Salad Days

Is there a period in your own personal life that you think of as the good old days? Tell us a story about those innocent and/or exciting times (or lack thereof).

Most people I know will consider salad as healthy diet or people who choose to be on a salad diet as health conscious or wished to lose weight. So it has a negative or punitive tone to it. I admit that if you were to ask me to have that for a meal ten years ago, I would say, “Are you kidding me?”

Somehow, these days I look forward to a salad meal and even make efforts to buy vegetables and stuff that will help me create a nice salad meal at home or to pack breakfast or lunch for work. I just find them refreshing and it does not make me feel too full or sleepy compared to the other meal options so readily available everywhere.

Oh yes, then I can relate to salad days as a nice feeling like a sense of nostalgia when you think of the times you had when you were much younger. Such feelings always bring me back to my “kampung” (a malay word for village) days in the early 70s. We, as in the children in the kampung all felt free and easy to run around and play whatever games we like from sunrise till sundown. The whole kampung was our playground. The kind of games we played was simple yet super fun and adventurous, at times even dangerous. Some of the games were “Police and Thief” where half the group (thieves) will have a headstart to run and hide while the other half (police) will have to find and catch them. They need to catch and bring them to a detention place one by one till all were caught to win the game. The remaining thieves could also attempt to rescue those detained by running pass and tapping them to set them free. These were the agreed rules of the game we followed and one round of game can last over an hour. It sounds simplistic but it was an elaborate game with an area covering the size of a football field where there were clusters of wooden houses, trees, back alleys, lumber yard, shops and huts. Each group needs to come together and strategise before the game starts and leaders were appointed to make decisions and negotiate terms with opponents along the way.

Of course, these elaborate games need quite a number of players to make it work so when we do not have the group size, we tend to play other games and some can be painful like “Hantam Bola” (malay words for hit with ball). It is telling that I grew up in a malay village although I am chinese. It was not uncommon for different races to co-exist and more so now in Singapore, racial harmony has been the foundation of our culture. Back to the painful game of hit with ball. The ball we had then had a leathery rubber texture about the size of a tennis ball and it really hurts when someone throws it at you. We had to stand within a rectangle drawn on the ground about half a basketball court in size and the kid who holds the ball will roll it towards a hole made on the ground near the edge of the rectangle. If the ball goes into the hole, the same kid gets to pick it and throw to hit us. Whoever was hit by the ball is out of the game and if the kid missed hitting anyone, he will be out too. If the ball did not roll into the hole, any other kid can pick and throw to hit anyone, if he missed, he’s out. It’s the process of elimination where the last kid standing will become champion. You can imagine the terrified screams from all of us in that rectangle when someone was holding the ball aiming to throw at us and you need to figure out how to dodge it. One consolation was the one holding the ball must stay in position to throw it.

I believe my real school was from these games and experiences I had in my kampung and not from the formal classes I attended and I can hardly recall any lessons. Most of all, we the kampung kids were as fit as a fiddle running around like headless chickens and screaming our heads off in most of the games we played. It was simply wonderful!

Salad Days – DP


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  1. Pingback: Life Is Beautiful | Rahul Creatrix's Blog

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