THE MESSAGE NO. 69 AUGUST 2007
THE TONG AH TAI SERIES.
THE X EDITION
HAPPY 50TH ANNIVERSARY MALAYSIA
WHAT HAPPENED THIS MONTH 50 YEARS AGO
"I was home". The "I" was Ted Miles. The "home" is Bentong. This was August 1957, when our mentor returned from
the US to be with us. He had changed very little, Yes, only his crown was less prominent and less lustrous now!
But he looked younger with his new crop!!!
However, he had changed much in status. He was now stateless, jobless and though back home yet homeless!
Why? Mr. Miles had resigned from his missionary post as the Methodist Mission did not want to send him home to
Bentong. Africa was his new destination! But there was no way that he would ever go that way!!
And so he came home!!! Strings and streams of visitors came to visit him at the Rest House. Soon he could not
afford to stay in a 24-hour rented room. The rent would soon drain off his no-source resource. However, for the
time being he still had the heart to go visiting. He visited his former students then undergoing training at the
Police Depot and many, many more.
To set up home, he went house hunting. He rented a dilapidated ramshackle house in a Malay kampong.
Away from town in Ketari. Rental? Just RM45 monthly! Probably the criteria of renting that house was economy.
From thence on it was walk, walk, walk; bus rides, bus rides, bus rides and thumbing lifts to and fro from Ketari
to Bentong a distance of two long miles for Mr. Miles daily, and on some days a few trips maybe. So he started
his life in a Malay kampong!
Our mentor raised water from a well with a pail attached to a string. He bathed in a topless bathroom! He bathed
like that with nothing on! No, only topless. For kampong etiquette demanded that he covered his loin downwards
with a sarong!! To bathe he had to pour buckets of water over his head. Then he rubbed and scrubbed within and
without the sarong!!!
His diary contains some interesting entries. He said, "the durian is the most wonderful fruit in the world".
What, that admission coming from an orang putih?
Then he also stated: "I like petai". Even up to this day he loves that pungent bean that is found in the wild!
And best of all he confessed, "I am made for kampong life." Ha, ha, ha he must have been naturalized. More
On the 31 of August 1957, the day when Malaya declared Independence, he was at the Merdeka Stadium in the
capital to join in the shouts of "Merdeka, merdeka, merdeka......"
Oh, yes what about MES? It was there alright under the good care of the late Mr. Wong Yoon Choong. Mr. Wong
ever eager to hand back the headship to Mr. Miles!
CATS AND RATS
I wonder if anyone of you has had the experience of having your residence ridden with rodents. One day when I
sitting talking to our mentor in his kitchen, a shrew emerged from under the kitchen sink. It made a dash across
the aisle and entered the pantry, to scour for food maybe!
THESE RODENTS ARE A NUISANCE
Later, our mentor also lamented how he wished he could get rid of the rodents in his immense residence. Rodents
in one's house present a nuisance! They scurry around the house. They nibble at any edible stuff around. That is
alright if not for the mess they create. They dump their droppings everywhere! If the mess got moistened,
the stench is most forbidding.
Then they urinate everywhere. Rat urine is also dangerous as it could bring about leptospirosis a very dangerous
So our mentor said he wanted to get rid of the rodents. He wanted to keep a cat to catch the rats and serve as a
pet. It was a hitting two birds with one stone project.
I GAVE HIM TWO KITTENS
It came to past I had two kittens too much. had already a huge adult pussy to guard my house against rats. So I
presented our mentor with the two little kittens. On getting them, the first words he uttered were,
"They’re so cute!"
Yes, they were cute little ones. Yet they could also be a nuisance, if not trained to do their potty business
properly. Once I had a few cute little kittens (not the two I had given).
CAT POOH IS UNBEARBLE
Gosh! They defecated within the house not without. Why couldn't they do their very private business outside the
house on patches of sand and earth mounds? I did show them how. But they strayed into nooks and corners to
within the house not without. The stench was most repulsive and pungent. I taught them and even bashed them
they were unrelenting and continued with their most untidy deeds.
THEY ARE MARKING THEIR TERRITORIES
Later I learnt from a friend that the kittens were fighting between themselves for territory. The corner which
each deposited its feces marked its territory. Each was demarcating its territory in the house. They insisted on
coming into the house so much so that I had to lock them out! Then they would be waiting at the door and
in as soon as I opened it.
They considered the outside world as a prison and my house freedom! So they stood, slept, played and gamboled
the doorway all day!! As soon as I opened the door, they dashed in and went to their respective territory to
deposit their long saved and pent-up wastes. That entailed another round of washing, cleaning and mopping for
To them they have got back each and its own territory. My gosh! It was such a chore to me.
HOW FARE HIS NEW PETS?
How fares our mentor in training the two cutties to do their potty? Well, no story because they were supplied
with a litter sand box for depositing their pooh.
WHY I ONLY SAY MOUSE NOW
Hey, I have been talking about rodents, cats and rats. I have so far avoided the word "mouse". Nowadays people
are so used to it that everyday they hold and touch it. No more do we scream and jump on chairs, at the sight of
a mouse! I will tell you why? I am clicking my mouse to save and end this story, see! This gadget
(not the creature) is not a to-be-feared thing now, but a tool for good use!! Click!!!
ATTENTION HANDPHONE USERS
Use only left ear for listening to Mobile phone OK! Please use your left ear while using the cell phone,
because if you use the right one it will affect the brain directly. This is a true fact from Appollo medical
team. Please forward to all your friends and well wishers.
NEWS FROM TEMERLOH
On the 8th of July, Haji Mohamed Alam Shah of Temerloh married off his daughter Intan Shawatul Diana. He held a
lunch reception at his kampong attended by hundreds of friends and relatives. Kampung Rabit in Temerloh was in
hustle bustle on that day. It was a most joyous and auspicious occasion. Mohd Bukkhari bin Yusuf was the
Then on the 14th of July, the bridegroom entertained friends and relatives to lunch in Jengka 23. Well, that area
is now a well developed spot that has risen out of the once lush jungle in Pahang.
We wish the couple all the best in their nuptial bliss.
THINKING OUT OF THE BOX
Must learn from this guy
An old man lived alone in Idaho. He wanted to spade his potato garden, but it was very hard work. His only son,
who used to help him, was in prison.
The old man wrote a letter to his son and described his predicament.
I am feeling pretty bad because it looks like I won't be able to plant my potato garden this year. I'm just
getting too old to be digging up garden plot. If you were here, all my troubles would be over. I know you would
dig the plot for me.
A few days later he received a letter from his son.
For heaven's sake, Dad, don't dig up that garden, that's where I buried the BODIES.
At 4am the next morning, F.B.I. agents and local police showed up and dug up the entire area without finding
any bodies. They apologized to the old man and left.
That same day the old man received another letter from his son.
Go ahead and plant the potatoes now. That's the best I could do under the circumstances.
MORAL OF THE STORY
If you can't do it on your own........ get HELP !!!!
FROM FOOD POISONING TO STYLES OF COOKING
Of late there were reported in the press of the food poisoning spate. Several canteens had sold food that caused
students went sick. That tipped off a little conversation when one Saturday I visited our mentor. Mr. Miles said,
"we never had such problems in our days in MES. Not even in the hostel. There weren't any case of food poisoning,
those days!" he said.
REMEMBER AH CHIAM?
The tuck shop that served us food those days was run by Ah Chiam and his family members. The food was cheap
we had no complaints. There were no reported cases of food poisoning from the tidbits sold by the tuck shop
Ah Chiam, that we consumed. Or, were there unreported cases of pupils fallen sick after tucking in at the tuck
shop? Drop me a line if anyone knows of any; that will be fine!
"Ah Chiam even cooked for the hostel boys," chipped in our mentor. "We ate for years his cooking. Everybody had
no complaints what more of any incident of food poisoning." Mr. Miles explained.
COOKED WITH FIREWOOD
THE FOOD TASTES GOOD
"Oh, those were days that he cooked on a firewood stove, didn’t he?" I inquired.
"Yes Ah Chiam used firewood to cook. Those days the gas stove was not in vogue. In fact it had not been heard
of yet!" Our mentor blared off.
"And cooking with firewood, the food tasted so good. Very much better than modern cooking with electricity and
the gas stove." He added.
That led me to chip in with a question. "What about back in the US during your younger days? Did Americans cook
with gas or firewood?"
"Oh we used firewood. Later there was power supply and we changed to electricity," answered he.
Back to the question of cooking with firewood. It was the in thing during our younger days. Logs of wood were
shoved into the stove and the fire lighted with some sort of stuff like rubber latex lace or leaves or twigs or
even shrapnel of chopped firewood.
Raising a fire was a real hassle! Not an easy thing to do, mind you. Sometimes the fire would not light. I
remember in my younger days, my mother always used to ask me to start the fire before she started cooking.
I gathered some twigs and lighted the fire. No, it would not burn into a stove conflagration! Very soon the fire
died off. My reaction: anger, fury and frustration plus some chiding from members of the family in higher
positions!! It was a real case of child demoralization!!!
The burning of firewood gave off black smoke that blackened the kitchen. Gradually the wall and ceiling turned
brown and before long they became darkened. It was common to have a chimney from the kitchen to allow the
to escape. Do we see chimneys jutting out of houses now? Only from old houses maybe. Once I asked a little kid
what a chimney is for. "It's made for Santa Claus to enter those old houses!" No wonder even Santa coming into
the house is not allowed now! No chimneys see!!
THAT SANTA CLAUSE'S ENTRANCE
In cold climates, the chimney used to be the only opening to the exterior for any dwelling to keep the warmth and
heat in. That is why legends had it that the old white-bearded man in red was believed to have gained entry into
houses through their chimneys on Xmas Eve. For there is no other way to gain entry! Ha ha, ha this is only my
guess so far.
COOKING IS CLEAN NOWADAYS
Houses built now have no such smoke exits as modern cooking is smokeless. That is because nowadays we have
shifted to the gas stove and electric cookers and heaters. Cooking is clean as far as the fire or the heating
part is concern.
However, the sizzling, frizzling and burning of the actual foodstuffs do give out a sort of misty and so oily
vapours that envelope the kitchen. For this the kitchen hood is invented. Aye, modern living is full scientific
contraptions and the paraphernalia of the human brain called inventions.
I think I shan't crack my cranium further to concoct thrashes of modern living. Simplicity is the key to a simple
living. Thinking of cooking with firewood anyone? We still can gather a few bundles of firewood in Malaysia and
even from our mentor's "firewood farm"! Remember the fallen logs wrought by the hurricane that still lie waiting
to be gathered for a good campfire? Anybody thought of that so far???
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE FOLLOWING IN AUGUST
||MOHD. SHAH MD. YUSOF
||TG. DATO IBRAHIM TG. SULAIMAN
||WONG KEM CHIN
||WONG SWEE SANG
||AU ZI SHOI
||HJ. MOKHTAR MATPIAH
||FONG SHEK PHOOI
||MOHD RAZLAN MARZUKI
||ZULKIFLI BIN MOHD ARIFFIN
||WEE SIEW HOCK
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