Archive for July 9th, 2012

– Photo and childhood story courtesy of IpohBornKid

I can still remember vividly the games we played, viz. bat & ball, konkey, tops, marbles, “sui kwai pok cheong hor”, hide & seek etc.(see IpohWorld for marbles & konkey). These games did not cost money compared to the present generation who would spend lots of money in playing electronic games at home and in game parlours.  Similarly, the hobbies I described in this article will bring you back to the days where it costs little to maintain birds, fishes (goldfish/fighting fish) and spiders.

One of the most common birds that were reared in Menglembu was probably called the “wo liu koh”. This bird has a yellow beak, brown feathers and can normally be found sitting on the cow’s back eating the ticks/insects that fed on the cow. My neighbour had a bird like this. This bird was carnivorous and ate minced beef and crickets. You could get cheap supply of meat from the markets but you have to catch the crickets. A common device to catch crickets was made up of a wooden pole/stick and nailed to one end, was a rectangular piece of thin iron plate cut from kerosene can. Of course one could remember that two dustpans could be made using one kerosene can. Using this device, the catcher would wade through the tall grass and beat the grass with the metal part. Any cricket clinging to a blade of tall grass would be knocked cold and you just pick up the dazed cricket and put it into a glass jar. This was food for the bird.

My neighbour told me that his bird was allowed to get out of the cage and fly in the open but it would return to the cage when it became thirsty. He explained that the bird was given Chinese tea when he first got it. He slowly increased the strength of the Chinese tea as time went by. After three months, the bird was addicted to the tea and would not drink anything else. Hence, it would return to the cage to drink. Believe it or not, I have witnessed this bird being let out of the cage and returned to the cage for a drink.

The fishes, goldfish or fighting fish, loved to eat worms. You could buy a bunch of worms in the market if you got money. When you have got no money, you have to get the worms somewhere else. There were many monsoon drains in Menglembu and these creatures lived the cracks between the concrete/cement walls of the drain and below the water level. Using a piece of iron wire with a loop on one end, you simply inserted the hook part into the crevice and then removed it. The worms would be caught by the loop. You proceed to put the worms into a small jar containing water and later transfer the worms to your fish tank.

The cheapest thrill could be gotten from an ordinary fighting spider. They usually lived in-between leaves. They could also be found at the bottom of the long lily flower leaves. To catch the spider, you would put your palms together and pull the leaves (you could see the silk nest in between the leaves) from the plant. In this way, you would not crush the poor spider. A caught spider usually lived in an empty match or cigarette box. The owner would feed the spider with insects and for drinking, a drop or two of his saliva. When two spiders were put into the narrow part of the match/cigarette box from opposite ends, they would travel along it until they met face and face, and they would start fighting. The loser usually dropped off the box with or without spinning a silk thread. Some blow air into their palm containing the spider to revive or encourage it to fight. After this treatment, a re-matched would take place.

In Menglembu, the mining pools were everywhere. When you have no money to go into Ipoh or  Kinta Swimming Club, you go to the nearest mining pool. The water was clear and cool. Many parents forbade their children to swim in mining pools because of many reported drowning. The tell-tale sign of having spent some time in the mining was that your skin showed white powdery marks when scrapped with a spoon or any scrapping device. The cane soon followed when you tested positive to this diagnostic tool.

I am sure you readers would have similar experience on tales to tell about games and hobbies that cost next to nothing.



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