Friday, January 27, 2006

Our Kampong 'Best Friends'

In my earlier blog about Our Kampong (Oct 2005). I mentioned that we lived along a road called Lorong Kinchir which led all the way from Lorong Chuan to Upper Thomson Road. At the Thomson end of the road, there was a fishing pond called Asia Fishing Pond. After reading my article, my younger brother, Chun Meng (James) said that among his friends who visited our kampong house, it was considered a feat to be able to cycle all the way to the other end of Lorong Kinchir even though the distance was only a few kilometres. The reason was that, along the way, they usually had to fend off a number of attacks from ferocious kampong dogs. In fact my eldest brother Chun Chew, who had been bitten before mastered the art of riding a bicycle with one hand and lighting fire crackers with the other with a lighted joss stick tied to the bicycle handle. (Personally, I find it a bit incredible, but my brothers swear by it)

Most households in our kampong kept dogs, and we were no exception. Our first dog was a brown coloured mutt by the name of Ah Wong. I was too young to remember much about this dog, but I recall seeing him swim across the fish pond once. According to my father and older siblings, Ah Wong was a ‘champion’ fighter. Those days, dogs got into fierce fights during the mating season.

After that we had three dogs by the names of Puteh, Hitam and David (pronounced ‘Debit’). No prize for guessing the colours of the first two. The third was light brown in colour and had a short tail. How it got such a short tail is too gruesome to describe in this blog. I also mentioned earlier that we had a neighbour by the name of Tao Kua (bean curd) Kuan, who reared pigs and let them roam about. Often his pigs came to our compound and deposited their dung all over. So whenever we kids see the pigs, we would hurl stones at them and shout and chase after them; at the same time setting our 3 dogs at them by shouting’ “Oosh! kar kar!”.

Unfortunately, I do not have any photos of these 3 dogs. At that time, we did not have a camera. Or perhaps our films were too expensive to be ‘wasted’ on animals. I think Hitam died from wounds sustained in one of the dog fights. But Puteh and David died of old age. In fact my elder sister, Pat still remembers vividly how Puteh died. One morning, it was drizzling slightly when it just fell into a shallow drain around our kampong house and never got up again. Later when we removed its body to bury, it left a dry patch on the drain.

Our next dog was called Nappie. We named him after the hero of a popular spy movie/tv series called, The Man From UNCLE. The hero, Napoleon Solo was played by Rober Vaughn. His sidekick was a Russian by the name of Illya Kuriakin or something like that. He was played by a handsome blonde British actor, David McCallum. Like Orlando Bloom, this chap was very popular with the girls.

A photo of me and Nappie taken in 1967. Handsome isn't he - the dog, I mean. The car behind us in my 7th Uncle’s first Toyota Corolla.

I remember vividly how Nappie died. In fact I can tell you the exact spot where he was knocked down by a car in front of the bus stop in Lorong Chuan. One morning he followed me and my brother out to the main road and in spite of our repeated attempts to chase him back, refused to return home. Thankfully, it was not very bloody. I think the car hit his head and there was only a bit of blood from his mouth. I can’t remember if any of us cried. Maybe my sister.

Our last dog was called Barney. I cannot remember how he got this name. This was around the late sixties when we bought a new Minolta camera. So we had many pictures of him. Unfortunately, we had to leave him to the care of our cousins, the Ngs when we shifted to our new 5-room HDB flat in Farrer Road in 1974

My younger brother James with our dog Barney

Me with our dog Barney on the steps of our kampong house. The chap behind is my elder brother Chun Seong (David – the one who stepped on the rusty nail)

Me and my brother James forcing Nappie to pose with our cat Mimi, another interesting pet. I will blog about her when the Year of The Cat comes around.
We are seated on a coconut tree trunk. Behind us is a soursop tree – very fruitful. Sometimes the fruits were so huge our whole family cannot finish. I often make soursop syrup with it.


Victor said...

Got 'Year of the Cat' meh? Oh, you mean 'Year of the Tiger' which is in 2010, am I right? Your post about your pet dogs is so good that I will be patiently waiting for it, never mind the long 4-year wait.

As a kid, I kept a stray puppy once. Not knowing that dogs cannot take salty food, I fed it so much of our own salty diet that the hair on its back fell out in clumps. In the end, it had a full back devoid of hair, very much like the 'Mediterranean baldness' suffered by many middle aged men nowadays (no offense meant to those affected), hee.

I take this opportunity to wish you and every visitor to this blog "A Very Happy and Prosperous 旺旺 Year of the Dog". I am looking forward to meet you at the roundtable on 1 Feb 06 (and it's not for reunion dinner).

Lionel Tan said...

cockroach here wish you:

Anonymous said...

was "oosh" a common thing to say to a dog in those days? my dad says it to my dog too now, to get her to hunt for rats.

Lam Chun See said...

Sorry I don't know about the 'oosh' thing. But 'ka' means bite in Hokkien. I think there's a place in Spore called Ban Ka Kar - mosquito bites leg, if I remember correctly. Not sure where tho. Maybe Frannxis or Victor can enlighten.

Chris Sim said...

Woa, so many "best friends" you had. I'm quite terrified of dogs. Never been bitten (touch wood). But had a close shave once. A German Shepherd almost got me. Fortunately, I was saved by another German Shepherd whose loud barks frightened the first dog away. Good thing the 2nd dog was chained to a true, or I'll be dead meat. Phew! Confused?

fr said...

Not only your dogs, you were very handsome too. I'm sure you are still now.

I think I ever heard Ban Ka Kar or something like that being mentioned but I also don't know where.

Anonymous said...

I like what you wrote (in Chinese)

Wish all of you a happy lunar new the year of the doggie.

I remeber Chun See's Ah Wong!

Simon (Scotland)

Victor said...

As usual for such assignments, I consulted my father-in-law who was a taxi driver. I tried asking a few chaps younger than Chun See but they, like me, had no idea where 'Mang Ka Ka' was.

My father-in-law said that 'Mang Ka Ka' covered the Balestier, Bendemeer and Lavender Street areas. This information is supported by the Makansutra website here, which has a few recommendations for good food in the area too. (Sorry Chun See, nothing on beef noodles.)

I seriously doubt that 'Mang Ka Ka' means 'mosquitoes bite leg' as expounded by Chun See. Firstly, mosquitoes bite everywhere, not just legs. Secondly, the common local term for a certain race 'Mang Ka Li' certainly doesn't mean 'mosquitoes bite you', does it?

But nobody I asked knew a likely answer. Being a risk taker, I therefore hazard a guess here.(Anybody who knows that I am wrong, please correct me). Drawing a parallel between 'Tekka' or 'Zhujiao' (竹脚) and 'Mang Ka Ka', I postulate that Mang Ka was derived from the Malay word 'mangga' which means 'mango'. There might have been many mango trees in a hilly area in the vicinity. And 'Mang Ka Ka' meant the area near the foot of that hill. Plausible? Or a lot of smoke?

Anonymous said...

Yes, I think what Victor said holds much truth...

Simon (Scotland)

Anonymous said...

Being an 'oldie', I have heard of this place Mang Ka Ka. If I am not wrong it could be the area where the Malays called it 'rumah miskin -poor house' in the early days. Presently the area is situated where the Kong Wai Siew hospital is located.

Lam Chun See said...

I think 'Mosquito bite leg' is not the orginal meaning. Sort of started as a joke.

Anonymous said...

There could be a link here. Remember Tekka, meaning 'bamboo tree leg', is situated in little India, which is further down Serangoon Road. Hence the old name Mang ka ka could actually mean (a Jack fruit tree leg)also in Serangoon Road, a bus-stop or two away. All these are my guess-work. Any verification ?

Shaun said...

Hi Chun See here are images you requested for your next post, thanks!

Anonymous said...

I think 'Mangali' is the older Chinese people's way of pronouncing Bengali when referring to our Indian friends.

Anonymous said...

my Mum say 'Ban ga kar' refers to the present towner road area, kwong wai shiu is in the vicinity. i stay at towner ville when i am very little in the late 1970s.. the place is very quiet and safe at that time, can cycle around though i'm only 4 or 5 years old that time, remember there is a nearby big drain, like canal like that is very near to some kind of school what name i don't know, still not schooling yet at that age..

- Em

Anonymous said...

my Mum say 'Ban ga kar' refers to the present towner road area, kwong wai shiu is in the vicinity. i stay at towner ville when i am very little in the late 1970s.. the place is very quiet and safe at that time, can cycle around though i'm only 4 or 5 years old that time, remember there is a nearby big drain, like canal like that is very near to some kind of school what name i don't know, still not schooling yet at that age..

- Em

Rajashree Khalap said...

Beautiful dogs. I am interested in indigenous pariah-type dogs of Asia and Africa (aboriginal dogs). They are being studied a lot nowadays to research the evolution of the domestic dog. I have a blog on the Indian Pariah Dog and am also creating a website.
Could you guide me on where to get more information on Kampong dogs, and more images? My email id is Thanks, Rajashree

Anonymous said...

Hi! It's great to read yr blog... I'm still waiting for you to fulfill your promise to blog abt yr cat, Mimi! :)

Lam Chun See said...

My dear friend. You must be a new comer to this blog. I already blogged about Mimi more than 4 years ago!

Lau Kim Boo said...

Manga is Teochew for Jackfruit

Hence name means Jackfruit Place