THE MESSAGE FEBRUARY, 2005 NO. 39 – THE CHUI TAI FAN SERIES.
THE HARBANS SINGH EDITION
I HAVE NOTHING TO BRAG.
I HAVE NOT MUCH TO SAY.
THIS MONTH WE HAVE ONLY 28 DAYS.
MOREOVER, MANY INCLUDING ME HAVE THE LUNAR NEW YEAR TO CELEBRATE.
SO JUST START READING.
GET GOING QUICK, PLEASE.
WHAT HAPPENED THIS
MONTH FEBUARY 1955
50 YEARS AGO?
IT'S OUT! M.ES.SAGE NO. 1 VOLUME II, in February after hibernating for more than
two months from the previous December to January 1955.
Great news. The total enrolment in M.E.S. had notched up to 505.
Student politics began to function in full swing. The Student Council was elected for
the purpose of improving the running of the school.
The council's functions were "to offer criticisms, suggestions and help".
Hurray, but some of us really did not know what this was all about!
We had not been exposed to the political process what more of classroom democracy.
There was not even democracy in the country but EMERGENCY.
We were still in the backwaters as regards to the governance of the country.
The council members were proud because they formed an outer circle around the principal
and the teachers. They put up an inner formidable wall excluding the masses -
the students - from the staff.
Did the councilors represent the students? I am afraid not. In fact sometimes they bring
more burden upon the students like suggesting more homework. Over to behind the bamboo
curtain they were the equivalents of the running dogs.
But we did glean a glimpse and experienced a stint of the political process.
We came to know about elections, meetings, making decisions and talking to the apex of
the school administration.
This political awakening was just in time to lay the foundation in the mindset of the
students of M.E.S. for our country's independence, imminent two years ahead!
HE LIKES THE SPICES OF MALAYSIAN DIETS
One day I brought some stir-fried rice vermicelli to share with our master.
The food was well-cooked and quite tasty.
Our mentor scooped up every bits of the food from the saucer.
As I ate, I pushed some slices of the hottest red spices aside.
"Oh my!" said our master, "that's the best ingredient to try."
"Nope," said I, "chilli is not my most liked spice." That was why I pushed them aside.
From this I discovered that our mentor has acquired a great liking for the spices of
Malaysian diets. Ranging from the tinniest yet the hottest of chilli padi to the big
red-hot cabai, all the spices he certainly likes.
I asked whether he plants any of those plants that give him a constant ready supply.
"Yes, I've two plants outside," he replied.
IT LIKES IT HOT
Talking of the chilli pods that I have grown, I told him that I have discovered maggots
inside. Each chilli pod when ripened has a little grubby white maggot lodged inside.
On hearing this, our patriarch was surprised. Well, have any of you made this discovery?
I mean have you ever found worms inside chilies?
I wonder why in such spicy condition a grubby white succulent maggot could survive.
On my chilli plants, when the capsicum pods ripened the section next to the stalk
will darken. The pod begins to rot. When I peeled the chilli pods opened a fat wiggly
worm about the size of a grain rice emerges. When not picked the chilli pods will
drop to the ground and rot. That must be due to the attack of parasitic maggots
of some sort.
The symptoms of the diseased plants are: crinkled leaves and wrinkled chilli pods
like they have aged at an early stage.
ANY WISECRACK OUT THERE?
Is there anybody out there who delves in plant husbandry and expert on spices cultivation
techniques? Would you be generous enough to share your knowledge of expertise?
You might inquire in curiosity. "Hey, Suy Sang why plant chillies when you don't
consume them in great quantities?"
To which I would reply, oh, I intend to take up vegetable gardening on a self-sufficiency
basis. All the hundred and one spices are gulped down in reasonable doses by members of
the family especially chilli padi. Having a few plants in the yard will always ensure a
regular ready supply. That would be my reply.
While still yakking about chillies permit me to relate the following little story:
One day I was having a drink in an Indian restaurant. It was before lunch hour.
The place had only a sprinkling of customers. The boss dished out a plate of plain
white rice for himself. In one hand he held a large red chilli.
The boss took a bite on the chilli. He felt the kick of the bite on the spice.
His other hand scooped up a clump of the white rice. He pushed it into his gape.
He gulped down the rice.
He repeated the act till the heat of the red chilli had subsided.
He took another bite on the cabai. He grasped another handful of rice.
He took more bites on the spice. He stuffed in more rice.
That was all until he finished his meal of white rice and a single spice.
He seemed to have a good appetite. I wonder whether that was his staple food!
I couldn't imagine that his diet was a balanced diet!! What say you? Such a simple
and frugal life style! That is how the Indian restaurateur accumulated his wealth.
Frugality at the expense of health!
THE BRAIN A WONDERFUL THING
Recently I have received two e-mails of almost similar contents. They said that the
brain is a wonderful thing. To understand what this means try reading the following.
"Aoccrding to rscearch at an English Uinervtisy, it deosn't maettr what order the ltteers
in a word are the only iprmoatnt thing is taht the frist and the lsat ltteers are in
the rghit pclae.
The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitil raed it wouthit any porbeim.
Tihs is bcuseae the human mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by itself,
but the word as a whole and the biran fguiers it out aynawy."
Well, you could read it couldn’t you? Wonderful, the brain is such a fantastic tool!
Then we might say why learn the spelling of words. We could spell everything in a mess
and still could read it. Oh my, the spelling of words would be going to the dogs!
Even now there is surfaced a new language, used in SMS that has caused quite a lot of
confusion among the more conservative spellers or language users.
Try reading this SMS piece:
come at 2 4 t c u.
I hope they would not encourage the misspelled type of spelling like the above to
confound us further.
MY SPELLING ORDEAL
Talking of spelling, I started learning the spelling of English words in the hard way.
Every day the teacher would give me 10 words to spell. If I made one mistake in spelling
a word, I received a stroke from the teacher's cane on my palm.
Normally, it was 7 or 8 words that I spelled correct and then I received two or three
"cuts". I don’t know whether that last word was appropriate for "strokes" but the teacher
used it. Who was the teacher then? That is a personal thing that I would only tell in a
heart-to-heart conversation to any of you in person.
The word that bedeviled me in the daily spelling ordeal was "buffalo". No matter how many
times I recited and memorized it, when I was not looking at it, I always misspelled it.
So the teacher had to ask me to spell the word everyday until whenever I was asked to do
spelling, the others in my class would say "buffalo". This happened so often, that later
I was nicknamed "buffalo".
I wallowed and struggled with “buffalo” for weeks before I finally cleared my name of it.
Later when people teased, I would say, "you spell it". Many were silenced by my challenge.
They just held their peace.
WHO TAUGHT US THIS?
Hey, guys! Do you still remember this spelling rhyme:
i before e, except after c
Or if it sounds like an "a",
As in "neighbour" and "neigh".
Who taught that little verse to us so that we could correctly spell
"receive", "believe", "neither" etc?
WE ARE PAMPERED BY THE COMPUTER
Nowadays, if you use the computer you would not have to worry about wrong spelling.
The correct position of "i" and "e" is taken care of by the auto correct function of the
Microsoft word programme and so are many other words. If you spelled the word wrongly,
it will be put right, automatically. The computer is such a wonderful modern day device.
Also, a wrongly spelled word would be underlined with a wavy red line, not with a stroke
of the rattan eh! How wonderful, nowadays we are so pampered in our daily lives.
I ATTEND A SIKH WEDDING IN KLANG
I have witnessed Malay weddings, Indian marriages, Chinese nuptials, but I have yet to
attend a Sikh wedding. I have long been waiting to see one.
One day the house phone rang. Harbans Singh's voice was at the other end. After the mutual
helloing, Harbans blurted out: "Suy Sang you and your wife are cordially invited to my
daughter's wedding." It was just what I have been waiting for so long. It was certainly
wonderful news. So I jumped on the occasion. Now I would have an eyeful of the goings-on
of a Punjabi or more exactly Sikh wedding ceremony.
SEEKING FOR THE GURUDWARA - SIKH TEMPLE
On the day of the wedding I drove down to Klang to look for the Sikh temple there where
the wedding ceremony would be held. Earlier, through the phone call, Harbans has
instructed me to follow certain directions. Alas, the location was a strange territory to
me. There were just too many roads and turnings after the main bridge in Klang.
So instead I arriving at the Sikh temple, I ended up in an Indian Temple. Isn't Harbans
an Indian, rationalsed I? So it could be the temple where I saw a few devotees mooching
around. I inquired: One, two, three, four and five people. I asked for the Sikh temple.
None could tell me where it was. On asking the sixth person, I was surprised.
"Just over there", he said. Yes it is just about 100 metres up and then down a steep slope.
WHEN IN ROME DO AS THE ROMANS DO
I walked into the temple or the Gurudwara ground. There were a few people around. I asked
what I should do on entering remembering the maxim:
when in Rome do as the Romans do.
A youth told me to cover my head with a handkerchief, like what he had on. In fact, through
the phone Harbans had said he would lend me his reserved turban. I regretted that I have
not requested for that. Otherwise, I could have slip on the turban and walked in
inconspicuously as any Sikh.
After all, covering the head is a must for everybody on entering a sacred place like a
Gurudwara. All the men were either wearing the trademark Sikh turbans or covered their
heads with handkerchiefs. The ladies were also dressed in their best with scarves over
their heads. Even the little ones covered their skyward pointing buns with some
sort ruffled cloths.
"Come, let's have some breakfast and meet the host down in the dining hall",
said the youth.
What, breakfast? This was the first time I have heard of such a thing in a wedding.
Yet I followed the few people to a lower level of the temple. There! In the dinning hall
was the actual gathering, the crowd of the occasion. Many were standing and talking. Many
more were sitting down and eating. So there was this feast before the actual
capped with a turban. There was his brother Balbir Singh all the way from Johor Baru.
Harbans led me to a round of introductions, but the only thing I could remember for
each introduction was just "Singh".
HARBANS WAS AS BUSY AS A BEE
Harbans was in high spirit and buzzing around as busy as a bee. Later, he confessed to me
that keeping himself busy is a way out his habits of thinking himself sick. When he was
occupied in activities such as these, he forgets. He was cut off from all the worries and
invectives of maladies that he presumes are ravaging his body and plaguing his faculties.
We had breakfast. It was a vegan meal, a most sacred deal.
cross-legged on the wall to wall carpeted floor. Soon began the elaborate 2-hour wedding
ceremony of banker Khushwant Singh son of Charan Singh with pharmacist Naraern Kaur
daughter of Harbans Singh. Even the bridegroom and the bride sat cross-Legged facing
the Sikh Holy Book - the Sri Guru Grandh Sahib.
The marriage ceremony was a high decibel yet solemn affair. On the left front part of the
temple hall, there sat an orchestra of four. They beat drums, play the portable Indian
organ and sang verses from the sacred Sikh scriptures. Next the macee of the ceremony,
the grandhi, who stood in front of the Holy Scriptures delivered an inspiring talk on
the sacredness and solemnity of marriage often quoting from the Scriptures - the Sri Guru
IT WAS ALL GREEK OR ACTUALLY IT WAS ALL SIKH TO ME
Of course, I did not understand a word of the goings-on there nor was I able to guess
what was to expect next.
"Then how do you know all this, Suy Sang?”" You might chip in and ask.
Well, I asked a neighbour for some elucidation. However, I could not be too inquisitive as
the atmosphere was sacred and serious.
HE SECURES HIM FOR HIS DAUGHTER
Now came the actual ceremonial vestiges of the wedding. Harbans Singh got on his feet.
He extracted a garland from a bag. He tiptoed towards the pulpit. He laid the garland
in front of the Sri Guru Grandh Sahib. I presume he did that to ask the greatest blessing
of the Grand Guru for his daughter's marriage.
Next Harbans Singh went to the bridegroom who remained glued to the floor. Harbans passed
a colourful sash over the groom's shoulders. He secured his daughter to the groom by
knotting the sash to a sash already tied to his daughter's waist.
Thus in a Sikh marriage taking the plunge literally means tying the knot, indeed.
The knotted bride was led by the groom and they circled round the pulpit four times each
time stopping momentarily for a new round of chanting from either the priest or the
orchestra. Nareara wore a traditional Punjabi bridal garb while Khushwant donned a
tunic befitting a warrior of yore complete with a shining sword.
"The marriage is completed," said my neighbour.
MORE CHANTING, MORE READING
However, the chanting continued. The reading from the Scriptures took over. The priest or
the grandhi blared forth more advice quoting from the scriptures non-stop.
"Tick, tock, tick, tock", went the clock, till it was 12.30 p.m.
The function culminated with vegetarian reception.
To add to the felicitations of the occasion Harbans Singh gladly sponsors this very Edition.
BEFORE THE FINISHING LINE
SPONSORS ARE DRAGGING AND LACKING BEHIND. WE NEED MANY MORE SPONSORS TO TOW THE LINE.
WHILE MANY HAVE COME IN AS 2ND EDITION SPONSORS THERE ARE SOME VERY WELL-KNOWN PERSONS
WHOM WE ARE WAITING TO JOIN THE QUEUE AND GRACE THE HEADER OF AN ISSUE. MAY BE THE TIME
HAS COME FOR YOU TO SPRING INTO ACTION ON THIS FESTIVE OCCASION.
GONG XI FA CAI
OR MORE APPROPRIATELY
HAPPY LUNAR NEW YEAR
WE WILL CELEBRATE MR.MILES'S BIRTHDAY ON SATURDAY 12TH FEBRUARY
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MR.MILES
Buy no sweets, give no toys,
Just bring some good food
For the birthday boy to enjoy.
COME LET'S CELEBRATE HIS BIRTHDAY WITH JOY
HAPPY BIRTHDAY IN FEBRUARY
||YAM TG. KAMIL B. TG. IDRIS SH
||CHEE YEW TUCK / AH HEONG
||ABDUL RAHMAN UMAT
||KEE LAI WOH
||CHRISTINE LOW CHOY YONG
||TED C. MILES (PRINCIPAL)
||LOH PEK YIN
||WONG YOON CHEONG
||DATUK MUARAD ABD. RANI
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