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Friday, 24 March 2017

Nice Things For Cheap: A Possible Dream!

The Days of Yore.

It may come as some surprise to you that the price of things keep going up, and up. Everything gets more expensive, every year. It's a fact of life: You probably know how many times your father looks at the sky with a nostalgic look in his eyes, and with a wistful sigh, say, "When I was a young boy, Coca-Cola only cost 20 sen a bottle".

And perhaps you too, have had your own wistful sigh and your own wistful, wishful remark. "When I was a young boy, a plate of chicken rice was only RM4..." 

Soon, the day may come when you become an old man, wrinkled and grey, hair thinning and eyes squinting, when you'll be looking at a young boy and say aloud, to nobody in particular, "When I was your age, a can of Coca-Cola cost us only RM1.50..." 

Money money money.... what's your story?

How people long for the days of yore! Everything seems better "back then"! Everything seems more pristine, more unadulterated, more innocent. And much, much more affordable. (We are all skinflints, one way or another.) Perhaps it really was that way. But could it be that we console ourselves that our impulse purchases "back then" were really, in a twisted way, "investments", because the price of everything has gone up?

Don't Delude Yourself

Whatever it is, spending money and reminiscing about it seems rather silly to me. "I spent only this much to buy this thing when I was younger... and it costs so much more now!" That seems like justification for what you plan to do. Ah, you... you plan to buy more things (at some outrageous prices!) and justify your purchases by what those things will cost in ten years from now! Really... you think I don't know what you are thinking? Don't keep deluding yourself. By spending today what is outrageous and justifying it by tomorrow's benchmarks, you are wilfully cheating yourself of your savings.... That is, what you could save today!

We all reminisce about our childhood. Once in a while. And that includes monetary memories.

A Random List of Nice Things For Cheap.

If you are in a reminiscing mood about the cheaper days of yore, there's no need to wait to relive some of those memories. I usually treat myself to some food and drink when I feel nostalgic. But nowadays, since I watch my weight (I signed up for the gym), I eat a little less.

Here are some random nice things, that you might be able to buy for cheap.
  1. A bell for your counter. I bought one from Daiso, the RM5 shop. It reminds me of the fascination I used to have for them when I was younger. I remember many times when we travelled, one of the hallmarks of hotels and banks was the bell for the counter. "Ring for service", they might sometimes write. And so, we the intrepid visitors would gingerly ring the bell. But what fun it was! It was often a liberating experience, to be able to press upon the fading silver bells, and hear their crystal clear ring fill the air. And a few moments later, might come the accompanying human sound from some room behind the counter: "Coming!!"
  2. A can of Coca-Cola. I usually don't have soft drinks nowadays, and most especially since soft drinks are chockful of sugar. But I have a soft spot for Coca-Cola, because of the lingering memories from my youth of their advertisements and how cool we thought Coca-Cola was. Once, when I was younger, back in secondary school, I heard an old song called "Rum and Coca-Cola". It had a nice Caribbean feel to it. But sadly, nobody in school had ever heard of that song. I used to like to listen to oldies back when I was a teenager. Nowadays my ex-schoolmates listen to those oldies too. But they call them numbers "jazz", so as to give themselves reassurance that they are growing more sophisticated, not growing older.
  3. A piece of fried chicken from a roadside stall. As a child, I used to look forward to KFC. But my parents rarely brought me there. It was either that KFC was too "unhealthy" or KFC was too pricey. I had a tough childhood, marked by lack and deprivation, although you could not tell just by looking at me. Most people would have thought that I was a nerd. What I lacked in toys and experiences that only money could buy, I replaced with books (my ever-changing toys!) and vicarious experiences (through my reading). I was a member of three libraries. Every weekend I would traipse to the bus stop, hop on the bus, and start my grand tour of the three libraries. And .... I have digressed. Back to KFC, my parents once brought me to the Damansara Utama KFC restaurant for dinner with their relatives. Back then, when I didnt know better, I remarked, "My parents never bring me to KFC.... I love KFC!" My mum looked at me and said, "Never? No.... not true." I, unfazed, continued along the line: "I only like this KFC. My mummy never cooks like KFC." "But I do cook fried chicken...." protested my mum. I shrugged. I didn't drag it out. But the memory of that conversation stayed with me. Sometimes I miss my mum's fried chicken. 
  4. A trip on a bus. Back before they started all these ride-hailing apps, and before they had all the LRT's, the primary mode to get around town for a poor student was the bus. The bus brought me all over town, and it also brought me home. The bus gave me mobility back when I was still a pimply faced boy walking around town looking for books to read. The bus was the chariot upon which I rode, surveying the realm of which I was king. I still remember the Srijaya buses of olden days, which stretched all the way to the back. I remember them because of the history lessons, from school, about Srivijaya, and how that name sounded so similar to the bus company's. I remember the trip that I and my classmates made to Melaka, when we were about 17 years old. A bunch of us couldn't afford to pay for the hotel room and we slept in the school bus for the first night. Ironically, the bunch of students who planned the trip managed to book rooms for themselves in the hotel. The second night, we the poor students, who were stung all night long by whining mosquitoes, were fed up enough to want to sleep in the hotel. Much, much later, after the trip, I spoke to my close friend, an Indian. "We went to Tanjung Keling!" (Keling is a colloquial term for "Indian", and considered a little rude.) He crumpled his nose and asked me, "Are you serious or are you pulling a joke on me???"
I'm sorry, I haven't written for some time. But I try to write. Once in a while. 

Thanks for reading.


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