Category Archives: Hobbies

Songs In The Keys of Life

I recently attempted to compile a playlist of my all favourite songs. Why, as some of you are wont to ask?Well, there is a saying ‘Those who can’t do, teach’, which is rather unfair to those who teach actually. And according to my wife, those who can’t sing, compile playlists.

Mind you, she said that to me after a session of karaoke where I mercilessly massacred many of our favourite songs. So don’t get offended, y’all.

eagles hotel california (yioutube)

The Eagles’ ‘Hotel California’, one of the best-selling ALBUMS ever, by a group recognized the world over as a SUPERGROUP. The song ‘Hotel California’ remains one of the most memorable and recognizable opening guitar riff, which every guitarist worth his salt would just love to nail it. (image from youtube.com)

The truth of the matter is that I was thinking, like, would it not be nice to be able to plonk away on my notebook or pursue any other activity for that matter, with my favourite songs playing in the background.

Not to blow my own trumpet, whilst some of my friends have opted to retire in their mid-fifties for a life of no stress (so they say), I am still working away and trying to earn an honest living.

For the life of me, I cannot imagine myself retiring, just yet anyway, to live the life of a beach bum. Not that my friends retired and became beach bums. I mean, like have you seen them and the shape they are in?

The Hoff (indiewire.com)

The Hoff, smouldering look et al. Enuff said. (image sourced from indiewire.com)

First and foremost, I don’t live anywhere near the beach. And secondly, I am, physically at least, nowhere near being a fine specimen of a man, like The Hoff was when he was running around in his bright red shorts, saving damsels pretending to be in distress in the Californian waves. Heck, it was only three feet deep anyway.

That said, please note that I did not, at any moment, mention the age thing. It is after all just a number. As they say.

alfred neuman what me worry wiki

Alfred E Neuman’s famous words were ‘What, me worry?!’. Then again, he was one of the main characters from the satire magazine MAD. See the connection? (image from wikipedia)

But you know, deep in your still young heart, that it does not augur well for you when, number wise, the reverse of your age is greater than (and definitely not equal to your age) before you reversed it.

Yep, full-time retirement is definitely out. Well, at least for the moment. But semi-retirement? Worth considering, that.

But I digress. As usual.

At this age, some say it’s not a good sign. Signs of the onset of dementia, they would say. But say that about me to my wife and you will definitely regret ever knowing the word.

prince (wikipedia)

I know him as Prince, one of the most gifted musicians and song writers ever to grace the music scene. (image from wikipedia)

Worth every single beat (and lyric) of Prince’s ‘The Most Beautiful Girl In The World’, my wife is.

Now where was I again? Ah yes, the mother of all playlists.

rlj (eil.com)

Rickie Lee Jones album cover with ‘Chuck E’s In Love’ as the pivotal song of the album. Big influence on the musical scene ever since she burst through. (image from eil.com)

The playlist of all the songs that I would love to hear again, whether I am chillin’ to Edie Brickell’s ‘Good Times’ or Ms Jones’ ‘Chuck E’s In Love’, or pretending to be both Van Morrison and that ex-gravedigger Rod Stewart (Sir Rod to you ok?!), taking turns singing ‘Have I Told You’ (unplugged for course), whilst driving my battered old car whilst on an errands run, and hoping she (my car that is) doesn’t do The Sulk and stop by the side of the road somewhere.

Or even maybe when I am giving my car an overdue wash at the local car wash (can’t wash it myself anymore. Has been so for a long time. Bad back and all that, you know).

car wash (genius.com)

A still from that 70s movie ‘Car Wash’. Hits from the movie included ‘Wishing Upon A Star’ and ‘Car Wash’. The song ‘Car Wash’ was given a re-make for the movie ‘Shark Tale’. (image sourced from genius.com)

Now whether its Christina or Rose Royce, it does not matter cos ‘Car Wash’ is still catchy as hell. The thing is, those guys at the local car wash, they don’t even know the song, never mind moving to it.

The mother of all playlists will definitely serve as background music to my chaotic plonking on my notebook’s keyboard. And I am pretty sure, whatever that gets me at that moment in time, I will definitely have the music for it.

luther vandross (FB)

The late Luther Vandross, one of the best crooner of romantic songs if ever there was one. (image sourced from Facebook.com)

Soul, R&B, Jazz, Pop, Rock, and whatever genre of music they came up with. Personally, I never did understand how you categorize what is what.

I mean, music is music. It comes from the heart.

I have, however, over the years, given up on heavy metal. I mean, all that head banging. What a headache. But I let you in a secret.

whitesnake

O Ye with The Golden Streaks. David Coverdale & Whitesnake. Still rocking, I gather. (image sourced from whitesnake-blog.com)

My friends and I actually did some head banging during our college days. Not much but enough to know the difference between ‘headaches’ and ‘head aches’, and who is suffering from over consumption of the intoxicating beverages and who is suffering from overdoing the headbanging gig.

Now, I can’t be telling you who they are. I mean, we signed an NDA way before NDAs became fashionable. My friends are now highly respected architects, engineers and university lecturers.

Deep Purple (does not matter whether its Gillan or Coverdale, it’s still Deep Purple), Dio, Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, David Coverdale’s Whitesnake (O ye with the golden streaks), AC/DC etc.

Fleetwoood Mac (Wikipedia)

Rumours by Fleetwood Mac. Like The Eagles ‘Hotel California’ album, Rumours is one of the best-selling ALBUMS by the SUPERGROUP. (image sourced from Wikipedia).

Their names still roll off the tongue, and we still listen to their music. But sorry guys, we are keeping whats left of our hair, thank you very much. And our grey cells.

As for our Saturday Night Fever couple, our partying days have been over ever since we left college. They have both went on their separate ways, not that they were ever together (just dancing, y’know).

Both are now recuperating after having to deal with a lifetime of work and family commitments. Diapers, medical bills and tuition fees can really have a sobering effect. A sign of the times, I’d say.

jackson browne (wiki)

Jackson Browne. Been in the music scene for a long time, with compatriots the likes of Bonnie Raitt, James Taylor, Carole King amongst others. Folksy sound with ‘Running On Empty’ album standing out (for me at least). (image sourced from wikipedia)

At the last count, I have already compiled a playlist close to a thousand songs. I do not know whether that is the norm, but as far as I am concerned, it just sort of grew and grew, to the point that I had to break the mother of all playlists into several mothers of all playlist.

And one each in a different language.

triolestari (triolestari.com)

Trio Lestari, an Indonesian vocal group comprising of three equally successful individual singers in their own right. (image sourced from triolestari.com)

That’s the trouble with us, who don’t speak English as their mother tongue. I have compiled a playlist of English songs, both American and British English and all other accents in between.

I also have a playlist made up of Malay songs, both Indonesian and Malaysian. Sorry, make that two separate playlists.

anuar zain wiki

When it comes to romantic ballads, Anuar Zain is a class act on his own. This Malaysian singer has been around the music scene for a long time. All his concerts are sold out events. (image sourced from wikipedia)

Why two? Yeah, well, there have been some really great songs in the language you know, and many more are coming onto the scene, with musical influences like R&B, Jazz, Soul making a presence in today’s music scene in this here parts.

jaz youtibe

Jaz from Brunei Darussalam. Sings with a jazzy feel with a bit of R&B influence, with a large fan base from the Malay speaking worlds of Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore and Malaysia. (image sourced from youtube.com)

Couple that with the sophistication in today’s music videos, I am willing to bet more and more will make it to my playlists.

tulus kerencom

Tulus, an Indonesian singer who took the Indonesian music scene by storm a few years ago. (image sourced from keren.com)

I hate to admit it but I also have playlists of non-English and non-Malay songs.

I may not habla Espanyol but with Despacito, A Puro Dolor, and Entra En Mi Vida, and with the feel, the vibrancy and the harmonising in these songs, how could I not but create a playlist dedicated to the language.

Not as extensive but its ok for my listening pleasure.

But I guess therein lies the attraction. A playlist of songs that have brought us great pleasure throughout our respective lives.

despacito (youtube.com)

‘Despacito’. Memorable song. Infectious beat. Raw energy. Crazy dance moves. Enuff said. (image sourced from youtube.com)

Through childhood, through college, through heartbreaks (yeah, some of us mucho macho men do have them), through romantic moments (them too! There goes the mucho macho!), and through all what we collectively call LIFE.

As I write this, with Billy Joel’s ‘Leave A Tender Moment Alone’ playing in the background, I wonder, a year from now, how many more would have I add to my collective playlists.

Billy Joel (Wiki)

The Piano Man, Billy Joel. Had hits with ‘Honesty’, ‘Piano Man’, ‘Leave A Tender Moment Alone’, amongst others but most remembered for his ‘Uptown Girl’, a song he wrote and perform to woo Christie Brinkley. (image sourced from Wikipedia)

But I am willing to bet, they will all give me great pleasure and joy,  triggering fond memories of days gone by, as much as your personal playlist will.

Before the realities of life took over, that is.

 

Date : 9 March 2018

 

 

 

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From The Archives : The Joy of Philately aka Stamp Collecting

From The Archives : First Posted on 21 January 2014

philately 3 (nst.com.my)

Malaysian stamps marking the coronation of the DYMM Yang Di Pertuan Agong. (source : nst.com.my)

I would like to state here, for the record that I am one of them. ‘Them’ being those who can admit that they actually have hobbies and pour moi, one of my hobbies is the hobby of collecting stamps or more glamourously known as philately, and by extension, I am therefore a philatelist or , stripped of all pretenses, a stamp collector.

Historically speaking, if not for the Frenchman Georges Herpin, we would be known as ‘timbromaniacs’ for having ‘Timbromania’ as a hobby. Thanks to him, he coined the new term ‘Philately’ in 1864 and ever since then, we have been known as ‘philatelists’.  Sounds better and safer than being a ‘maniac’, does it not?

malaysian stamps 2 (filatelic.com)

Stamps potraying some of the wildlife available in Malaysia (source : filatelic.com)

In addition to being to a philatelist (ehem, ehem), I also admit to being a collector of coins and paper currencies (I have not looked the term up yet!), metal badges (nowadays metal badges are hard to come by, unlike in them good old days of a metal badge for every occasion), telephone cards (see my previous post, Into The Annals of History – The Telephone Card (http://wp.me/p21MP1-7i)), music cds and vinyl records (goes well with my interest in music regardless of genres) to name but a few.

I must admit it being not easy to admit to being a stamp collector or a philatelist, be it stamps from my own country of Malaysia or from elsewhere in the known world. I guess it’s all due to the normal reaction one draws whenever one admits to collecting stamps : looks of disbelief, a snicker and a snigger, to downright laughter (almost derisively, I could have sworn), all of whom are not exactly good for the morale, I must say.

malaysian stamps (filatelic.com)

A sample of the Malaysian reptilian population (source : filatelic.com)

But pray tell, where did I get this hobby from, you might ask? From my late father, that’s who. He was a King’s Scout (so I am told) in his school days and used to have quite a collection of stamps, lovingly kept in his collection of stamp albums, compiled since he was young and he kept them lovingly together even when he got married. Lovingly until that is when we, his children, came along not long thereafter.

His stamp albums did not last long after our arrival especially when we came to be amazed and excited at what colour pencils can do. After that, there was never enough paper (and walls for that matter) for us budding Vincent van Goghs to draw on.

Not only his stamps (and the walls, mind you) were not safe from us then, but as we got older and got to know (theorectically that is) that to send mail via the Post Office, you’d need stamps and as stamps require money (kids those days only had the money what our parents gave us), we came up with an ingenious way of sending mail without having to purchase them from the Post Office.

east german stamps (space)

East German stamps – Space exploration (source : commons.wikimedia.org)

Trouble is, no one told us that those stamps must be unused stamps and they must be stamps issued by the country. We never saw our Father’s stamp collection after that. And kids being kids, we did wonder what happened our Father’s stamp collection, although not for long for there was always something else to attract our attention.

I began collecting stamps early, thanks to my father’s guidance and also thanks in his indulgence in getting me a stamp album. From then on, whatever I know today of stamp collecting, most are what he taught me when I was a child.

However, school began to take its toll on my new-found hobby and soon enough, my passion for stamps, their many designs and colours, all together telling a story, began to take a backseat. However, despite all that was happening in my life then, I still collected stamps, carefully cutting the stamps off from the envelopes they endorsed and put them away for a time when I had the time to really attend to them and hear their story.

Until that is til I was in my late 20’s, believe it or not, of all places, when I was in West Germany. There was, at that moment in time, an East Germany, internationally known as the Deutsche Demokratische Republik or DDR for short, and a West Germany aka the Bundes Republik Deutschland (BRD).

west german stamp (Berlin Post Ofice)

A sample of a West German stamp (source : commons.wikimedia.org)

Some of the stories and the history of the two Germanies were told via the stamps issued by the Germanies, East and West as well as the stamps of the individual states that make up the current Germany – Pruessland, Hessen, NordRhein-Westfalen, Schleswig-Holstein, amongst others.

It was a natural that my West German stamp collection expanded to include East Germany, the United Kingdom, and of course Malaysia. It helped that for enthusiasts like me, there were stores that cater to philatelists, with a good and wide range of stamp albums to choose from.

Since then, I have settled down, got married and have children of my own. Learning from experience, I have kept my stamp albums hidden away from their reach and my collection are now awaiting for the day that I will, once again, be able to channel my energies and time to add to the collection that I already have.

Its hard to explain, this joyous feeling when you have compiled a complete set. It’s either you have it or you don’t, this feeling. Try it and just maybe, you’d understand why.

 

 

 

From The Archives : Into The Annals of History – The Telephone Card

From The Archives : First Posted on 24 November 2012

Remember payphones? Those phones that would normally be found housed in a glass cubicle, especially in countries having four seasons, allowing you to make phone calls wherever you may be outside of your home.

All you would need are coins of legal tender to start making calls, although some have been known be a bit inventive and creative in trying to get the most of their coins and ‘coins’ from these payphones.

300px-Red_Public_Phone_Boxes_-_Covent_Garden,_London,_England_-_Thursday_September_Thirteenth_2007

Famous British red telephone booths (good protection from the weather, but not sure about the air quality though) (source : wikipedia,org)

Some of these cubicles would be red in colour (like in the United Kingdom) whilst others would be in other fashionable colours, and some of these cubicles would be plain-looking whilst some would be fashionably designed eg Spain, Netherlands, Brazil etc.

Most of these payphones would be in good working condition but some would fall prey to vandals. And as most people have experienced, the air quality within the cubicles leaves so much to be desired unless you are CSI’s Hodges who likes to take a whiff to give you a breakdown of the air’s constituents. But then again, it’s a no-brainer as most time, it would be urine anyway.

Sunset Scene (Uniphone Malaysia)

Sunset Scene Telephone Card from Uniphone Malaysia (nachmeinemeinung @ all rights reserved)

And remember telephone cards? That little piece of plastic that we use to make phone calls with? Just by inserting the card into the payphone, we can get connected to our loved ones who lives a distance away or just to give their girlfriends a call (to ensure their girlfriends of their undying love, whilst hogging the phone for the next half an hour, complete with kisses etc, and remaining oblivious to the queue of people outside the cubicle looking and some even pointing at the watches, eating and finishing their burgers etc whilst waiting patiently for their turn) or make that all important call to the office thus ensuring the bossman that we are actually on the job despite not being in the office (as if!). That little piece of plastic that is the telephone card, later to be replaced almost totally by the mobile phone as the Digital Age took a firm grip of the late 1990s and the new millenium.

Lake Kenyir, Terengganu (Citifon Malaysia)

Telephone Card from Citifon Malaysia (nachmeinemeinung @ all rights reserved)

That little piece of plastic, the telephone card, was of no less importance in the 1990s than that other fashionable-to-have piece of plastic, the credit card, so fashionable that some would not leave home without it? That piece of plastic that comes in different denominations eg RM5, RM10 etc etc?

I just moved house recently (again!) and was unpacking a box of old personal belongings, stuff that I bring along with me whenever we move house, without fail and always in the same box, when I came across a bundle of old used telephone cards. As I was going through the cards, the memories came flooding back with each card having its own little story to tell.

1990s NTT Japan Phone Card

Japanese Telephone Card (NTT) (nachmeinemeinung @ all rights reserved)

For instance, the Japanese telephone cards from NTT came to become part of my collection when I was on a month’s training in Tokyo, Japan, with a unit of Nomura no less. Since telecommunications is a big thing in Japan (they were experimenting with some form of texting way before it came big in United Kingdom and later in Malaysia), you could find payphones easily and most, if not all, accept telephone cards.

1990s NTT Japan Phone Card (3)

Japanese Telephone Card (NTT) (nachmeinemeinung @ all rights reserved)

As everybody knows, you’d normally use coins to make calls at payphones then. Thats okay for short distances, eg within Tokyo or even Japan itself, but for long distance calls eg to Malaysia, the telephone card is the way to go. Convenient and easily available, even from a vending machine.

Utusan Malaysia Cartoons - Lat (Uniphone Malaysia)

LAT Cartoons from Uniphone Malaysia (nachmeinemeinung @ all rights reserved)

That was an eye opener but then again, this is Japan. If you want something, chances are that you can get it from a vending machine and in Japan, vending machines live a long and prosperous life. Unlike their cousins in some places.

And in Japan, vending machines are a dime a dozen. They can be found almost everywhere and the most amazing thing is that these machines remained intact and good working condition despite being left unattended out in the open.

Malaysian Fauna - The Selayak Bird (Uniphone Malaysia)

The Selayak Bird – Flora & Fauna (Uniphone Malaysia) (nachmeinemeinung @ all rights reserved)

And for most of us who went for that particular piece of training, we mastered the art of making a call from the hotel where we were staying, to Malaysia in no time. It being a telephone card, the downside was that our calls were limited in terms of duration but on the upside, it kept us on the right side of a budget.

Marine Life (Time Malaysia)

Marine Live (Uniphone Malaysia) (nachmeinemeinung @ all rights reserved)

The telephone cards in my collection were mostly, as expected, Malaysian. Malaysian telephone cards, if you look carefully, carries a lot of information, that is if you know where to look. For instance, names like Uniphone, Citifon are some of the household names during the age of payphones and by extension, telephone cards as well. Today, telecommunication household names tend to be mobile operators, with most people having at least one mobile phone and one mobile number.

Lata Mengkuang Waterfalls, Kedah (Uniphone, Malaysia)

Lata Mengkuan Waterfalls (Uniphone Malaysia) (nachmeinemeinung @ all rights reserved)

Malaysian telephone cards also tend to be made of solid plastic, unlike those pliable ones from Japan’s NTT thus indicating the different technology and materials employed.

Another common characteristic amongst all telephone cards that I have used or come across is that they tend to have scenes of public life or cartoons or fauna and flora or interesting locations etc pasted onto these telephone cards, making these cards items of interest and thus, collectible giving rise to a new hobby (or a new form of hoarding, as my wife would always say).

Divali Greetings (Singapore Telecom)

Divali Greetings – Telephone Card from SIngapore Telecom (nachmeinemeinung @ all rights reserved)

Compare these telephone cards to the pre-paid reload cards that you have today, well in Malaysia at least, one can definitely say there is a vast difference in the presentation as well as materials used. Maybe the marketing approach for reload cards is not as demanding for telephone cards due to the nature of the business or the competition available.

Whatever it is, one thing’s for sure. In the Digital Age where connectivity is of great import, and as telecommunication technology gets more and more sophisticated, the telephone card will definitely go by way of the Dodo bird soon, if it hasn’t already.

Malaysian Fruits - Cempedak (Uniphone Malaysia)

Malaysian Fruits – The Cempedak (Uniphone Malaysia) (nachmeinemeinung @ all rights reserved)

But for collectors of telephone cards, it will always bring back memories of an era where things were comparatively simpler as compared to nowadays. Days when we had a certain degree of freedom and time for ourselves, and not always subject to the ring (or ringtone, as it is nowadays) of our mobile handphones.

Granted, everything has its price but the day may come when, to stay connected or as they say, wired in, the price may soon be a bit too high for some. Some have already ditched their handphones for a more stress-free environment. Being wired-in does have its limitations and its drawbacks, you must agree.

When that day comes, are we to see the re-introduction of the telephone card? Who knows? It may just happen.

 

 

Images of Water : The Fresh Cool Streams of Ulu Bendul

Images of water, be it of waves rushing to meet the ocean shore or images of fresh cool water running down a stream has always had that calming and soothing effect on people viewing these images.

Ulu Bendul Water 6 - 31 Dec 2015

The cool streams of Hutan Lipur Ulu Bendul (Ulu Bendul Recreational Park), Negeri Sembilan (@ all rights reserved)

Ulu Bendul Water 1 - 31 Dec 2015

Hutan Lipur Ulu Bendul (Ulu Bendul Recreational Park), Negeri Sembilan (@ all rights reserved)

Ulu Bendul Water 2 - 31 Dec 2015

Hutan Lipur Ulu Bendul (Ulu Bendul Recreational Park), Negeri Sembilan (@ all rights reserved)

 

Date : 4 May 2016

For more on Travels and Places of Interest, please click https://shahscorner.com

 

 

The Joy of Philately aka Stamp Collecting

philately 3 (nst.com.my)

Malaysian stamps marking the coronation of the DYMM Yang Di Pertuan Agong (source : nst.com.my)

I would like to state here, for the record that I am one of them. ‘Them’ being those who can admit that they actually have hobbies and pour moi, one of my hobbies is the hobby of collecting stamps or more glamourously known as philately, and by extension, I am therefore a philatelist or , stripped of all pretenses, a stamp collector.

Historically speaking, if not for the Frenchman Georges Herpin, we would be known as ‘timbromaniacs’ for having ‘Timbromania’ as a hobby. Thanks to him, he coined the new term ‘Philately’ in 1864 and ever since then, we have been known as ‘philatelists’.  Sounds better and safer than being a ‘maniac’, does it not?

malaysian stamps 2 (filatelic.com)

Stamps potraying some of the wildlife available in Malaysia (source : filatelic.com)

In addition to being to a philatelist (ehem, ehem), I also admit to being a collector of coins and paper currencies (I have not looked the term up yet!), metal badges (nowadays metal badges are hard to come by, unlike in them good old days of a metal badge for every occasion), telephone cards (see my previous post, Into The Annals of History – The Telephone Card (http://wp.me/p21MP1-7i)), music cds and vinyl records (goes well with my interest in music regardless of genres) to name but a few.

I must admit it being not easy to admit to being a stamp collector or a philatelist, be it stamps from my own country of Malaysia or from elsewhere in the known world. I guess it’s all due to the normal reaction one draws whenever one admits to collecting stamps : looks of disbelief, a snicker and a snigger, to downright laughter (almost derisively, I could have sworn), all of whom are not exactly good for the morale, I must say.

malaysian stamps (filatelic.com)

A sample of the Malaysian reptilian population (source : filatelic.com)

But pray tell, where did I get this hobby from, you might ask? From my late father, that’s who. He was a King’s Scout (so I am told) in his school days and used to have quite a collection of stamps, lovingly kept in his collection of stamp albums, compiled since he was young and he kept them lovingly together even when he got married. Lovingly until that is when we, his children, came along not long thereafter.

His stamp albums did not last long after our arrival especially when we came to be amazed and excited at what colour pencils can do. After that, there was never enough paper (and walls for that matter) for us budding Vincent van Goghs to draw on.

Not only his stamps (and the walls, mind you) were not safe from us then, but as we got older and got to know (theorectically that is) that to send mail via the Post Office, you’d need stamps and as stamps require money (kids those days only had the money what our parents gave us), we came up with an ingenious way of sending mail without having to purchase them from the Post Office.

east german stamps (space)

East German stamps – Space exploration (source : commons.wikimedia.org)

Trouble is, no one told us that those stamps must be unused stamps and they must be stamps issued by the country. We never saw our Father’s stamp collection after that. And kids being kids, we did wonder what happened our Father’s stamp collection, although not for long for there was always something else to attract our attention.

I began collecting stamps early, thanks to my father’s guidance and also thanks in his indulgence in getting me a stamp album. From then on, whatever I know today of stamp collecting, most are what he taught me when I was a child.

However, school began to take its toll on my new-found hobby and soon enough, my passion for stamps, their many designs and colours, all together telling a story, began to take a backseat. However, despite all that was happening in my life then, I still collected stamps, carefully cutting the stamps off from the envelopes they endorsed and put them away for a time when I had the time to really attend to them and hear their story.

Until that is til I was in my late 20’s, believe it or not, of all places, when I was in West Germany. There was, at that moment in time, an East Germany, internationally known as the Deutsche Demokratische Republik or DDR for short, and a West Germany aka the Bundes Republik Deutschland (BRD).

west german stamp (Berlin Post Ofice)

A sample of a West German stamp (source : commons.wikimedia.org)

Some of the stories and the history of the two Germanies were told via the stamps issued by the Germanies, East and West as well as the stamps of the individual states that make up the current Germany – Pruessland, Hessen, NordRhein-Westfalen, Schleswig-Holstein, amongst others.

It was a natural that my West German stamp collection expanded to include East Germany, the United Kingdom, and of course Malaysia. It helped that for enthusiasts like me, there were stores that cater to philatelists, with a good and wide range of stamp albums to choose from.

Since then, I have settled down, got married and have children of my own. Learning from experience, I have kept my stamp albums hidden away from their reach and my collection are now awaiting for the day that I will, once again, be able to channel my energies and time to add to the collection that I already have.

Its hard to explain, this joyous feeling when you have compiled a complete set. It’s either you have it or you don’t, this feeling. Try it and just maybe, you’d understand why.

 

 

Into The Annals of History – The Telephone Card

Remember payphones? Those phones that would normally be found housed in a glass cubicle, especially in countries having four seasons, allowing you to make phone calls wherever you may be outside of your home.

All you would need are coins of legal tender to start making calls, although some have been known be a bit inventive and creative in trying to get the most of their coins and ‘coins’ from these payphones.

300px-Red_Public_Phone_Boxes_-_Covent_Garden,_London,_England_-_Thursday_September_Thirteenth_2007

Famous British red telephone booths (good protection from the weather, but not sure about the air quality though) (source : wikipedia,org)

Some of these cubicles would be red in colour (like in the United Kingdom) whilst others would be in other fashionable colours, and some of these cubicles would be plain-looking whilst some would be fashionably designed eg Spain, Netherlands, Brazil etc.

Most of these payphones would be in good working condition but some would fall prey to vandals. And as most people have experienced, the air quality within the cubicles leaves so much to be desired unless you are CSI’s Hodges who likes to take a whiff to give you a breakdown of the air’s constituents. But then again, it’s a no-brainer as most time, it would be urine anyway.

Sunset Scene (Uniphone Malaysia)

Sunset Scene Telephone Card from Uniphone Malaysia (nachmeinemeinung @ all rights reserved)

And remember telephone cards? That little piece of plastic that we use to make phone calls with? Just by inserting the card into the payphone, we can get connected to our loved ones who lives a distance away or just to give their girlfriends a call (to ensure their girlfriends of their undying love, whilst hogging the phone for the next half an hour, complete with kisses etc, and remaining oblivious to the queue of people outside the cubicle looking and some even pointing at the watches, eating and finishing their burgers etc whilst waiting patiently for their turn) or make that all important call to the office thus ensuring the bossman that we are actually on the job despite not being in the office (as if!). That little piece of plastic that is the telephone card, later to be replaced almost totally by the mobile phone as the Digital Age took a firm grip of the late 1990s and the new millenium.

Lake Kenyir, Terengganu (Citifon Malaysia)

Telephone Card from Citifon Malaysia (nachmeinemeinung @ all rights reserved)

That little piece of plastic, the telephone card, was of no less importance in the 1990s than that other fashionable-to-have piece of plastic, the credit card, so fashionable that some would not leave home without it? That piece of plastic that comes in different denominations eg RM5, RM10 etc etc?

I just moved house recently (again!) and was unpacking a box of old personal belongings, stuff that I bring along with me whenever we move house, without fail and always in the same box, when I came across a bundle of old used telephone cards. As I was going through the cards, the memories came flooding back with each card having its own little story to tell.

1990s NTT Japan Phone Card

Japanese Telephone Card (NTT) (nachmeinemeinung @ all rights reserved)

For instance, the Japanese telephone cards from NTT came to become part of my collection when I was on a month’s training in Tokyo, Japan, with a unit of Nomura no less. Since telecommunications is a big thing in Japan (they were experimenting with some form of texting way before it came big in United Kingdom and later in Malaysia), you could find payphones easily and most, if not all, accept telephone cards.

1990s NTT Japan Phone Card (3)

Japanese Telephone Card (NTT) (nachmeinemeinung @ all rights reserved)

As everybody knows, you’d normally use coins to make calls at payphones then. Thats okay for short distances, eg within Tokyo or even Japan itself, but for long distance calls eg to Malaysia, the telephone card is the way to go. Convenient and easily available, even from a vending machine.

Utusan Malaysia Cartoons - Lat (Uniphone Malaysia)

LAT Cartoons from Uniphone Malaysia (nachmeinemeinung @ all rights reserved)

That was an eye opener but then again, this is Japan. If you want something, chances are that you can get it from a vending machine and in Japan, vending machines live a long and prosperous life. Unlike their cousins in some places.

And in Japan, vending machines are a dime a dozen. They can be found almost everywhere and the most amazing thing is that these machines remained intact and good working condition despite being left unattended out in the open.

Malaysian Fauna - The Selayak Bird (Uniphone Malaysia)

The Selayak Bird – Flora & Fauna (Uniphone Malaysia) (nachmeinemeinung @ all rights reserved)

And for most of us who went for that particular piece of training, we mastered the art of making a call from the hotel where we were staying, to Malaysia in no time. It being a telephone card, the downside was that our calls were limited in terms of duration but on the upside, it kept us on the right side of a budget.

Marine Life (Time Malaysia)

Marine Live (Uniphone Malaysia) (nachmeinemeinung @ all rights reserved)

The telephone cards in my collection were mostly, as expected, Malaysian. Malaysian telephone cards, if you look carefully, carries a lot of information, that is if you know where to look. For instance, names like Uniphone, Citifon are some of the household names during the age of payphones and by extension, telephone cards as well. Today, telecommunication household names tend to be mobile operators, with most people having at least one mobile phone and one mobile number.

Lata Mengkuang Waterfalls, Kedah (Uniphone, Malaysia)

Lata Mengkuan Waterfalls (Uniphone Malaysia) (nachmeinemeinung @ all rights reserved)

Malaysian telephone cards also tend to be made of solid plastic, unlike those pliable ones from Japan’s NTT thus indicating the different technology and materials employed.

Another common characteristic amongst all telephone cards that I have used or come across is that they tend to have scenes of public life or cartoons or fauna and flora or interesting locations etc pasted onto these telephone cards, making these cards items of interest and thus, collectible giving rise to a new hobby (or a new form of hoarding, as my wife would always say).

Divali Greetings (Singapore Telecom)

Divali Greetings – Telephone Card from SIngapore Telecom (nachmeinemeinung @ all rights reserved)

Compare these telephone cards to the pre-paid reload cards that you have today, well in Malaysia at least, one can definitely say there is a vast difference in the presentation as well as materials used. Maybe the marketing approach for reload cards is not as demanding for telephone cards due to the nature of the business or the competition available.

Whatever it is, one thing’s for sure. In the Digital Age where connectivity is of great import, and as telecommunication technology gets more and more sophisticated, the telephone card will definitely go by way of the Dodo bird soon, if it hasn’t already.

Malaysian Fruits - Cempedak (Uniphone Malaysia)

Malaysian Fruits – The Cempedak (Uniphone Malaysia) (nachmeinemeinung @ all rights reserved)

But for collectors of telephone cards, it will always bring back memories of an era where things were comparatively simpler as compared to nowadays. Days when we had a certain degree of freedom and time for ourselves, and not always subject to the ring (or ringtone, as it is nowadays) of our mobile handphones.

Granted, everything has its price but the day may come when, to stay connected or as they say, wired in, the price may soon be a bit too high for some. Some have already ditched their handphones for a more stress-free environment. Being wired-in does have its limitations and its drawbacks, you must agree.

When that day comes, are we to see the re-introduction of the telephone card? Who knows? It may just happen.