Monday, April 23, 2007

Those were the days

I have been walking down memory lane these past few days. I could not help but linger in that lane for awhile. I've stopped to sit on a bench to reminisce my teenage years. I hummed my favourite tunes of yesteryears. Before I walk out of that lane, indulge me one last time.

At most large family gatherings, the television room always becomes the teenagers' favourite hang-out. Very often, these youngsters would tune in to some station that features music videos. There was an occasion at my sister's house when the gathering became a little too boisterous. The adults were into their beers, whiskey and wine, trying to talk above the sounds coming from the television. Of course, the teens, tweens and younger children tried to compete with the adults. They turned up the volume of the TV.

One of the ladies, who obviously had enough of the cacophonous atmosphere, turned around and asked the children to bring down the volume. Her daughter, about 14 years old, quickly replied, "we can't find the remote control." She probably thought with that excuse, they could keep up the volume up. The group remained nonchalant. Her mother did not find a point in reiterating her request. She marched over to the television and manually turned down the volume. When she did that, a little boy sitting among them asked with a surprising tone, "wah! you can do that without a remote?"

Remember when children were used as remote controls? Most of the time, dad would ask the child sitting closest to the TV to turn the channel. Luckily we had only two channels back then. RTM 1 and 2. No choice. Can you imagine if satellite technology evolved but remote controls didn't?
We did not have 24-hour TV. When "Negaraku" came around, that was the end of the day's transmission. Most households would call it a night. That was also an indication for students who were studying that time is up. Also, if you could not finish your homework by then, you know you were doomed for punishment the next day.

How did we fill up the other hours when there was nothing interesting on TV? The good old-fashioned radio. We still have that old Grundig radio. It entertained us for hours. Mum and dad would play their favourite vinyls at night. In the day time, the radio took over. My favourite radio show was Kee Huat's Fantastic Facts and Fancies. If my memory serves me right, it was Patrick Teoh who hosted that show.

Back then, TV series did not come to our stations within a season. It took years! We were watching American shows of the 60s in the 70s i.e. Bonanza, Rawhide and Green Acres, to name a few. When something important happened and our leaders had to make a televised speech, as I recall, both channels would air it. That left the children frustrated with no TV programmes. The parents would hush us so that they could listen to the speech. We would sit there with sulky faces. We could not go to our rooms. We were supposed to sit and listen too. That was education for us. We were forced to know what was happening out there.

However, when friends of our parents came to our house, we were banished to our rooms. We could not sit and listen to "old people's stories". I thought dad wanted us to know about the world out there. That would be a good time to know what was happening. Education, you know.
This did change when we got older. As teenagers, when my parents had company over, we would walk to our rooms and then back to the kitchen and repeat this pattern the whole duration of the friend's visit. It obviously irritated my dad. One day, he said to us, "stop hanging around like monkeys. You either join us in our conversation or go to your rooms."
"Hey!", I thought. "Progress. Now I have a choice." And so, I started participating in adult conversations. As much as I like to hang out in my room, I found it very interesting listening to accounts of the adult world. The experiences they went through. The stories of old.

Back in the 70s and 80s, we did not have handphones like today. When we went out with friends (and it must be friends whom my parents knew) , we had to find a phone booth to call home. We had to give at least one phone report while we were out and about. The excuse of "telefon rosak" (phone spoiled) was not accepted. We had to find one, do or die.

It was also very safe for children to be out on their own. During the school holidays, I remember my mum telling us to "be out of her way" so that she could see to her daily chores. She meant the garden. We took that as an opportunity to go beyond the confines of our "pagar" (gate). She did not worry about us (or so we thought). After all, no one was sent out to look for us. We were on our own. We knew when it was time to go home. We figured it out more or less by the position of the sun. So it was always give and take about 30 minutes around 5:00pm. We always made it home safely - sweaty, tired and sometimes with minor wounds, which we temporarily patched up using leaves from trees.

We say that the children of today will never know and experience the joys of our yesteryears. My parents told me the same thing - we will never know the joys of their time.
Life moves on. My parents had their world. What we experienced, belongs to us. The world of tomorrow and its excitement will be our children's and grandchildren's.

18 comments:

Theodwyn said...

Hi Jacqui. First time reading your blog. Its lovely!! =) Some of your posts ring so true, like the old wives tale one and this memory lane one too =) I'll be reading your blog regularly from now on. Happy Writing!

Kak Teh said...

i wonder what's in the air cos i 've been to a lot of blogs and many are walking down memory lane! what did we do before internet and handphones?

I think your parents' yesteryears and mine are very exciting la jt - have you had a peep at their photo albums?

J.T. said...

Hello theodwyn, thanks you for visiting my blog and for the compliments. Your comments give me motivation to continue writing. I noticed you last wrote your blog in March. Why stop? That was a nice poem you penned. My understanding of BM is a bit "karat" but I felt it.

Kak Teh, it has been a nostalgic week for me. Apart from the blogs, my brother has been sending me short video clips on our home in Klang. We are getting ready to put it up for sale. He found old photos, some dating back as far as 1896! (grandparents' time).
Oh yes! our parents' times were exciting, as was mine. Each photo that I have of mum and dad speaks a thousand words.

Theodwyn said...

Dear j.t. The blog linked from my profile is erm... not a blog.. just a poetry compilation. Not everything I write is of high quality though... so I'm sometimes a bit doubtful of publicising my url.

As for the 'story' you asked about. The summary would be.. I was missing someone.. and at the same time falling in love with someone else.. who had just asked me to be his gf.. and i had declined.

Theodwyn said...

ps.. thanks for visiting my blog and leaving the kind comment =)

zewt said...

"some station featuring music video"... hah... it's called MTV... i am glad i know that.

oh yeah, i certainly remember those phone booths days.... i used to be able to remember all my friends's home number. now, some of my friends cant even remember their own number!! it's just ridiculous.

but what you said is so true... no matter how un-advance our life may be compared to the current crop... we will always cherish our times... geee... i feel so old after saying that.

J.T. said...

Wow theodwyn, ... missing someone and falling in love with someone else. A predicament, no doubt. I know exactly how you feel. I was in that situation many, many moons(about 120 moons) ago

Theodwyn said...

Yea.. you mentioned early twenties... and that's exactly where I am now...
Twenty One +1

Arif a.k.a Idham said...

j.t....the good ole days...:) my memory lane that far back, will take me to days of playing in the rain, making toys out of bamboos and old milk cans and the like, and listening to 'bangsawan' from the transistor radio the size of a drum - but all empty box.
enjoyed reading your account....:)

arif.

J.T. said...

Theodywn, don't worry. You will find your answer. It is a phase of life that, I believe, most people experience.
Thanks for the link to your Twenty One +1 blog.

J.T. said...

Zewt - I am not as young as you are - so hip with MTV. I did find out later lah. Some 'chico' told me. :) In my day, we rented VCRs from shops to watch music videos. My favourite was Top of the Pops (UK).
Yeah, and those phone numbers. How did we have them in our heads? You know, these days, when someone asks for my number, I always say "wait I have to confirm it. After all, I don't call myself."

Theodwyn said...

j.t. Hope you enjoyed reading it.. nothing great there really...

J.T. said...

Hello Arif, thank you again.
I still remember playing "masak-masak" with my sister. We would cut up rubberbands that my mum did not want to resemble "mee goreng". We had lots of banana trees behind our house. So that was our wrapping for our make believe cuisine.
Another one would be putting the pail over our heads to resemble going to the beauty salon and having our hair set.
Oh! and those monsoon seasons that brought so much rain and floods. We would be make paper boats and launch them from our house steps.
Good times. sigh...

J.T. said...

Theodywn, I think you have some pretty good stuff there in your blog. It is getting late over here. Almost 2am. So I am going to save more reading for later in the morning. I am intrigued with your Ingredients to a Long Distance Relationship. I lived through that and married the man. I will read it as soon as my mind wakes up.

Theodwyn said...

JT, many thanks for reading my blog. The ingredients are from.. personal experience of a LDR which failed, and the ingredients I listed can be said to be the main missing ingredients (except love.. there was love... but love needs the other ingredients to nurture it too). Its not an exclusive list, I'm sure other ingredients are needed too, every couple is different, mine's just a list of what I deem important.

I'm glad your LDR lasted and was successful =) Many people say LDR's can't last.. but I believe they can. The fact that mine didn't doesn't mean others' can't, and i will never discourage people from trying. After all.. its better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

J.T. said...

Theodwyn, finally got down to reading your blog. I left some of my two-cents worth there.
You are absolutely right.. It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. If I did not experience it, then I won't have ex-boyfriends to bitch about. (kidding!) Cheers!

zewt said...

when was in college... there was this guy who lost his handphone and then he needed to contact his mom... he had to drive all the way back to seremban... he couldnt recall any of his family members' number.... very very bad!

J.T. said...

Zewt, that is bad.
wow.. Definitely, not an excuse to use with my dad when he was alive. He will say "what? don't know how to write down somewhere?" ;)