Friday, December 10, 2010

Old Stuff Quiz (1)

Recently I went for another kelong fishing trip and this time I brought along my friend Charles who is a retiree and who used to be an avid angler in his younger days. At the kelong, he brought out an old rusty box which contained his fishing accessories. I have never seen such a box before; have you? Do you know what this box is originally for?

If you do not know the answer; please don’t bother to do an internet search because I will give you the answer shortly. Unlike my friend Victor, I don’t believe in deferred gratification for my readers.

In the meantime, I will digress a bit and talk about an interesting article in yesterday’s Straits Times. It was reported that many young smokers in Singapore are turning to ‘rollies’ to feed their unhealthy habit. In this method, the smoker puts a wad of tobacco leaves on a small rectangle of paper, which is then rolled into a tube and smoked from one end. The health authorities are concerned by this trend because such unfiltered ‘rollies’ are even more harmful than conventional cigarettes.
Rollies of course are not a new invention. Many smokers of the older generation used to smoke this type of cigarette which is called ang hoon in Hokkien. As a kid I have often seen kampong folks smoke ang hoon. In fact, I think my grandmother too indulged in it occasionally. But I will need to confirm with my brother Chun Chew (Zen) because he was the oldest in our family and also closest to our grandmother.

I am reminded of yet another obsolete practice that smokers from our kampong days engaged in; and that is to offer cigarettes from a round container to guests at a wedding reception. Usually the groom will hold out an open tin of cigarettes to the guest with both hands. I can’t remember if he actually lit the cigarette for the guest – I suppose he did.

And speaking of cigarettes, have you seen the metal ashtrays of the old days where pressing down a round button would cause the spiral cover of the ashtray to open. Once the cigarette butt is discarded into this container, you can release the button to close the cover. I think it might not be a bad idea to bring back this type of ashtray as it is probably cleaner and would reduce the amount of ashes and passive cigarette smoke escaping from the cigarette butt.

Answer to quiz question. This box is for holding tobacco, in this case the Lloyds Old Holborn blended Virginia tobacco. My friend Charles did not use the tobacco for ang hoon but for pipe-smoking. Nowadays, we hardly ever see people smoke pipes. I wonder why?

By the way, what image comes to your mind when you hear the term pipe-smoking? For me it’s Sherlock Holmes. Elementary; Watson!

My friend has long given up smoking. If you are a smoker, I suggest you do the same. Giving your hard-earned money to the government unnecessarily and ruining your own health at the same time just doesn’t make sense.


peter said...

I was a smoker of both cigarettes, pipes and kretek. I can tell u why pipe smoking is not popular.

1. You need to fill the pipe with tobacco leaves and slowly use the thumb to pack the leaves together.

2. You need to light up , not once but many times because the tobacco flame does off quickly if you dont keep on puffing.

2. The right way or the pleasure of pipe smoking is not to puff non-stop like cigarette but to take small puffs. And when you dont puff, item 2 happens.

3. You need to clean your pipe well by stripping the pipe and working every corner and opening with a special "cleaning rod".

4. Tobacco leaves for pipe mnore expensive than cigarette. Also there are all types/models of piep. Some design like Sherlock Holmes which gives you the "maturity look". Mind you a piep can be expensive. So is the tobacco leaves - some come in a metal container like your picture and some ina plastic pouch.

The best thing about pipes (when u dying to smoke) is that it does not leave a stench in your mouth like cigarette but considered "too scented" to non-smokers.

Now why did I give up pipe smoking? You need you need to take special care. I lost several pipes because I left it on the table and people churi. Cigarettes you can throw the butt away anyway anytime. BTW never use ashtray filled with water because terrible smell.

peter said...

In Chinese wedding the bridgroom offers cigarette by holding the container with both hands - he does not pull out a stick and give the guest. The best-man is th one who lights for the guest. The guest must acknowledge the kindness by puffing into the air. That way nobody gets insulted.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

1. Smoking is fun if you don't inhale. Just puff for show.

2. It doesn't pay to smoke. Kills all your insides.

3. I know a trick or two with cigarettes and a box of matches. Let me know when...

yg said...

in the past, kretek - clove cigarette - used to be hand rolled like ang hoon.

peter said...

I forgot one more thing. You use a match stick to light a pipe. Cannot use lighter unless you know how to "angle". Many ppl can burnt if do wrong angle.

Use match sticks layche!

yg said...

peter, when i was in hanoi recently, i saw the locals smoking thuoc lao (home-grown tobacco)using a bamboo pipe. they also do not use a lighter; they use matches.

Zen said...

During my time smoking was rather widespread among the men who would consider such habit as 'manly', but luckily I took heed from my father's advice not to indulge in it. As for my grandma, she was basically a cigarette smoker and I do not remember any occasion when I found her smoking 'ang hoon'. Maybe she would smoke it on very rare occasions.

FL said...

My late dad used to smoke 'ang hoon" in the late 60s.He started off smoking the normal packet-type cigarettes, but when it got too expensive for him, he changed to smoking 'ang hoon'which he rolled it with a piece of paper. In the past, ang hoon was popular with old peoples. esp. the poor ones.

Icemoon said...

What is ang hoon? Is it red powder (红粉)?

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Lam,

I refer to Photo 1:

The road parallel to the canal shown in the photo is Cuscaden Road, behind the present Tanglin Mall and the Traders Hotel.

It can't be Orchard Road because the canal running parallel to Orchard Road is much wider.

Anonymous said...


I came across your blog only about a week ago, while searching for info on King's Theatre. I'm some years younger than you are but still a baby boomer and remember many of the things you blog about. So glad you're still at it. I'm reading from your 1st ones and really enjoy your blog. Thanks n keep blogging please!

Thimbuktu said...

I had the experience which Peter mentioned although I don't smoke going around to the elderly friends and elderly relatives to be invited to the wedding dinner.

One invitation card in hand and a tin of "State Express 555" cigarette to offer as a respect to those who smoke. The ash-tray was not brought along though ;0

This tradition for wedding invitation is now an obsolete practise in over 2 decades.

Nice nostalgic memories blog topic, Chun See. Thanks.

peter said...

I started smoking in my last year at school. That was when a packet of Dunhill of 20 sticks cost S$1.20/-. Call it "helping to concentrate" on studies. Then in university, 2 packets/day for the same reason of "helping to concentrate". When I was a musician reason was "inspiration so that the music notes can come easily to the head when cusotmers make request". By the time I gave up, 1 packet of Dunhill = S$4.60.

Now if I was smart, I could have save a tidy sum of $$$$ dont u think. O not forgetting the days of smoking a pipe......

Last time I hardly see women smoking (in and out of the office or in a disco). Today more women smoke thna men...I notice....

alex said...

Hi Icemoon,

I believe it is "紅煙“

Thomas C B Chua said...

I always told my pupils that "liquor is Satan's urine, and tobacco is satan's fart." And that a smoker's kiss can never, never be his. It is "Dunhill's," " camel's" or "Peter Stu.... ( Cannot spell out. ) " LOL

Peter Stubbs said...

I'm not quite sure what I've done for Thomas C B Chua to have a little dig at me. As he apparently resides in Alor Setar,I don't think that I've ever met him. Anyway, as we would say here in the UK, "it's water off a duck's back". I would inform him, that I gave up smoking in April or May 1969, shortly after the birth of my daughter.

When I did smoke, I was a rather poorly paid soldier and enjoyed many a 'roll-up', with Old Holburn having been on the shopping list sometimes. I also used 'Golden Virginia' and some other tobacco products whose names have vanished in the mists of time. Once or twice, I tried pipe smoking, and then it was mainly St. Bruno flake. I must say that giving up smoking was quite easy. All that was needed was the desire to do so, and of course, the essential will power.

Victor said...

Hey, your links to this "delayed gratification giver" do not work.

Anonymous said...

Thankfully, I had the luck of living with a grandmother who was 73 years my senior. Despite being born in the 1980s, I had the fortune of witnessing ang hoon (or 'hong yin' in cantonese, which was how I knew it as) and buying it regularly for my grandmother before she quit smoking just a few years before she passed on. That was back when hong yin smokers were still commonly seen in the older estates.

I've also had chance to see that metal ash tray being used at home, and know that 555 and Camel Brand cigarettes existed.

The past is beautiful for all its goodness and simplicity. Sometimes, I wish that we had not sacrificed so much in exchange for the advacement we have today, because it seems that what we've lost far supercedes what we've gained. The goodness and sincerity in people and quality of life can never be replaced by materialism, which is in abundance today, in contrast to people's increasing intolerence towards one another and the ever-mounting pressure to work our lives off without having the time to smell the flowers along the way.