Posts filed under Memories

A Tale of a Car

Filed in Family, Memories

Back in the mid 80s, despite the Malaysian economy slowing down, my brother-in-law took up the challenge and left his job to start his own business. It involved a lot of travelling and he needed a car. I was working in a Malaysian motor company at the time, and my sister asked if I could see about getting a car on their behalf.

The car we eventually bought was a unit given out to motoring journalists for test drive and review purposes. It was also a slightly unusual car compared to what many people preferred at the time (this was before the advent of the Malaysian car). The best selling model at the time was the Nissan Sunny Extra 1.3 with its rock solid front and rear bumpers. The car I got on behalf of my sister and brother-in-law was the Nissan Langley 1.5. The price? RM17,000/-. This was back in 1984 thereabouts.

The Langley got my brother-in-law to various towns around the country in pursuit of business. Later, after they could afford another car for him, it went to my sister.

By the early 90s, they were doing well enough and ready to sell off the Langley. Which they did. Around that time, we moved from the shop in Chow Kit to a rented house two streets away from my sister and family. She’d asked my father if he would like to help out with fetching her kids to and fro school. He said yes, but on one condition – he wanted the Langley, and no other car. So barely a month or so after selling it, she bought it back from the same dealer. Selling price was just RM200/- less than the original 1984 price, but she had to buy it back for RM2,000/- more. Go figure.

After a few years, my sister offered to buy a new car for my father because the Langley was getting old. He refused. One day, he changed his mind. What happened?

At our new house in Bandar Utama, one of the neighbours from across the road was parking his 4WD in the space between our house and the neighbour’s. He had another regular car that he parked in the compound of his house. One day, my father went over to speak with the neighbour, to request that he park the smaller car outside our house, as the big 4WD obstructed “my daughter’s view when she reverses her car out in the morning.”

Guess what was the neighbour’s response?

“So what?” (actually, his reply in Cantonese, guan lei mutt yeah see?, translates closer to “none of your business” or “mind your own business” )

That got my father so angry, he told my sister to get him a new car so he could park the Langley outside the house so the neighbour cannot park his 4WD there. And so, the Langley has been parked there ever since the new car came along.

All these years, my father refused to sell the Langley, or even to consider any offers for it (he’d kept it in excellent condition, taking it for a drive once a week, after parking the other car in its place). He had a superstitious belief for keeping the car – he believed that it helped my brother-in-law’s business get off the ground, and so it should remain in the family.

When father passed away recently, the fate of the Langley was one of the first things the family discussed. Apparently, NG, my brother-in-law’s driver, had asked my father to sell it to him, but of course, my father had refused him. Now, it was my father who’d introduced NG to work for my brother-in-law, and no, they didn’t know each other from before. I only learned the story recently of how my father met NG. Apparently, when my father learned that my brother-in-law was looking for a driver, he went around asking people if they knew anyone who needed a job. NG was one of those he asked and he said yes, he needed a job, applied for it and got it.

Over the years, NG has been a big help to our family, especially with fetching mother to and fro the nursing home when she was a day resident there. So, in return for his help, we agreed to give the Langley to him.

The Langley now has a new owner. I told NG to take good care of it because it’s been like a family car for more than 10 years.

Before he came to take the car, I took some pictures to remember the Langley by. It was looking quite sad and shabby because its colour’s faded from its days out in the open and often hot sun, but we love it all the same. BTW, that’s not the original colour. The original was a nice midnight blue. Around 1995, my father decided to get it resprayed, and despite the dealer promising the same colour, it came out a lighter shade. As a friend said, “so groovy” . Which you can’t see from the photo because of what the years in the hot sun has done to it.

Anyway, for old times’ sake, here’s the Langley “guarding” our house.

The “real” Chinese New Year (CNY)

Filed in General, Memories

At the dot of midnight this morning, my neighbourhood came alive with the sound of firecrackers. In fact, they were right outside my window, the very first one causing me to literally jump a couple of centimetres in my seat before I settled down and just grumbled that it was too noisy.

What’s so special about these firecrackers from the ones already let off in the first 8 days of CNY 2005? Well, these welcomed the “real” CNY, the one celebrated by the Hokkien community.

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No Star Hotel

Filed in Friends, Memories

That’s what my friend Anne’s son, JK (aka Kiddo), calls the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) Hostel in Singapore. But back in the early 80s, it was the gateway to Singapore for his mother and I; it was where we stayed when we went on our annual shopping trips there.

Yup, you saw right – annual shopping trips. In those days, the Malaysian and Singaporean currencies had a 1:1 exchange ratio (these days it’s more like 1:2.34 in the latter’s favour). Singapore also had much more to offer in terms of clothes and what-have-you, so yes, we’d go there to get stuff. We’d take the train down and stay at the YWCA Hostel, sharing a room for about S$60/- a night, with breakfast included.

The hostel was on the fringe of the main shopping area in Singapore, less than 5 minutes’ walk to the nearest MRT station, and when we felt up to it, we even walked to Orchard Road, that’s how close the hostel is to the shopping action.

Altho my brother was already living and working in Singapore by that time, he was renting a room, which was why Anne and I stayed at a hostel, instead of at his place, which he didn’t have then.

A couple of years back, when Anne was back on holiday with Kiddo, she took him and her mother on the train to Singapore and, yes, stayed at the YWCA Hostel. It’s budget accommodation, but very clean, and like I already said, very accessible to shopping, which is just about the only reason to go to Singapore.

So, how did the “no star” tag come about? Why did Kiddo give it that rating?

Well, a short while after they returned to Toronto, he and his best friend, Abhy, were treated to a stay at a five-star hotel in New York City. You see, Abhy’s father works in IT and makes lots of money, and I think the stay was a birthday present to the boy. Anyway, when Kiddo got home after that five-star stay, one of the first things he said to Anne, was:

“Hey, mum, you know that place we stayed in Singapore? That’s a no-star hotel!”

So that’s how the YWCA Hostel in Singapore got its “no star” rating from JK, aka Kiddo.

As a side note, on 9/11, Anne had called Abhy to ask where his father was. Originally from Toronto, they had moved to New York City where his father worked in the World Trade Centre. When she eventually got through to Abhy, he said his father was not there. She thought he meant not at home, which might be bad news.

It turned out he was out of the country on a business trip.

Sunrise 1984

Filed in Memories, Pictures

Turned out the small house that our church friend rented in Dungun was one of a few in the compound of the landlord’s house. What’s more, the compound was mere steps away from the beach. So early one morning, BK and I got up and went to the beach. There we sat and waited, and were soon rewarded with a gorgeous sun rise. I snapped to my heart’s content, using 35mm slide film (hey, this was more than 20 years ago, no digital cameras then), and being amply rewarded when the slides came back from the shop a week or so later.

Here’s one of the sunrise shots from Dungun 1984:

If anyone’s wondering, I was using a Nikon EM during that trip to Dungun. I later went on to a Nikon FM2. Now, I’m thinking perhaps I should get the digital camera I’ve been thinking about for a while now. Any suggestions, anyone? Preferably Nikon.

Sunset 1984

Filed in Memories, Pictures

In the last few days, I’ve had three blogger friends post pictures of sunsets they took. Have a look at them and then come back (or not) to continue reading this post:

Shades of Vermillion by Tarlia
Sunset by Marita Paige
Clouded Sunset by DavidLee

Am I inspired to take something similar? No. For two reasons. One – I don’t have a camera (well, I do, but I haven’t used it in years). Two – where I live, I can’t see the sun setting (no, I don’t live behind bars, altho it feels like it sometimes; I just live in the city, in a double-storey linkhouse where any view of any sunset is blocked by the row of houses in front).

But seeing those three pictures reminded of one I took more than 20 years ago.

I was on holiday in Dungun, Terengganu. A church friend had been posted there for her first teaching job, and had rented a small house that she shared with another teacher. She issued an invitation to visit, and I think BK and I were the first to accept.

The morning after we arrived, we went on a day trip to Pulau Besar. I don’t remember much of that trip, but have at least one photographic reminder of it. Here it is, sunset over Pulau Besar 21 years ago:

I called it “Fishing Boat at Sunset”, inspired by – you guessed it – Jean-Michel Jarre’s “Fishing Junks at Sunset”.