Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tuesdays With Bapak

The Old Playground - November 20, 2007

Just the other day, I took a drive to Petaling Jaya, and cruised around Jalan Sentosa in Kawasan Melayu and Jalan Lembah in Section 5.
We lived in Jalan Sentosa from 1959 when we arrived in Malaya from Singapore until around 1963/4 after which we moved to Jalan Lembah (until early 1969).
Then we moved to Section 16 where Bapak now lives with his wife, Habibah and my youngest sibling, Nina and her family -- hubby Mack and their kids Sara Hamidah, 10, Shufiyan Haikal, 7 and eight month-old Sharmaine Hana.

I do this a couple of times every year. I don't know why. Perhaps because I don't want to forget my old playground.

Every time I drive around the old neighbourhood, I'd watch in amazement the changing landscape, the new areas being developed. I'd see spanking new bungalows in place of old dilapidated ones. Or old bungalows given a new renovated look.

These are very old areas whose residents are either very very old, long-gone or very very young.

A few years ago, Section 5 was a haven for burglars who must have been very familiar with the demographics of the area -- that 80 per cent of the residents were senior citizens.
They'd burgle the homes in broad daylight while the occupants were asleep or sometimes, were blissfully unaware, until too late.

These days, I do see younger residents, most of whom are presumably successful businessmen or working professionals who prefer the quiet and charm of these old neighbourhoods.

Kawasan Melayu, a very old part of Petaling Jaya (hence, it is referred to by PJayrians as old PJ) was a very new area when we first moved there.

It was where Malays from outside Kuala Lumpur settled. However, just outside Kawasan Melayu were shops and a housing area, mostly occupied by the Chinese community.

Most of my Chinese schoolfriends were from the area.
I remember Bapak's friend, Dr Hooi, who had a clinic in one of the shophouses. I think he also lived there with his family.
His daughter, Wai May, was my classmate.

Kak Ton's best friend, Joyce Lam, also lived in the area. So did most of Abang Med's friends.

Actually, going around the shops was something I always looked forward to. Mak would stop by one of the shops that sold toys and invariably, she would end up buying me something.

In Kawasan Melayu, I remember many journalists, literary figures and a minister-turned-diplomat who lived there.

Several Malaysian glitteratis, socialites and pop artistes were bred in Kawasan Melayu.

Our next-door neighbour was a young minister named Ismail Yusoff who was later appointed Malaysian envoy to the United Nations.

I remember him because he later got married to a beautiful film star from Hong Kong.
Kak Piah and Kak Ton were bridesmaids.

I still remember the black-and-white wedding photo. I remember how beautiful the bride was in her lacey veil and stunning wedding dress.

I think weekends with Bapak were most defining in that part of my childhood in Jalan Sentosa.
I remember vividly the singing sesssions we had.

There were times when Pak Cik Tongkat (Usman Awang) would drop by with his wife Cik Senah and their children, Lina and Iskandar.

Bapak would play the guitar and sing some songs including his favourites -- "Bangawan Solo" and "Semalam di Malaya".

Then, us kids, would sing all the songs we learnt in school.
Those days, music lessons were part of the curicullum.
My all-time favourite -- I can't remember the title -- started with the line, "I love to go a -wandering, along the mountain top, and as I go, I love to sing, my knapsack on my back..."
I think I must have been so cute because I remember Kak Ton always asking me to sing the pantun part of "Rasa Sayang".
That pantun was dedicated to Abang Kassim (Kassim Ahmad) and his (then) bride, Kak Fauziah.
They held their wedding at our house in Jalan Sentosa some time in the 60s.
Abang Med taught me the verse.
It goes : "Cik Kassim dengan Cik Fauziah
Sudah kahwin bersuka ria
Cik Kassim asyik ketawa
Cik Fauziah tersenyum pula"

I used to "serenade" them, singing this verse.

So, during our weekend singing sessions, Bapak would have this humongous Akai tape recorder where you needed to install two wheels of tape. I think the now generation of young people have probably never seen contraptions like this.
Bapak would record our singing and then, play back the tape.

I remember singing the verse so fast I sounded like a chipmunk.
When Lina visited, she would also sing. But she would sing ever so softly and gently that, next to her, I sounded like a neurotic.

Sometime during our stay in Jalan Sentosa, Encik Ismail left for his overseas posting so the house next-door was vacant.

One day, Mak told us that her relatives from Medan would be moving in.
We were thrilled.
Those were really wonderful years, growing up in Kawasan Melayu.

My mom's relative (now deceased) was called Mak Cik Mon and she (and her husband Pak Cik Majid) had seven children.
Their youngest daughter, Magda, was and still is very close to me, although we hardly see each other these days. Their other daughters are Lindawati and Suslita. Another daughter, Ristina passed away in Jakarta a few years ago.
Their sons are Amrin (Ucok), Imran (Agam) and Aldin.

Of all their kids, it was Agam who would faithfully join us. He was a good musician. He must have been 12 or 13 then, and he was already playing the guitar so well.

I think, some people may know him as Odie Agam who wrote "Antara Anyir dan Jakarta", made popular by Sheila Majid.

Agam was very close to us, and especially to Abang Med because of their passsion for music.
He took part in "Bintang RTM" in the 70s-- singing and playing the piano.
He performed in Malaysia for some time but then left for Jakarta to pursue his musical career.
Eventually, he settled in Jakarta.
I could well understand why. I think he found the music industry in Malaysia neither conducive nor inspiring.
I think he was so talented that, perhaps, Malaysia was not ready for him.

For a very long time after that, Agam would make a point of visiting Bapak during Hari Raya everytime he was back home.
He'd usually come late evening and would stay on for quite a bit.

I was just in our old Jalan Sentosa neighbourhood the other day, and passed by our old house. Ours was the middle of three linked units. There was no fence between the three units and we had a common compound.

Well, there is a fence now, between each unit, just like other houses.

As always. Everytime I see the house, it would look different, somehow. And it would often look smaller than the last time.

I know that one day, I'd be passing by and the house will no longer be there.
Until that happens, I'll continue to "drive down memory lane" along Jalan Sentosa and Jalan Lembah, although I am still wondering why I get a thrill doing it.

41 comments:

Rocky's Bru said...

Ena,

I suppose we all do that. When I go back to Singapore, I'd drive to Block 103 Tao Ching Road for old time's sake. Nobody is there anymore, no one I know. All my friends have moved out to other blocks in other areas. Sometimes I just drive through and sometimes I'll stop and sit at the playground where I used to kick ball till dark as a young boy and tried learning the chords for Hotel California from kids who later went on to form rock banks in the hope of becoming another Sweet Charity or Black Dog Bone.

Is there a book on Kawasan Melayu? Sounds like there should be one.

NURAINA A SAMAD said...

rocky,

it's part of the ageing process, someone told me, of people who "go down memory lane".
how so, I'm no sure.

i do know that i like one instalment of "The Twilight Zone" where the protaganist one day woke up to find himslef drawn to visiting his old neighbourhood. The twist was that he was actually taken to the past...so he met his mother, father and himself (as a young lad). It was so poignant....

when i drove along jalan sentosa and passed by our old house, i could see me, magda, kak eda, kak olin, arwah Tina all running around the compound, playing tag or hide-and-seek...

and abang med and Agam at the front porch playing music...

and no, Rocky,....no book on Kawasan Melayu.

I remember The Star doing a story on Petaling Jaya..
actually i wanted to offer what little I know of LJ in the old days.... but...oh well....

NURAINA A SAMAD said...

rocky,

I meant... PJ in the old days. NOT LJ. typo.

tom said...

I think your all-time favourite song is titled: " Happy Wanderer" if I recall correctly.

tom said...

Hi Nuraina,
Correction after googling! It's "The Happy Wanderer" and it's a scout song.The lyrics:

I love to go a-wandering,
Along the mountain track,
And as I go, I love to sing,
My knapsack on my back.

Chorus:
Val-deri,Val-dera,
Val-deri,
Val-dera-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha
Val-deri,Val-dera.
My knapsack on my back.

I love to wander by the stream
That dances in the sun,
So joyously it calls to me,
"Come! Join my happy song!"

I wave my hat to all I meet,
And they wave back to me,
And blackbirds call so loud and sweet
From ev'ry green wood tree.

High overhead, the skylarks wing,
They never rest at home
But just like me, they love to sing,
As o'er the world we roam.

Oh, may I go a-wandering
Until the day I die!
Oh, may I always laugh and sing,
Beneath God's clear blue sky!

zaitgha said...

oohhh Nuraina,

what a timing...i did my driving to my old neighborhood Jalan Aman last Wednesday. After i dropped off a friend in front the Yow Chuan Plaza I drove to Jalan Ampang and took on Jalan Sejahtera just beside Jln Tun Razak Police Station...that was where i made police report when i dropped my purse in the theater in Ampang Park when i was in Form 5....i drove so ever slowly and turned to Jalan Aman. I passed Kelab Aman where i used to see many good looking hockey players honing their skills there... further down i just stopped for awhile just beside the huge LRT column where it used to be my house... and like you said, i could see both my parents fussing over their pots of flowers, and the children playing their bikes and the young adults(police bujang) playing badminton and volley ball on the courts in front of my house...

what a memory....and thanks for sharing yours and hope you do not mind i am sharing a bit of mine here.....

NURAINA A SAMAD said...

Tom:

Hey there.... thanks for the title of the song.
that's the one.

and it's mountain track, ya, not mountain top. thanks. of course, mountain top does not make sense.

oh yes... the chorus..

woww..... i am singing it now.
thanks again, Tom.

NURAINA A SAMAD said...

Zai,

oh my! how wonderful...
what a coincidence that you had also gone to your old neighbourhood...

thank you for sharing, zai...

Athene said...

sometimes we need to touch base with life when it was a lot simpler. i guess it's comforting. i know it does me.

i actually heard 'happy wanderer' on the radio a few days ago - not sure which channel b'cos we were travelling then. surprised my other half when i started to sing-along!

Athene said...

btw, I just noticed that you don't number your TWB anymore. any particular reason?

Awang Goneng said...

Nurainerrr,
Thanks a zillion for noticing my book. I wrote it for my children and I'm honoured others want to read it too.
My late brother lived in old PJ, and my old schoolmate Balachandran (a Wodehouse fan who chided me for preferring Thurber) also lived around there. When the time came for me to earn an honest living, I lived in a flat above the Maternity Clinic in Section 14. I woke up in a cold sweat most nights to the hollering and bawling of newborn babes; but out of the mouth of babes came...

Ah well, thank you once more. Rocky's right (Hi Rocky!), there's a book here. Go for it gal!

maria a samad (kak ton) said...

Ena

Kawasan Melayu reminds me of my 1st puppy love. Remember Raja (H)? He was among the first member of the original The Strollers. Ucuk (Amrin), Mak Cik Mun's eldest son, was the band leader and lead guitarist. I would hang around next door whenever the group was "jamming".

There was "Billy" (dont know his real name)who lived across the road. He was good looking and known as the Elvis Presley of Kawasan Melayu. My friend, Kathrine Kong, was so crazy about him - she'd come to our house just to have a glimpse of him. (Katherine's father was the owner of the Cold Storage shop in front of the old majestic cinema in P.J old town).

Billy has a sister Ah (Zaleha) who was married off at the age of 15 to guy from Brunei (must be rich). I havent seen her since. Recently, I met her younger sister Ara (Zahara). She is very active in Umno.

BTW, we stayed in Kawasan Melayu until 1962, then moved to Jalan Lembah. I remember it well because I was in Form 2.

NURAINA A SAMAD said...

athene,

yes, spot on, my dear.

i think i must be so afraid of forgetting the past. i know that always want to rememeber those days...indeed when everything was a lot simpler....and safer too.

i forgot to mention that Bukit Gasing was just infont of our house. It was a hill...no development there, no bunglaow houses..
a lot like many of the forested hills in the klang valley. we (and we were really young..pre-teens, i think) trekked up the hill and went to the waterfalls....we met some monkeys...not the ones you see in th kiara hills but the really rare-looking type.
and then there wre some graveyards..
oh...when I went to Gasing Hill years later on an assignment....i was aghast....nothing like i remember it to be. it was just another hilly housing estate.

NURAINA A SAMAD said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NURAINA A SAMAD said...

athene,

oh..you noticed too. actually i stopped numbering TWB after i sort of wound up episodes about my dad's detention and release...
i wanted to stop after that and make a closure to TWB.
But, well...a few people just wouldnt let me.
so i continued...but just little jottings about life as i remember it to be...

NURAINA A SAMAD said...

awang goneng (Hulaimi),

Hey you...
thanks for visiting, Hulaimi. i am most honoured.

you know we all just love you! and you know we love your wit and sense of humour. priceless!

GUiT simply had to come out as a book-lah...
and what a book!


er, hulaimi.... that maternity clinic you mentioned, was it in front of the market?

t

NURAINA A SAMAD said...

kak ton:

oh yes, i remember Raja (H)...handsome dia, kan?
oh..abang ucok.. yes. abang med said he was a damn good guitarist.

sorry....i often get the exact year wrong. i usually try to remember when i was in jalan sentosa (like whether i was still in kindergarten or already in primary school)....just to get the year right.
looks like i cannot even get that right. hahaaa..

maria a samad (kak ton) said...

Tom

"Happy Wanderer" is a Girl Guide's song too.

I know it because I was a Girl Guide. We sang it all the time, especially during camping around a campfire.

OOhhh I'm feeling so nostalgic now. :(

Abu Rabu @ Ash Wednesday said...

First, a small correction.

We moved to Jalan Lembah in 1962, I'm positive of that. I was in Std 6 then, and I remember studying for the Std 6 Exam with my very good friend and rival, George Aubrey Lopez, at the Jalan Lembah house. (George and I frequently studied together, despite our being rivals). And I clearly remember using Bapak's typewriter to type out the exam timetable.

We moved in 1962, without doubt.

About our neighbours in Jalan Sentosa:

The late sasterawan Awam Sarkam (Wahab Mohamad) lived across the road, in Jalan 3/57D. Pak Wahab's son, Ahmad, was my classmate in Std 6.

I walked to the road opposite (Jalan 3/57C) for agama and Quran lessons with Ustaz Dahlan - the same Ustaz Dahlan who was the bane of khalwat offenders in the 60s.

Some trivia: Ustaz Dahlan (not sure if he is still alive) is/was Datuk Ahmad Fuaad Dahlan's father. Datuk Ahmad Fuaad was the MD of MAS before Datuk Idris Jala took over. Fuaad was my classmate in primary school, and Idris was my colleague when we were in Shell. Small world, huh?

Now get this - Idris is a blues guitarist as well, and has written many songs. We (Idris and I) recorded a number of Idris's compositions in his home studio many years ago, long before he became a nationally recognizable personality.

Other people in the neighbourhood: (Tan Sri) Dol Ramli of Radio Malaya lived down the road, at the corner of Jalan Sentosa and Jalan RIDA.

Othman Wok (former Minister of Social Affairs, Singapore) had relatives two doors away. Whenever he visited, he'd bring his three daughters (Safia, Dahlia and Lily) along, and I'd sneak a peek.

The corner house opposite ours (No 14 Jalan Sentosa) had a bunch of boys, who always seemed to be forever singing and having lots of fun. One of them, Zainal aka Billy, was an Elvis look-alike. Zainal's brother is (music producer) Johari Teh.

Not so close, but still within the neighbourhood, lived Boy and Wan of the once-popular band, Carefree.

As commentor Tom mentioned, The Happy Wanderer is a popular Scout song. Kak Ton must be familiar with it as she was a Girl Guide in those days. She knows tons of campfire songs. If I'm not mistaken, Kak Ton once camped overnight at Kuen Cheng Girls' School for a jamboree of some sort.

Here's a nonsensical campfire song Kak Ton taught us that I can still remember:

Ging gang gooli gooli gooli watcha
Ging gang goo, ging gang goo,
Ging gang gooli gooli gooli watcha
Ging gang goo, ging gang goo,
Hayla, oh hayla shayla, oh hayla shayla hayla hoo
Hayla, oh hayla shayla, oh hayla shayla hayla hoo
Shally-wally, shally-wally, Shally-wally, shally-wally,
Oompah, oompah, oompah

bru99 said...

Salam Nuraina

I have always thought it only me that go through the "down the old memory lane" bit, ah hah now I know everybody at our age are doing it also....its good to know, that you have others who shared their memories.

mekyam said...

Dear Ena,

Love this entry to bits. Will be back to tumpang sesudu dua. Right now just too knackered...

But this pembetulan cannot wait... allow me to smatter in a bit of Deutsch.

Entschuldigung! Aber Ich muss einige Leute hier korriegiren.

"The Happy Wanderer" ist nicht "a boy scout song" oder "a girl guide song".

Es ist eines populaeres German song ("Der fröhliche Wanderer" or "Mein Vater war ein Wandersmann") by Friedrich-Wilhelm Möller and was written shortly after World War II.

Here's the original version:

Der fröhliche Wanderer

Mein Vater war ein Wandersmann
Und mir steckt's auch im Blut
D'rum wand're ich froh so lang ich kann
Und schwenke meinen Hut
Faleri falera faleri falera ha ha ha ha ha ha
Faleri falera
Und schwenke meinen Hut
Das Wandern schafft stets frische Lust
Erhält das Herz gesund
Frei atmet draußen meine Brust
Froh singet stets mein Mund
Faleri falera faleri falera ha ha ha ha ha ha
Faleri falera
Froh singet stets mein Mund

Warum singt Dir das Vögelein
So freudevoll sein Lied
Weil's nimmer hockt Land aus Land ein
Durch and're Fluren zieht
Faleri falera faleri falera ha ha ha ha ha ha
Faleri falera
Durch and're Fluren zieht

Was murmelt's Bächlein dort und rauscht,
So lustig hin durch's Rohr,
Weil's frei sich regt, mit Wonne lauscht
Ihm dein empfänglich Ohr.
Faleri falera faleri falera ha ha ha ha ha ha
Faleri falera
Ihm dein empfänglich Ohr.

D'rum trag ich Ränzlein und den Stab
Weit in die Welt hinein
Und werde bis an's kühle Grab
Ein Wanderbursche sein
Faleri falera faleri falera ha ha ha ha ha ha
Faleri falera
Ein Wanderbursche sein

The lyrics of the English version was written by Antonia Ridge and copyright © 1954 by Bosworth & Co., Ltd.

***

Mior Azhar said...

Kak Ena,
I too always drive through old neighbourhood. Although we really could not call USJ3 old neighbourhood, kan? Don't know why? Btw, have I ever told you that I used to stay opposite your brother Kamal's house there?
And Akai tape recorder... my bapak also owned one too. Because of that, my brothers and I felt oh so modern and high tech. Naturally we gloat to our friends.

NURAINA A SAMAD said...

ash wednesday (Abang Med):

heheheh....trust you get numbers right!
as i get older, i keep having to try harder to remember dates. i often end up trying to remember my age at that particular time so i can figure out the year. sigh....

i wanted to mention the personalities but had to skip it becos ...i could remember only a few. anyway, there were also -- writer-journalist-turned-politician Alias Ali and Rahim Kajai's son Salim Kajai..

i remember othman wok.. Lily was my age, i think.
Othman's wife (Che Dah -- i think that was her name) used to drop by ..Che Dah and Mak were colleagues in Utusan Melayu.

I cannot pass by the roads without going teary-eyed.

sigh....

NURAINA A SAMAD said...

bru99,

i am glad i am not alone.

thank you for reminding me that going down memory lane is a very normal thing.

thanks for visiting.

NURAINA A SAMAD said...

Mekyam,

what a gem you are. Mekyam!

thank you for the deutsch version....

buat susah payah sahaja. walaupun letih dan penat, tetap ada masa untuk TWB.

NURAINA A SAMAD said...

abang med,

forgot to say...
we were all brownies and then girl guides, kan?

woww.... i remember ging gang goolie.
there's another one : oh wanna wanna wanna watcha, wawa, ayaya yippi ayayaaaa, ayaya yippi ayayaaa, ayaa ayaaa....(or something like that)

could it be that these campfire songs are in the maori or hawaiian language?

NURAINA A SAMAD said...

mior:

well...tak lah aneh or pelik kak ena dok ber-round-round laman lama, ek?

macam therapeutic, kan?

or kita ni, masochist? we get pleasure out of the pain of seeing our past? hahaaa.


anyway, no, mior, you never told me you were kamal's neighbour in USJ?

woww...talk about the world being so small?

jangan-lah macam stranger, ya?

salam to Yan and your lovely girls.
and also HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to you and Yan! May there be many many many more years of bliss and wonderfulness!
lama tak blog-hop, just dapat tahu and i will go to your blog soonest!

Awang Goneng said...

Hiya Noorianerr,

Yes, the Kelinik was opposite Medan Selera, opposite the goreng pisang seller. One afternoon, after a heavy rain, I went home to see all my books soaked. The guttering was blocked by leaves (it was autumn then in Section 14 ;¬) and the wasser in my little pad was a few inches above Tangga Bradley). I could never go out to clear the leaves in the open space outside my back door in case Miss Kuah (a stern nurse and my rent collector) thought I was trying to take a peek at her nurses, and perhaps at her and her patients too.

May I say hello to the erudite Mekyam (a valued contributor to my MalaysiaNet days): I always thought Happy Wanderer sounded a bit Teutonic. Now you've confirmed it, thanks! Now I shall have to release you from the 'gok'. (Sorry, a private joke between us, nothing Teutonic, just Platonic.).

Bailey said...

i guess everyone did that, visiting old places that brings nice memories.

i did it too. most of the time. =)

Doc said...

Kak Ena,
Was it you at Naluri Cafe last friday? Segan nak tegur :)

NURAINA A SAMAD said...

awang goneng (wan hulaimi):

thanks...just curious. as you know, section 14 was where residents (in that part of PJ) went shopping -- to the supermarket, to the wet market -- and makan-makan (medan selera).

woww...Mekyam is a veteran, then.
and aint she cool!

by the way, hulaimi, rocky says "hi"..

NURAINA A SAMAD said...

bailey: i suppose, there are places we all, at some point in our lives, would want to re-visit.

thanks for visiting..

Doc: oh dear...Naluri? i am trying to remember what i did last friday?

Doc,...i think (i am quite sure) i was not there....

(where is naluri cafe, may i ask?)

Athene said...

ash,

i remember the 'ging gang goolie' song...! must be from the brownies days too. i was 1st a brownie then, get this a scout!

in the ole school only bebudak baik masuk girlguides, kids like me were instantly rejected! all the other cadets were very clique' oriented, so that leaves only scout. but we sure had a blast! cuma we didn't get to go on many camping trips.

there was this ratio thing for each outing, boy 60% : girl 40%, and since there 5 times more girl to boys, only a handful of us got to go on each trip! apa punya rule la...

Dhahran Sea said...

Hi Nuraina,
Its always good to read your TWB... its becoming a sort of panacea for homesickness and this one really brought the nostalgia of the good ol' days... looking forward to the next TWB and salam.

Hussin said...

Hi Nuraina,

Do you remember Dr Abbas Alias who lived in the area? I think one of her daughters was your school mate or your batch, Siti Fathimah now a doctor in Melaka. I think she was quite close to your late sis.
I married Dr Siti's younger sister and still goes there once in a while as my brother in law still lives in the old house.

NURAINA A SAMAD said...

athene,

in my time we had brownies (for girls) and cubs (for boys) in primary school. Then in secondary school, we had girl guides and boys scouts.

i think over the years, when the medium of instruction was Bahasa Malaysia, it became simply pengakap.

very schools in my time, had police cadet.

in my time...to be a girl guide was really cool because all the cool and hip girls were in the movement. considered quite happening.

NURAINA A SAMAD said...

dhahran : thank you. I'm touched by your remarks.

take care.


HUssin: Yes, of course. I know of Dr Abbas. His daughter,Fatimah was arwah Kak Eda's classmate.
Dr Abbas' family home is along jalan dato abu bakar/jalan 16/6. the first house.

my, my.... what a small world. you are fatimah's brother-in-law.

i feel so melancholic now...reminiscing our school days.

Doc said...

Naluri cafe is in Sek. 9, Shah Alam. Ok, probably pelanduk dua serupa :)

The Eugenist said...

Salam...

For your info, Pak Kassim was hospitalized last week due to his hernia operation..

Hesmel Faznee Faisal

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

aiseh, saya lambat.

but ahhh...cruising down the memory lane. we've just gotta love it, dont we?

personally, nothing beats the good old days and sometimes i cant help but to look back with a broad smile on my face, no matter how bitter it could be. it was the time we first learned life, as the real deal business. thats just priceless i tells ya, priceless!

husni said...

Your post brings back fond memories. I used to live on Lorong 3/57B off Jalan Sentosa (next door to Ahmad Fauzi's old place which they later turned into a "Rumah Orang Istimewa"), and we knew everyone. Every evening Umi will chat with the next door neighbor or the ones who live opposite us, as she waters the plants...

well, cliches are what they are because they are true - there's nothing like the good old days.