Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Hari Raya Puasa Kampong Visits On My Vespa

Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri to all my Muslim Friends. From ANDY.


A Special Posting:


During the Hari Raya Aidil Fitri season in the 1960's, I used to visit my Muslim friends. It was easy, it was convenient and I needn't take a bus nor drive a car. There were no MRTs then. The afternoon sun could be cruel and be walking or cycling visits around the kampongs of Geylang and Changi could be warm and humid indeed. 

The best mode of transport then was the scooter and it was either a Vespa or a Lambretta. I used to own one, a faithful Vespa fully made in Italy that came with a comfortable rear seat and a spare tyre especially hidden below the fat behind of the vehicle. The number plate was SAB 8254 (image below: Mr Aziz on my scooter).
So during Hari Raya Day at about ten in the morning, I would scoot to Kampong Wak Tanjong (where Sims Avenue now stands) and pay a courtesy caMrto Mr. Abdul Karim a well-known plumber and electrician in the Geylang, Paya Lebar area. 

He was an Indian Muslim, well-endowed with a huge tummy, thick, curly and shiny hair. We knew him because he rented a space at our shop front along Geylang Road to run his business. He became a family friend. 

The kueh-mueh (Malay cakes and delicacies) would be ready and I would spend time in his beautiful attap house trying out the Hari Raya cakes and Malay cookies like pineapple tarts or coconut biscuits. Mrs. Abdul Karim was just as gracious and usually dressed with her colorful baju kurong and simple selendang.
My next stop would be Kampong Melaka, where Lion City Hotel now stands. It is very close to Sandy Lane near the Catholic Church. It would be a 10 minute ride to my good friend's home, Moyah. 

Moyah was Bawean (Boyanese) and played the guitar extremely well. The instrument was always with him and he would carry it around everywhere, in the house, around the kampong lanes and even on his scooter, strapping it on his back as he went on his household chores at Geylang Serai Market. 

He was a Beatles expert and played Deep Purple intros like they were his own compositions. And he had only a basic acoustic guitar. If only he had a solid guitar, he exclaimed. I can believe him. Yes, he would show the other boys at Kampong Melaka the riffs that he could emulate before he sang his piece. Could Moyah be one of the boys who started the Pop Yeh Yeh craze among the Malay musicians?
By then it was lunch time and I would be gobbling Moyah's delicious lontong, beef rendang and chicken curry. Cooked by his mother, I could taste the santan (coconut milk) in the food and it would have been from the fruit itself and not from some canned product. And the satay with ketupat was unbelievable.

I would reach home with a full stomach and set out again at 4 pm to a colleague's home at Pachitan 8 (Delapan) where the present Eunos MRT line is today.  At the kampong house (image above with Mr. Aziz), I would spend hours with him and his parents, brothers and sisters. 

We were so close I would bring my Telefunken reeled tape-recorder and leave it at his home. We would record songs by Elvis, Tom Jones and Engelbert. These singers were Mr Abdul Aziz' favourite. He loved listening to P. Ramlee and Saloma songs.  One of her top hits was the original, Selamat Hari Raya.

Dinner came with lauk2 (dishes) like ayam kormah, sayur lodeh, ikan belado, daging kambing and sayor-sayoran. There was always a plate of kerupok udang (prawn crackers) at centre table. Desserts would include Malay cakes and biji delima drink. By eight in the evening, I would be staggering home on my scooter, heavier and bigger with the food in me.

The above picture shows dinner at Mr Ahyar's home during another Hari Raya visit. My wife and I have been visiting his home nearly every year, even up till today. His wife cooks delicious ayam goreng (fried chicken) and sayor lodeh. By this time, but, still in the 60's, many Singaporean families would have moved to high rise apartments or HDB flats. 

Today the tradition goes on, still visiting Muslim friends in the East Coast area. There's Mr Eusoof Angullia and his visitors (above) where friendship, food and music rule the Hari Raya visit. His karaoke set has thousands of songs, some I've never even heard of. 

They range from English, Malay, Hindi and Tamil classics throughout the years. All at the flip of the finger. And Mr Eusoof with his family sang, Besame Mucho, Paper Roses, Please Don't Tease, Casablanca, Colors of the Wind and Rindu Rasa Hati Ku.

And I drive  a car now... On beautiful roads. Not many scooters today. And the kampong houses have become modern bungalows, terraced abodes, spacious apartments and condominiums. 

Such hospitality, kindness and care.  How could I forget the neighborliness, friendliness, goodness and love of my Malay friends during such gatherings after the fasting month?
Suasana Riang (Di Hari Raya) was recorded by Junainah M. Amin in 1973. The song was composed by Kassim Masdor and the lyrics written by Yusnor Ef. It has topped the 100 List of Popular Hari Raya songs and has been played on local radio.

Images: A Private Collection; 3 from Google.
Video: You Tube from itsmeijan.


SUNNY WEE said...

Thank you for sharing about kampong visits and spirits during Hari Raya Puasa celebration. U are fortunate to be going round on scooter whereas i m on bicycle. Can relate to what u have written about Geylang kampong as i grew up in that memorable place. Hope to share more over a cup of kopi at Geylang kopitiam.

Wish all our Muslim kawan a Happy Hari Raya Puasa.


Thank you Andy, beautiful article. Surprised to hear your 60's Hari Raya stories. Your illustration of the malay food n desserts gave me cravings n am hungry for them. Today, by chance any of your Malay friends inviting you. Once again thanks for the text.

Saharom Abd. Aziz said...

One of the songs I really enjoyed during Raya celebration.

S said...

I will do an open house soon and will invite you and family. Would love to receive all of you at home.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Singapore has become a modern metropolis, different from the kampong homes that many citizens used to live in during the 60s'.

But Hari Raya tradition and visits with the different cultures still abound. And with the mingling of different races and faiths Singapore still withholds its kampong spirit today.

I hope I don't sound like a propaganda piece :-)

Thanks for the comments.


FACEBOOK said...

Thanks for Likes:

Glen Giva
Lim Kuan Min
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Doris Lim
Yip Dick
Yen Chow
Ann Rowena Lim
Penny Koh
Belinda Poh
Martin Ong
Randy Lee Keng


Thank you, Andy.

If you are in Singapore (not jalan jalan to some corners of the world), and also if you are free (not jalan jalan with your wife the whole day), do come over to my place for Hari Raya for chats and renewing our already established friendship.

FACEBOOK said...

thanks for support:

Toh Richard
Eddie Foo
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Daisie Yip
Chen Hui Si
Jalani Mohamed

Forgotten Scarlet said...

I never experience kampung life. This is historic.


It is great reading your story.


Wow never knew the vespa was in vogue in sg kampong. What an interesting write-up Andy! Thanks so much for sharing


What a beautiful & heartwarming story & grt slice of Sg kampung life & Raya in the kampung!


Enjoyed reading your post . Thank you.


Terimakaseh banyak Andy. Playing the song brought back many fine memories of visits to my father's employees homes, to visiting my Che'gu when he still lived in a kampong, and to the festivities in the kampong at the Turf Club. Many of the lyrics came right back to me.



ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you all for replies, especially from 'On A Little Street In Singapore'. It brightens my heart to know readers who were in Singapore during their youth still remember the beautiful memories they hold of our little island.



James Seah
Forgotten Scarlet
Davychandavy Chan
Errol Tan
Jerome Lim
Bryan Wong
Choon Seng Tan
Hui Keng Ong
Is Harr
Jed Mitter
Shearer Mohd Taib
Katherine Ang
Wee Ping
Pam Permjit Kaur
Khir Johari
John S H Quek
Aska Moir
Lee Chong Kiat
Suvanni Neoji Neogi
Jing Bat
Henry Koh
Eusniati Eusoff
Roslan Maulod
Tracy Richard
Mark Walker
Kok Wan See
Mala Krishnasamy
Gurmit Kaur Gill
Chris Bradley
Irene Teo
Asha'Ari Mohamad Zin
Jovin Chan
Roy Ng
Aisha Nalla
Jasmine Lim
Norliza Asisi
Greg Hattingh
Jackie Ruffin
Faridah H A Jamal
Leane Grace Bayon
Saonah Khalid Cagnard
Adeline Wee
Bill van der Straaten
Elias Tang Siew Mun
Kimjoo Ng
Annette Barnes
Narima Omar
Hor Mei Siew
Jeffrey Lim
Chris Hua
Moses Sia
AbdulRahman Saiuthi
Robyn Kenny
Mni Dya
Lawrence Ong
Fy Lim
Hamzah Abdullah
Hamdan Selamat
Michael Fonseca
Soo Choo


Tq v much Andy Young 😊



Mustapha said...

Thank you Andy Young for recalling back the good old fun brought back memories during my childhood days..made me realised how much i miss kampong life..i was residing at kampong wak tanjong at that period of tme..

Mustapha said...

thank you so much Andy..sure brought back the memories of my childhood days..i was residing at kampong wak tanjong at that period of time..arggg really miss the kampong life..

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks, Mr Mustapha. Glad you like the posting. Please feel free to write in again and contribute in any way you like with a piece of nostalgia and connect it to a song.

Appreciate your visit.