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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Reminiscing - Life in the 60s at my village in Penang.

I grew up in the days when Rock & Roll was the order of the day and as a kid, used to look in bewilderment at the elders in my village go around looking like rock stars..hehehehehe.

My village was by the seashore of the then unpolluted seas off the Jelutong foreshore. The seawaters back then was still swimmable and schools of various kinds of fish used to come swimming close ashore.

Me and my best kampong buddy Wan Ali used to lay out the fishing nets out at sea before the tide came in and used to collect lots of 'ikan belanak' which we would proudly bring back to our homes and have them fried or cooked.

There was this sort of a kampong club called 'DAKOTAS' which was sort of a members only spot where the elders in my kampong used to hang out, playing 'dam' @ checkers, and in those days they would be smoking marijuana openly by way of rolled up palm leaf cigarettes consisting of 'tembakau jawa' @ Javanese Tobacco and just smoke away as they pleased.

Villagers just let them be and minded their own business. It was like sort of taken for granted that it was the 'in thing' to do for young adults back then to indulge in all that. People weren't that religious back then I guess. I was just a young kid, happy to go fishing as I pleased and to play with my friends after school till sunset.

That 'DAKOTAS' term stood for 'Dalam Kota Ta'at Setia'. My village is called Jalan Kota Giam and is the last Malay kampong before the advent of the stretch of Chinese fishing villages that start with our neighbouring Jalan Tokong Batu and all the way to Weld Quay.

Members of DAKOTAS used to put up a stage come every Hari Raya and they had at times engaged local bands which we called 'kugirans' @ 'Kumpulan Gitar Rancak'. I recall one famous local singer they used to engage. The fella was called 'Rocky Din'. He had a squint and always wore dark sunglasses to hide his eyes! :P

The band practiced at a club they owned besides the Jelutong Police Station and close to my primary school @ Jelutong English School where I studied from 1965 to 1970.

I walked to school from my home and thus used to pass by their jamming area. Sometimes I would stop and watch them practicing. Such was the life back then. Sort of laidback and easy.

As I grew older, I started listening to English songs and among them are these classics. Bad Company and Deep Purple were the top bands that everyone listened to and the DAKOTAS club used to play their records over the cone speakers they had installed at the place.

It was records back then. Black vinyl records on 45rpm speed with the needle. Gramophones. Things that are now considered as collector's items and quite hard to come by. Those were the days.

We didn't have even a radio back then. What more a tv? By that I mean, even a black & white tv.

Only the rich ones amongst the villagers had all that. Having a transistor radio was already considered hip and those who had them were sort of proud and smug in their attitudes.

I used to watch tv at my religious teacher's home. Pak Chak @ Zakaria owned both a radio and black & white tv set. My Qur'an teacher was Tok Hawa. I learned how to recite the Qur'an from her and at times when I watch the classic black & white P.Ramlee movies, could recall how it was for us back then?

'Wrestling from Chicago' was a hot tv program and us villagers used to camp out at the window of Pak Chak's house to watch it. Those who arrived early got to place their wooden stools near the window and get to view the program without having to dodge people's head.

Latecomers had to stand and try to catch a glimpse of the wrestling program. Those who got to enter Pak Chak's living room and sat on the floor had to watch out for his feet. The man would be so fixated on the action going on the tube that when he was carried away with the action on the screen, he would kick away as if he was the one taking part in the match!!! Hahahahaha!

We would all break into laughter when that happens! Pity the chap who had to suffer Pak Chak's kick which would have the victim howling in pain and Pak Chak would sort of realize what he had done and would be apologizing profusely to the chap whilst we would be laughing out hysteriously with glee, witnessing the 'live action' before us! Hohohohoho!

As I became a teenager, I got better in my English and enjoyed listening to groups such as Bad Company, Deep Purple and Santana. These was due to my exposure to all such music being played by the DAKOTAS elders.

One of my favourites. 'Seagull' by Bad Company. Thanks to You Tube, I get to enjoy listening to these songs as I do my work. Songs written back then were much more enjoyable and nice to listen to.

Back then, I had no access to radio or television for we were too poor to afford one. I used to read books from the library or even old newspapers that the village Chinese sundry shop owner used to package groceries.

So when I got a chance to listen to such songs, I'd reflect on the meanings of the lyrics and be transported to the endless realm of the mind and sort of 'escape' from my surroundings.

Whenever I read story books or novels, I would be really engrossed in the contents of the book and imagine myself living out the story as it unfolds.!

Music nowadays is different and not really that pleasant to listen to. That's why at times I would reflect back to the times of before and reminisce about the good old days.

Portals of my mind, eh?

'Smoke on the water' by the band Deep Purple used to rule the airwaves of my village when the chaps at DAKOTAS broadcasted it live through the loudspeakers during festivities.

There must be some amongst you who would find it hard to believe that Mahaguru58 listens to Deep Purple? My favourite ones are 'Highway Star', 'Stormbringer', 'Child in Time', 'Burn',etc.

Hehehehe..what do you expect? I am from that era. The era where they reigned supreme and still do. I am sure that those in my age group can identify to all that took place back then and remember the way things were.


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