Thursday, February 10, 2005

This Ole House

It's the first day of the Lunar New Year. Instead of hanging out with friends and relatives in my hometown, I'm here in KL, some 300km away in front of my computer reminiscing. Oh well! Anyway, here's a virtual, pictorial tour of my home back in Taiping.

I grew up on Harrison Street. Sometime in the mid-eighties, the renamed our street Jalan Lim Swee Aun. Apparently, we didn't want to be reminded that we were once occupied by the British. Anyway, it turned out last year that we DID want to be reminded of our British occupation after all and so Harrison Street is reinstated once again. Sometime in the mid-90s, one of the country's leading Opposition Party, the DAP, moved in next door. They used to be further up the street. One time in the 80s, I saw Lim Kit Siang eating takeaway Char Kuey Teow at the conference table. Or then again he could have been giving a press conference after his release from Kemunting. Details are fuzzy now. Heh! Our house is the one with the colourful tiles out front.

My grandma bought this pre-war shophouse back in the 50s with her savings from her years as a Pencuci Dulang (she panned for Tin ore). She had it renovated to accommodate 8 bedrooms to house her hubby, 5 kids and 1 nephew. We hung up that paper plastic pineapple one Chinese New Year in the 90s. It's still there. On the walls you'll find the oldest electrical switches in the country along with photos of our entire family from my mother's side. That's Mae* there with Baby Jesse when we were there last. :)

When Gran had the place renovated, she extended the house all the way to the backyard. From the front door way to the back, our house measures over 120ft, making it the longest house on the street. She's very proud of this achievement. Which must be why she hangs out a lot way back. However, the reno also left fixtures in the weirdest places. This washbasin is in the middle of the house right behind Gran's bedroom and its the only one. My cousins and I used to queue up to brush our teeth. Grandma's room is the creepiest room in the house like something out of a Chinese horror movie.

Our toilet is an outhouse. It used to be one of those ancient toilets where you shat into a bucket. Euwww! If you had a tummy ache in the middle of the night you'd have to run all the way to the back of the house in the dark! That was always fun. As long as it wasn't you with the stomachache. And if you run too quickly, you're liable to run into the huge-ass dining table we had. All our CNY reunion dinners have been at this table. On normal days, we used only half the table. The other half is usually occupied by stuff ranging from condiment bottles to cookie jars and breakfast beverages. That there is the best mom on the planet. :)

Home is a double-storey house. Upstairs is a home all in itself. Almost. We have 4 bedrooms, a kitchen, a backyard and a bathroom. But if you need to take a dump, you'd still have to run downstairs to the outhouse!!! That pic is a shot from the backyard upstairs. There's large gap in the roof where the sun came in. The stairway is pretty rustic, kinda like something out of a Chinese horror movie. Mae standing there kinda adds to the effect, no? :) I live in the front room upstairs. Sometime in the 80s, they demolished a beautiful mansion across the street and erected an shop-apartment complex. At the groundfloor, they leased the space to a sleazy dangdut pub. It gets pretty noisy late into the night but for some reason, I like it. It makes my room seem dangerous. Heh!

At any Chinese New Year, the house accommodates up to 25 or more of the Tan clan. We're a bunch of noisy people who love laughing, eating and cooking. So you can imagine what a really festive new year we have. *sigh* Hopefully next year we'll go home.

* image censored by the Censorship Broad


  1. that is such a wonderful perspective on a house that obviously reeks with history :)
    happy chinese new year

  2. It reeks in more ways than one, Letti. :lol:
    Thanks Pickyin, I loved writing it. :)

  3. Happy CNY James! For your info,I love Taiping and Ipoh food...definitely one of the places I will go back to again and again.

  4. Awww...James, thanks for sharing that. I love Down Memory Lane blogs and your photos are great. They captured the moment so well. Outhouse - *sigh* I have my share of stories there.

  5. Happy Chinese New Year James!
    Love the pics. Me miss home !! :(

  6. Happy CNY to you... love your anecdotes esp. about the outhouse... hahaha.. brings bak the memories of the one in my opah's old house. lo and behold if you have a sudden stomach ache in the middle of the night..

  7. your grandma with the big classes is very cool!!!
    that photo alot of 'character'!

  8. Can fit 25 people in there??? Been there once. Really like the pre-war houses. They are always cooler than the new houses built now. Maybe due to the bricks they use.

  9. i loved this photo - among other reasons why i keep coming back for more of loopymeals :)

  10. Good on you, Dee. :)
    :lol: Lilian, I have a story about our outhouse too!!
    Come home then, Annie! :)
    OooOoer Ted, I hope your opah didn't come from the kampong. Those outhouses creep me out big time. :lol:
    9, that was her doing her impression of Elton John.
    25 people not that big a deal, Gina. That's just 3 to a room.
    I suspect you just like my grandma eh, Grace? We've been thinking of putting her up for adoption. You want? :lol:

  11. Haa...your granma looks like Betty Davis, with the sunnies and ciggie. One cool grandma. Does she do the salsa? :-)

  12. Oh a whinny sweet post with an ultra cool grandma. But she looks ready to scoldla? Chee Sin???? Hehehehhe
    Now train baby Jesse to enjoy the car or invest in a hypnotist. Heheheh

  13. What a lovely post-thanks for bringing us to ur quaint home-no chance to see otherwise ;)
    Gong xi fa cai!

  14. awwww so nostalgic!
    wishing you, mae & jesse, xien nien kwai le!

  15. wah, make me miss my grandpa's shop way up in hulu perak! nice pics and blog :)

  16. Anjali, she's too tough for dancing!!! :lol:
    Hahahha. You're spot on, Visithra. My grandma loves to scold!
    Glad you enjoyed it, Chun.
    Nothing like a little nostalgia to keep the heart soft and supple, BabeKL. :lol:
    Go back to Hulu Perak and snap some photos for us, Buaya!

  17. i'm from taiping too.. and i missed Taiping so much.. didn't manage to go back to Taiping during this CNY too :(

  18. Wow, James.
    I really like the series of photos that you took in Taiping. Esp the one with your grandma. Excellent!
    And the light and colour is just superb.
    I know its not really CNY anymore, but Happy Belated CNY!! (if there ever was such a thing. :P)

  19. That's too bad, Chia. Perhaps next year for both you and me. :)
    Thanks Luq. We've got really spooky lighting at home. And beside, I never bother with the white balance! :lol:

  20. Nice shot of Taiping. See here for more.