Interview With An Old-Timer


My son’s friends had to do some research about the generation gap and decided they’d interview the closest old-timer they could find – me! It was flattering, though – in a dubious kind of way. It was also quite hilarious and telling. Here’s the interview for your reading pleasure:

Q: Bangsar or Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman?
A: I’ll take Bas Mini 14 and go to Jalan TAR any time!. What’s that? They stopped having mini-buses in KL since the ’80s?

Q: Mercedes or a BMW?
A: Can I have a Batman Mercedes 190D, please? The kind where there’s a bench-seat and the stick-shift is on the steering column. This has a lot of advantages – especially if you have a willing female in the front passenger seat. You’ll understand when your time comes.

Q: Keyboard or pen-and-paper?
A: Definitely pen-and-paper; using fountain pen, of course. Anyway, a keyboard is what they call an electric (electronic?) piano nowadays, isn’t it?

Q: Do you like the sitcom ‘Friends’?
A: I prefer “Cheers!”, actually. What? Its too early for a drink? Young man, “Cheers!” IS a sitcom.

Q: Adidas or Nike?
A: The old Adidas Stan Smith – before technology crept in and made it look like something Astro Boy would wear. I’ll try a pair of Nikes, though – as soon as I know how to pronounce it properly.

Q: Selangor Club or KLGCC?
A: You said “Selangor Club”? Isn’t it called the Spotted Dog anymore? By the way, what does KLGCC stand for?

Q: Voice call or SMS?
A: Do I look like a clueless teenager?

Q: E-mail or Snail-mail
A: Nothing beats snail-mail. I tried writing an email once: the monitor’s screen didn’t take kindly to fountain pen ink.

Q: Do the names Bosco D’Cruz and Yahaya Longchik ring a bell?
A: Are you kidding? I had tea once with Encik Yahaya Longchik – in his garden; on a table with red-and-white chequered table-cloth; beautifully delicate scones and Darjeeling tea; while his dog named Bosco sat quietly in his kennel. Bosco D’Cruz, however, was the other English newsreader at the time.

Q: Do you have any fond memories of Tasik Titiwangsa?
A: Yes. It was a tin-mining pool. It even had a fully functional ‘palong’. You still remember what a ‘palong’ looks like, don’t you? What do you mean, “What’s a ‘palong’?”

Q: What do you think of the KLCC?
A: I actually found it by accident: I went to the turf club for a spot of racing and found that they had built that monstrosity where the furlong would have been.

Q: Do you prefer the many ‘kopitiams’ that are sprouting all over KL or the ubiquitous ‘Starbucks’?
A: I prefer a real kopitiam, you know, where the waiters are rude and the servce is even worse. But they serve a mean cup of coffee. Look up Sin Seng Nam at Medan Pasar – its between HSBC and the Mercantile Bank. Huh? There’s no longer such a thing as Mercantile Bank?

Q: You have some nice shirts. Do you have them made at Spark’s Manshop or do you get the from one of the boutiques at Starhill?
A: Neither. They are made by this Chinese geezer called Ah Meng who has got this quiet little shop at Petaling street. He really knows how to make those holes for a collar-pin and gets the French cuff just right.

Q: We hear you humming “Uptown Girl”. Do you like any other songs that the Backstreet Boys wrote?
A: Son, Billy Joel wrote that song! By the way,who are the Backstreet Boys?

At this point, certain that the boys and I were talking different languages, I ended the interview. I took them to Sin Seng Nam for Hainanese coffee that would put hair on their chest and “Mee Rebus” that would make them lose their squaky boyish voices.

19 thoughts on “Interview With An Old-Timer

  1. i might be young but i loved cheers when i was small. although everytime im watching i seem to only be accompanied by the uncles or aunties, and i’m supposed to be sleeping. also later on as a kid i also loved those reruns of taxi. mr. bangkai you must be old enough to be my ancestor. your first mode of transportation must’ve been a mustang, the horse.


    Yes, dude! I guess I’m old enough to be an ancestor (probably the naughty one). Hey, you enjoyed Taxi, too? There is still hope for the younger generation – even though they wear ‘seluar londeh’ 🙂

  2. MB, I have this vision repeating in my mind and getting stuck like a bad record. One day the tables will be turned on me and a young punk of a journalist will come and interview me: Mak Cik, dulu2 perjalanan ke London macam mana?
    Mak Cik: Ooooh, lamanyaa. Masa tu naik kapai terbang 12 jam berhenti Dubai.
    Journalist: Dua belas jam? Kapal terbang tu selamat ka?

    kak teh

    Ha! Ha! Good one, Kak Teh.

  3. Once I was playing the CD of Hamzah Dolmat ‘Johore Spot Club’

    My nephew asked me who Hamzah Dolmat is?
    mengeleng kepala gua mamak!
    Taking about mee rebus the one ,celah lorong
    Banque Indo France bank now Telekom College serve surperb mee rebus,then

    Yes,Pak Chik Yahya but Pak Chik Sulaiman Alias lagi klassik mamak,duk rumah pakai mafla.


    pak tuo

    I miss those days: men were real men, back then. It was a time when everybody knew that money and class didn’t necessarily come in the same package and that you shouldn’t enter politics so that you can become rich.

  4. Dear god, you are, indeed, prehistoric.

    Seng Nam between the Mercantile bank and a whadda?


    Oh, I did tell you there is something wrong to those born in the 60s, didn’t I?


    But you would know Seng Nam, right? Most lawyers do.

    But I know it for different reasons – that was where my Grandpa and I used to have breakfast almost every morning. And there was a quaint stationery shop next to it (in the ’60s) called Caxton Stationers; the place where I got my first fountain pen. And you know what, the workers at Caxton all wore white overcoats (like a doctor’s frock) when they were working. How’s that for class?

    No, dear, there’s nothing wrong with people born in the ’60s – we’re just that bit more particular about things 🙂

  5. Gee, this posting makes me feel even more jurassic … hmmm, I won’t even attempt to comment on Yahya Longcik.. bahaya x 1000 🙂

    PS: I know you remember Foch Avenue and Batu Road. Would you, by any chance, recall an eatery called “Palong Dulang’ in then spanking-new Ampang Park? They served a mean Chicken a la King there then..

    Puteri Kamaliah

    Of course I remember Foch Avenue and Batu Road. How about Mountbatten Road (I wish we could still call it that) and Jalan Seavoy? ‘Palong Dulang’! That brings back memories! And remember when the roof-top of Ampang Park was called the Beer Garden? What about ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘Tin Mine’ discotheques? Have I ever bumped into you at the places? On second thoughts, don’t answer that.

    I’m rambling, aren’t I? Can’t help it; nostalgia can be a bit overpowering at times. KL of the ’60s and ’70s… these kids don’t know what they’ve missed.

  6. Yeah, I know Seng Nam alright: won’t be caught dead inside it though! *grin*

    I believe the younger lawyers hang out at different joints, sir.

    People who were in the 60s do not know how convert a mac document to the normal word document – that’s all, nothing big really, a tad challenged in technology, I must say.


    And why not? Sin Seng Nam (or Seng Nam as the younger generation calls it) is kind of quaint. It’s like stepping into a time machine and being transported 30 to 40 years ago. Isn’t that a touch of romance? The younger set probably doesn’t hang out there. Then again, they’ve still got some growing to do 🙂

    Be that as it may, I’m just a regular nostalgia-junkie; I view all things new with a tinge of suspicion and apprehension – Mac documents included.

  7. Mat Boe

    I remember the coffee houses, Bubbles Disco, Benteng, Asia Jaya Ice Skating, Weld swimming pool…

    Oh yes, the A.C.U syndrome (Age Catching Up), you know you’re suffering from it when you have to argue with your children that Eternal Flame was sung by Bangles not The Atomic Kittens.

    Let that be as it may, those memories are mine, go find you own, imps!

    Sorry lah, tersemonyel sekejap.

    tok milla

    tok milla

    Yes, ma’am. Those were the good old days. The Hilton Drive-in is gone, and so has Fitzpatrick’s supermarket. There is still one consolation, though: Capitol cafe is still there.

    Another way to know when age is caching up: You jump, and upon landing, it takes about 30 seconds before everything stops wobbling

    How about another one? You put on your bra backward – only to find out that it fits better 🙂

    Have a good day, my friend

  8. Yo Bogart, if you remember cheers, i remember peyton place.

    a very-late-60s-baby

    the plagiarist

    And I also remember ‘WKRP in Cincinnati’ and ‘Barney Miller’. Peyton Place? I recall that one but I must say I hardly watched it – Mia Farrow did very little for me. Men are so predictable, eh?

    Always a pleasure to have you come and visit, ma’am.

  9. Salaam bro,

    i remember Sin Sen Nam. Back then, when days turn to nite, Medan Pasar was The place to hang out with your makwe. At the Benteng, you can practically have any hawker’s food and it only takes less than ten ringgit to fill two bellies full.
    You left out Melaka Street and also Pertama Complex. Before KLCC, PC was the favourite joint of KL kutus….


    I should be shot for leaving out Pertama Complex! No ‘kutu’ was worth his salt if he didn’t know every nook and cranny of that venerable bazaar.

    And any self-respecting ‘kutu’ would be a whizz at either billiards or Space Invaders. It was either those two or pinball: Usually Aztec or Joker Poker. How am I doing so far? What comes to mind if I mentioned ‘Tuah Pub’ and ‘Jump-in Disco’ of PC fame?

    Life was so simple then. All I needed was a pair of Wranglers, a Fruit of the Loom T-shirt and a pair of Adidas Stan Smith. Money? That can be won at the billiard tables…

    It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that we are from the same generation, eh?

  10. Mat-san,

    Images of the good ole days come gushing by, on reading your article, and the comments .

    Many a teenage romance started at the Magnolia Snack Bar next to where Rex theatre was(and Rex isnt` even there any more today) .Hari Raya zakats collected were immediately spent on movies at the Federal or Capitol , and we didn`t care what movie was being shown…Malay, English, Chinese,Hindustan…all OK!And the cheapest seats went only for 80-cents.

    And even as primary school kids then, we would sneak to BB park at nights to clamber discreetly inside to watch Rose Chan`s eye-popping “you-know-which part of the female anatomy” out-of- this- world calisthenics with coke bottles, live snakes and what have you.

    Yes, even when we were undergraduates then at UM, the criterion to date that prettiest girl in campus on a Sturday nightwas”for this, I must have about Fifty Dollars in the pocket”(mind you, we said Dollars then, not Ringgit).How far would that amount go in those days? A spanking dinner for two at just about any fancy joint in town,including the KL Hilton `s Planters Inn, and adjourning thereafter to the Aviary Bar there, or the Tin Mine downstairs in the basement,or the Time Tunnel ,the Cellar in PJ,or any of the other hip discos in town, where the word disco means you get a live band..names like the Strollers, Carefree, Revolvers,Grim Preachers, Sweet Charity,or any of the top bands, whose renditions of the then popular hits make you swear that if you close your eyes while dancing it was truly John Mayall, or Eric Clapton, or Neil Diamond,etc.,at the mike.And David Arumugam and his Alleycats were right up there with them even from those days, man!

    But, know what we miss most when we think of the good ole days?When we were all just Malaysians, and we never judged each other by the color of our skin, the God we pray to, or the food we eat(or abstain from).When the language you and everyone speak to each other is either English or Malay only, and little kids could run around freely anywhere, all day, and no one worries if they`ll ever get into any harm from some sexual perverts or paedophiles or the like.Aaaah!”Come again..when is Jack Tripper`s “3`s Company” & that irritating Mr.Furley coming on tonite?which Channel?”

    I miss the past!



    Discos came with the mandatory live band then, didn’t they? Sure beats the stoned-silly DJs – who try very hard to pass themselves off as legitimate musicians – that they have these days. The names you mentioned (Strollers, Revolvers, Sweet Charity and the like) still tug at my heart-strings even today.

    Though I heard so much about the Magnolia Snack Bar, I have never had the occasion to try to kick-start a romance there. I, however, resorted to the Oasis (across the road from the Coliseum) – renown for something called a Sputnik sandwich – for pursuing romantic possibilities; the Oasis being much closer to where I lived i.e. Gombak.

    Yes, in those days it mattered little whether or not you were circumcised: people of the same age group were all on the same page. And we still refered to the local currency as dollars. Those were the days.

    Sometimes I still entertain the thought of wearing bell-bottoms, figure-hugging shirts and platform shoes out in public. But I guess I’ve become too chicken in my old age.

  11. dear bogart, i’m here often enough but under a different moniker. 😀

    the plagiarist

    Oh! You have? In that case, I am doubly honoured.

    Good night Plagiarist, whoever you are…

  12. “Sometimes I still entertain the thought of wearing bell-bottoms, figure-hugging shirts and platform shoes out in public. But I guess I’ve become too chicken in my old age.”

    Mat B! I celen you! Let’s!

    Puteri Kamaliah

    Oh, no! But Ok, I’ll visit Ah Meng in Petaling Street and see if he can still make a decent pair of bell-bottoms. I don’t know where I’ll find platform shoes, though. Figure-hugging shirt? I’ll just wear the ones I got last month – the ones I’ve now outgrown (but only around the waist)

  13. Hi Matt,

    Thanks for the memories. You write so well, so is that Mat Jepun guy Higashi san!(OMG, Rose Chan, what were u thinking! Eeewe my hair stand lah).

    Well unker is more dinosaur that u, T-rex as in Marc Bolan lah. The good old kopitiam, yes the waiters are rude, you will too if u go about your work wearing pocketless Pagoda ‘branded’ T-shirt & blue stripy boxer shorts. That’s for transparency reason u know, so they don’t get corrupted. I suggest all current politicians wears them too nowadays, more accountable mah…hehe..

    Unker’s world was all black & white then, i.e. TV, me growing up on the 3 stooges, Jerry Lewis & sad to say I’m a sorry fan of ‘I love Lucy’. Then comes all the westerns like Rawhide (Clint Eastwood debut), Gunsmoke, ‘Have gun will travel’ etc…Yes u gotta physically get off ur butt & turn the knobs on the TV channels, volume, brightness, contrast…………

    Later the disco age, I bogey to TSOP (3 degrees), slow dances 😉 on The Chilites & Stylistics. I was lost in time then in my Sgt Pepper outfit & John Lennon round metal frame glasses, with my long ‘mati kena kapak’ hairstyles (centre parting). Man that was so rugged yet groovy; really got no idea!

    Yes, those were the days, we were all Malaysian, I’d got a close buddy call Mat Jepun, malay boy with rambut cina & slitty eyes too hehe, and an Indian mate that speak perfect cantonese…no we were not racists, it’s just our terms of endearment. I won’t go into details those ‘potty’ stuff, we did.

    Well here’s looking at you, kid! Oh yes, I never tot for a moment that I’ll end up as the 3 degree hit – ‘Dirty Old Man’. Stick-shift on the steering column, oh yes, mine’s a Toyota Lite Ace van.

    Cheers & flowers in your hair!

    Tommy Yew

    p.s – Hey we all didn’t turn up too badly kan?

    Tommy Yew

    That’s absolutely right. In fact, I didn’t know what a ‘racist’ was until the early ’80s – even then, it was from watching American movies about the Ku Klux Klan. I really thought that the term racist was applicable only to the KKK – that it didn’t apply outside that environment.

    And we called each other by some outrageous names – as you said, “terms of endearment” – and nothing was thought of it. Nowadays if we called each other the sames names, we’d have racial riots on the street – instigated, no doubt, by clueless (and insecure) activists who do not understand were we are coming from but are all too willing to cry “Foul!” at the slightest hint of racial discrimination (whether real or perceived).

    Times have changed, Tommy: And not always for the better.

    But this is not going to stop me from advocating the return to the good things we had before. The younger generation need to be educated – and maybe even whacked over the head every once in a while.

  14. Hi Matt,

    I sensed u r having a bit of a problem with the younger generation, oh well our parents didn’t quite fully accepted our idiosyncrasies too 🙂

    Perhaps these lyrics of ‘The Living Years’ can shed some light;

    Every generation
    Blames the one before
    And all of their frustrations
    Come beating on your door

    I know that I’m a prisoner
    To all my father held so dear
    I know that I’m a hostage
    To all his hopes and fears
    I just wish I could have told him
    In the living years

    Crumpled bits of paper
    Filled with imperfect thought
    Stilted conversations
    I’m afraid that’s all we’ve got

    You say you just don’t see it
    He says it’s perfect sense
    You just can’t get agreement
    In this present tense
    We all talk a different language
    Talking in defence

    Say it loud, say it clear
    You can listen as well as you hear
    It’s too late when we die
    To admit we don’t see eye to eye

    So we open up a quarrel
    Between the present and the past
    We only sacrifice the future
    It’s the bitterness that lasts

    So don’t yield to the fortunes
    You sometimes see as fate
    It may have a new perspective
    On a different day
    And if you don’t give up,
    And don’t give in
    You may just be OK

    Say it loud, say it clear
    You can listen as well as you hear
    It’s too late when we die
    To admit we don’t see eye to eye

    I wasn’t there that morning
    When my father passed away
    I didn’t get to tell him
    All the things I had to say.
    I think I caught his spirit
    Later that same year
    I’m sure I heard his echo
    In my baby’s new born tears
    I just wish I could have told him
    In the living years

    Say it loud, say it clear
    You can listen as well as you hear
    It’s too late when we die
    To admit we don’t see eye to eye

    Tommy Yew

    Tommy Yew

    Thanks for the lyrics o this beautiful song. Even more beautiful, though, is the thought that prompted you to send it in the first place. This song has given me a sense of perspective to the whole thing. Thanks

    I guess it really isn’t an issue against the younger generation per se. It’s disappointment at my own failure in instilling in my children the value of respect, hard work, patience and tolerance. I screwed-up. I screwed-up bad.

  15. This is my 3rd reading on this particular entry..I am an old-timer afterall..lambat nak paham.
    Anyway, your interviews woud have made your son and his friends become old-timers too!

    They may have silently thought they have discovered lots of simpler ways to lead their lives later..just take them from the old-timer..coool man!


    Yes, ma’am. I am trying to indoctrinate these young punks in the ways of the old-school gentleman. Uphill battle, I know. But I’m sure gonna give it a shot!

  16. I tak lah se-tua you. Tapi i ingat Seng Nam. Masih ingat Yong Tau Fu dia. Masih ada lagi ke kedai ni? Halal ke? Duluuuu……….(Kena sebut macam Labu Labi!) masa kita dok makan tu, kita tak pernah pun tanya halal atau tidak, kan… he he he….


    Seng Nam tu masih adalah. Tinggal lagi, they won’t remember us anymore, agaknya; waiter-waiter zaman kita tu dah padam kot sekarang. Masa tu pun dia orang dah bongkok sabut – tunggu time saja.

    Yong Tau Foo dia halal ke tidak? Dia punya beef pie pun hantam… mana ada halal (kot). Tapi takpa: Masa tu kita belum akil baligh lagi.

    Tapi masa tu – kalau bab makan ni – orang tak banyak kira halal haram, kan? Hantam saja… sebab tu lah cakap omputih macam omputih, cakap melayu pun macam omputih.

  17. Mamak,

    Jes came across my timid mind,seems KoL Lumpooooor was the centre of civilazation during those day.

    Jangan lupa Soromban,Milo Bar and Bilal Rest and the A & W then.
    Gaya-gaya anak lord semuanya?

    Pak Tua

    Mano boleh lupo seromban, jang oi! Kan den sekolah kek seromban. Milo Bar tu tompek melat tu!

    Tompek jatuah lagi di konang, ni pulo tompek den main…

  18. ha ha … you’re absolutely hilarious. Hey I use to watch Cheers when I was growing up and loved it. Gone are the days of oogling at Ted Danson on the tele (God know why but I had a thing for him back then). Btw… what’s a palong?

    Ms Ulat Buku

    It was a long time ago when Cheers went on air here – a very long time. I guess it was in 1979 or something; watched it religiously when Kirstie Alley was in it. Let you in on a secret: I was probably mentally stripping Ms Alley (along with almost the entire the male population) while you were oogling Mr Danson. It wasn’t must fun when Shelly Long replaced Ms Alley. But I still enjoyed the antics of Norm and Woody to no end.

    What’s a ‘palong’? You’re pulling my leg, right? In case you’re not, it a technique for mining tin. Can’t remember the actual mechanics of the thing, though. Sorry

    Good of you to drop by, ma’am. And I’m glad you like what you read here. Thanks

  19. Salaam Bro,

    Yup, Wrangler and Stan Smith are the classic trademarks of KL kutus. My other favourite is the blue cotton long-sleeved shirt with patch pockets (made in china) that sells for ‘sepuluh sen’ on the streets of TAR. Cant recall the brand though….
    Not much of pub hopper but there was a joint accross PC round the vicinity of Medan Tuanku. What makes the place interesting was the present of a live band that played blues all nite long. Unfortunately the hype were not as frenzy as what Hujan or Meet Uncle Hussein generates nowadays but their music was out of this world.
    I used to hang around with friends & go watched the Blues Gang & co dished out some mean old blues down at the Lake Gardens’ amphitheatre. Now thats a real bunch of kutu barhak…….

    BTW, are u a regular at Black Stag….?


    Bro! Always a pleasure to meet another fellow kutu (well, maybe ex-kutu…)

    That place across the road from PC, near Medan Tuanku – it was called the Brass Rail. Banyak kali juga tertonggeng kat situ, beb! Now that brings back fond memories. And yes, I will attest to the fact that the Blues Gang was the ultimate ‘kutu berahak’. Just can’t keep up with them.

    Oh! The light cotton blue shirts from China? The ones that cost ‘sepuluh sen’? I had a bunch of those, too. Reserved for when I go on a date with a ‘makwe’. Otherwise its the Fruit of The Loom T-shirt. But the Bond’s Grandslam and the Lee Chetopa Twill was reserved for very special occasions – like visiting a ‘makwe’ at her home while the parents were around.

    Black Stag? Mana ada… *eh, tak mengaku pulak!*

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