE GOOD OLD DAYS
By the side of the Sun Cinema, there was a noodle stall where people used to sit on low stools and take the supper of wan tan noodles. A plate of noodles cost RM0.40 or 40 cents, those days. A pot of Chinese tea cost the same and it was served at the Garden Restaurant behind the former Central Bus Station. A steamed bun cost half the price of a pot of Chinese tea. Cheap! Yes, but those days few of us hardly have pocket money to spare. Back to the present that we live nowadays. 6 February, 2012 I called Lem Foong Tee. No one picked up the phone, nobody! Even her cellular phone rang and rang until it was operator attended asking me to leave a message. Yes, I left a message. I tried calling her the next day but to no avail.
On the 7th of February 2012, I was with the calligrapher, miles and miles away from home, preparing the scroll for Dato' Ted Miles. Just before the scroll was ready to be rolled up, a call came from Lem Foong Tee. That was why we see her name at the bottom of the scroll. I asked the calligrapher to add in so. I said we will contact each other later.
LOST AND FOUND
A few days later I saw a missed call recorded in my hand phone. So I called Lem Foong Tee. Sure enough it was her. Well, we have not seen each other for almost half a century - 50 long years. I just not could imagine how she looks now. "I just cannot remember how you look, Suy Sang." Foong Tee said in return. She said we should meet one day.
"And see what 50 long years had done to us." I said. "Shall we meet at Dato' Ted Miles's house? On February 19, we will be celebrating his birthday!" I suggested.
"Okay, but I do not know Dato's house."
"When you and company reached Bentong, I will bring you there." I assured her.
"Yes, we will contact you then."
And the call came to an end.
And so I only met Lem Foong Tee, and all the rest at Dato' Ted Miles's 85th birthday party! We wished you were there to brighten up the day.
WOMEN OUTSMART MEN
Three women and three men are traveling by train to the football game.
At the station, the three men each buy a ticket and watch as the three women buy just one ticket.
'How are the three of you going to travel on only one ticket?" asks one of the men.
"Watch and learn," answers one of the women.
They all board the train. The three men take their respective seats but all three women cram into a toilet together and close the door.
Shortly after the train has departed, the conductor comes around collecting tickets. He knocks on the toilet door and says, "Ticket, please." The door opens just a crack, and a single arm emerges with a ticket in hand. The conductor takes it and moves on.
The men see this happen and agree it was quite a clever idea; so, after the game, they decide to do the same thing on the return trip and save some money.
When they get to the station they buy a single ticket for the return trip but see, to their astonishment, that the three women don't buy any ticket at all!!
"How are you going to travel without a ticket?" asks one perplexed man.
"Watch and learn," answer the women.
When they board the train, the three men cram themselves into a toilet, and the three women cram into a toilet just down the way.
Shortly after the train is on its way, one of the women leaves her toilet and walks over to the toilet in which the men are hiding. She knocks on their door and says, "Ticket please."
I'm still trying to figure out why men think they are smarter than women.
WE CELEBRATE HIS 85TH BIRTHDAY WITH A BASH
FEBRUARY 19, 2012 TIME: 11.30 AM. Driving her red colour Toyota Advanza Lem Foong Tee reached Ketari. She phoned me. I went out to meet her at the town soccer field to lead her to Dato's Ted Miles' house. Her sister Lem Foong Yong was in tow.
When I saw Foong Tee she was a stranger to me, physically. Why? She looked so different from the plump cute lassie she used to be in the 1950's. She had shed much of the youthful flesh! Fifty years have made her slimmer and stands taller!! Time really makes people change and look differently from their younger days. If I were to meet her in the streets or shopping malls I would not be able to recognise her at all. Strange as it may be! Only her voice seemed to have some audible resemblance to her younger days!!
I brought Foong Tee to meet Dato' Ted Miles. I asked, "Do you know who this lady is?" I noticed his facial expression indicated a definite, "No,"
"This is Lem Foong Tee." I introduced her to our mentor.
"Oh! Lem Foong Tee. We have been looking for you for ages."
Truly. occasionally we reminisced and wondered where was Lem Foong Tee. Not only her, but as names popped up we would wonder where those named people are!!!
Then our mentor, Lem Foong Tee, and Lem Foong Yong began a long chit-chat to recall this and that. He asked of her family. He recalled that Foong Tee's father used to help the school a lot. Whenever the Methodist English School Bentong organised fund-raising campaigns, philanthropist the late Lem Swee Wing would dig into his pockets and chip in. Foong Yong was the youngest of the Lem's siblings. From Dato' Ted Miles I learnt that she was a former student of MES - so a Mesian too. I am so happy to know that I have roped in two. Welcome back to the MES fold Lem Foong Tee and Lem Foong Yong. Come more often to visit our mentor, for neither we nor he are young!
The birthday party went on into full swing. A big group of well-wishers from Taylor's College have come in. There were the regulars: Garry and Mary, Tong, Chin, and Au Eching plus some news staff members whom for the first time we have ever seen.
From Seremban there came Mahalingam with his other half. Then from far away south emerged Balachandran and his spouse from Port Dickson. John Chinniah was chauffeured in by William Joo Shek Phin. Who else also popped in from places far away. Oh! Yes, there came also Foo Yook Yoon from Temerloh being ferried in by her kin. Mingled with the crowd, I saw two Caucasian gentlemen around. The elderly gentleman was Phil who drove in with Teresa accompanying. Coming in tow was their mother-in-law. What an loyal friend because though physically disadvantaged she is also advanced in age. A nonagenarian she is. The other Caucasian is a new admirer of our master who also works in Taylor's.
Then came some members of my family. There was my missus, daughter Yew Min, son Barry and his friend Jasmine. They all enjoyed the party. As we moved amongst the crowd, food was dished out and served to all around. Some crowded round the table to choose their choicest morsels. There was a great variety of foods spread out on the classic long dining table, looked so delectably good.
After the tucking-in Barry, Jasmine and Yew Min explored the upstairs of the spacious pre-war II building. They hit upon some in-door games. A chord in their craniums struck. They launched off into a game of congkak. There came the sounds of tick, tack, tick, tack, tick, tack ............ interspersed with cheers of a win and whines of a miss. They were so engrossed in the game that they seemed not wanting to leave. We were the last to bid goodbye to our mentor leaving at four. A great party it was!!!
WHAT HAPPENED IN FEBRUARY 50 YEARS AGO? FEBRUARY 1962
A few interesting things were happening in February 1962 in the school. First we saw democracy at work. There was a student council election preceded by intense campaigning. After that I read the following sentences in his diary: "It's a good cabinet" and "There isn't a girl on the cabinet". Talking of a piece of furniture? No, he referred that word as used in government. What,the student council governing the school? Yes, they almost did by asking for a change of teachers in some classes! But the higher authority vetoed.
There was also mentioned of how our mentor enforced fasting during the month of Ramadan for the Muslims hostel boys. He fasted with them by giving them a real life instance of leadership by example.
Names that appeared in his diary for the month of February: Kok Cheng, Ramasamy, Hooi Chin Nam, Janan, Osman, Tengku Ismail, Tengku Alamshah, Othman bin Ahmad, Zamri, Samah, Sar Kim Len, Hay Yin, Tee Khan, Shim Kow Chai, Chang Wei Yee, Rajagopal, Abdul Latif, Ponniah, Shafie, Razlan.
Boon Tan, Kee Lai Woh, Leong Ah Sui, Mohd Noor Ta’ayun, Sohan, Tham Foo Sum, Chan Foong Ying, Wong Kon Pong, Teck Fatt, Mustapha, Dzulkifli, Tengku Nizan, Kam Kok Hing, Fong Shek Phooi, Foi Lan.
Whither are these people in February 2012?
Signs in English from Around the World
In a Bangkok temple:
IT IS FORBIDDEN TO ENTER A WOMAN, EVEN A FOREIGNER, IF DRESSED AS A MAN.
Cocktail lounge, Norway:
LADIES ARE REQUESTED NOT TO HAVE CHILDREN IN THE BAR.
Doctors office, Rome:
SPECIALIST IN WOMEN AND OTHER DISEASES.
Dry cleaners, Bangkok:
DROP YOUR TROUSERS HERE FOR THE BEST RESULTS.
In a Nairobi restaurant:
CUSTOMERS WHO FIND OUR WAITRESSES RUDE OUGHT TO SEE THE MANAGER.
On the main road to Mombassa, leaving Nairobi:
TAKE NOTICE: WHEN THIS SIGN IS UNDER WATER, THIS ROAD IS IMPASSABLE.
On a poster at Kencom:
ARE YOU AN ADULT THAT CANNOT READ? IF SO WE CAN HELP.
In a City restaurant:
OPEN SEVEN DAYS A WEEK AND WEEKENDS.
In a cemetery:
PERSONS ARE PROHIBITED FROM PICKING FLOWERS FROM ANY BUT THEIR OWN GRAVES.
Tokyo hotel's rules and regulations:
GUESTS ARE REQUESTED NOT TO SMOKE OR DO OTHER DISGUSTING BEHAVIOURS IN BED.
On the menu of a Swiss restaurant:
OUR WINES LEAVE YOU NOTHING TO HOPE FOR.
In a Tokyo bar:
SPECIAL COCKTAILS FOR THE LADIES WITH NUTS.
THE FLATTENING OF UNDERWEAR WITH PLEASURE IS THE JOB OF THE CHAMBERMAID.
YOU ARE INVITED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE CHAMBERMAID.
In the lobby of a Moscow hotel across from a Russian Orthodox monastery:
YOU ARE WELCOME TO VISIT THE CEMETERY WHERE FAMOUS RUSSIAN AND SOVIET COMPOSERS, ARTISTS AND WRITERS ARE BURIED DAILY EXCEPT THURSDAY.
A sign posted in Germany's Black Forest:
IT IS STRICTLY FORBIDDEN ON OUR BLACK FOREST CAMPING SITE THAT PEOPLE OF DIFFERENT SEX, FOR INSTANCE, MEN AND WOMEN, LIVE TOGETHER IN ONE TENT UNLESS THEY ARE MARRIED WITH EACH OTHER FOR THIS PURPOSE.
BECAUSE OF THE IMPROPRIETY OF ENTERTAINING GUESTS OF THE OPPOSITE SEX IN THE BEDROOM, IT IS SUGGESTED THAT THE LOBBY BE USED FOR THIS PURPOSE.
Airline ticket office, Copenhagen:
WE TAKE YOUR BAGS AND SEND THEM IN ALL DIRECTIONS.
A laundry in Rome:
LADIES, LEAVE YOUR CLOTHES HERE AND SPEND THE AFTERNOON HAVING A GOOD TIME.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE FOLLOWING IN FEBRUARY
||YAM TG .KAMIL B. TG. IDRIS SH
||CHEE YEW TUCK / AH HEONG
||ABDUL RAHMAN UMAT
||KEE LAI WOH
||CHRISTINE LOW CHOY YONG
||DATO' TED C. MILES (PRINCIPAL)
||LOH PEK YIN
||DATUK MUARAD ABD. RANI
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