Jun 16, 2021

Cory Diary : Changing Expectation

I faintly remember my first home. A one room HDB. Probably more than 45 years ago in Toa Payoh. As I remembered now, hardly venture further beyond my block then. The long dark common corridor is filled with units on both sides of the aisle. The building is a long block and there is a central area connecting 2 blocks. Those days, chewing gums were abundant and they will stick on the floors unsightly in many areas in dark round patches on the cement floor. For our entire floor which have more than 20 units I thinks, there is no lift at ours. It only stops on specific floors and we have to do the climb for the rest. Once or twice, someone will urinated in the lift and it really smells.

Often one of the corridor or stairway light will be spoiled and if lucky, it will be dark for that segment of the corridor else flicking lights which kind of blur my eyes. At the both ends of the corridor there will be will be thin railing to fence it off. At our end, we could see the open space carpark below a close distance away. Is really a luxury to own a car. 

One interesting social behavior is that neighbors tend to leave their door opened and there is no gate then. There is a small hump on the entrance to prevent water flowing in or out of the unit when the cleaner washes the corridor. I would often visit my Malay Neighbors across the walkway just to explore who were always there welcoming a three year old Chinese boy "intrusion" visits.

It is also the first and last place I witness often how pa-pa and ah bang prayed in the scared direction of Mecca. I love the place because it is carpeted and I would lie on it with kakak (elder sister). In the backyard, ma-ma will sit on the floor and cook with some fine utensils using a lighted palm oil from a glass bowl. Very simple structured cooking instruments which we hardly see nowadays. She will make delicious rice and curry !

At home we have black and white TV. The box is large almost like a table. Often I would lie on down and watch which probably result me having to wear spectacle in my early age. I remembered the carton with the song  " Gu Gua Gu Gua Xiao Qin Wa ... ". Is about the story of a frog. I still miss it. The entire unit size is probably the size of a living room space of a 4 room flat. So you can imagine there is no separation between the bed with the living room.

There is a narrow pathway which housed the kitchen connecting to the backyard. There narrow side of it is fence railed to bottom so I could see what's going down there on the ground floor. Once I was naughty and dropped an eaten skeletal apple stem few floors above hitting a young girl arm on the ground floor. What an idiot of me. She shrugged it off and walkaway.

Right at the back of the backyard, we need to make a U-turn to get into the toilet. Those days the door is made of Flimsy Metal Sheet. Cranking sound every time we use it. We need to squat to get our business done. And for the the record I never really understand the direction I should face but squatting was easy then. It will be a feat for me to try today. Back then you can slip and have your feet stuck inside the shit hole if you are not careful. Horror stories I heard. There is also a rubbish chute in our backyard but it smells.

A huge chore for a housewife is washing clothes rubbing on a washboard in the toilet. Mum seems to do this all day. Laundry is interesting. The long bamboo pole is quite heavy which stuck to the outer pot angled. Try handing them out when is full of wet clothing. Take some skill to hang them. The hot sun will dry them super fast. I remembered there is a practice back then where our neighbor one unit above us will use the bamboo to slam against the outside wall to tell us she plan to hang wet clothing and my mum will quickly collect back the dried clothing.

Home is very simple. There is no table and just a master bed nicely tucked against the inner wall. Floor is well cement polished. On the opposite side of the bed is the window where mum placed her vintage sewing machine.

Interestingly in our home we do not even have a fan less an air conditioner but I hardly ever feel hot. Maybe we are conditioned those days or room temperature is much lower back then. Life is just plain simple because we do not have mobile phone, computer or washing machine. We do have a charcoal oven to cook Chinese medicine for hours in the backyard. It is also a place mum do live slaughter of chicken.- Yes I witness them all. Kind of gross with the blood dripping down.

Oh I just remembered, there is no water heater but frankly there is no need too. I don't ever remember feeling very cold taking a shower at all.  In the kitchen, there is a medium size fridge. Yes is already common and invented by 1970s I suppose. That's all I could remember around there other than the washing basin besides it. We hardly ever eat outside. Mum will cook all our meals so she will visit the wet market a walking distance away. Supermarket is unheard of. Neither is there coffee shop nearby. Our expense is really low.

Yes, if we live like that, we can bring up a family much much easier than today with much lesser money - inflation adjusted. Unless forced into, there is no way I can live like this today.

2021-0616 - First Pass

Articles in this Blog is personal take and educational purposes only. Reader should seek their own professional help when making financial decision and be responsible for their decision.

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