Archive for the ‘flashbacks’ Category

February 4, 2018

bitter memories : tour bus incident

I introduced a favorite TV show of mine to my daughter Regine, Malcolm In The Middle. She enjoyed it very much needless to say, and the show sparked many interesting conversations between us. She asked if I have ever known kids like those rascals in Malcolm’s family who could be so impervious to consequences just for the sake of doing what they think is fun. It reminded me of myself when I was a kid, the escapades I had with my cousins around the Greenlane neighborhood… and the wretched things we did. I told her all about it (much to her bewilderment).

One of it was what we’d refer to as ‘the tour bus incident’. It happened when I was around 8 years old. I was with 2 of my cousins called Kelv and Dobby (both are brothers). If you remember the name Kelv, then you’re right – it is the same guy I’ve written about 14 years ago. Dobby was the guy I wrote about here. Kelv was 9 and Dobby was 6 back then.

My mom would go to my grandma’s house for mahjong regularly in the 80’s, and because Kelv/Dobby lived with my grandma, we got to spend a lot of time together during weekends. We’d go around the Greenlane neighborhood to terrorize stray cats, vandalize properties around the church, and whatnots. But one of our absolute favorite thing to do, was to climb into a locked school nearby and had the place all to ourselves. One day, while we were doing that, Kelv noticed that there was a tour bus parked outside the school compound that belonged to one of the tour companies nearby. So he did what he thought was the coolest thing – he broke into the bus. We followed his lead.

Well, it wasn’t exactly ‘breaking’ because the door was unlock so, he was just entering. And you know how exciting it was for us kids to be in a bus without adult supervision. We’d climb onto the driver’s seat in turns and fiddle with all the controls available. I don’t exactly remember what we did inside but, I remember us liberating a stack of tour stickers – you know, those big round stickers that are used by tour companies to tag their tourist clients – from the driver’s compartment, and pasted them all over the bus interiors. What’s worse, we used the stickers on the school’s gate, then on the nearby walls, and everything else we could stick on.

We had a field day with the stickers and eventually, it ended when we reached home, back to my grandma’s house. But one mistake that we did not think much about out of sheer excitement, was the trail of stickers we left all the way from the tour bus kind of made it easy for us to get caught. The bus driver who eventually found his bus got broken into and full of stickers, was fuming mad and he’d followed the stickers all the way to my grandma’s house like it was the yellow brick road to the emerald city. And before long, he was at my grandma’s front door knocking on the door (I had gone home then). Boy my cousins had it so bad with their parents, especially Kelv, being the eldest and responsible for the whole thing. He got his ass handed to him by his dad. I got away scot free because I did not live there, so… it became a story of dumbassery that I’d remember for the rest of my life. (yep, we felt bad for Kelv).

Coincidentally, I ran into Dobby when I was having dinner with my daughter 2 days after telling this take to her. I brought the incident into discussion, and Dobby started to laugh like a jackass. Then he reminded me of another incident that involved a fire and a fire engine… which would be a story for another day…

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December 28, 2017

2017 roll up

2017 saw our traveling fetish switched into overdrive and went right ahead as planned. There’s never one day I do not think about traveling and where to go next. I know of a few travel heads who provided sound advice and I am thankful for that. This year, we conservatively traveled to 4 places and they were: Bali, Hainan, Bangkok and southern Japan (which we just came back from last week).

There was another place that was supposed to be in the pipeline – a road trip to Samui island – but that had to be canceled due to an important development in our lives – my daughter Regine has hit puberty and now she’s contending with her menstruation for the first time in her life. It first happened in November, but that was just some light rain. When we were in Japan in December, it suddenly became a category 10 typhoon. It wretched my heart to see her struggled with her cramps, and it was a really scary episode for both Emily and I – even more so that it happened when we were traveling. Reminded me back during the time when we had to take care of her when she was still a toddler when she got afflicted with virus infection and a raging fever.

Anyway, now that the storm is gone for the month, we decided to give her some time to get her shit together and learn how to deal with this ‘taiyeema’ thing in the coming months. It’s going to be important for everyone of us. We’ll resume traveling the world once she has that under her control.

2018 will be an important year for all of us. Big change is coming, and we’re hoping that we can cope it well. Not about to share what’s what in the blog here but, this will serve as a memory point for me to remember what I’ve anticipated at this point of time in 2017.

Bring it on motherfuckers!

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September 7, 2017

the balcony

*long post, wrote this composite post in a few sessions.

The hot afternoon breeze combs through the patch of sun baked grass, and carries with it the smell of a long lost memory that was buried deep inside me. Not forgotten, just lost. It brought me back to the time when I was alone in my old single room flat, at the balcony which overlooked the biggest cemetery in Penang. When I was in my elementary schooling years, my mother traveled a lot, and I spent most of my time alone at home. In that home, the balcony was my special place.

It was about 8 x 3 feet small, with glazed brown tiles adorning the floor. Because the flat was so small, we had to put the fridge there too. Up near the ceiling, there was a shelving for my mom to keep her unused items. There was once, a family of sparrows nested at the shelving, and some crows came to feast on the birdlings. It was a grisly sight. Separating me from falling 8 floors down to the ground, was a railing made of iron rods, painted over with several layers of glossy paint. I’d peel the paint off some parts of the railing, revealing its history of colors from decades of my family’s presence there. It had been blue and red and brown, before it was grey. Hanging out of the iron rod railing, was a suspended iron rack made by my mom’s brother, who welded it up as a gift for her to put her plants. My mom would keep her potted plants on the rack for many years. Over the years of water damage and exposure to weather, the iron rack rusted very badly and flakes of rust would drop on our neighbor’s awning. But it still stood when we left the flat for another home.
Read the rest of this entry »

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December 30, 2016

2016 roll up

People have been saying 2016 is the year of the Death. Lots of people died. One of them was my father-in-law, he lost his battle to kidney failure after 1.5 years of battling it. But I wouldn’t blame it on the year. It wasn’t the year’s fault. If you would nominate a title for the year of the death, you people should read about the history of the World Wars, black death or even the era when Genghis Khan laid waste to half the world in his conquest for greatness.

Anyway, I’ve fulfilled one of my pledge this year to start travelling the world. It was a plan my wife and I hatched back when we were childless, only to get delayed by a conception of Regine (we had to cancel a trip back then, due to the pregnancy, I recall). So the plan was held up until my daughter is big enough to appreciate finer things in life, and it became a family thing. Our first trip was to South Korea a few years ago, and then again to Hong Kong as a second trial for my daughter. She passed with flying colors. This year, we decided to kickstart the whole thing at full speed – we went to Germany and hiked the Alps in June. Then we hiked somemore at Taiwan’s Taroko Gorge in December. We saw cities, people and cultures. We ate weird shit and we mingled with the locals. And we walked till we almost drop. And this is going to be a permanent thing. I hope I’m going to be around until I’m at least 60 years old, or too old to walk (which I hope by then, someone has invented an affordable exoskeleton suit for old people to hike/walk without tiring out).

My daughter Regine has turned 10 this year. She’s officially a teenager now. She started to get annoyed at shit, and before long (hopefully not soon), she’s going to have her period. Some of her friends have already started to bleed, and she’s currently worried about that. My wife has prepped her with sanitary pads in her school bag in preparation for a sudden doomsday since a few months ago. She’s also started to bitch about not having a cellphone, and demanded faster wifi access. Looks like my life has entered another stage with tougher boss-battles and more complex enemy A.I.

2017, going to need a better camera lens, and a better physique to walk the world. Still wanted a bike. I hope I don’t need a shrink (or a heart doctor) from having to deal too much with a teenage daughter with rampaging hormones.

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September 14, 2016

the milk project

If you have been schooling in Malaysia in the 80’s, you’d probably know this term – ‘Projek Susu’. It literally translates to ‘the milk project’ in English.

I know it sounds kinky but no, it is not a porn theme. It is actually a program introduced by the semi-retarded government of Malaysia (then and now) to battle malnutrition amongst the poor students by selling them cheap chocolate milk. Yes, believe it. They’re not free, but were actually sold at a cheap price (hence the ‘semi-retarded’ handle).

At 40 cents a pack (a regular sized 200ml pack), it was none of those branded stuff you find in the grocery store. It was of an unknown home brand, and it had pictures of happy students on it. Clearly a convenient arrangement with a seemingly noble theme aimed to benefit the local cronies more than to nourish the skinny ass children… but what do we know? We kids were crazy about it. Like, who doesn’t love chocolate milk? That thing probably had melamine or antifreeze in it, we loved it all the same.

A couple of times a year (or a few, I can’t remember), the school teachers would give out forms for students to order this stuff. And those rich kids, would order by the dozens. And the poor ones like me, could only watch in envy as my fellow rich classmates getting help from the teaching staffs to carry heaps of those chocolate milk by the cartons to their desks. With only 20 cents a day as pocket money, I couldn’t afford even 1 pack of this shit. To buy a pack means I had to refrain from food/drink for 2 days at school and that’s just sad. And I certainly could not ask money from my mom to buy some because I’d get spanking instead of money from her (trust me, it doesn’t sound that important to your nutritional needs when you tell your mom that you wanted money to buy some ‘chocolate milk’).

But on and off, I’d manage to steal some coins from my mom’s piggy bank to buy myself a pack – and that was how I found momentary happiness. I’d savor it by sipping so slowly like it was brewed from an ancient cask, and absorb whatever fucking nutrients milked from a local diseased cow in a farm somewhere in Selangor and experience kid orgasm at the same time. Those rich kids probably never tasted the ‘projek susu’ the way I did back then.

Today, I can afford shitloads of these chocolate milk, and drink till my joints are inflamed… but they never taste as good as those that I’d bought with those stinky old coins from my mom’s piggy bank.

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