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My Impressions of Burma
We arrived one morning at Rangoon, the capital of Lower Burma. On stepping off the steamer, we were greeted by my uncle who shook hands with my father and myself. We motored to his house where we were warmly welcomed by my aunt and cousins, who were very pleased to see us. After the usual greetings and questions, we were shown into our rooms. After taking a bath, I went downstairs where I found breakfast ready.
My uncle took us out an hour later for shopping. We bought two helmets, which, my uncle said, were necessary. My uncle then announced his intention of taking us round the town for sightseeing. He asked me where I would like to go first, and I promptly answered that I would like to visit the Shwe Dagon Pagoda, of which I had read and heard so much. Accordingly, we drove to the East Pagoda Road where the wonderful pagoda is situated. When we arrived at the place, I was struck with awe on looking at the high majestic pagoda and could not help remarking that it pierced the clouds. My uncle, who overheard me, smiled, and said that it was 370 ft. high, and that it was built in the 6th century. The lower portions of it were covered with plates of gold, the rest being gilded.
We alighted at the gates, and we were allowed to pass inside. By the side of the steps leading up to the pagoda, I saw stalls, where wax-tapers, sweetmeats and other things for offering at the shrine were being sold. Coming to the main entrance, we were requested to take off our shoes. We entered the hall, and presently came to a floor or platform. All around this platform, we saw many shrines, some decorated with teakwood carvings and some covered with coloured glass which flashed and glittered in the morning sun - all the teakwood carvings being done by skilful Burmese. We saw many posts with streamers with the sacred goose on the top; carved elephants; and bells which were hung between two posts. Before the shrines, people were praying devoutly. In another chamber, more people were praying before a figure of Buddha. These people bought the things for offerings from the stalls by the steps. It is impossible to describe this wonderful pagoda in words - I only hope some of my friends will visit it during the holidays. When we emerged from this place it was about two o'clock and so we went home for our midday meal.
After lunch, we went to the bazaars where we saw crowds of people. The stalls were mostly managed by women or girls who smoked long cheroots. When we saw the natives, I asked my uncle how I could distinguish a man from a woman, for they wore similar garments. He said in reply, "The men wear head-clothes and the women do not." We visited the silk bazaar where we purchased some silk. It was 5.30 p.m. when we stepped out of the bazaar, and as it was too late to do any more visiting, we returned home to rest our weary bodies
Next day, we visited the Sacred Fish Tank in Campbell Road. After that we went to Dalhousie Park and Royal Lake in Lake Avenue. The Zoological Gardens were next visited, and we saw many interesting animals there. Next we went to see the Sule Pagoda and the Cantonment Gardens. The description of these places, needless to say, would take many pages to write.
On Wednesday, we motored to Pegu, a town 60 miles from Rangoon, where we saw the largest complete image of a human figure in the world, which is the Reclining Image of Buddha. This image, my uncle told me, is 180 ft. in length and 46 ft. in height at the shoulder. I must confess, I felt rather small when I stood near it. We lunched in the town, and motored leisurely back after we had seen the town.
We left Rangoon again on Thursday, (my uncle did not accompany us) and arrived at Mandalay where we visited, among other places of interest, the Golden Monastery. I learnt, from the guidebook, that it was built in 1882 by the last Queen of Burma. In the monastery there are numerous wooden carvings and ornamental panels covered with gold leaf, for which it is famous.
From Mandalay, we went to Bhamo by steamer; the scenery along the river was charming. There were many cliffs and we saw one about 600 ft. high. There we visited the Chinese Joss House and the bazaar.
After Bhamo, we went to the Gorteik Gorge where we descended and saw the caves inside. The Ruby Mines of Mogok came next and from there we went to Pagan where we saw many more pagodas. Our next visit was to Prome and then back to Rangoon, from where we set sail the next day homeward bound.
When I left Burma, I carried away a very strong impression of it. Never will I forget the impressive beauty of the countryside. It is a fascinating country full of charming scenery, many ancient images and pagodas, wonderful sights, and above all, the ways and the customs of the natives arouse immense curiosity in a traveller.
Thy victim am I, O Imagination great!
How Frogs Saw the World
Once upon a time there lived two frogs. One of them lived in a well near Port Weld: while the other lived in a pond near Taiping. The frog which lived in Port Weld was quite old.
It happened that boys and girls went to this well to draw water. They told each other frequently, "The frogs in this well know nothing about the great world". At this, the old frog could not stand the teasing anymore. So he made up his mind to see the great world. He told his family about his task. He also said that he would go the next day. During the night his wife wrapped his food in a daun pisang. At dawn he was ready for his journey. After saying goodbye to his family and friends, he jumped out of the well onto the dry land. He was hopping for a few yards when he saw that all other animals were walking and so he began to walk too.
Just at the same time the young frog in Taiping asked his father whether he would allow him to have a look at the outer world. His father was very glad and gave him money for his journey. He, too, walked as the other animal did. He walked and walked till at last these two met on a hill. The old frog asked the other "Who art thou?"
"Don't you know me?" answered the other, "I am the Lord Bull Frog from Taiping"
"Oh! My lordship, I am the Tengku Katak from Port Weld".
So they talked together about their task. They found that their objectives were the same. Then Tengku Katak said, "I think that this hill must be half-way between our homes and so why should we go any further. We will stretch our heads and look at what we want to see".
So they both did the same thing. They looked and looked. At last the old frog told the other "Oh! Taiping is just the same as Port Weld."
"It is quite true," answered the other, so the story that the ocean was very different from our well must be a lie". They both then made up their minds to go home and not to walk any further
They reached their homes joyous at having seen the great world. They told their family and friends about it. Till today the frogs in Taiping and Port Weld do not believe that there is an ocean. If you do not believe this, well, you also better join their company.
Aeroplanes M.N.M., Matriculation
In a bright summer evening when my day's work was over I looked outside from my study-room window which revealed to me my flower garden by the side of the steps and a row of cherry trees by the roadside. Some boys were climbing some of the trees and plucking cherries.
Very soon the buzz of an aeroplane aroused me and the boys and some children who were amusing themselves on the green in front of our house. The children, overcome with joy, ran and jumped about shouting "Aeroplane, aeroplane". At first the roof of our house hid the aeroplane from my view but by and by I could see clearly the plane which seemed to be an ordinary one.
How amused the children were to see it flying over their heads with a shrill sound! Among the children were some who were frightened by the buzz of the aeroplane and ran to their houses terrified as the chickens which run to hide in some thicket to protect themselves from the eagle. Some of the children were so happy, I think, that they thought that they themselves were flying across the sky. There will come a time when even the great folks may run into their houses for safety from the aeroplanes, though escape will be impossible!
O, how agreeable and sweet is peace! and how happy are the children then and their mothers when they see their children's glee! The music the aeroplane plays in peace time is sweet to the children's ears, as the musical notes of a sky-lark. How happy are the good great thinkers when they have invented their machines! At that time they, like the invisible man in H. G. Wells' novel, only thought of the advantages, benefits and joy their inventions might give to the coming generation. Alas, poor and innocent man! He did not think that his inventions under the control of the "Swords" would prove destructive to the following generations.
The "Swords" are tyrannical, jealous, selfish and the worst of men that the world ever produced. The proverb "hate the sin and love the sinner" cannot be applied to such villains who deprive the innocent children and other peaceful men of their joy. Is this true patriotism? This patriotism is born of hatred rather than love. The patriotism that will survive is that patriotism that, beginning in love, will go on in love; this will elevate its own country so that it may help the other countries.
The mischief the aeroplane does in war is immense. It is not only dangerous to combatants but also to the peaceful citizens. It is late to repent but not too late. If the Disarmament Conference were to come to a successful conclusion - and I hope it shall - and actual disarmament takes place in every country, it will be better for humanity. I hope that the future inventors would think beforehand of the advantages and disadvantages of anything that they are about to invent.
The Departure of the Night-mail
Night always lends its charms to feelings of gaiety and joy. We perhaps feel more comfortable when night casts its veil of darkness over us and makes our little world appear smaller than it does by day. At any rate we are now in better humour and so appreciate our surroundings more fully.
A railway station is a much more inviting and interesting place when it is all brightly lit up at night than at any other time of the day.
Let us wend our way to the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station at about eight o'clock in the evening and play the role of spectators. The train is drawn up by the platform ready to start on its long journey to Singapore, that fair island at the southern extremity of Malaya to which many an inquisitive traveller finds his way. At first we see only a few people loitering about, but a few minutes later we find that a fair crowd has gathered. Men and women are standing in isolated groups and some of them have a bag or two at their feet. Obviously they are all greatly excited and some appear to be even happy.
Different types of men and of races are present and among them are Chinese, Europeans and Indians. The Europeans are all standing by the coach on which is written in big bold letters the words "RESTAURANT CAR". Most of the men have taken the opportunity to indulge in a drink and are laughing and talking boisterously. New arrivals are introduced to old ones and as they shake each other's hands and drink their healths one feels glad to see such a sight. The Asiatics behave in nearly the same manner except that they do not drink and are not so jolly.
A few porters are pushing their wheelbarrows along, while others help travellers with their baggage and then shyly wait for a small tip which they quietly receive with their dark shining faces looking even more innocently in the opposite direction. The station master, full of self-importance, is parading up and down the platform and thinking himself the "monarch of all I survey".
Five minutes before the train departs, the first bell goes. The travellers get near their respective carriages and when the second bell goes two minutes before time, they start wishing their friends goodbye. The station master blows his whistle, the passengers get in hurriedly, the guard lifts his green light for the driver to see and the train, after blowing a shrill blast, moves amidst shouts of "goodbye" and waving of handkerchiefs.
As the last of the coaches disappears into the night a feeling of depression sets over those left behind and in twos and threes they slowly walk out from the platform. One absent-minded loiterer is promptly told by a Railway policeman to make his exit and when that worthy has complied with the request the gates are shut behind him. Most of the lights are switched off and the station which only a few minutes ago was a scene of such bustle and activity is now deserted and presents a comparatively dismal appearance.
The Unfortunate Monk
During the Ching dynasty, there was a certain temple in Manchuria where most of the people used to go and pray.
One day, the temple was short of money and the chief monk who was the head of it sent out some of his disciples to the cities and countries to collect funds for the temple. One of the disciples was rather mischievous and inquisitive and he was told not to go and that if he went there would be trouble for him. Being rather a stupid person, he insisted on going out to collect, and after much discussion his request was granted. So he went to the countries where there were plenty of villages scattered about.
As he went collecting in one of the villages he happened to see a lady who was washing her feet in a basin of water. The water was mixed with certain herbs that could reduce the size of any part of the human body to a tiny one, and the lady who was washing was trying to reduce the size of her feet for at that time only ladies with tiny feet were considered to be beautiful. When this monk saw this lady he began to tease her by making faces at her, and she, being very angry at the sight of him, threw the basin of water on his head.
At once the monk felt his head growing smaller and smaller and, feeling ashamed of himself, covered his head with his large sleeves and ran to the temple. All the monks in the temple were startled at the size of his head and began to laugh. The unfortunate monk then confessed his sin to his master who, taking pity on him, forgave him. He then afterwards gave the monk a pill to swallow so that his head returned to its original size.
The Four Stages of Mankind
It is strange to see that the beasts on the face of the globe cannot live as long as human beings. Were they not created by God? Why should man be given more privileges than a beast? This often puzzles us and therefore we do not thoroughly master the subject. There are many who try to understand the motives that led God to create both man and beast, but with slender success. Every man has his own way of translating these mysteries which are often left half unsolved. There is a belief among the country folks that God was made to answer many questions that were raised by a man, a bull, a dog and a stork respectively.
All these four, being anxious to know how long they were to face the battle of life in this world, asked him this question. God answered that each of them would live for twenty-five years only.
When the man heard this he was much troubled, so he turned and asked God saying, "O, God how can I have control over these three when my age is twenty-five only?" In answer God replied, "You better have the bull's power by adding another twenty-five to your age." But the man was not contented and God perceiving this said to him, "Then you better add the dog's power too by adding another twenty-five years." Even then the man was not satisfied, so God again said, "You better have the stork's power also, by adding another twenty-five years." The man added all the three ages to his and found it to be a hundred and so he was very happy and thought that God had given him the power of a second God.
All these four went to their respective places satisfied with their gifts. The man married at the age of twenty-five. Then only he realized the difficulty, for he had to work hard in order to support his family and at the same time he had no freedom. He was like a bull yoked to a cart with a heavy load.
When he had reached his fiftieth year he was no more a man or a bull, but his actions all changed to those of a dog. He had lost the power of reasoning and always grumbled and so he was looked upon as a nuisance by his family and by the community.
When he had reached his seventy-fifth year, his body became hunched and his stature resembled that of a stork. He was unable to walk; he had to call his sons and others saying, "Jack, Dick, please quench my thirst and hunger."
On his hundredth year, he died and thus he completed the four stages. These stages are continued from man to man and so I fear I also will be trapped in this unavoidable sequence of events.
Life's Little Anecdotes
I relate here a few of the incidents that remain in my memory as a member of a sportive band. When I made known to them that I wanted to join them I had to be initiated - and what an initiation it was! The members caught hold of me, not too gently. They handled me roughly and put me into positions that would beat by miles the feats of the world's best acrobat. I was tossed about like a toy boat in a typhoon. The landings on terra firma knocked my breath out. If you were there you would have heard the thuds of the blows I received.
A kick like a mule's made me do the swallow dive into the Klang River. To be in the "clean" waters of this river is nowhere near being pleasant. I was shivering with cold and to make matters worse a lobster got into my shirt, tickled me and made me burst out laughing - except it was not in the right place. It was an experience in which nobody would be in a laughing mood. I was roped, like a bull by a cowboy, and pulled out. I looked a ridiculous figure in my dirty, shabby clothes. My ruffled hair had a banana skin entangled in it, which might have got there while I was having a pitiful time in that "sweet smelling" water full of the rubbish of the town.
I was on the verge of exploding and telling them my humble opinion of them, when I was cut short by Simon, nicknamed "Bull", the leader and a big-hearted person, who said, "Sorry, we made you go through all that, but it was necessary to see whether you could tolerate roughness. Well, I have the honour of bestowing the knighthood of the Riverside Rovers on you."
So I became Sir Charles Barak, K.R.R. I was glad I was late at exploding. One who was called Goat remarked about my sense of humour, he said, "He laughed, let alone smiled in trouble." Goat was thinking of the laugh which he did not know was caused by the lobster. Bull brought some of his clothes and made me change into them. Bull is a huge fellow and I was almost lost in his shirt and pants. At our headquarters the Chief solemnly expounded the laws. The Motto is "Game for Anything Good".
My first duty after becoming a member was to help a young man. This nice fellow was very sad for he had fallen in love with a charming lady, but was not able to get an introduction to her. Leader Bull had an idea which he told me and Goat, our green horn. Our young hero was told to follow the lady at a distance during her evening walk that day and he would find something helpful. That evening she went for a walk in the country and our friend followed her without her knowing it. Goat and myself, dressed like real hooligans, waited in a bush to attack her. When she neared us we rushed out and demanded, "Money or your life. Stand and deliver." She screamed for help. Then our friend arrived on the scene. He acted like the gallant rescuer one saw at the pictures and pretended to fight with us. After an exchange of blows we ran away and left them to "carry on".
The sequel to this took place after three months. There was a wedding party to which the Band was invited, but Goat and myself could not attend for fear of recognition by the bride as being the villains who attacked her. We were satisfied with the description of the wonderful "treat" we missed!
Goat is an amusing fellow. He has a helping disposition. He always meant good when he nearly always did the contrary.
An incident which will make you laugh happened at the Malayan Athletic Meet. Goat saw a runner warming up in his long flannel pants before the his race was due to start. Athletes do this to keep warm before a race and so run better. Goat thought that the runner had no shorts to run in and approaching him offered to give his own shorts. There was a big laugh at Goat's suggestion, and up to this day he does not understand why people laugh at one who is doing a good turn.
In the Rover's records I read that a boy was refused as a member of the gang. This was because this particular boy carried his bicycle to save its tyres being worn off. It was at first thought miraculous why he did not save the soles of his shoes. It was later discovered to be Bull's shoes that he was wearing.
Another incident that befell me was that we had only enough money for an evening at the pictures - enough to treat us to the honourable seats nearest the screen. It was below my dignity to sit in those seats, but I had to go because we promised to stick together through thick and thin. I made up my mind to go late, and sneak in when it was dark. I gave an excuse that I would be coming late and asked the boys to reserve a seat for me. When the lights went off I sneaked in. The Band was waiting for me. They strained their eyes and saw me and chorused my name which could be heard by everybody in the hall. Imagine my feelings when I knew there were teachers of our school as well as prospective sweethearts at the pictures that night. They would have wondered what a great personality of their society was doing right in front of the screen.
These stories are not fictitious and the truth of one incident an athletic member of our school staff will vouch for. Now I must close for I see a vision of the Editor's blue pencil hovering over me and terrorising me from passing from truth into the realm of fiction.
A Visit to a Rubber Estate
During the last Christmas Holidays I met one of my classmates and had a talk with him about rubber. During the conversation I found that I knew practically nothing about the subject; so I asked my friend if he could take me to his estate because I was anxious to know what an estate looked like and how rubber was manufactured. My friend told me that he would enquire from his father and that he would let me know the following day.
As arranged, I met my friend on Wednesday and he told me that I could visit the estate with him. So on Thursday morning, I met him in his house, and after having breakfast with him, we left for the estate in his motorcar. His estate is situated in Rawang at a distance of about eighteen miles from this town.
We arrived at the estate after a two hour journey and on arrival at the bungalow we were met by the manager. This gentleman was quite a sociable person and after I had been introduced to him by my friend, he invited us to his house and entertained us with coffee and bread.
My friend told him the reason of our visit and immediately after we had partaken of his feast he led us to a place which I noticed to be bare ground. Here he showed us how the seeds were planted. He then took us to the nursery where I saw young rubber trees. The manager then took us to a portion of the estate where these young shoots were being planted.
After that, he took us round a portion of the estate where the trees were being tapped by coolies. He told us that they engaged a special set of coolies for this work because it could not be left in the hands of careless workmen, the reason being that they might destroy the trees. I watched the tapper at work. He had a curved knife called a tapping knife. With this he cut the bark of the tree. The cuts he made appeared to be in two shapes; namely, in the form of a V and of a fishbone. I then saw the tapper place a cup at the foot of the tree and, on asking its purpose, I was told that it was the latex cup to hold the sap which flowed out of the tree. The tapper had by now cut many trees and, in a few moments, I saw several men approaching with fairly large cans. I was told that those men collected the latex from the cups and when they had made their day's collections, they would take the latex to the factory where it would be turned into sheets of rubber.
I then went to the factory where I saw the men pouring out the latex from the cans into oblong pans. Then they added a few drops of acetic acid to let it coagulate. It was later removed from the pans and squeezed through a mangle to turn it into a rubber sheet. When many such sheets had been made they were taken to the smoke room to be dried and smoked. After they were smoked they were packed in cases for export.
It often strikes one's mind: what is the most precious thing one should own in this world? You would think that if you are wealthy and can afford to live a luxurious life you will be the happiest man in the world. Yet when you go deeply into this question you find that wealth is not the most precious thing that one possesses. When you are wealthy you will not be free from worry, such as how to spend your money wisely or how to keep it safely in order that it might not be stolen by thieves and robbers.
Therefore wealth is not the most valuable or the most precious thing one can possess. The best thing to own is the thing that cannot be stolen. It is your HEALTH. If you think it over carefully you see that you will be very happy if you are healthy. One must consider how one can be healthy. Some will indulge in some kind of games such as tennis, cricket, football etc. to keep their bodies in good health, while others go in for certain kinds of exercises that will make every inch of their body muscular. The training referred to above is called physical training.
These physical exercises can be practised in various ways and with various kinds of apparatus. Some indulge in free hand exercises, others use barbells or dumb-bells and some use elastic cables. Whatever be one's choice the form of exercise that gives good, lasting and beneficial results should be adopted.
According to my point of view, free hand exercises are the best forms of exercise which will give one a body of which he can be proud. It is essential that every part of the body must be exercised in order to obtain a symmetrical figure.
I Love Her All The Same
I meet my girl, when the moon is bright
How to Behave in School
Many boys think that they go to school only to learn to read, to write, to work sums, to study geography and grammar. This is a great mistake. It is certainly a very important part of our study to gain knowledge in all subjects that are taught, but, in addition to this, we must remember that while in school we are forming habits, that must either be of great service to us when we become men, or will prevent us from meeting with success in life. The habits and manners of children are shown by their conduct from day to day.
Children should make a point of always being early and regular in their attendance, and pay strict attention to their work. They ought, further, to be ready to assist their teachers by attending to their lessons. They must not copy work from other boys for this is dishonest. Neither must they cut their desks nor damage the books, because, by doing so, they show that they do not value what belongs to other people. They should not chalk or make marks on blackboards or walls as this looks untidy.
We see, then, that it is our duty while at school to try to learn the habits of punctuality, honesty, obedience, respect to those above us, and to deal honourably with our schoolmates. If we learn these things we shall find that when we are old enough to go to work, we may rest assured that success in life will come to us.
My Worst Subject
As I was ordered to compose,
Money brings you happiness,
My Trip to Singapore by Sea
When school closed for the holidays, my brother took me to Singapore by steamer. At 5.30 p.m. the S. S. Klang left Port Swettenham and steamed slowly out of the harbour. When it reached the open sea the pilot was dropped, and then it went ahead at full speed. The sea was calm and I did not feel seasick. After dinner I went on deck. The moon was up and the sky was beautiful. At 10 o'clock we passed Cape Rochado lighthouse. That night I could not sleep and I came out again and again to watch the lights of the passing ships.
Early next morning we were approaching Singapore and were passing some beautiful islands. A pilot came out to take charge of the ship. In the harbour of Singapore there were many types of ships. There were huge liners which had come from remote parts of the world. As we came alongside the wharf, our boat was surrounded by a number of Malay divers. They paddled about in the dugouts and dived for coins thrown into the water by the passengers. They dived like fish and never failed to retrieve the coins.
We must be very careful in choosing our friends, because the world is big and there are good folks and bad ones too. Therefore, we must make a careful choice by observing the manners and habits of each of our friends.
If we are not wary we may grow intimate with boys who are frivolous and idle, and who may lead us to bad places. Gradually they will deceive us and later on, our minds will be controlled by theirs. They will make us spend our money extravagantly, and at the end we will turn out to be spendthrifts. They will no doubt stick to us when we have abundant wealth, but when misfortune befalls us they will be the first to leave us. Such friends are called "summer friends", because they will come to one when he has plenty of cash to spare, but they will desert him when he is without a cent in his pockets. Considering, therefore, the injuries that accrue from bad companions and the benefits to be gained from a loyal friend, it is clear that great care should be exercised in the choice of friends.
Everyone should aim at making friends with the best possible boys. The friendship of a good boy is the greatest blessing that this world can offer us. It is a consolation in time of sickness and sorrow, a source of enhanced joy in time of happiness.
We should not accept friends on trust, relying on appearances only, but consider the way they talk and the way they act, before admitting them into intimacy. When they have been put to the test and not found wanting, we should cling to them faithfully, with a feeling of gratitude to providence for having provided us with one of the most valuable of all human possessions - a good and sincere friend.
My Visit to the Ipoh Caves
During one of the recent vacations, I had the opportunity of going with a party of friends to Ipoh. We started early one Saturday morning and managed to reach Ipoh by 1 p.m. We drove to the House of an uncle of one of my friends, and were introduced to the old gentleman, who proved to be a very agreeable host. There, we had our lunch, and later we visited many places of interest in the town. In the evening we went to the cinema.
Next day, after breakfast, we had a short debate on where we should spend the day. Finally, we made up our minds to visit the Caves. We started immediately, and as the Caves were about a mile away from the town, we hired a bus to take us there. We received many hard and painful jolts en route, for the road was not very good, and the bus was an old Ford with only a few springs left in its seats. However, the old Ford withstood the strain, and presently we sighted the Caves.
The rays of the morning sun, as they shone on the Caves, made them glare, and we had to shade our eyes from the brightness. Alighting at our destination, we found a flight of steps, fashioned tout à fait out of solid stone, before us and ascended them. By the time we reached the top, I was quite out of breath and so were the others, for we had climbed about two hundred steps. After recovering our breath, we entered the main cave, and walked hesitatingly along a sort of corridor, for the interior of the cave was quite gloomy.
After a few steps, we saw another opening to the right of us, and entering it, we saw before us a shrine. A table and a few chairs were standing in the middle of the room or cave, but I did not sit down, for I had perceived an aperture in the wall of the cave, large enough for a man pass through. Going to it, I found that I could view the objects below. Looking down, I saw the old Ford and some people below, and they appeared to me like what the Lilliputians appeared to Gulliver. I could also see a large area of the country, and was sorry to tear myself away from the glorious sight when the party prepared to leave the room.
Leaving this room, we walked along the corridor. We had to proceed very carefully, the ground being very slippery. We came across some stalactites and stalagmites; conical masses of calcium carbonate, formed from the constant dripping of the water from the roof of the caves; the stalactite being formed from the roof downwards, and the stalagmite from the floor upwards; the two meeting when sufficiently long.
In another place we saw an irregular pillar, in reality, a stalagmite and a stalactites fused together. Bats and some birds frequent this passage; frogs and other reptiles made it their main playground, and visitors made it their main passage. We entered several rooms which were unoccupied, and in every room we saw shrines with joss-sticks and sundry furniture. After visiting all the rooms on this floor, we mounted another flight of creaky steps, and came to another floor. Here, too, we visited every room, and in these rooms, we saw shrines, scrolls, pictures of Buddha, and in one room we came across an image of Buddha himself.
On another floor, we came upon several priests or inhabitants of the caves who were having their meal of rice and vegetables. It was a large square room; the room was filled with the aroma of certain herbs, and joss-sticks could be seen sticking out from the crevices of the walls. We conversed with the chief priest, and when we asked to have a picture taken of himself and his fellow-priests, they willingly obliged us. He invited us to partake of a meal with them, but we politely declined and took our leave of them. Ascending yet another flight of steps, we saw more stalactites and stalagmites, and in the stillness we could hear the dripping of the water. Leaving this room, we came to another room, where we found the walls covered with names of people who had visited the Caves. We added ours there, too, and having nothing more to see, we departed from that floor.
Arriving at the main cave, we made our way to the entrance. We halted a while, and when I looked down from that height, I nearly fell down the steps. However, we began to descend, and I did not stop until I reached terra firma. Here we had a last look round. In our eagerness to explore the interior and upper part of the Caves, we missed several wonderful sights when we first arrived. We saw and visited many houses built in the caves, several of them without roofs, but only doors and windows. Some of these cave houses were fashioned out by men but most were Nature's work, and the people had only to fit a door to them before they could call them houses. After taking snaps of these unique dwellings we mounted the Ford and returned home to lunch.
The Usefulness of Science
Science appears to beginners to be very difficult. The cause of this difficulty is that the majority of the students try to finish it hurriedly. But science is a subject every part of which requires to be thoroughly known. If a person begins studying science and proceeds onward, learning it bit by bit, all difficulties will disappear and science will be found to be a very interesting subject.
Only reading books about science subjects will not do. Science should be learned by practical experiments. A man with the help of machinery can do more work than another without it. English mechanics, with the help of machinery, manufacture many things quickly and sell goods at a lower price than the other mechanics and through this they drive other goods out of the market.
Malayan soil is good but the agriculturists, being poor and ignorant, do not know the proper use of manure and therefore cannot raise sufficient products for local use. But if they know the advantage of fertilisers and manure, they can raise twice the amount of the present production and sometimes more. As science is so very useful to us, we must study it carefully.
In our school, we have a big laboratory where we do many experiments, which help us to know more about nature. In short, science is the subject which helps man to raise nature's screen.
Tom Sykes, the Mystery Detective
Tom Sykes, the famous Kuala Lumpur detective, was sitting in his little office on the top floor of No...., Java Street, smoking a cigarette. It was four in the evening and he could hear the bustle of motor vehicles on the street below, for it was the time of the day when all businessmen and their subordinates left their offices for home. He could also hear the tambies slam the doors of the firm of Sports Outfitters below. It was also time for Sykes to go home, but from the way in which he was sitting it could be seen that he wished to remain there for at least another hour. The afternoon was a hot one and the monotony of the horns of automobiles and ring of bicycle bells made it seem hotter still. But the air in Sykes' private office was quite cool, for the electric fan on the ceiling was on. As he was smoking, he was also thinking.
Suddenly the telephone bell rang, but it did not startle Tom Sykes because he was expecting it. He slowly took up the receiver to his ear.
"My boss has just left the office, Mr. Sykes," said somebody at the other end of the wire. "I'll be right there in a couple of minutes." Gently he put down the receiver and again resumed his meditations. A few minutes passed and he heard the footsteps of somebody on his private staircase. Then a knock at the door and he simply remarked, "Come in." In came a middle-aged, short, stoutish Chinese man, clothed in the Western style, except that he wore the Malayan characteristic closed coat. Wishing the detective 'good evening' he sat himself down on a bent-wood chair by his side.
"Have a cigarette," said Sykes, producing his gold cigarette case.
"No, thank you, I am not in a mood to smoke," was the reply.
"You don't mind my smoking?"
"No, certainly not," said his client, and continued, "As I was telling you on the phone this morning, the matter I am going to discuss with you is a very important one."
"Go on, Mr. Chung Iong," said Sykes, after he had puffed out cloud of smoke that began to ascend ceilingwards in many fantastic curls.
"Yes, Mr. Sykes, that's the very reason, why I have come here consult you. You see, I have been working as a clerk in a private office for the last twenty years, and you know for yourself that clerks, especially of prominent lawyers, made quite a bit of extra money. And according to my means I bought a few acres of land facing Imbi Road about ten years ago. In it I had a house built with a fruit garden around it. My wife and I have lived in this house very happily without any trouble or disturbance whatsoever, until ten days ago when something extraordinary happened, and has been happening every night, Mr. Sykes.
"On a certain rambutan tree which grows about fifty yards to the right - away from the road, but in the garden - something funny happens. At night, I see - and everybody in my house sees - something like sparks of fire falling one by one from a certain point in the tree to the ground. In the morning we see that all the ripe rambutans and mangosteens have disappeared. My wife and my two servant maids believe that it is the worse of a devil who seems to have been offended by us and who wishes to avenge himself not only by depriving us of the fruits of our garden but also by threatening our lives. She has ever since been urging the evacuation of the house, and you see, Mr. Sykes, I cannot possibly do this. I own the house, the land and the garden, and for me to leave it for another house would mean a great loss. I shall not be able to let it out, because nobody will want to stay in it.
"And, Mr. Sykes, whatever my wife and the servant maids may say about the devil, I do not believe a word of them. I do not believe in ghosts and devils either. But these sparks are so mysterious that I am rather doubtful about my opinion. Yesterday, according to my wife's wish, I had some Siamese Pawangs brought from Bukit Bintang to propitiate the offended devil. They performed their ceremonies, etc., but all their efforts to appease the devil were fruitless, for we had the sparks again last night, and the disappearance of the ripe fruits this morning. The Pawangs left my house informing us that the devil has been very badly offended and that he will not let us escape punishment. And you can well imagine the condition of my wife. I want you to help me, Mr. Sykes. I am sure it is not the work of a devil although I do not know whose it is."
"Of course, I'll try my best," replied our friend, "but I've to see what happens for myself, before I have got anything to say. By the way, at what time do you see this?"
"About nine at night."
"Yes, then wait for me at 8.30, Mr. Chung Iong. What's your address?"
"Here it is, Mr. Sykes. As you drive along Imbi Road and before you turn for the Government Quarters you'll see on your left a gate with a letter-box bearing my name. Turn in and you'll be in my compound."
At half past eight sharp - for Tom Sykes always sticks to his word - a two-seater drove into the porch of a fairly large two-storied mansion. No sooner had Sykes alighted than out of the house came running towards him Mr. Chung Iong in his Chinese costume.
"Come upstairs, Mr. Sykes - to the library. We shall see the sparks in another half-hour. They went upstairs and the Chinese led the way into a room, where he offered the detective a long rattan chair. On a round rattan table was that evening's copy of the Malay Mail. Sykes took it up, and turning to the middle page began to scan the contents. It had something to say about the 'New Policy,' for there was an article by 'Klyne Street.' The detective was just going to remark something about the attitude adopted by 'Klyne Street' when the clock on the wall in front of him chimed nine times. They got up and went to the window.
"There, do you see that tree," Mr. Chung Iong was pointing a trembling, fat, fleshy finger to a tree in the dark, "and do you see the sparks of fire falling one by one to the ground?"
"Yes," was all that Sykes said. He saw and as he was seeing he was deeply thinking.
"All right, Mr. Chung Iong. I'll be making a move. I'll come along to-morrow again .... and .... yes, I have hit upon an idea. Something's the cause of it and I am not going to leave a stone unturned in the investigation of it. I am just going to get to the very bottom of this affair."
The next night he came again at half past seven. He was wearing a khaki suit and had rubber shoes on.
"I intend passing the night in the garden," he said to his client, "and what I want is perfect peace and no disturbance whatever. I want everything to happen as usual." He left Mr. Chung Iong and choosing a tree that bore no ripe fruit and was also quite close to the mysterious one, he climbed it. He sat down on a branch and waited.
Nothing happened until about nine when he heard some Chinese of the cooly class conversing outside on the road. Then he saw three of them scaling the low fencing into the garden with a fairly large bamboo basket. They could hardly be made out for they were clothed in black, masked in black and gloved in black. One of them, as far as Sykes could see, climbed up the tree and having tied something wrapped up in a cloth to a branch set fire to it. No sooner had he done this than Sykes saw the mysterious sparks whizz down towards the ground. The next thing the detective observed was that the three began to pluck all the ripe fruits. None touched the tree Sykes was on, since there was no ripe fruit on it. They went on with their work and the detective who rejoiced within himself moved not an inch.
A quarter of an hour passed and he saw them climb over the fencing with their booty. Sykes got down, ran as fast as his legs could carry him to the tree, climbed it like a monkey, unloosed the wire that suspended something burning, got down and walked up briskly towards the house. He saw Mr. Chung Iong come out of the window of the drawing room to him. As if loaded with a ton of questions, the Chinese man began to pour them one by one on Sykes, but the detective paid no heed to him and said not a word. The thing he was carrying was still burning - burning, but very slowly. One by one small particles of fire fell flickering to the ground. Straight up to the drawing room he went, with the excited Chinese man behind him. Entering it he threw down the thing he was carrying on the cement floor, and stamped twice with his right foot so that the fire ceased to flicker.
Both of them squatted down to examine the contents and this is roughly what they found: about a tea-cup full of half-burnt saw dust wrapped up in a greased handkerchief that had a small hole in the centre, so that when the cloth was ablaze the few particles of saw dust that escaped through the small hole would catch fire and subsequently fall down as sparks. "As I expected," remarked Tom Sykes a little bit relieved.
The police were informed and the culprits arrested the next night, and Mrs. Chung Iong and the two servant maids began to think otherwise.
Last update on 28 October 2000.
Contributed by: Chung Chee Min
PageKeeper: Ooi Boon Kheng