Author Archives: nikicheong - Page 2

I didn’t know what being a Malaysian means

Listening to the chatters of the adults in grandma house on a lazy Sunday afternoon in Brickfields while eating my favorite red bean tong sui along with my cousins. The adults’ conversations starts off with “We the Chinese….and would mix it with “They the Malai/Dao Si…”. I was six and I didn’t know what being a Malaysian means. Primary 1 to Primary 6 was learning the way to think as a Chinese (Confucious) and learn my roots as a Chinese through Mandarin. I learnt Bahasa too and managed to do well in UPSR scoring an A. But, I would...
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The sound of evening bells

I remember back when I was growing up, I look forward to the evenings because that would be when the roti uncle or the ice-cream uncle will pass by. The bells and the rings will always be part of my life. Those days, I would happily run out as a child and buy bread or ice-cream from the uncles (usually uncles-lah). He would give me that wide smile and I would give a big smile in return (got food, sure smile lah). He even used to play “One To Juice (or is it Want To Juice)” after I give...
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Culture

Speed dial, the old way

Do you remember the time before mobile phones? We had home and office phones, which from my earliest recollection was a rotary dial before the push button dial came along and even then we thought ‘Wow! That’s revolutionary.’However, what was more ‘Wow’ was that I could remember up to a hundred plus random 6 digit telephone numbers of family and friends. The contact list resided in our brain, and just like speed dial I could call up any of the phone number within seconds. How amazing is that!Since I bought my first mobile phone in 1998, my brain seems...
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Hey, Mr Postman

Back in the 90s, when I was a little boy, there was a postman who will deliver letters in my neighbourhood everyday. And most of the time, we will exchange smiles and talk a little after he has completed his rounds and through that, we bonded. Sometimes, he allows me to ride on his motorbike and follow him on his rounds – delivering letters all over the neighbourhood. Kids being kids, I looked forward to this routine every morning, and eagerly hopped onto his bike to be his sidekick. We will go to from one gate to another...
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Market report

When I was young, I used to accompany my Wan (grandmother) to the market. We lived in a predominantly Chinese community, thus the first thing we would notice at the market is the Chinese prayer altar and the smell of incense intermixed with the smells of fresh appam made to order by the Indian auntie. Certain times of the year, there will be a Chinese opera stage blocking the entrance to the market, and the whole place will be abuzz with Cantonese and Hokkien dialects, of actors running around in costume with their faces half made up, and runner...
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Relationships

Carefree days of yore

I am the product of a mixed marriage: My father is of Hadhrami descent (although categorised as Malay in his IC) and my mother is a Malaysian Chinese. My mother was 39 when she married my father, who was 11 years her junior. I always find it amazing how my mother had the courage to marry someone way younger and of a different religion too. In our household, we were exposed to different cultures, traditions and celebrations from a very young age. Many of my friends would be jealous when I told them that I received ang pow, duit raya and sometimes,...
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Culture

Green, green grass of home

I was born and raised in the riverine town of Teluk Anson (now Teluk Intan) in Perak. There were several jetties where boats that ferried goods and people from the riverine villages would dock. Traffic on the waters was especially busy during the fruiting seasons, and the jetty nearest to town and the market would be a hive of activities. Boats, either motorised or rowed in, would jostle and scrape against each other in their haste to get their goods on land and onto waiting carts or lorries, which would already be waiting before dawn.  Rolling waves splashed and...
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Culture

A kebaya should celebrates a woman’s curves

It was a soft pink top with lace scalloped edges and embroidered white flowers, which I would pair with a gold-maroon batik sarong skirt. It was my favourite kebaya and it fitted me like a glove! Of course, that was nearly 40 years ago, before I had children and was blessed with the kind of hourglass figure that were the envy of women at the time. If you ask me, a kebaya should be form fitting and celebrates a woman’s curves, not hide them. What made that kebaya all the more special to me was that the sarong was a gift from a friend who...
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Shared Experiences

I don’t think there’s a Malaysian festival that I don’t like

I don’t think there’s a Malaysian festival that I don’t like and I think we are very fortunate that we have many of them. In my family alone, we celebrate at least three main ones as we’re a huge but close knit family with members of different races and religions. Chinese New Year is, of course, a major celebration and every member of the family, no matter which part of the world they’re in, would gather at my parents house for 15 days of feasting. My parents are quite traditional and insist that we all keep to the many...
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Common Traits

We would pretend to be super heroes

Mine was always a dragon, with a red body and green scales, while my sister would go for the smallest one at the stall our parents took us to, usually a squirrel or rabbit. I’m talking about lanterns of course. In the two weeks or so leading up to Mid Autumn Festival, we would have our own little lantern parade around the housing area. Ours was a multi-racial neighbourhood and all the kids participated. Who doesn’t like those colourful, cute animal-shaped lanterns anyway? We would pretend to be vigilantes or super heroes as we roamed the neighbourhood.  Whenever we...
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