Our first house in Petaling Jaya (or PJ as it is better known) was on the main road leading to SEA Park, across from the Magnolia Ice Cream Factory. It was a single story house, and I have few memories of it since we were there for just a couple of months. I do recall however that the backyard was full of shells, the previous tenants having thrown them out after eating scallops or clams. On February 23rd, 1971, my father’s father passed away in Kanpur, and my only memory of this period is celebrating my birthday in March with my mother’s family in Calcutta, as she had gone to make funeral and other arrangements. On our return, my father had moved us to Section 20, to the house I think of as my childhood home. "Twenty eight Twenty stroke Four" was the first thing I learnt, as that was our address (28, Jln 20/4) and I was enrolled in St.Clare’s Kindergarten, which was later renamed Good Hope Kindergarten. I’ve just found out it’s now a Children’s Home.
Malaysia was unique in that it had a multicultural, multilingual that it celebrates. Our neighbour on one side was of Indian Muslim heritage, and on the other, Hokkien and Hakka Chinese. In fact, the Hokkien lady, Mooi Auntie, would tell tales of Hakkas (her husband’s people) eating puppies by throwing them live into boiling water to scare us! Actually, they just bludgeon them to death 😛
There was great excitement in the November of 1972 ( I recall the date only from my passport) – I was to get my very own passport instead of travelling on my mother’s. And there were innoculations and vaccinations against cholera, typhoid and tubercolosis. Since my parents believed they would be returning to Calcutta in a year, and I had finished kindergarten and was ready to go to school, they were sending me back to live with my Nanaji (mother’s father). It was my first solo flight. And I remember it was late at night and I was the ONLY passenger in Economy on what was then BOAC or the British Overseas Airways Corporation. I remember being very afraid, I was six years old and I refused dinner when the air hostesses asked me if I was hungry. The next thing I recall is standing in my aunt’s bedroom in Nanaji’s house asking for food. A ham sandwich. With pepper on it. Yuck.