Monday, July 30, 2007

It's A Different Era

I was reading Uncle Lee and this storyteller extraordinaire had me laughing out loud at his naughty teenage pranks and escapades. He sure helped bring back many memories of wonderful playtimes I had with my childhood friends a long, long time ago. There were no telephone, no television and no computer at home; no malls to hang out at and movies at cinemas cost money. And I don’t remember seeing toys at home, save for the one plastic doll or two and some cheap masak-masak sets bought from the little Indian store next to the bus stop.

Mornings in the kampung were usually quiet times as most of the kids were at school. Come afternoons and the cheerful voices singing -“La La Li La Tampong….” /" One, Two Som.." / “Chooi Loh Chooi Peng-Peng….” /“Pa Pa Lang…Lang Ting Tang….” /‘Ting Tong Tiang….” and happy shrieks of kids out at play would be heard. Loud crying too, when someone tripped and fell and got hurt and also the screams and yells when there were the occasional fights, pulling hair and pounding at each other, especially when caught cheating in the games. Some of the games we had so much fun playing everyday - ‘Police and Thieves’/ Hide-And-Seek,/ ‘A.E.I.O.U’/ ‘What Is The Time Mr Wolf’ /' One-Leg Hop and Chase'/ ‘Skipping Rope/High-Jumping’ /‘Hop-Scotch’/ ‘Kali Toay’/ ‘Catch the Baby Chick', etc..etc...

Rainy days would see us playing indoor games such as 'seven stones' and congkak and draught....all homemade sets using items such small river stones, coconut shells, assam jawa seeds, checked cardboard and old bottle caps. Even when playing such supposedly 'quiet' games would not stop us from yelling at each other, "Hey! You cheating wan...I saw you cheating.....", followed with a fierce and loud rebuttal of "WHERE GOTTTTT??? You are the cheater lar....You stoooopidddd....Dowan to play liao lar..." and with one flick of the hand, boards and seeds and everything else would be sent flying to the ground. Split as arch enemies for the day....tomorrow comes, and we would be best of buddies again.

Tired from playing, we would go pick fruits or climb up our favourite hideout, a huge assam jawa tree for some relaxing chats. The kampong was like an open orchard with abundance of fruit trees of every kind - mangosteens, buah seten, bachang (quinine), petai, Indian drumstick, ampra. starfruit, rambutans, durians, ciku, coconuts, bananas and many others. I cannot recall all the names but there is one I like very much - buah keriang or something – it’s a small purple berry that I used to pick from the ground…it is sweetish and it leaves the tongue all purplish. I have not seen these berries for the long, long while already.

We made our own toys. Nail a wooden broom-stick to a milk tin cover and we would have a roller of sorts that we pushed round racing each other down the dirt track. Hammer some F & N bottle caps, puncture 2 holes and thread a rope through, spin and pull and spin and pull and you have sort of a windmill. Go collect some rubber seeds, drill some holes into the seed and thread the same. And oh ya. rub the seed on the floor and touch some bare skin…I tell ya…it sting and burn. I remember my naughty cousin….he rubbed the seed and then crawled quietly next to the mahjong table and touched the calf of an old nyonya aunt causing her to ‘naik lata ' "…$#@** jatuh...jatuhhh...@#&^%...jatuhhh...." Aiyoh-yoh....such colourful expletives!

My cousin brother is a very creative guy. He was into ‘weaponry’ at that time and his ingenuity fascinated me. He could easily fashion a wooden gun/rifle out of a piece of wooden plank salvaged from wooden crates. Tie some rubber bands and then for ammunition, just cut up empty cigarette boxes and roll it tight. And sometimes, he would cut up some pieces of planks, hammer them together and make a crude wooden sword. Weave some coconut fronds and you get a belt/holster and a matching headgear to complete the look.

Anyone here remember the bamboo-pop? It’s a length of bamboo, diameter of about a 50sen coin and 10 inches long; put into the small hollow of the bamboo an unripe cherry fruit and it fits just nicely, take aim and then push hard with a thinner stick of bamboo or wooden chopstick and the projectile will hit the target. My naughty cousin aimed at me once and until today, I think he will never forget the spanking he got for making me cry. It was very, very painful.

Also the Y-shaped lastik (catapult) fashioned from a small Y-shaped branch of a jambu or tembusu tree with a length of used bicycle inner tubes tied to it. This weapon can be lethal. I have seen my brother and cousin used it on some monitor lizards and stray animals that wandered into our backyard and had seen them brought down some fruit bats from the trees too. I pestered my cousin to make one for me but momma found out and threw mine away. **bawlsss...** He then taught me to use a simpler version – just a thick rubber band between the thumb and fore-finger and to use cut-up vines as ammunition. I was quite clumsy and I accidentally hit a friend on her cheek and that sent her howling in pain and oh my, the red welt that appeared. I sure regretted it and that caused Momma to leave a few rotan strokes on my legs too.

And my children? Toys by the basketfuls when they were small and now, on-line games. Cartoons on the TV when they were small and now, movies at cineplexes.


posted by nyonyapenang at 11:55 AM, |


  At 7:08 PM Anonymous Jemima said:
Those were the days, Kak. :)

Off topic, I hope you are keeping well.

Take care & Hugs!
  At 7:18 PM Blogger angel said:
Just like the famous ASN TV ad... Dulu lain, sekarang lain...

As ONE wise man says, whatever we play, sim ai cheng... ;)
u played 'seven stones'? i onli played 'five stones' first set of 'five stones' make by ah ma who used left over cloth, put green bean in and sew up :)

all ur games of "‘Police and Thieves’/ Hide-And-Seek,/ ‘A.E.I.O.U’..." I too played the same games!! ;) and I remembered the 'high jumping' we called it 'zero point' and its made from 'chaining up' all the rubber bands :)

thanks nyonyapenang for bringing back so many wonderful memories and love that matsolo cartoon too!

  At 7:35 PM Anonymous Angeleyes said:
Nyonya, you reminded me of those days.... I played a lot of that pebbles games with the rubber seeds found around my school...
What?? Mum threw away your catapult ah? Never mind lah...those can only hit fruit bats.
You could have brought down fighter jets with your bra as slingshot!
  At 8:11 PM Blogger U.Lee said:
Hi Nyonya, you made me smile like kerang masuk kwali read of your young day's exploits. Its interesting to note the games you played in Penang were the sames one played by my sisters in KL. Gosh, you climbing trees, playing with rubber band catapaults and those F&N caps on a string? You were a tomboy, huh?
Ya, I remember that bamboo pop gun, the wood carved rubber band pistol using morning glory vines for bullets. Can't remember the number of cockroaches and chicaks we shot. Or the bamboo blowpipes with green peas as bullets.
One thing about your time or my time, we were all very healthy and fit, always active outdoors, hardly get sick too, we play in the rain, unlike today's kids (Canada)) looking pale and wimpish sitting infront of the computers or TV whole weekends, hardly getting any sun.
I am sure you and your friends all have body scars from falling down, getting real bloodied cuts from your after school activities. Todays kids? Only mosquito bite scars?
You and your friends then were very creative, inventive, making your own form of entertainment or games. Today's kids all programmers and downloaders.
I read in the papers as well hear from my friends, young kids if experiencing being bullied or getting into some problems in school, they run to mother. Cheee! Then the mother comes to school to settle the problem.
Our time? We settle all problems with our fists behind the school grounds, or behind the toilet.
If I come home with torn shirt, bloodied nose, my father will ask, "who won"? I say, "he beat me, he bigger"! My dad, "tomorrow, you go back and you beat him up". I did! I would challenge big boy to a fight behind the toilet, get beaten, tomorrow go back fight again till I beat him up. Ha ha. And my mom will argue, quarrel with my dad, her only son (ten years old) come home with torn shirts, bloodied nose, blue black eyes. My dad will tell her, "he has to learn to fight his own battles no matter what"! I did.
Nyonya, you and me, we did it our way, regrets we have but too few to mention.
Very lively posting, Nyonya. UL.
Psssst, would love to read your teen days.
  At 8:46 PM Blogger Pi Bani said:
Would you believe that I still stay in the same kampong where I grew up? Yes, yes, I remember all the DIY kampong games - make holes in the ground to play congkak... played konda-kondi... went to mandi sungai... that time the river was so crystal clear you could see even the small fishes. But things are no longer the same. Nowadays if you go bath in the very same river, come out no need to wear bedak anymore!!
I'm also from the 5-stones and hopscotch era...

Very, very different from now lor.
  At 10:50 PM Blogger PEARLY said:
hi dear :
Wow.... really enjoy reading your post ..... old time kids there are more health then now a day . my kids only got to go out for out door active when there down in Devon when at home with me I want them to carry a phone with them when there go out, just play at back of big field there wil pay football with thier friend , I am so worry about them , now a day no place are safe for kids ? I guess not anymore so we lock our kids indoor .
as you say is it a Different ERA xxxxx
Those days are no more. A part of me do wish it is still around. But the other part of me ...I don't think I can survive in that era anymore.

Kids these days have a different set of playthings.
My boys used Legos blocks to built a gun.
And my neice play dressing up dolls on the computer. No more paper dolls.

Your post do bring back memories. Thanks.
  At 11:56 PM Blogger a^ben said:

the next thing i know i will be telling my children (if i have any in the future) "don't fly so fast ah!" :X
  At 2:11 AM Blogger ah nel said:
i oso got play the 5 stones throwing wan tat mean our era same worr!!! ;)

no play guli,9 box jumping,thiaw longkau/jump over drain kar?

*forgot tat khehmak a gal wich don play tat game*

in my days were the golden ages of paper dolls and my sister hated me for winning her in congkak all the time. Ha ha ha!
  At 8:40 AM Anonymous zeroimpact said:
Ok, now I think I'm between era edi
I things you did and now doing things your kids are doing
I feel lost between the era
  At 9:52 AM Blogger Will said:
yup... sure is a diff era
  At 10:16 AM Blogger alison said:
*sighhh...* me remember... i grew up in the rubber estate, the kampung far far away. the whole plantation and kampung was our playland, and it was safe to go anywhere then, everyone in kampung knows each otehr and will look out us kids. up in the trees, down in the river... sure was a lot of fun. :)
  At 10:33 AM Blogger ehon said:
WAHHH!!! totally brings back memories! :D :D although im not that old but still!! no kids play on the streets anymore nowadays. haihss!
  At 10:56 AM Anonymous JL said:
i'm an outdoor kid as well..

some other games were:

guli, seong pin (small picture cards), galah panjang, pepsi-cola, catch long kao fish and many more :P
  At 1:26 PM Anonymous Anonymous said:
I too played 5& 7 stones with my
friends and they said playing these games will cause bad hand writing - guess that was why my
writing is horrible.
  At 1:41 PM Blogger H.C. Tan said:
love ur blog!~

i check it on a daily basis, hah..but just a silent reader lah. but i really love this post..brings back the memories of childhood days..
  At 3:02 PM Blogger Jonzz said:
Today's toys make the wallet lighter and the brain lighter too. Not much thinking required.
  At 4:18 PM Blogger famil said:
Thanks nyonya for bringing the fond memories back...

i remembered that buah keriang indeed. not only your tongue, but your baju also kena, much to my parent dismayed.

and yeah that stinging rubber seed. its the combination of static and heat i think that made it worst.

and not to forget, the most lethal toy of all.. the gasing (top spin). one wrong move, and the nail would hentam your shin...
Your first two paragraphs sound so familiar!!

"You so bad... don wan to friend you liao..."

"Eh, she no good... we don friend her okay?"

LOL... those were the days...
  At 7:52 PM Blogger William said:
Big city kids are "deprived", but I think in small towns, the old games are still played.
hi jemima,
how are you? nice of you to pop by and leave some comments.

ya, those were the days and recalling them always bring me a smile.

you take care too and have a great day, jemima. :)
hi angel,
is it ASN? i do remember the ad of the genial old man with his toothy grin.

fully agree with those wise words - bila-bila pun mesti sim ai cheng.

may you have the most sim cheng-cheng day. :D
hi winniethepooh,
ya, we played with real stones/pebbles. never seen those stitched up 'five-stones' until i came to KL.
your ah ma played 'five-stones' with you? that sure must be fun.

oh ya, i played high-jump too and also the skipping rope....skipping and singing some rhymes..."blue bells, cockle shells..." and ".....round and round and touch the ground and sole of foot and out you go..." and others which i now have forgotten the words.

am glad you enjoyed the stories. you have a great day, winniethepooh. :)
hi angeleyes,
hmmm...i made you misty-eyed too.
all the fun we had and it seems like it was only yesterday.....
hi cocka,
comment noted.
Hi Uncle Lee,
This post is motivated by you and I must DEDICATE IT TO YOU. Thank you so much.

I read of your pranks and escapades and I was brought back to my own childhood. Ya, we played some rough and tumble games too and I remember playing the small kites called 'wau buli' - my late brother Tom was good with his hands and he made beautiful kites and I remember one design named wau katak. Tom would split the bamboo into thin strips, smoothen them, bend and form them into kite frames using strings to hold them in postion and then glue the thin rice paper onto it. I'd often help with the painting some simple designs on the kites and I help to sell them too.

And I can spin the small wooden top (gasing) or known as 'kan-lock' in Penang Hokkien. Its just the size of a small mangosteen with a pointed nail. Wind a length of twine tight round it, raise the arm and one flick of the hand pulling the twine would send the top spinning on the ground. Just like our friend here, famil said, one wrong move or poor aim and the 'kan-lock' will land on the shin or the feet. **ouchhh...**

Oh, you remember the bamboo pop gun? I don't remember seeing it for the longest time already. Same goes with those homemade catapults and wooden guns. hahahah..I was quite a tom-boy lar, those days, but then at that age, all games don't have gender preferences...semua pun boleh play lar.

Nowadays, kids are just let loose at the toy store and they just pick and pack what they want and with those excellent marketing from the toy manufacturers...those so-called 'educational toys' cost an arm and a leg lar. Our time? It was DIY and we learned many useful lessons too.
We got cut, burnt, bruised but WE LEARNED.

Now? The kids are pampered...this cannot and that cannot...and I tell you, I have seen 10 year old kids who cannot hold a kitchen knife properly and don't even know how to light a match. Goodness!
And it's true what you said about parents (and grandparents too) going to the school to haul the teachers up. Our time? Dare to come back to tell that we kena smacking by the teachers and we can be assured of more rotan-ning at home. had fights in school? Adoooi...sampai nose pun bleeding. Must have made your momma sakit hati big-time ya? Kesian....

Ya, Uncle Lee, we did it OUR WAY and we are so much richer for it.
I am glad you enjoyed this post. my teenage years? hmmm...some food for thought.

You have a pleasant day. :)
Hi Pi Bani,
wow....You are still staying in the same kampung? That's great. So now if I visit your kampung, I'll just ask to be directed to Pi Bani's need address also guarantee can find ya? hahhaa..

My old house in Penang is still there and each time I visit I will stay there. But those houses of my childhood friends...all demolished to may way for newer structures. Cannot even find on attap house there now.

Tell me about it...the rivers now are all so like teh susu or filled with garbage. Those days, I'd follow my friends and see them catch fish using their bare hands. Now...'catch' discarded plastic bags and old tyres, etc...
  At 9:40 AM Blogger ADIEJIN said:
HAHAHAHAHA...had a good laugh reading this... AEIOU BANGALI LOVE YOU... hahahahahah hahahah...

adei..well,you are right, different era.

Kunda Kondi you know or not ? I cannot recall reading it in ur post, or maybe my eyes so blur oredy.

Kids today so manjalah. Wished they were more like Uncle Lee..haha. fight fight only evely day. haha..

Thanks for dropping by at my blog
  At 9:55 AM Blogger savante said:
Not that long ago, nyonya :) I played those games myself. Then again, I'm pretty ancient myself.
  At 3:29 PM Blogger may said:
I remember all of that... part of my era too. I find them much more enriching and imaginative, hor?
  At 3:46 PM Blogger J.T. said:
Oh Nyonya

That was a lovely post and a walk down memory lane. As I read the comments, more memories came shooting back.

Winnie mentioned the high-jumpng with the rope made of rubber bands. That was one of my favourites.

I played 'five stones' with actual stones. Sometimes so sakit because some of them had jagged edges. The back of the hand will have tiny bruises from playing 'five stones'.

Then U.Lee mentioned something which is so true. He said, "..hardly get sick too, we play in the rain."
I don't know how many times my mom would scream at us to get in when it started raining but we would continue running around the garden and getting drenched. If it was very bad weather, one thunderous sound from the sky, and we will run into the house screaming. She will march us off to the bathroom. No warm water bath. She said that we must bathe with cold water. After that cold bath, we felt warmer. Ironically, we hardly got the flu. I don't remember missing school because of coughs and colds.

Lovely carefree days. We made toys from whatever materials we could find. The only bought toys were from the sundry shop down the road or in town.

Thanks for the memories. :)
  At 12:06 AM Blogger Kenny Ng said:
Awww.... All the games u mentioned I used to play during I was a kid too. Good one to refresh back my childhood memory.
  At 3:52 AM Blogger U.Lee said:
Hi Nyonya, free for few minutes so kaypoh over.
You know, those old days almost every boy can climb a tree, girls too.
Hee hee, the only tree I couldn't climb was a coconut tree.
One time my kite got sangkut up a tall jambu tree and without checking I climbed up to get it..
Holy Smoke, I was attacked by those monster kerangas, and me in shorts too, but what to do, had to get my big fighting kite back.
My whole body had kerenga bites and itch for days.
But you know, there were a few other kites up there, torn by weather as nobody dared climb up get them.
Me? Bodoh la! Then suffer for days, ha ha. UL.
ps, my mom almost fainted when saw my body with all those red welts. But you know what? Word went round I was the only boy who had climbed that tree. No wonder nobody ever plucks the succulent jambus.
hi king's wife,
you played with your girls or not? should be fun. :)
hi pearly,
i am like you too; always worried for the kids' safety. last time when they were small and those times that i had to leave them alone at home for an hour or so...aiyoh....i reminded them 10 times just sit in front of the TV and don't go anywhere and don't answer the door and don't this and don't that. i think i frightened them bad lar.
well, now there are lots of heinous crimes where children are the victims. so i guess we just cannot be too careful.

i am glad you enjoyed this post, pearly. it sure brought back lots and lots of memories for me. maybe i can do another post.

you have a great day.
hi aiyah nonya,
50 years down the road and your kids may reminisce about them playing using their own hands to build on LEGO blocks on planet Earth.
Maybe by that time, the biggest playground would be on another planet altogether.
a^ben, fly your own spacecraft and go join your grandchildren eoh ka ch'ng on another planet. very happening yoh! :)
hi ah nel,
i played 7 stones with my friends and we agree who get to score 100 first wins the game. of course lar...some smart fella will pretend to be poor in arithmatic and add wrongly lar. "cheat wan...tipuuuu...."

re: the 9-box..that one we called it hop-scotch or 'chit-chit-chom' in Hokkien lar.

no, we don't play 'thiau long-kau'.
we only SCOLD people, "Hey, you go thiau long-kau lar...." , that is asking that fella to go and die lar. hahahhaha...
hi bibik nyonya,
you played paper dolls? i had them for a while only....i am never good in drawing. congkak is truly timeless, ya? :)
hi zeroimpact,
you between ERA? hahahha.....
i am sure you played with those toy train sets, some plastic guns and plastic swords and oh ya, those toy golf sets. :D
hi will,
the only CONSTANT is CHANGE. :)
hi alison,
ya, back those days in the kampung, everybody knew everybody and all the kids were everybody's kids. they sure looked out for each other.

sadly now, many of us don't even know our neighbours two floors down.
hi ehon,
ooooh...its too dangerous to play in the street now! mow down by a wreckless driver lar...kidnapping lar...molest lar...aiyoh-yoh....frightening lar...
hi j.i.,
you're an outdoor kid...good for you.

ya, those simple and cheap seong-pin...Now? Those Magic The Gathering cards and summore dunno what other rare and expensive cards....

longkau-fish? gua pun tried to collect using a net lar....mana tau...gua 'tercollected' tadpoles wor! hahahahah...
hi anonymous,
wish you'd leave me a name to address you properly. :)

no lar...they bluff you wan re: the bad handwriting. playing 7 stones actually improves dexterity and hand-to-eye co-ordination.

bad handwriting gotta do with not enough twacks on the knuckles lar..hahahah...
hi h.c. tan, and me ka ki land...we same surname. :)

thanks so much for your kind words. please feel free to drop your comments and i sure appreciate it lots.

you have a great day.
hi jonzz,
very much lighter, i should say.
a couple of months back, i was at the toy store looking for a birthday present and on my, the prices took my breath away. in the end, i settled for the good old angpow.
hi famil,
i am so happy you enjoyed this post. it sure help bring back memories of your own childhood in Penang.

you had purple tongue and purple stains on your shirt, huh? hahahha...guess not many people have tried that berry because i mentioned to a few friends and they don't know any better.

come to think of it, my kids have not even seen a rubber seed, let alone play with it.

the 'kan lock'? i spin a mean one too and I remember i had a tiny one made from the pinang fruit. ada chance i get one of those original wooden ones, then i invite you to play, ok? :D
hi day-dreamer,
ya lar...every day also could hear 'quarrels' ...."dowan friend you liao...dowan to play with you liao...gimme back all those bottle caps i gave not my friend anymore..."
hi william,
city kids play with different things...mostly go to toy stores and buy nia lar.
kampung huge Toy'R'Us, not much money to gotta be creative and thus its 'Toys-By-Us'. :D
hi adiejin,
welcome...jemput masuk....let me serve you kopi-oh kaw-kaw. remembered that rhyme...AEIOU.....
and of course, there were many other cheeky rhymes.."hey, fatty bong-bong..hari-hari curi jagung......HAHAHAHAH.....

konda-kondi...i don't remember playing that but there were many others...maybe i'll write about it i am a wee bit all nostalgic.

thanks for dropping by and please feel free to pop in again anytime. comments will always be appreciated.

you have a great day.
hi savante,
you played those games? hmmm...we get together and play again, okie ar? hahahah... are not qualified to call yourself 'ancient'. :D
hi may,
ya...agree with you...those games were more enriching and there was much more face-to-face interaction. unlike now...all those on-line games...sit until the bum also flat liao..
Hi j.t.,
Ya, this post and all the lovely comments here sure opened a floodgates of memories for me. As read and reply to all the comments, I feel all so good....a smile on my lips as I am transported back to my happy childhood in Penang. There is actually so much more that I can write...maybe I'll just do that.

My friends and I also played in the rain and would purposely walked into puddles of rain water. Go home and better walk straight into the bathroom and get those old toothbrush to scrub the toes clean unless I want momma to use the nasty black floor brush on me. **adoooi,....sakittt..**

Ya, the neigbourhood toy store was the tiny shop next to the bus stop. I remember that Indian man displayed many toys...water pistols, rubber snakes, masak-masak sets, plastic handcuffs, etc...
hi kenny,
i am sure you had loads of fun too.
Hi Uncle Lee,
I climbed trees too, those days. hahahah...Coconut trees? Ah...this I also cannot climb lar. But whenever I saw the 2 Indian men came to harvest the coconuts, I'd cancel my playtime with my friends....I'd go pour 2 mugs of kopi-oh for them and then wait while they finished their work. They'd then reward me with 2 or sometimes 3 fresh coconuts. happpiesss lar.

Adoi....kerangas....this word give me goosepimples now. I have been bitten too. Played hide-and-seek and so clever...go climb up to hide in the tree. The fella no need to 'SEEK' for me....I 'SURRENDERED'...I cannot tahan and I jumped down from my hideout. farrnnny lar...

You and me same-same...ada bodoh sikit. HAHAHAHAHH......

Uncle Lee, you always make me laugh so loud. Thank youuuu...hehehhe...
  At 5:26 PM Blogger eve said:
Yaya..the seven stones...last time I champion ok..dem good..once we played it with golf ball oso..bounce the golf ball , then pick up the stones..then catch the ball when it bounces up..
hi eve,
oh, you champen seven stones ya? fuiyoh.... can play with golf balls summore...hahahah...
  At 7:16 PM Blogger Chen said:
dulu lain, sekarang lain..
dulu bagus or sekarang bagus leh?
dulu life is so simple..
despite simple, we are happy :D

Parents have no worries letting their kids playing all by themselves outside the house. School children can walk to the schools all by themselves. Nowadays? aiyh....
hi dr chen,
dulu life memang much simpler and much slower too.
sekarang, semua mesti terbesar, terbagus, terpanjang, tertinggi, terganas and all the other 'ters' you can think of. :)