Wednesday, May 31, 2017

ABC Wed letter U, for nurses uniform

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When I was growing up in Malaysia, the nurses wore dress with a stiff head gear. When I went to Canada and visited a friend, I saw the nurses in long pants.

Our local television screened a 25 years reunion of our long running Shortland street. They showed the changes of the nurses uniform.

40 years on, I visited my Cousin Jeffery Kong. He manages 2 nursing homes. His nurses wear polo Tees. He too, wore a polo tee,

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

abc Letter T for triumph

For years, the resident of this premises had many Triumph cars parked not only at his car park, his neighbour's car park, but on the roads on both sides of his residence. They were an eye sore. He was dodgy when people asked why his cars were parked there, using up parking spaces. He wasn't tinkling with them. They were just parked there.  He didn't seem to be collecting them as a hobby. Was he illegally selling them?

One day, those cars on the main road were removed.  There are still other cars. 

ABC Letter T for temple

In the early 60s, we lived in the Government Quarters along with Malays, other Chinese dialect groups, Ibans, Eurasian and so on.
Near to the houses were a small Hindu temple . There were no windows but had louvers to admit light and air. We climbed up on the wall, my brother supporting me, and we saw some statues in gold. It was full of mystique. It looked deserted because there was nobody there.

In the garden was a deep walled in well. Some one rumored that some one had drowned in the well. The water was murky. We climbed to steal the sour lime like calamansi which we ate there and then. Then there were the gardenia flowers and buds. We stole them. The plants were high up and so we had to climb. Someone screams ghost and we went screaming home.

You see. Mum had warned us not to wander there.
For nostalgia sake, I went three years ago. The temple was gone, and the modern building replaced it.
My friend said it was the smallest temple in Malaysia.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Two loaves of bread.

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  Two elderly women didn't have enough money to pay for two loaves of bread. I paid for them and rush to give the loaves of the bread to them. It didn't cost me a lot, but gave an anecdote to write about.

People ask me where I get ideas for my writing, this is one example.

ABC Letter S for slave

There is on internet a story on "My family's slave" by an Filipino American.

Here's an abstract of my grandma's slave from my book, From China to Borneo to Beyond.

The pronunciation of my Quang Ning dialect MUI ZUI, for a slave sounds like the sour plum, and MUI ZAI as a girl is different. I don't know what it is in other dialects.

It must have been 1900s when my grandmother brought her over to be her slave. The girl was very young. It is not sure if her parents gave her the slave while she was a young child, or whether she was given when Grandma married Grandpa.

My father, John remembered fondly of Grandmother’s mui zai (slave) whom he called Ah Jia, (big sister.) In fact he saw her more than he saw Grandmother. Grandmother worked in the rubber garden, the mui zai took care of him and his siblings. She did all the housework. His fondest memory was her  kindly separated the rough green husk of the sweet mung bean soup, so he would have it as a smooth watery thick soup. We used to tease him to be a super spiolt brat because we ate the green bean husk.

There was talk that the British government in Malaya and Singapore was going to pass an emancipation of slaves, and those not releasing the slaves would be punished.

To preempt this, when this mui zai was 16, a marriageable age, Grandfather Kee Seng arranged for a suitable mate and married her off. This was much to the aghast of Grandmother. Grandmother whinged that this mui zai was paid for by her parents; therefore she was her property. This mui zai was her slave for life. Grandfather Chan had no right to sell her property. But Grandfather would not have any part of this old feudal slavery system. They married her off to someone up the Rejang River.

The emancipation law was never passed and Grandfather never heard the end of Grandmother harping on and on about it.

Some of those mui zais maintained a good relationship, coming back to the family as though they were part of the family. In many cases where they had suffered abuse from their owner and hated them; they never came back to visit.  Some, their new family forbidden them to. Grandmother’s mui zai never came back. Father said Grandma was a difficult person  to handle. The Mui Zai was probably so glad to have her freedom.

Father did meet the mui zai many years later. Father was on official duty in a school near where she was married off to. She came and was hesitant and afraid to talk to Father, now an official of the government.

She called him "Young Master" and she wanted Father to help her grand children to get into teachers’ college. She said quietly that it wasn’t that she didn’t want to visit the Chans, it was because she was not allowed to. She had been emancipated from one family into the slavery of another. She mentioned what a good family she had grown up in, and she would rather be old and single and be a mui zai in the Chan’s home. She had always loved Father very much.

I wrote about my grandma's Mui Zai in my book. I also remembered my mum almost got a Mui Zai too. It was after the World War Two. My great Grand Mother aka Ah Tai didn't want my mother to work too hard. So she bought a girl slightly older than my oldest sister. My father declined and packed the girl away. My father's rationale was in this day and age, him being a Christian should not have a Mui Zai aka slave. How could he have the conscience of having a Mui Zai who slaves away while his own daughters went to school. Ah Tai aka Great Grand Mother argued we we just pay for her in the beginning which she had already done, and don't have to pay her anymore. Mother said we just had to feed her. Ah Tai probably argued that we were doing a humanitarian favour. 

We knew about this returned Mui Zai when we had to do house work. We complained and wished we still had the Mui Zai.

My parents had 6 girls, MOI ZAI SEE (bloody useless girls) as my Bodai (maternal grandma) would call us. She said, if we were in China, I would be sold off as a slave. I was the third girl. So would all subsequent girls.

When Father paid for my University education first to Canada and then to New Zealand, Bodai said my fate was very good. Instead of being a slave, I got to fly half way round the world.  Bodai said there was something wrong with Dad's head. He studied too much in England. He educated all his MOI ZAI SEE. She also said my Dad had a Father-in-law look.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

ABC letter S:Sports stadium


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This is the Sports Stadium and oval of the Nanyang Technological University. This was where I practice for my 10 kilometer marathon, in 2005. photos from my friend Chinatsu

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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

ABC Wed, letter R for remembrance

Flowers and small adornments on about 170 babies' graves have been damaged by maintenance contractors at a South Auckland cemetery.

A grave is a place of remembrance, It is more intense when the grave belong to babies. I know, I buried a baby

Monday, May 8, 2017

Sunday stills: mechanical things

I am surprised to see this tiny vehicle with a trailer. I have only seen trailers in New Zealand. Most cars have tow bars, and it is very handy to tow trailers. Our friend G had a trailer, and in our early days, when ever we moved house, we borrowed his trailer to move our things.

I have my own fond memories of
tow bars. I have written it into my book.

This grass cutter with giant wheels is often on the road when I go to school or when I come back. I get impatient when I am behind him on my way to school. He just seems to take his own sweet time causing a long queue behind him. I don't mind so much on my way home.

I love this AA recovery truck. It is a life saver. I have used him when I had absent minded forgot to turn off the lights on a rainy or misty morning. Once I had to wait for two hours in a cold dark winter dusk. Not very nice.

I love this actually because it reminds me of the BIG vehicles that transport brand new cars across the Ambassador bridge from Windsor, Canada to Detroit and vice versa. The cars were placed in double decker levels. My friend N once joked, "I would love to be behind these truck, and if a car breaks away, I would jump into it and the car would be mine". My other friend W, always a skeptic said, " if the car rolls down, you would be dead."

America comes to New Zealand, I rephrase, American coffee comes to New Zealand. It is quite cheap, only $2.50 per cup. When this van is here, you know it's time to farewell winter. Parked along Great North Road, I noticed there is a wire attached to the power pole so his coffee is piping hot. There is ice cream and hot dog too.

This train is from an another era. It has retired and is an exhibit of the MOTAT, Museum of Transport and Technology. usually, I try to photograph it in my car, and didn't get a good photo. Yesterday, I walked there, and put my camera through the fence.

Like the train, these machines have out lives their hard labor, and are now exhibits. They look like farm equipment. New Zealand is a land of farms. Agriculture plays a very important role in our economy.

The Malaysian train is very long. It goes from Singapore all the way to the border. You buy your ticket from the station and the conductor checks your ticket. Once, we took it from one small town to another, they didn't even come and check our ticket. The trains must look the same, because we saw passengers going on the wrong train. They also stop and leave very quickly. My two city bred daughters once went to visit my mother-in-law. Before they can alight at the station, the train had gone to the next. A story indeed to last a life time.

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This is MRT, Singapore's super slick subway.

I don't like ferris wheels, they go so slow and they go no where. This is at Singapore Down Town East. Mt sister Grace had taken her kids and Sam to swim.

Inside a double decker bus in Singapore. My kids loved going to the upper deck. I seldom use it because I was worried with my bags of shopping, and little kids, I can't get out of the bus in time.

Well here it is, if it runs on fuel and can take two or more passengers lets see what ya’ll can come up with..:-)

Thank you Ed, I have a love affair with anything that goes Vroom! Vroom! The bigger the better. But the big ones often go so fast that by the time I whip out my camera, it is gone.

My love affair must have started when I was six, and Dad bought of first car.It was a
little Fiat 1100, it was little, but we loved it. The license plate was S899. The number was an auspicious one. 8 sounds like prosperous, and 9 sounds like forever. So it was prosperous forever. You may remember the Olympics in Beijing started on the 8th of the 8 of the 8th of the 8th. and last Wednesday, hordes of Chinese rushed to the marriage registry because it was the 9th of the 9, of the 9 of the 9.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

ABC Letter Q for Lakeland Queen,

My trip to Rotorua was very worthwhile, and I took many photos of various landmarks. Berthed on the Rotorua lake, I saw her Majesty the Queen. This genuine 266 passenger stern wheel paddle ship was built on the traditional lines of the Mississippi River paddle ships.Purpose built and launched in 1986, the Lakeland Queen has only ever sailed on Lake Rotorua and is now a well-loved icon of Rotorua. She is powered by a 240 hp Cummins diesel engine driving the 8 bladed stern paddle through a hydraulic system.

The Lakeland Queen, New Zealand’s only Paddle Stern Driven Vessel returns to Lake Rotorua in all its glory complete with a 10-metre extension and a stylish new interior.

The Lakeland Queen can now cater for up to 240 guests for a seated breakfast, lunch or dinner, or 300 guests for a cocktail style function. The options available include one of the daily scheduled cruises, exclusive use of the upper or lower deck for a scheduled cruise, or to charter the entire vessel for the ultimate corporate, incentive or wedding experience.