Saturday, October 16, 2010

80 cents only! 八毛钱而已!

This morning I noticed Uncle Khoo just got a haircut. I asked him how much it cost him. RM13, he replied. He complained it was getting more expensive to have a haircut nowadays.

“Do you know that back in the 50s, it cost 80 cents to have a hair cut?” he asked ironically.

“For 80 cents, the hairdresser gave an hour service which included a haircut, a shave, a de-waxing for both ears and a very thorough message for the neck, the shoulders and the back?” he recalled those good old days with a tinge of nostalgia.

“Imagine, all these for just 80 cents and now, what you got for RM13?” he asked, shaking his head in disbelief.

“What you got today was just the haircut and shaving. That’s all” he said sadly, giving out a sigh of regret.

Time has change, Uncle Khoo. Time has change. This is 2010, Uncle. Some things are not the same anymore. You just have to learn to live with it.

What more can I say to him?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hello Uncle Khoo, how are you? Nice to see you again! 许先生,早安好 !

This morning after the rain stopped, I went to Peel Road to see Uncle Khoo again. It has been sometimes since I last have a chat with him. I am curious how he was doing lately. He just had an operation for prostate enlargement about two months ago.

I am very pleased to see him doing his daily routine at the reflexology patch. He was very excited to see me too and gave me a nice pat on my cheeks. How grandfatherly of him to do that! He was clearly very appreciative of my company. We have a nice and lengthy chat, catching up like long lost friends.

Uncle Khoo told me he was born in China some 90 years ago. He got married at 17 years old and had a son. At the age of 30 plus, poverty drove him to Malaya. He came alone on a steamer. It could accommodate between 2000 to 3000 people on the trip. There was no place to sit or lay down. Just enough space to stand, he claimed. He brought biscuits to last him the 2 to 3 weeks on sea before he reached Singapore and later, Klang. From Klang he took a bus to Kuala Lumpur on a 10 cent fare.

In Kuala Lumpur he found a job in a sundry shop, loading and unloading sacks and sacks of rice on his shoulder to be transport to customers. He was paid RM30 a month of which he sent RM15 to his family in China. Years later, circumstances forced him to marry a local woman and from this second marriage, he got another seven children. They loved him very dearly and took good care of him.

After decades of hard work, Uncle Khoo is now enjoying the fruits of his labor. He is always in high spirits and jovial mood. Healthy and happy, he is looking forward to his grandson’s wedding in 2 weeks time. He bid me goodbye as he hurried off to have his hair cut for the occasion.