Friday, April 20, 2012

My grandfather, my father, I and my sons

My grandfather lived in a rickety wooden house, earthen floor with no electricity or running water in a village near Sitiawan, Perak for most of his life. My father lived in a small estate quarters (no electricity and no running water) and later in government quarters until the age of 40 after which he bought a terrace house. I live in a nice house in Subang Jaya with all the modern amenities with so many facilities nearby. I am sure my sons would most probably live in even better homes.

My grandfather bought a bicycle when he was about 40 years old, I think. Before that he just walked or took a bus wherever he went. My father too used a bicycle for most of his life. He bought a car (a third-hand Volkswagen) when he was about 40 years old. I bought my first car (a second-hand Datsun 120Y) when I was 26 years old and after working for 3 years [BTW, I fully paid the car loan – and did not rally at Dataran Merdeka]. My sons are already thinking about the exotic cars that they are going to buy when they grow up.

My grandfather never went to school and hence had no notion of pocket money. My father completed up to Form 5 but never had pocket money because they were too poor. (He sometimes had black coffee in the morning before school, sometimes nothing). I had a proper breakfast at home and 10 sen a day pocket money when I was in primary school. This increased to 30 sen when I was in Form 5. I think my sons’ pocket money could probably be more than the GDP’s of several African countries.

My grandfather died without ever having eaten in a restaurant – he simply could not afford it. My father only ate in a restaurant once in two or three years and that too towards his retirement when the children were working. I only started eating in a restaurant when I left the university. When we were growing up, my family almost never ate out- there was never enough money. My kids eat out several times a week (I think they own half of McDonalds).

My grandfather died without ever having been on an aeroplane. My father first flew in an aeroplane at the age of 60. I first flew at the age of 21 (my first air trip was to KK). My sons first flew when they were 2 years old.

My grandfather had no concept of holiday. He worked everyday just to survive. My father never went on a holiday until after he retired. When I was growing up, the closest we got to a proper holiday was visit some relatives in Ipoh (but luckily our house was near the beach, so every weekend we would go for a swim – not too bad for a holiday). I started travelling for holidays only after many years of working. Nowadays, my sons (and my wife and I) travel for holidays several times a year.

My grandfather never saw a TV. My father remembers watching a television for the first time when he was 27 years old. Of course, there was television when I was born but only black and white and two channels only (RTM1 and RTM2). Malaysia only got its 3rd channel (TV3) in 1984. I don’t know exactly how many channels my sons have access to but the number must be pretty big (not forgetting all that the stuff they watch over Youtube).

My grandfather had never owned, used and even seen a telephone. I think my father used a telephone when he started working. He reluctantly agreed to install a phone in our house when I was in Form 4 (and there were strict rules who could use the phone). My bought my first mobile phone (BTW, I did not ask the government for a free phone) in 1995 after working for several years. My school-going sons have their own mobile phones.

My grandfather never saw a computer. My father first saw a computer when he was 50 years old. I first started using computer (the huge old mainframes) in the university when I was 18. My sons started using them when they were 2.

My grandfather probably never had an ice-cream in his life. In his teens, the only ice cream my father had was aiskrim Malaysia (frozen flavoured & sweetened water). In my teens, there were probably 10 varieties of icecream where I lived. My sons now have access to over 500 types/flavours of icecream.

When my grandfather died, there were no universities in this country. When my father finished his Form 5, there was only one university. When I finished my Form 5, there were 7 universities in Malaysia. Now there are 20 public universities and at least 10 private ones. When my sons finish their Form 5, there will even more.

Monyet King also says
1.In life, we have to pause frequently, look around and take stock of what we have. Be thankful for what we have. Bersyukurlah dengan apa yang kita ada. Of course, we have to continuosly strive to better ourselves, our community and our nation - but from time to time, just pause and ponder.

2. The world does not owe you a living. It was here first.

3. To listen to Sudirman's classic Basikal Tua (Hidup sederhana), go here


bruno said...

Monyet King,when I was young going to KL was like going to Australia.Then going to Singapore was like going to the UK or Usa.Nowadays the children flew all over Europe and Asia like we were going to Taiping Lake.

Ten sens then to thirty sens during my schooldays were like 'goo chia lean'(ox cart wheel)
Nowadays ten dollars is like peanuts.

The only people who thinks that the world owns them a living are the privileged and politically connected whose offsprings do not have to do a days work in their entire lives.

CK said...

Brilliant, MK. We have indeed come a very long way.

Ozz said...

Hi MK!

My great grandfather had FOUR wives and he lived 120 years....

My grandfather had THREE wives and they were the kampong football champion.

My father had TWO wives and made me very very spoiled.

I only have ONE wife....and live is A LIVING HELL!!!!!!!!!

eddy said...

Bro, that jaguar bicycle is the first transport that my father bought too....ah the good old days when life is a lot less complicated.

Anonymous said...

What a long way the Sipilok Sanctuary have come!!

Now at least we can talk and use the computer.

Ding2... Banana time..

Monyet King said...

Thanks for sharing. Yes, there are people who have grown up without having to do a single day's work.

Monyet King said...

TQ. Sure, the naiton has come a long way. There are obviously problems here and there but one cannot deny that it has made tremendous progress.

Monyet King said...

Good to hear from you and your wives' story. LOL.

Monyet King said...

The good old days were definitely less complicated but not necesarily better. We had other problems then.

Kalau ada masa, read this

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Your Royal Monyetness,
Mak saya kata, salah satu tanda bersyukur ialah dengan membantu mereka yang lebih memerlukannya. Betul kan? purrr....meow!

semuanya OK kot said...

We also need more honest and detailed stories of WW2 and the Emergency, both good and bad. Also, the self-proclaimed sons of the soil should be reminded that it was mostly Indians whom the British used as cannon fodder at Kota Baru and Morib, and that aborigines were vital to guiding the resistance forces in the jungle. In the rewriting of history, a memorial plaque at Morib seems to have disappeared (just like the historic well at Malacca beach). Compare this attitude with that of Westerners who celebrate every bit of history, especially for its potential to attract tourism.

Anonymous said...

Life was then when the whole village owns you. Make a small mistake (like curi2 the yet to ripen rambutan) you have the whole village reporting to your grandma. You know the outcome, tali timba la jawabnya. You represent the school in the district inter-school sports meet, the whole village turn-up to cheer you on. You succeed and get to go to boarding school/college, the whole village sends you off at the railway station.

Now don't you dare tell-off the neighbourhood kid, the parents will report you for child harressment.

Yes, we have come a long long way.

Hani said...

We've come a long way, haven't we? Yet many of us take things for granted and are almost never thankful for all the blessings we've received.

Monyet King said...

Your mother was absolutely right

Monyet King said...

History is always written by the victors... hence the skew

Monyet King said...

Anon 3:12 PM
Yup..... in the yester years, the village did indeed own you. LOL

Monyet King said...

Many continuously whine because they think the world owes them a living.