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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Bougainvillea bloom time

Bougainvillea bloom time
By C S Wan

It has not rained in Taman Sentosa, Melaka for nearly two months. The ground is parched and most of the annuals in the garden have withered.
However, the bougainvillea have taken advantage of the long, dry spell to display their beautiful bloom.

Here are some pictures of the bougainvillea in my garden.

A view from the poech

Bougainvillea at the front gate

Profusion of colours

3 in 1 bougainvillea

Bougainvillea cascading over a swing

'Mouse-deer' under a bougainvillea plant

Bougainvillea growing in a man-made tree stump

Bougainvillea outside the garden wall

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Chinese New Year celebration (2014) in Melaka: Sharing childhood memories

Chinese New Year celebration (2014) in Melaka: 

Sharing childhood memories.

By C S Wan

It has been our family tradition to hold open house at our respective houses for our extended family members and close friends at our respective houses during the Chinese New Year. However, this year (2014) we had to make some alteration to our usual arrangement as a nephew was getting married on the second day of the New Year. My brother and sisters then decided to pool their  resources and hold an open house at our ancestral house in Batu Berendam, Melaka. The wedding date, however, was a blessing in disguise as some relatives from overseas and those residing outside the state, who  came for the wedding, were also able to attend the open house. Other than our usual guests, this year  we were happy to welcome our cousin, Alice and her husband Ken from Japan; our friends Peter and his son Aaron and wife from Kuala Lumpur and my cousin,  ‘Nyonya”, whom I last met some 20 years ago in Singapore.

The lunch began with the tossing of the yee shang ( salad of raw fish and shredded vegetables mixed with other condiments and sauces) . With boisterous shouts and laughter we tossed the yee shang into the air, as it is believed the higher you toss the yee shang the more earnings you will receive for the year.

Then it was time to head for the buffet table which was filled to the edge with a wide variety of delectable dishes:

Mee, satay and other delectable dishes

Special delivery: Otak-otak from Muar

Rojak from Simpang Empat

Rojak: Joon's speciality

Les's signature dish

With a disposable plate piled high with food, I joined my cousin, Tiam Swee, and others at a table under a red canopy and we were soon recollecting and sharing our childhood experiences and escapades during our stay in Batu Berendam. Those days most of the area in our neighbourhood was covered with thick, lush vegetation and the few houses in the village stood far apart. At night only the pale glow of kerosene lamps flickered from within the wooden houses, as electricity and running water had not reached the village.
One night, Tiam Swee recalled, he was down with a slight fever and was resting in the bedroom when from just outside the window he heard the mocking sounds of birds and animals. Grandma too had heard the sound and knowing it was a Pontianak ( vampire ghost ) she hurried to the kitchen. She took out some dried chillies and placed them in a lighted incense burner. Irritated and angered by the pungent odour that wafted from the burner, the Pontianak let out a spine-chilling cackle that rent the night air. In the pin-drop silence of the dimly-lit room, Tiam Swee and grandma listened to the mocking laughter that gradually faded into the distance. 

The story reminded me of an earlier conversation with my cousin Alice from Japan. Alice too had fond memories of her childhood days in Batu Berendam.

Alice and Ken

 She remembered harvesting lemon grass and tying them into neat bundles which they sold for twenty sen a bundle. She also recalled the time when the village was buzzing with the sightings of orang minyak (oily man ). According to Malaysian folklore, the orang minyak was a physically deformed hunchback who made a pact with the devil. The devil promised to change him into a handsome, young man during the day, but at night he would be transformed into a dark, oily man and had to seek and sleep with young, unmarried girls. Alice also remembered the kampung folks telling them the branch of a drum-stick tree (pokok kelor ) when placed inside the house would deter the orang minyak from entering the house. Mother who was also concerned about the safety of her young, daughters too had managed to get a branch of the tree and placed it beside the main door.
The sight of a drum-stick tree that stood at the edge of the playground now triggered a memory. Camera in hand, I made my way towards the tree and was joined by my sis, Teck Neo and nieces Lisa and Fiona. 

 While my sis explained to my nieces on how to select the fruits for cooking curry, I stood gazing at the tree. I was told when news about the sightings of the orang minyak finally fizzled out, mother took out the branch of the drum-stick tree that had been placed beside the door and planted it in front of the house.  I am not sure if the tree was able to provide protection from the orang minyak, but to-day, fifty years on, the tree provides us shade from the heat of the scorching sun and bountiful supply of fruits. And it stands there as a reminder of a mother’s care and love for her children.

This Chinese New Year ( 2014 ) not only gave us the opportunity to renew and strengthen family bonds and friendship, but also an opportunity to share our childhood memories.  

Monday, February 3, 2014

Nyonya sarong kebaya and peranakan pantun

Nyonya sarong kebaya and peranakan pantun

By C S Wan

Photos courtesy of Lisa Lim

Update with more photos and video

Sarong kebaya and pantun ( Malay poetry ) are synonymous with  the traditional peranakan culture.
In the old days, it was common to see the nyonya in their sarong kebaya, however, today the nyonya signature attire has been reserved mainly for special occasions.
The older generation of peranakan were also adept at berpantun and would often exchange extemporaneous pantun (berbalas pantun) when they performed the ronggeng or dondang sayang and even their  everyday conversations would sometimes be interspersed with pantun.
Recently, my niece, Lisa with her sis and cousins,  elegantly attired in their beautiful sarong kebaya, posed for a photo at the Ramada Plaza which she posted on Facebook .

Nyonya manis

 She also penned a pantun to accompany the photo of the bevy of Melaka nyonya beauties. The pantun generated a lively exchange of pantun among our family members. I am glad and proud that they have all shown keen interest in preserving their peranakan cultural heritage.
With Lisa and the others kind permission, I have posted  photos of my nieces in their sarong kebaya and a selection of pantun penned by the nyonya and baba.

A bevy of Melaka nyonya beauties

A selection of pantun penned by the nyonya and baba

Lisa Lim: Tinggi tinggi pokok pinang
                 Tinggi lagi pokok kelapa
                 Cantik cantik anak Pulau Pinang
                 Cantik lagi nyonya Melaka

Joon Wan:  Anak bermain di tengah bendang
                   Lari-lari jatuh terluka
                   Sarong kebaya memang cantik dipandang
                   Apalagi dipakai nyonya Melaka

Fiona Lim: Sorong papan, tarik papan
                  Buah keranji dalam perahu
                  Anak-anak nyonya, cantik menawan
                  Apatah lagi, pada tahun baru

Xhen Song: Budak budak main bunga api
                    Orang tua main judi
                    Pakai kebaya setahun sekali
                    Bila mo gayakan lagi

Fiona Lim: Satu, dua kucing berlari'
                   Manakan sama si kucing belang
                    Kita boleh gayakan kebaya lagi
                    Tunggu aje Lenny kahwin sekarang

Lenny Wan: Dua tiga kucing berlari
                     Kucing belang bermain tali
                     Duit kahwin penat gua cari
                     Tapi habis dikaut si Leslie

Les Kwong: Sepupu Lisa asyik suka perli
                     Kenapa si laki belum cuti lagi
                     Kalo Lenny mau duit kahwin lagi
                     Jom mari main judi lagi

Joon Wan: Dua tiga kucing berlari
                  Salah-salah lompat masuk perigi
                  Si Leslie ajak main judi
                  Boleh dia keruk duit kita lagi

 Photos taken on 20th December 2014

The nyonyas in their sarong kebaya at Jean's and Lenny's wedding dinner at the Philea Resort, Melaka.

Photos taken on 23rd July 2016
A bevy of peranakan beauties with their beautiful sarong kebaya at Justin's and Sheila's wedding luncheon held at the Ramada Plaza, Melaka.


The little nyonyas

Nyonya pakai kebaya by Dolly Tupez on Youtube