Saturday, November 03, 2012

Aii Chan enjoys Good Morning Yesterday, the book

From my Inbox (2012-11-02)

Hi Chun See,

Got back to Luxembourg for few days, first thing when time available - to read your book, now half way, thoroughly enjoying it!  Congratulations on a project well done, so proud to be telling everyone:  it was written by my primary school classmate. I do have some comments (i.e. up to page 96 now)

1) Thank you for bringing us (our generation) down the memory lane via your book, I felt the book is even better than visiting the modern Singapore because everything/everywhere familiar is disappearing so fast, no memory lanes anymore left for us. This trip I felt like a "foreigner" visiting a completely new place - i.e. not like "coming home" feeling.

2) I do envy those who lived in your village - they could enjoy and keep your vivid descriptions of the whole neighbourhood.  How I wish someone could do this to our village too, so that Sock Geck and I could keep the memories in words!  Congratulations also to your brother Chun Chew for his super memory to help you too.

3)  You both are lucky to have an English-educated father, that means a world of difference because then he had a good job position, hence the possibility to buy cameras and to have typewriter/fridge/car at home.  With the cameras, you were able to get so many photos of the past (seeing is believing). I think your family house must have been a luxury of those days to, compared with the poor attap houses around.

4) Again, you were lucky to be living in a non-Cantonese community because you picked up a lot of Hokkien and Teochew dialects on growing up.  Most of the terms used by you were in Hokkien, which was commonly used in the other areas of Singapore (apart from Chinatown).  In fact for a Cantonese person, I think your Hokkien is excellent :-))

5)  I am amazed by the "Kan teko" (KTK), now that I am reading it. I do have some recollections of such a trade. We never had pigs (only chicken), but our neighbour (4 - 5 doors away had them), so now I do recall remarks about this person, maybe I was too young to know what he was doing.  On the other hand, I remember that there was such a person who came to "sterilize" the chicken from time to time.  I can recall watching him too.  But anyone can help me: why sterilize the chicken?

6) The last points are my questions.  I visited a place called Imperial Court at Thomson road this year, is this the old Imperial cinema?

a) At the beginning of Jalan Perminpin -Thomson Road there was a huge tree, we used to call it "Tau chiu ka" there were food stalls/coffeeshop there?

b) My last questionn:  I recall between Thomson Road (5 miles) and Sembawang Hill Estate (7 miles) a place we called in Chinese, "Ang Mo Tan keh";  anything to do with the fruit rambutan trees growing there?

One of my brothers-in-law thoroughly enjoyed the book (I bought for him at Popular).  He grew up in a different area, Devonshire Road, so things were quite different there. He appreciated very much what you wrote, since he was teaching at Nee Soon primary school (Yishun today) his students all came from the village area.

PS - Hopefully there will be a "future book" coming :-))

My Remarks

Thanks Aii Chan for your kind comments and for recommending “our” book to your friends. 

Yes; like many other friends, Aii Chan owns part of Good Morning Yesterday, the book. She contributed details to the sections on Braddell Rise School (Chapter 7), and games that girls of our generation played (page 114). She also narrated that interesting account of her encounter with the night soil carrier at Braddell Rise School in page 53.

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alex said...

why sterilize the chicken?

I was told that when they sterilize the chicken, the bird will grow fast and bigger, because the chicken will have no other missions and ddistractions in life except eat and grow fat/meaty.

Not sure if that's the answer, I welcome to be corrected.


Zen said...

I agree with alex logical explanation of why chicken were sterilized. This was a common practice at that time. Farmers at that time were usually small timers doing their farming based on experience, and not through the scientific way of r&d. I am not too sure whether those who did the actual sterilization were government officials sent there to help the farmers, or whether they were hired from the private sector to do the job.

Anonymous said...

They sterilized chickens becos they don't want them to have baby chickens.

Lam Chun See said...

This is what my friend Hong Eng, who grew up in a farm in Tanah Merah Kechil says. Thanks Hon Eng.

Just like the eunuchs of ancient days, an eunuch would not disturb the girls in the palace.

Farmers rear chickens for many reasons.

The cockerels were reared for their meat not to impregnate hens. Hence when reaching puberty farmers would sterilise them so that they would not go around chasing after the hens. The farmers wanted them to eat and grow fat and sell them for money at the quickest possible time. Modern days farmers would inject growh hormone or 'pak pui cham' so that they inhibit their sexual urge and grow fat quickly. They called it 'chye kuay' or 'vegetable chicken' in direct translation, i.e. chicken for the table.

Similarly, if the farmers wanted the hens to lay eggs, they would not sterilise or inject any hormone. Modern day farmers put them in cages in blocks and in rows and rows of flats. Food and water are delivered to them in tubes and eggs are automatically roll down the belts to the sorting stations.

If the farmers wanted the hen for the table then they had to be sterilise as well.

Just like the pigs, if male pig 'boars' are not sterilised, they would go aroound chasing the sow. They would not grow fat. If sterilised they would MRT "Makan Rehat and Tidor (Malay for Eat-Rest-Sleep). After certain time they are sold for the table. If they are kept too long, the meat would give out a smell when cooked. They would not be so tender and sweet.

Farmers would not keep their boars. Even if the price is not right they still have to dispose off or else when they were 'out of the optimum taste and sweetness' nobody would buy them.

sgporc said...

Yes Imperial Court is where the Imperial Cinema used to be.

Daniel said...

Hi Mr Lam,

I discovered this blog of yours either in 2010 or 2011. Interestingly, I wasn't searching for a 'nostalgia' archive of Singapore history.

I chanced upon GMY because I liked a few Paul Anka songs and was delving deeper into his discography by looking him up with a search engine.

Since then, I've enjoyed reading about Singapore then and relating to places that have etched distinct memories into you. I may only be a 17-year old JC1 student, but because memories and culture can be locked into physical environments, such as Toa Payoh (where I live), I felt that I could really relate to your reminiscence, and feel pangs of pseudo-nostalgia, even though I wasn't born then. Also, I'm a fellow ACSian.

Anyway, I'm just here to inform you that I've just purchased a copy of the GMY book! Initially, I figured that I would have to head to Kinokuniya at Orchard to get a copy, as I thought Popular@TPY wouldn't carry them. However, I was elated to find quite a few copies on a single inconspicuous shelf, as I was casually browsing through Popular today, not actually thinking I would really find a copy of GMY.

I look forward to reading the GMY book and gaining insights into the Singapore you knew.

Lam Chun See said...

Hi Daniel. Thanks for your support. Hope you enjoy my 'kampong daze' stories. Actually, I wrote this book very much with young people like yourself in mind. In many parts of my book, I address the young reader directly.

Not sure which ACS you are from. Recently the ACS(I) library bought a few copies from me. If you're from Barker Rd and think that your fellow ACSians would enjoy this book, do recommend it to your library.

Interestling to learn that you enjoy Paul Anka's songs. Some of his early hits were even before my time!

Lam Chun See said...

Aii Chan's latest comment in an email I just rec'd:

"I finshed reading this book: it is FANTASTIC and I enjoyed every page of it. It was my magic carpet which brought me back to my kampong days."