Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Two of my sons are quite ‘addicted’ to PSP and PS3. Not only that they are into online PC games. Me? I don’t understand them. Maybe Donkey Kong I can relate to or Galaxian and Pong. But Civilization, Black and White and those other confusing computer games have left me cold. I can hardly survive level one in most games. However, there is some light at the end of the tunnel – Wii. Okay okay this is not a paid commercial for Wii Nintendo okay…but I do enjoy playing golf or tennis or even bowling on this new console. Try it you over 40 guys – you might find it quite interesting.
Anyway, I’m not really going to talk about the current state of PC and handheld games but rather what I used to do when I was a kid – the days before PC Games, before Donkey Kong and Pong. It’s the time I refer to as YBS (Years Before Sega).
In school, during school breaks or recess, the macho guys would rush down to the field for a ballsy game called Chopping. It’s really a simple game, you run around trying to grab a single tennis or rubber ball and hit the nearest guy to you – that’s it. And trust me – size matters because those big guys can really slug a ball into you back. The problem with this game is that the teachers thought it was violent – duhhhh! Of course it was – but it was great therapy for the students – a way to channel their fury, anger and stress at another student with a ball. Of course in the end it was banned. Most other variations of chopping (any game revolving around the use of a ball thrown at another person) were also banned.
For the girls, whilst the guy whacked themselves, they would be sitting in a circle under a tree shade playing either five stones (batu seremban or serembat) or biji saga. Five stones is actually an internationally recognized game but I guess the locals had their own versions using pyramid-shaped dried green bean-filled ‘stones’) made from cloth. I remember seeing the rapid firing hands of so-called ‘professionals’. These are the girls who could talk and chat whilst playing the stones like second nature.
The biji saga is another simple game – the object would be to win the most number of saga beans. To win the beans, you make an imaginary line between two red beans to announce that those two beans are the ones you want to clash. Clashing the beans mean the use on one finger to flick the designated beans together. If you miss you lose your turn. If you succeed in clashing the two beans, you pick it up.
The are other outdoor games school kids used to play – the popular ones would be main galah, police and thief and a stupid game called AEIOU (see the video below I found on youtube).

I’m not sure school kids play these games anymore, but if I were the Education Ministry – I would promote the revival of these games. Enough of electronic games – they cost money. Traditional games are more interactive and physical and more fun.
Even during those times, the city kids and the kampung kids differed in how they pass their free time. I remember well the time we used to raise spiders and fight them. This crazy pastime can be quite obsessive. One has to look for good fighting spiders in bushes, keep it in a small matchbox lined with fresh leaves and you actually feed the spider with spit. Hehehe..crazy.

The video above is about Filipino kids doing the same thing I did except with bigger matchboxes. This particular memory I relived in a telemovie I did two years ago for Hari Raya called Selamat Hari Raya Koiishi Ku. It showed kids playing with spiders during the Second World War. I had trouble trying to teach the young actors to overcome their fear of handling spiders.
Another weird practice (not a game) I remember during school days was of girls who reared peacock feathers in between their book pages. I hope readers who remember all this can assist me in understanding why they did this. The feather is pressed in between book pages and fed (yes! Fed!) with pencil sharpenings. Geee…maybe PSP isn’t bad after all….heheheh.
Just one more game I remember - maybe this game is played only by Singapore school kids - its called Kutikuti - the game entails using little coloured plastic animals (see picture below). One has to flick the plastic animal so that it lands on another. This causes you to win that piece. Anyone else remember this game?
Anyway, if you guys out there remember any other games (like gasing, throwing slippers at stacks of Ultraman cards etc) from your school days, do write in. At least our kids will know that there are other things to do apart from playing PSPs.


suzie said...

Hi Anak Wayang,
Did you remember playing rounders and konda-kondi? I remember we even had an inter-school event with these two games - and one more but I can't remember what.
Rounders was a simplified baseball type and you don't need any special gear, a good tennis ball and a piece of good solid wood.
Konda-kondi was a game where we make a hole in the ground, put a stick accross it and flick it off - the furthest stick flicked, wins....simple huh....but at that time fun nonetheless.
Thanks for the reminders..

anwardi said...

Dear Suzie,
Thanks for dropping by. Yes I do remember rounders and konda kondi though when I was in Singapore it was more rounders than konda kondi. I thought konda kondi is a little dangerous as the stick goes flipping high as you flick it and try to whack it away.
Do drop in again.

Nora's Touch said...

Hi Didi,
Remember we organised Tradional Games Match amongst all the PBM members from all schools in PJ way back in '74 or is it '75??? We had fun with konda kondi, congkak, batu seremban, galah panjang... and err many more... memory seems to fail me here haha. We sure had fun then yes?

anwardi said...

Yes I remember. Our friend Nur was a veryyy serious gal, if I remember correctly, during those games. There was congkak, konda kondi, and also menganyam ketupat I think. I wonder if the traditional songs that accompany some of the games are being taught to today's kids e.g. sapu lidi etc.


Anonymous said...

Dear Anak Wayang,
I'm studying about spider-fighting.
In my survey, spider-fighting is only done in Japan and in the Philippines.
The news that you played this game way back when you were younger,interested me.
I wondered if you could help me. I am writing with a request for more information about Malaysian

Best regards from Japan,