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THE MESSAGE 76, MARCH, 2008
A CYBER FAN'S SERIES,
THE DON TURMAN EDITION


WHAT STRIKES TED MILES
ON NEW YEAR'S DAY 2008


In the towns and cities people welcomed the New Year with a bang! In fact they did it with many bangs!! Fireworks were let off to usher in the New Year 2008. It was a normal day for our mentor. He went to bed as usual surrounded by mosquito nettings in his bungalow.


HIS FACE INCREASES

When he woke up to face the New Year Day, he felt stiffness on his face. The size of one side of his face had increased. Now locals would interpret that as a sign of prosperity! Why? An increase should indicate prosperity. "Fatt Choy lor" say the locals according to our folklores.


IT COULD BE A BEE

He searched for a reason for the swelling, but found nothing! There was no bite, nor any mark made by a bug or a mite! When he went into the bathroom he found a bee! That must be the culprit, he guessed suspiciously.


A GOOD OMEN

A bee! Now it sure is a welcome guest on New Year's Day, as we locals see! The very sound of calling a bee a bee among the Chinese already means luck and prosperity! What more with an increase! That means an increase in luck, in health and in wealth!! That is a good omen; a propitious incidence, as far as we locals are concern!!!


TO THE E & R ON NEW YEAR'S DAY!

But for our mentor he had to limp to the hospital to the E & R room for an emergency! Why the limp? You have to read the next story..... But to the hospital on New Year's Day! What some locals would say is: "tai kat lie see!" (sorry it means good things come you may, bad things go away)


A BEE GOT ALL THE BLAME

Again, the hospital people searched and searched for the mark of an insect sting, but they found nothing. They too suspected that it must be a bee sting! Therefore that bee found in the washroom got all the blame. But it was strange how it got through the wire netting where even mosquitoes could not squeeze in!


PAIN FROM A SYRINGE

Our mentor got a bigger and more painful sting from a syringe. He was given an injection to reduce the swelling and antibiotics to swallow to cure the pains. That was how his New Year 2008 begins - with a bee sting!


A NOW THE OTHER STORY

The day before Christmas, I phoned our mentor saying I will go and pick him up for lunch. He requested me to drive right up to his house to get him. Now, on many occasions he would say he would take a short walk down and wait for me by the roadside. But this time, he told me to drive up to pick him up. Why? Suspicion was in my mind. Something was afoot; something was not right!

Sure enough, when I arrived I saw him limping out of the doorway. "Why?" enquired I. "It's a dog bite," he replied. "Bitten by your own canine?" in curiosity I enquired.

"Yes, they got into a fight, and I went to stop the fight. In the process I got the bite." He continued.

"It was a holiday then, and I did not go to see a doctoR", he said, "it had got infected when I went to see the doc yesterday."



HE LIMPS AS PEOPLE COME IN

That dog bite took our mentor quite a considerable time to nurse back to normal. So he was limping through Christmas and the New Year too. It also caused him a lot of inconvenience for that was the time when his son's family came all the way from Canada to visit him. Other guests too were pouring in. For he had to limp and limp!


THE PAINFUL INFECTED WOUND

When finally he visited the doctor, the wound was infected. He had to take a course of antibiotics and pain killers too. But the infected wound took time to cure. On a few occasions I went to visit him, he had to lie down and raised his injured left foot on the couch. I noticed that his facial expressions indicated pains too.It was not until at least a month later that his gait got back to normal.

There is a saying that goes like this: let a sleeping dog lie. Now I think after that incident, we should also add this saying: let fighting dogs fight. Never mediate in a dog fight. Otherwise you will get the bite. Isn't that good and wise advice?




WHAT HAPPENED THIS MONTH 50 YEARS AGO?
MARCH 1958


Our mentor was very busy with the hostel that in his diary he had not many other things to tell. The school was running well. There was a mention of another teacher teaching short-hand. I remember only Mr. Miles taught us shorthand. That was a very innovative subject in a place upcountry. It was only taught in some of the commercial schools in the city.

For those who knew shorthand then, they were in great demand in the big European firms that employ stenographers to take down notes dictated by the busy or rather bossy boss. I think nowadays stenographers had all lost their jobs with the popularity of tape or video recorders.

We must not forget that Mr. Miles also taught us typewriting, a very popular subject that no government schools in the country did ever do. The feeling of learning typewriting was wonderful for that was the preserve of the government office. And many of the government servants of the day clacked away on the then office icon, the typewriter, with two index fingers on the more than 40 keys! And in MES we were taught to use ten fingers to type with our eyes away from the keyboard!!

In that month it was recorded in his diary that a bandit was shot.Talking of such incidents, we in Bentong had seen countless bandits (communist terrorists as they were called) shot by the security forces. The soldiers would carry the corpses with hands and legs tied dangling from a pole! The bodies were taken to the police station compound and then be exposed. I think they were buried in the government burial ground. No relatives dare go near and claim the bodies though we knew many of them were around.

From reports about the hostel, we read records of water rationing in Bentong. The hostel boys walked up to the stream behind the school for a bath or two. It was a distance of about two to 3 km to and fro.

Water supply was so bad in Bentong those days, that we could only get trickles from the standpipes. Nobody in the new villages where I resided had water supply in their homes. Water was collected from the few standpipes scattered around the villages. Even the shop houses in town were equipped with long dug and frequently used wells.

The hostel boys were not angels. They did commit some misdemeanours. One boy urinated regularly on an orchid plant. Because of over concentrated fertilization the orchid plant wilted and died. When caught the culprit was asked to collect the concentrates from all the rest, diluted it and poured the pungent liquid on all the plants around. Our mentor thought that a new method of nourishing plants was found.

Oh! He also knew that all the vegetables sold in the local market were fertilized with urine and "big manure" (human feces). Thus, in those good old days all vegetables were actually organic. Nowadays we hear of and highly value most organic vegetables. How organic the vegetables are now we do not know!

The princes also wanted to quit the hostel and stay somewhere. But the hostel master bombarded them with such questions and cautions that they decided to stay.

Our mentor respected the hostel lodgers' religious practices and obligations. The Muslim students fasted during the month of Ramadan. He made all the arrangements to expedite their other religious obligations.

The first bank in Bentong was opened. it was the Lee Wah Bank. Now it has changed to the Oversea Union Bank.

The big news of the month, March 1958, was the results of Senior Cambridge. Yours truly and a number of his friends passed with surprisingly good results. Our performance made our mentor felt proud though we were his ex-students then. My results prompted me to seek other employment and opportunities for further studies. I almost landed myself with the police had they not given me just a rank and file vacancy with a RM60 monthly salary! Was a first grade Senior Cambridge certificate just worth that much? I strongly disagreed. Then, I tried to enter the Agriculture College. But from the interview, I realized that academic qualifications did not help one to land in a good vocation.

Only very much later I was told that getting a job or study opportunity depended on who you know and not what you know! So those were the days, when pulling strings and cables were rife for all we know!! One job interview I went to, I was told I was over-qualified. Another said I did not appear before the interviewers in complete lounge suit and tie. Sorry, I must say I had not earned enough money to be able to afford such formal attire. What hypocrites! So I stuck on teaching ABC as my line.

Rubber price was a low as it could be. So, the inhabitants in this upcountry town irked out a most difficult period of living. Those were the days when owning a bicycle was a luxury.



PLEASE TAKE PRECAUTIONS....
effects of drinking cold water after meals!!


For those who like to drink cold water, this article is applicable to you. It is nice to have a cup of cold drink after a meal. However, the cold water will solidify the oily stuff that you have just consumed. It will slow down the digestion.

Once this 'sludge' reacts with the acid, it will break down and be absorbed by the intestine faster than the solid food. It will line the intestine. Very soon, this will turn into fats and lead to cancer.

It is best to drink hot soup or warm water after a meal.



DON TURMAN MEETS MORE MESIANS

When Don Turman came to Bentong, he also called on an old boy in Sungai Marong. Who was he and what is the fuss? Yes, he visited Munzir bin Abas. Don and his entourage including and our mentor, Peter Chong and company, were entertained to tea and coffee. They feasted on a variety of Malay tidbits and delicacies. And, they hand plucked and consumed fresh fruit from Munzir's rambutan trees. That hairy fruit was as sweet as it could be which refreshed Don's memory.

On their way back to our mentor's bungalow they saw and bought that spiky, pungent, so infamous and to-be avoided fruit among Europeans - the durians. They, including the orang putih, partook of the feast on the sticky mess of durian flesh. Ommm..... they felt the kick of that sweet and messy stuff. For Don is also an orang putih durian eater too like our mentor!

After leaving Bentong, Don stayed for a few days in Kuala Lumpur. Then Bahari Shafie sensed that he was around in town. I tipped him off as to whom he should contact to see Don Turman. Sure enough, he called Peter Chong.

Bahari took Don and his spouse to lunch in a top restaurant. It was a real top eatery because it is situated on top of a hill. From there the guests also feasted their eyes on the city's panoramic view. Of course, they were feted with a variety of local delicacies.

How do you know all these? One evening Bahari gave me a treat. As we tucked into several dishes, we had a nice chitchat over all that. I am amazed to find that Bahari still remembers so much about the life and times during the 1960s. Thanks buddy for the treat and all those captivating stories!

Certainly Don Turman and Ramona had enjoyed meeting some of us when they were around. It was so nice and meaningful to meet you again Don, after some fifty years on! Thanks for visiting us. Hope by now you are back in the US.



HOW WE CELEBRATE MR. MILES'S BIRTHDAY


Yes, this year we celebrated our mentor's birthday with a potluck party. There were pots after pots of luck brought in by the gentlemen and ladies. When I called him the next day, he said he had food left for the next few days! Luckily he has two fridges to keep them.

Those who called upon him on the 17th of February included the group from Taylor's College made up of Mary and her hubby Garry plus their budding daughter Stephanie. There also came Choo Oi May, Wendy, Tung Lye Hock, Tracy Thum, Devi Ganasegaran and Uma Umayavalli.


 Mile's Birthday 2008

Then in came Lee Yew Kwong and his spouse. Yew Kwong's entourage of family members followed later together with Salena Lee and her spouse Yong. Then checked in also Anthea, Sar Kim Len, Foo Yook Yoon, Foo Chin Fong, Wong Mun Seong and his spouse Mrs. Wong followed by Lee Kim Thye and Peter Chong.

Later drove in Munzir bin Abas and his wife Zainon who doubled the number of birthday cakes.

Just minutes before we called it a day Wong Yeng Kee was on his way. In fact, Yeng Kee had intended to be absent but was forced to come up by virtue of circumstance.

Earlier, while I was driving in town rushing around to get this, that and sundry, Yeng Kee phoned me. He wanted me to drive up to his station to pick up something, probably a birthday present to hand it over to Mr. Miles. So I hurried to his gas station to pick up the thing. Omg, I had "crashed against the plank". Excuse me for using a local slang that means that I had hit a dead end. After Yeng Kee had just been let off his job, he had immediately hit the Gent'S.

Someone said, he would take half an hour to do his very private business. What! I have to wait for 30 long minutes, until he finishes his so private business and flush? Nay, I was in a rush to ferry a lady and her cooking specialties for the party. So I shot off heading for our mentor's bungalow.

As late as three o'clock in the afternoon, Yeng Kee rang me again. He asked why I have not driven up. I told him what had come to past. "I am with friends at Mr. Miles's house now", I explained. Meekly he said, "I think I will drive up there."

"Ok, you better come fast to bid farewell to the rest of us." I said. That was why Yeng Kee raced up to make it to the party just before we packed up! Hurray Yeng Kee, finally you have come to pick up the crumbs!

Someone also had come from far away to brighten up his big day. Loh Kok Keong emerged from the vast palm oil estate in Sabah, and took the flight back to celebrate our mentor's birthday. Kok Keong stayed in Bentong for a number of days during which he visited Mr. Miles several times. Our mentor was very please to this faithful and most loyal student! Bravo, Kok Keong you are a great Mesian!! Next: Come March 6:


HAPPY BIRTHDAY LOH KOK KEONG




HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE FOLLOWING IN MARCH

Birthday Cake - Green


No.
NAME
BIRTHDAY
1
TEH BOON TAN
MARCH 3
2
LOH KOK KEONG
MARCH 6
3
JOHAR B. ZABIDIN
MARCH 9
4
NG SHUI CHUAN
MARCH 10
5
LOH FOOK CHENG
MARCH 12
6
A.KRISHNAN ARUMUGAM
MARCH 17
7
HJ. TENGKU PUJI
MARCH 18
8
LIEW CHOW YIN
MARCH 20
9
TAN SI HOOI
MARCH 22
10
ABU HANIPAH MOHD
MARCH 31
11
ZULKIFLY ARSAD
12
ZULKIFLY M. ESA



From impromptu and informal bits and pieces of his conversation, we all gathered that Mr. Miles was full of appreciation, praises and satisfaction for this his 81st birthday celebration.

Our joy & felicitations!



OUT GOES LOW TECK HOI

We wish to register our deep heart-felt condolences and sympathies to the family of Low Teck Hoi of Great Wall Photo Studio Bentong, who passed away on the 8th of January, 2008. May his soul rest in peace.

Many of us could remember Teck Hoi being our in-house photographer, his jokes, his cynicism, and his adventures among humans of the fairer gender. Most of all his stories and laughter. Ha, ha, ha, that has ended another chapter.


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Edited and written by Chan Suy Sang
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