Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Blast From My Past Pt3 - Memories of the old school days

Born and bred in Melaka, I was sent to a missionary school with a long and proud tradition. Looking back, we really had some fun and memorable times. Going to school meant we had to be in uniform of course - the uniform of choice for Malaccans was of course from Bee Loon in Jln Bendahara. For school shoes, many had the choice of either the China ones (Fung Keong, Butterfly, etc) or Bata which was the Badminton Master (BM) red or green sole and in subsequent years, the BM2000 and BM2000 Turbo. There was also Pallas. Nike and Adidas were hard to come by then and Power (Bata's line of sports shoes) was quite a luxury. I had one blue pair that cost RM35 and I REALLY cherished it. In the early years, I carried this tartan covered square suitcase looking bag which I donned with many stickers (Ultraman, Disney etc). Then the rage was the Swan yellow nylon bags. Pencil box came in many shapes and sizes... some had inbuilt pencil sharpeners and even hourglasses. Some used Oxford/Cambridge math equipment (with compass and protractor) as pencil cases. Lazy buggers like me used to keep the pencil shavings in the pencil boxes and the carbon would spill into the bottom of our school bags and the edges of our books would turn black from it. In the later years, when I became a senior prefect, I wore white pants and black leather shoes and would welcome Mondays where I would put on a blazer.

I didn't remember much of my kindergarten days except that we would bully or be bullied by the girls. We used to have tea breaks where they would serve Milo or Ribena with cookies. In school, canteen food was divine. I don't remember much about what we had in primary but in secondary, we used to reserve the best food in the morning for recess. Junkfood was abundant too (in and out of school) - haw par flakes, mo fah kor, bunny milk candy, prawn brand candy and even pickled pinang, mango and papaya. Satay fish on a stick, peanut cakes, crackers with nuts on them, peanut cakes with molasses... the list can go on forever. We looked forward to the occasional visit of the Vitagen van (direct from factory) which we would order in advance. The rich kids would order a dozen bottles at times. We also looked forward to the Milo van that came during sports days. That was the best Milo ever!

In primary school, we were never short of games to play before school began, during recess or after school. Police and thief is quite self explanatory but there were also tengteng and hantu galah. One particularly cruel game we used to play was when there was 4 pieces of paper - polis, pencuri, hakim and pemukul. 4 players would randomly draw one piece of paper each. The polis is supposed to guess who is the pencuri. If he is right, the hakim will decide how many wallops the pencuri will get from the pemukul. If he is wrong, the polis will get it instead. There was also obscure games like ice cream soda. Then of course the kids were happy to play with the pakau which one would buy by sheets for 10sen. These sheets were perforated and you can tear them apart into small playing cards and they had pictures of heroes like Ultraman. You could play countless of games with them.

There were also games that required equipment (like the rubberband ropes which were popular among girls) and also the famous shuttlecock made from coloured chicken feathers, round pieces of rubber and an iron nail. We used to play takraw with these but I think the most popular game with the shuttlecock was chopping.

In secondary school, we still played chopping but it gave way to more football and ping pong... plus other proper sports. We still played with the plastic ball (RM2.00 from the kedai runcit) along the corridors but sometimes when 2 players kick the ball at the same time, the ball would explode and game over. Table soccer with pieces of cardboard or ballpens and white pepperseeds were popular too.

After school, we would go by the drain beside the school and catch fish or look for those pods from plants that would explore when we threw them into the water as well as those plants that were sensitive to touch. Somewhere in the kampung behind the school, there was a fish shop that we would buy guppies and oscars to bring home. There was an old boys association beside the school that had free play Space Invaders on... we were quickly banned from that. We would also go by the kedai runcit nearby to buy the long flavoured ice tubes (ranging from semboi to orange juice) and also buy junkfood and shuttlecocks from the kedai or from roadside vendors (one of them had a wicked lychee lime drink). These vendors also had finger foods on toothpicks which you would dip into sweet sauce or chili (luncheon meat, foo chok, fishball etc). Then there was of course the rock candy man who would hit on the candy with the hammer and pick plus the ice cream man with ice cream potong and ice cream scoops sandwiched in bread.

Of course as kids, we were cruel bastards. We gave a classmate (because he was a poofter) the nickname of "prostitute". We also had this trick we would play on unsuspecting prey... we would cover his eyes from the back by surprise and everyone would wallop his head. When he recovers, he would never find out which scoundrel did it.

Ah I could really go on and on but let's leave that for another day... maybe in Pt4 eh?