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Bloody Driving License

Some friends who read my blog about buying a car in the UK asked me why I didn’t talk about my experience in getting a UK driving license. My usual answer was just “It’s too painful (shameful actually) to even recall that” but right now I think I better share the pain before I forget everything.

Driving License

That’s my driving license and if you cut through it with a pair of scissors, I bet you will see my blood and sweat oozing out. Well that’s just the typical cinapek way of tell you that it’s such a fucking pain in the ass to get that piece of plastic.

A summary of facts:

1. I managed to get my driving license after going through 5 driving tests – I failed the first 4.

2. It took me 7 months to get my driving license, 6 months more than initially expected.

3. I had insomnia for two nights after the first failed driving test.

4. I switched my instructor twice thinking that probably it’s probably the instructor’s problem – I was utterly wrong.

Theory & Hazard Perception Test

The theory test was pretty easy actually and most of the rules and road signs were pretty much self explanatory. The hazard perception test was something completely new to me and I thought it’s quite fun. I had to watch a first-person video footage of a moving vehicle and respond to each potential hazard as fast as possible. For example, when I saw a vehicle coming out of a junction or a pedestrian looking to cross the road, I had to click on the mouse immediately, the quicker I clicked the more points I would score. Finally I realised my years of playing Counter Strike had paid off and I passed with flying colours..haha!

Practical Test – Preparation

Before I sat for any practical tests, I got myself an instructor just to get familiar with the testing procedures. Deep inside me, I kept thinking that there’s no way I was gonna fail because I had been driving for over 7 years in Malaysia without any accidents. I even chuckled when the instructor told me that experienced drivers are more prone to failure because they have picked up so many bad driving habits.

The first instructor I had used to be in the military and I found him quite intimidating. I once took the wrong roundabout exit and he just chuckled, “Oh no, I said third exit Daryl and you just took the fourth! You are an accountant who cannot count properly”. Actually I thought that was quite embarrassingly funny. In my defense, I just took the wrong lane that led me to the wrong exit and he always didn’t allow me to switch lane once I entered the roundabout. His advice was this “When you get yourself into the wrong lane, just take that particular exit and examiner can’t penalise you because you won’t harm anyone by getting yourself lost”. I began to like his sense of humour and sarcasm.

Why did I take the wrong lane often? I can’t explain without bitching a little bit about the UK roundabout. First of all, I’m very used to the Malaysia roundabout which looks like this —

KL Roundabout

I was so used to switching lane in the roundabout just to take the exit I want..haha!

Then I had to face something different in the UK. Normally I would first see a road sign like this —

Roundabout - Multiple exit

The instructor would then give me instruction “Enter the roundabout and take the fourth exit”, without telling me the destination. Then I started counting the exit to figure out the destination – vital information for the next sign that shows me the right lane like this —

Get in Lane Sign

 

I often took the wrong lane because the roundabout look like this —

UK Roundabout

As I said before, I needed to enter the correct lane that flowed through to the exit I wanted. Actually this roundabout wasn’t too bad, the ones with 6-7 exits with 3-4 lanes were fucking stressful.

Mirror – Signal – Turn

One of the most important traffic rules is that I must look at mirror to check that there was no oncoming car, then signal and turn. But I was so used to putting signal before the mirror checking.

“Why can’t I indicate my signal first?” I asked.

“That will scare the car beside you, if any. So you need to check the mirror to make sure there is no car, then you signal” the instructor answered. I didn’t know my signal could be so scary.

“If there is no car, then what for I signal?” I asked.

“……”

On the side note, I used turn on my signal before pulling out my car in the neighbourhood when there was no cars around and he said, “There’s no one around to see your signal, don’t bother!”.

 

Practical Test – 1st Attempt

I was beaming with smile towards the end of the test because I was so confident that I would pass. Then the examiner told me I failed because of driving at 35 mph in a 30 mph zone. Now try to imagine having a loud thunder in the middle of a sunny day – that’s exactly how I felt. In fact, she said all my other aspects were perfect except for speeding. I was so preoccupied with the mirror-signal-turn bullshit that I totally forgot to constantly check my dashboard!

I was totally dumbfounded at that point and before I recover from that, she had left the car. It happened so quickly that I didn’t even have time to pull out a £50 note and ask “Let’s settle here, can?”. I probably didn’t care if this Malaysian gesture would land me in jail.

I had insomnia for two nights because the next test session was one and a half month away. The testing slots were so limited that I really couldn’t afford to wait. I desperately needed my driving license to get my car financing done.

Practical Test – 2nd Attempt

I’ll make the long story short. I failed because I was driving 20 mph in a 40 mph zone. It’s fucking embarrassing to even mention about that.

Practical Test – 3rd Attempt

I came out from a T-junction and didn’t speed up quickly enough. According to my examiner, I failed because the car behind me had to break and slow down because of me. Wtf! If the car behind me was in the middle of a driving test, I’m pretty sure he/she would fail because of speeding! =P

Practical Test – 4th Attempt

I failed for making this turn at the junction.

Junction turn

I have encroached into the opposite lane because there was an idiot who parked his/her car illegally right at the junction.

“You would have crashed your car if there is another car stopping at the junction (at the spot showing my car in the picture)!” said the examiner. In my mind, I was wondering who the fuck would make a turn like I did IF there was a car there.

“So what would you do instead?” I asked.

“I would have stopped behind the parked car (yellow spot in picture), then check to see if there is any car coming from the opposite direction before pulling out again,” he answered.

Oh well, I forgot it’s a test. You basically go by the book regardless of how impractical it is. I show you an example —

SteeringYou are not allowed to do this because neither of your hands can cross over the imaginary 90 degree boundary. So how do you steer your wheel when it comes to a sharp bend? Just imagine wiping a round plate with both of your hands holding a piece of cloth and that’s how you should do it. I don’t really know how to describe how to do it but I can tell you it’s fucking ridiculous and dangerous actually.

***

Well it’s really good to have stringent driving test in order to churn out good and responsible drivers. I can assure you that I was such a great law abiding driver in the UK until I returned to Malaysia to become a hooligan driver. Thinking back, my instructor was right, I had so much bad habits due to my long (reckless) driving experience. Compared to the UK driving test, my driving test in Malaysia was really easy. I didn’t even have to enter a single roundabout.

malaysia parking testDoes it look familiar? This is how to park your car during a driving test in Malaysia. Ask yourself this, “Where the hell can you find a parking lot in the world with poles around it to guide you?”. The answer is not anywhere except the Malaysia Driving Test Centres.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

What Is Possible?

What is possible

This morning I came across this picture shared on Facebook. I smiled at the end of it because it’s so true and interesting when you put things in that context. It is very self-explanatory but I still have the urge to put a little bit of thoughts into it.

Being A Kid

It’s true that as a kid, I thought I could do anything. I wanted to be carpenter who creates beautiful furniture though I had not come across IKEA yet. I also wanted to be a scientist who can create robots after watching so much “Robocops” on TV. I even wanted to be a garbage collector after seeing how cool they were standing on the back of a moving garbage truck like this.chicagogarbagetruck

I actually thought it’s amazing that they managed to drive it from the back without even looking a the road in front. There was really no boundary when it came to imagination.

School Started

This was when teachers started telling me to study hard so that I could be a doctor, engineer or lawyer. They literally made me think that there were only three types of jobs in this world, how sad.

As an adult, I used wonder why my teachers never told us to be entrepreneurs. Then I realised lots of successful entrepreneurs are school dropouts. Ahhh…my teachers wanted to protect their “rice bowl”…haha! Jokes aside, I think the real reason is that professionals like doctors and engineers command a more steady income and they are generally preferred by parents.

One of my neighbour used to ask my mom, “Eh, your son study Economics later can get job meh? His study is good mah, so should be doctor!”

Upon Graduation

The most conventional route after graduation is applying for a job, always. Grades defined what you could do because it appear on the first line of your resume. To a lot of employers, spotting a bad grade even on a perfect resume is like staring at a hot bombshell who speaks in a man’s voice. It turns them off immediately. That’s true during my time when it came to the investment banking industry and management consulting, the holy grail of the employment world.

Some may have thought of starting a business, but their parents threaten to strangle them if they do. My mom used to tell me that nothing can be achieved if I don’t have work experience.

Job Experience

Some jobs undoubtedly bring great opportunities and open a few doors later in life. This is usually true if the job lets you interact with many different people or if you work with an incredibly helpful boss. But that kinda opportunity is very rare. Most people I know end up with a nine-to-five job numbing themselves while enriching their bosses. New opportunities? Where ohhh? This is particularly true in a huge organisation because your superiors are too busy with their own agenda (retire in peace, for example).Nobody gives a fuck about what you want really.

***

Not much input from me for the last two points but I genuinely agree that lots of great things are created by people without superhuman intelligence . Along the way, they engage the really smart ones to help with the execution. Perhaps that’s also why we see many MBAs working their asses off for those who didn’t even go to school. It won’t be that way forever of course. As more people have the chance to go to school, you probably see more entrepreneurs with a degree. At the same time, those working for them will have triple Phd and double Master degree.

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

My Car Buying Experience in UK

Today I had a customer who booked Anjung Nuri for his wedding. We haggled over the price for a while before closing a deal which we were both happy with. At the end of it, I couldn’t help but chuckled because I started recalling my own experience being at the other end of the table. Erica has been calling me a cinapek lately, especially when I started haggling in car workshop, night market, souvenir stalls etc. The thing is, she begged me to bargain on her behalf and then started calling me “silai” (housewife who loves to haggle) after she got a good price.

I went through one of my most tiring haggling experiences when I was buying a car in UK, the first car I owned in my life. You usually see people going to work in underground train and probably think I was living in luxury with a car in UK. Well, you are absolutely wrong. I was working in Southampton where car is a necessity. Being a cheapskate, I did try the public transport at first but then decided to get a car before I got into depression. I used to get stranded in the middle of nowhere covered in snow.

I visited the Toyota show room at least five times before buying this little sexy bitch in red.

Toyota_Yaris_3_door

Why five times? It just happened. Not that I planned beforehand that I must go at least five times because it does sound stupid. I roughly remember it went like this.

First Time

I went to Toyota show room and I was served by a very friendly salesman, I call him D. Guess what, we spent the first half an hour talking about his family, his job, his weekend, the weather, my job, my weekend…bla bla bla. To be frank, I was not interested to know about his weekend at all. About the weather, hmm we live in the same place with the same weather, so what’s so special about his weather that I didn’t know? These are the usual topics for a small talk in UK by the way, and I got used to it along the way.

At the end, I just grabbed all the brochures, check out some models and left. If you know cinapek well, they won’t buy anything from you before checking out your other competitors.

So I went to Volkswagen and Ford and did the same thing. Over that same weekend, I had talked about my job, family, weekend and the weather three times. Sometimes I just faked a few things to make my weekend sounds more interesting. I reckoned they would rip me off thinking that I was a nerd if I told them I just watched TV at home over weekend.

Second Time

I went for a test drive in a Toyota Auris. Same thing happened, I left for a Volkswagen Polo and Ford KA. By this time, I knew what to look for and what sort of questions to ask in order to get the best bargain.

Another thing about cinapek is, they will ask a lot of questions, test all your products, compare everything with your competitor and then tell you they will come back again.

Third Time

D introduced to me a Toyota Yaris Diesel and gave me a rather lengthy sales pitch. Just when I was about to say yes, I realised there was a cheaper version that runs on petrol. After lots of questions, I gave him another cinapek‘s favourite phrase – “Let me go home and think about it”.

Fourth Time

“Hey Mr.Chew, it’s you again, good to see you!” D greeted me. I was pretty sure he was cursing me in his heart at that time, haha!

For the small talk, I realised I already talked about my last weekend with him, so I talked about my plan for the next weekend which was all made up.

I then started haggling, “Hey D, I don’t think I’m gonna take the diesel version for a few reasons:

1. The diesel engine is £3k more expensive than the petrol version.

2. The diesel engine saves me £0.05 for every mile driven over the next two years. I plan to go back to London after two years and I don’t need a car there.

3. My company will reimburse me £0.40 per mile driven and expect to drive 20,000 miles over the next two years.

4. Therefore, my total savings from a diesel car is only £1k. I’ll buy it at £7k (List price = £10k).”

“Wow, I’ve never heard that before. You have a very scientific approach of buying car indeed,” D said. Ah, I got the sarcasm.

In the end, there was no deal because the reduction I asked for was simply not possible.

Fifth Time

After talking to a few dealers of other brands and my fellow colleagues who drove different brands, I realised Toyota still offered the best quality. I went back to the same show room and found the cheapest Toyota Yaris (Petrol Engine, Second Hand, List Price =£7k).

“This car looks pretty good but it’s used car and I saw the engine is quite dirty and it looks a bit wobbly. The best I can do is £5k.” I said to D. Honestly, I didn’t know what I was talking about. The engine was just a bit dusty and I just said wobbly for the sake of getting bargain.

We went back and forth haggling for quite long before he proposed to meet me in the middle at £6k.

I just said, “let’s go for £5,800 because the number “8” represents fortune for the Chinese and it will bring good luck to me.” At that moment, I realised my mouth was responding quicker than my mind. He burst out laughing because he had never heard of that before. We finally sealed the deal at £6k as I really need a car and that’s the best I could get. Seriously, I didn’t fucking care about number “8”. In fact, a “5” combined with a “8” represents “No Fortune” in Chinese.

Here came my last attempt to squeeze something out of it while we were shaking hands. “Thanks D. By the way, you guys are gonna give me a Sat Nav for free right? Nowadays most cars come with one,” I said.

“haha, that thing only costs £50. I don’t mind giving you one if we have it here but we don’t,” replied D.

 

***

Looking back, I realised I’ve gone through so much hassle buying that little car. Erica always say that I have very thick skin because I’m not ashamed to ask for bargain and squeeze whatever I can from it. I think that’s true and I’m not ashamed to admit that, haha!

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

A RM50k Scam

This is a true story.It happened to a friend of mine in her 50s, let’s call her Ms. C. She lost RM50k just a year ago in the most bizarre way I can imagine.

One day Ms. C entered a bank for some errands without any intention of withdrawing money. She bumped into a stranger who introduced himself as a Bruneian. He initiated a friendly conversation and asked Ms. C to read something from a piece of paper. The conversation continued. The next thing Ms. C remembered was the fact that she was in a shopping mall.

She was in panic because she has no recollection of what happened between the moment she was speaking to the Bruneian and the moment she appeared in a shopping mall. Her jaw dropped when she saw a RM50k withdrawal slip in her handbag. So the only thing she could do was to call her brother and they lodge a police report.

After some brief investigation, this is what they found out. The bank’s CCTV showed that after a lengthy conversation with the Bruneian, Ms. C proceeded to withdraw RM50k of cash in a big envelope. A few minutes of conversation ensued before Ms. C pass the cash to the Bruneian and they both left and parted ways. As usual for most CCTV in this country, when the police enlarged the Bruneian’s image, he turned into a Legoman that no one could recognise.

Lego SculptureWell, you should feel lucky to be able to get a playback actually.

By now everything came to light. The Bruneian has hypnotised Ms. C into giving him the cash and some call that a magical charm or black magic. The culprit is still at large at this moment and the police didn’t really do much after that. Come to think about it, there was no physical injury, blackmail or the usual criminal element. I’m not sure how easy it is to even prosecute that bastard.

RM50k is a lot of money to most of us. Now imagine you give away such a big part of your saving to a complete stranger, how many nights you are gonna cry yourself to sleep?

 

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Good Grades = Success? WTF!

I had a rather deep discussion with Erica last night. She was just thinking how useless it is being a first class degree holder when it comes to career prospect. In fact, nine out of ten high flyers in their careers or businesses nowadays used to be classed as “hopeless” by their teachers back in school. I really couldn’t agree more because I’ve come across a lot of examples like that.

I began to wonder what has gone wrong with the education system. Suffice to say we can’t really blame the system too much because the parents bear a huge responsibility. This is particularly true for Asian parents, or Chinese parents to be more precise. I’m not being racially biased here because I’m just speaking from my own perspective after mixing with so many Chinese students and their parents. There are a few fallacies advocated by these parents which often destroy their children’s talent one way or another.

1. My son scores straight A, he’s definitely on the road to success!

Based on my experience, lots of exams are not really designed to test your understanding of a subject matter. They are designed to test how well you can memorise formulas or facts. In fact, if you are creative, you are bound to fail in exam because your answer is out of context.

Even if you understand all the subjects, they are pretty much irrelevant in real life. The only exception is if you are having a career in scientific research, engineering or something along that line. Does solving exam questions give you the problem solving skills needed in your career? Hell no! That’s because exam questions usually have so many theories and assumptions which are not applicable in real life. More often than not, you get your answer from past year question anyway.

2. Exam score is the most important thing.

Just speak to some primary school teachers to have a good laugh. Some parents are ridiculous enough to harass them just for a few extra marks on the report card. It’s akin to patients who try to alter their health report to feel healthier.

Parents should make sure their children understand the subject and enjoy learning it. It would be even better if they can help their kids relate that to some aspects in real life. Alas, we have kiasu parents forcing their kids to go tuition and squeeze whatever mark they can from the teachers. For what? oh ya I know, so that they feel proud comparing scores with other parents. When they are bored of comparing their house, cars and jewelries, they compare their kids.

3. Co-curricular activities are distracting my kids from their study. I shall stop them!

I used to have a classmate who are exempted from co-curricular activities because her parents requested for that via official letters and connections. How fucking ridiculous was that. Co-curricular activities are the perfect opportunities for kids to develop their character. They learn how to interact with each other, organise activities, hone their leadership, solve real life problems and most important of all buff up their confidence.

I was lucky enough to attend an international school and it was a real eye opener. High school students were given the task to raise fund for their societies by organising event and selling tickets. They were not afraid to even approach corporate sponsors for our yearbook advertorials. There were lots of sports competitions, house singing, drama competition, talent shows, debates, forums etc. These are the perfect avenues to train the students’ creativity, team spirit, leadership and they all do it in a fun way. When you do something fun, the impact is 10x greater.

4. With good grades, my son sure can get good job and get rich. Pity those at the bottom of the class!

This is what I observed in the past. Some students stayed away from co-curricular activities because they want to focus on their study (mommy said cannot waste time!). In the end, they become a social outcast who scored many As in exam, but that’s all. Now picture this.

geekornerd

Career is all about human interaction (some call it politics) and adding real value to the company. When you sit for interview, people don’t just focus on academics but they want to see real competencies.

Let’s say your son get s a good job but what is a good job then? Just to make it easy, I equal it to high paying job. Uncle aunty, a good job doesn’t make your son rich. People get rich by starting a business and making good investments, not by working on a good job! You could easily have scored tens of As in the past but still remain as little minions in the company for years.

On the other hand, I saw some students who are really active in co-curricular activities. Some of them can’t even fit into the kiasu system because they are not designed to memorise stuff and do well in exam. Some are highly creative and entrepreneurial while some are good in music or art. These are the people who are bound to fail in exam. Guess what, they are the super high flyers in real life and I call this success. Just do some googling and you can find tonnes of tycoons who were school dropouts.

 

***

 

The idea here is not to say exam is evil. In fact, parents’ misconceptions are evil, not exams. To me, character building should be the No.1 priority while academic achievement is the secondary aspect. Sometimes I would imagine what would I do when I have my own kids one day. I would want them to participate in many co-curricular activities (okla, except those drug parties or dorm orgies etc) and develop a strong character. At the same time, I want them to read a lot, travel and learn new things. I will drill lots of wisdom into their head, which is more important than academic knowledge.

When they are old enough, I will just say, “Dear son/daughter, in real life nobody gives a fuck about how many A you scored in exam!”

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

A Random Visit By Two Insurance Agents

I got a cold call from an unknown insurance agent recently asking for a short meeting. Since she kept saying it’s an interesting twist to my EPF contribution, I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt.

She came with the husband, let’s call him Mr. K and they presented a very classic investment plans which I heard many times before. Well, there are always pros and cons in those plans but I wont get into the details. There were something else which made me uneasy.

At the start, Mr. K saw my name card which reads “Daryl Chew, ACA” and said,” You are Daryl Chew Acaaaaa…..” and started gigling, thinking that he was very funny.

“So can you tell me what is this Acaaaaaaaa…..You are the Acaaaaaaa of the company, so what do you do?” he added on while still giggling.

I began to feel annoyed by that derogatory tone of pronouncing my ACA designation. Well if he is my close friend, I would be totally fine and I would even joke around with. Imagine if I get an interview with a Tan Sri whom I have not met before and I try to break the ice by saying, “What is this Tan Sriiiiiiiiii thing on your name….hahahhhaha!”

Mr. K continued his presentation, “……bla bla bla…..you only pay the premium for eight years then stop for the rest of your life. We give you a premium holiday. You usually only get public holiday but now we are giving you a prrrremmmiummm holiday…hahaha!”.

At that point, I almost pulled my hair out. I almost had to tickle myself to force a smile.

“You pay RM30k per annum for eight years and stop. Then you can get back RM725k in 15 years! That’s almost 3X return and our fund has average 16% return…..bla bla bla….” he continued.

“Ok, it’s such a long period, so what’s the actual internal rate of return for that or IRR as you guys always call it. I guess it’s around 5% based on my quick look at it” I asked.

“No way, our investment fund return is much higher at 16% and I can show you on this chart. What is IRR by the way? I never heard of that,” he replied.

By that time, I knew it’s probably not worth to delve too much into it as we were not on the same page. The whole thing ended not long after that, thank god.

I really admire people who have the balls to do cold calling and pay random visits to their business prospects. That’s part of being an entrepreneur and I have a lot to learn on that. On the other hand, I keep reminding myself that I need to keep sharpening my social skills. One thing is for sure, no stupid lame jokes.

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Mid-Autumn, Childhood

I started writing this on Monday, which was the official day for the festival but didn’t get to finish it because I was too engrossed in watching TV on my newly bought bean bag. bean bag

It was so comfortable that I wonder why I didn’t discover this earlier. Well I knew about it but just didn’t bother trying it out until I sat on it during a talk.

Anyway, I wanted to talk about the festival, not bean bag. Moon Cake Festival just reminded me of my childhood, family, candles and lanterns I used to play. I was more of a candle person because I could show lots of innovation when it comes to playing fire. As for lanterns, the most interesting part was just burning them but I could get bored after a while. When I saw kids playing candles outside my house, I recalled my childhood naughty experience.

CandlesTin_Pencil_Case
peach_flower_petals_footer

Ever wonder what could I do with a metal pencil case, candles and flower petals? As a kid, I boiled the petals in the case using candles. Then I started to put in more ingredient like leaves, twigs and even ants. I was so proud of it that I even drank it and that was when I realised I probably wasn’t a chef material. It was so bloody bitter and disgusting. Well the point is not about cooking a tasty meal but playing with fire. I usually turned the candle sticks into a little bonfire using twigs and cooking oil. If you wonder where did I get the inspiration, this is the answer.

oil lampI saw my mom pour her cooking oil into this little lamp on the altar and I had this light-bulb moment “Aaaaahhhh…”

Simple things like that filled my childhood in a small kampung instead of cartoons, comics, toy cars etc. Even now Erica still finds it astonishing that I’m so oblivious to cartoon characters and all sorts of stuff a kid would love. I didn’t know about Transformers, X-Men, Fantastic Four etc until the movie came out a few years ago. I also knew very little about Disney characters back then because I didn’t really like cartoons. You probably think I had a miserable childhood just like what Erica thinks — a childhood with just books being forced down my throat. That’s totally wrong.

I actually thought I had quite a lot of fun in my own way. There were lots of insects and small animals like lizards for me to play with and I love running little experiments on them. That’s a more scientific way of describing a torture. When I say small animals, that include my mom’s chickens in the cage. I would light up some fire crackers and throw them into the cage. What happen next was I would see lots of feathers in the air and the poor chickens started pooping. I literally scared the shit out of them.

If you have little vases lying around, you will probably find lizard eggs in it. That’s where I collected the eggs and placed in ring boxes for my experiments. Very often, I just forgot about that and later discovered lizard skeletons in the ring boxes. Poor little lizards were starved to death in darkness the minute they were born.

I also love dismantling every electronic gadgets I could lay my hands on and examining what’s inside. None of the components made sense to me actually and because of that I couldn’t put them back in place. I used to get whacked by my dad for destroying a telephone in that manner. On the other hand, I also used to unplug two cables in the engine compartment of my dad’s car and put them back the other way round because I was colour blind. It was found out by the mechanic later when my dad sent it for repair. Not surprisingly, I was whacked again after that because I really couldn’t think of an excuse. Thinking back, I probably shouldn’t plug the cables back so that I could at least blame it on the mouse.

Steel WoolBattery FIre

Not sure if you have seen this metal wool before but you can actually start a fire with it using a battery. That was how I played with fire when Mid-Autumn Festival was over. Sometimes I just felt so lucky for not having burnt down my old wooden house. Guess what excuse I used to buy the wool. I told my mom I needed that to brush my shoes and she believed me. I diligently washed my shoes every single week after that.

Another fun thing I discovered was this.

spirits bottles

 

These are miniature spirit bottles and my dad had lots of them as decorations in our living room. I didn’t know what’s Transformers or X-Men back then but I knew about Jack Daniel’s, XO, Black Label (I even tried to straighten the label on the bottle), Hennessy etc. I drank (just a few drops) every single bottle after finding out that they were not poisonous. Just when I got bored with that, I had another light-bulb moment when I saw this on TV.

Spit fire

I realised the magical liquid in those bottles was even more flammable than my mom’s cooking oil! I didn’t replicate the stunt shown on TV simply because my inventory was insufficient as I drank most of it. What I could do was just lighting up the little bottles and saw the fire dancing. I accidentally melted one of the bottle cap made of plastic and that made me really nervous. That’s because I knew my dad just bought a new cane after his old ones “mysteriously” disappeared — one of them “flew” into the jungle behind my house if not mistaken. Thank god I found a lotion cap which was a perfect replacement. My dad did ask me why the alcohol in the bottle kept reducing. I just told him it had evaporated because the living room was too hot. It’s not entirely a lie because the living room is really damn hot…haha! Till now, he is still oblivious to my shenanigans, I think.

Going back to the canes which disappeared “mysteriously”, my dad actually found three of them when we were moving to a new house. I was 17 years old at that time. They were all hidden behind my grandmother’s wardrobe, collecting inches of dust. One of them still has its price tag saying “RM0.50” and I remembered I used to pray religiously for its price to increase because I knew my dad was too cheapskate to keep replacing it. You know what, the price of cane stayed at RM0.50 for many years back then while everything else became more expensive. The cane industry is freaking weird!

Fast forward 20 years, nowadays kids no longer play with the stuff I used to play because they are in love with ipads, smartphones, computers etc. Sometimes I think something is not right and they should embrace the nature a little bit more. I’m not saying it’s a good thing to play with fire and I would whack the shit out of my son if I know he drinks and burns my whisky in the house. I guess I would introduce my kids to most of the cartoons and let their imaginations grow. Honestly, I don’t want them to end up like me being in awkward silence whenever my friend talk about their favourite cartoon characters. At the same time, if they ever unplug anything from my car, I will teach them how to plug it back. Well, it’s different of course, if they destroy my ipad.

If you ask me whether I would do something different during my childhood if I could turn back time, my answer is certainly NO.

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2014 in Uncategorized