The previous weekend, my friends and I dropped by the Heritage Along Footpaths event organised by the National Heritage Board. It’s an event to showcase some of the disappearing trades that used to be a common sight along the footpaths in the good old days. These trades include the cobblers, barbers, ice ball sellers, fortune tellers and kachang puteh sellers.
You can still find some of these trades around the island but they’re few and far between, so having this event was very interesting and educational for those of us who’s never seen them before.
Everything at the event ranged between 20c to 50c and we might have gone a little overboard at the kacang puteh stall.
It was a very humid day and the ice ball was a wonderful treat.
The shaved ice was compacted into a fist-sized ball and coloured syrup was poured over it, making it look very much like an ice kachang, except that it’s not in a bowl and doesn’t have any read beans or other things in it.
My grandmother used to tell stories of how they used to buy these ice balls when my mum and aunts were children. Back in the 40s and 50s, these ice balls used to cost 5c or less and they used to just wrap them up in news paper or sometimes, nothing at all. Kids would sit and enjoy these ice treats, sucking out the syrup and then throwing the ice at each other when they’re done.
The sugar syrup left use with stained hands, lips and even our faces but we didn’t care because it’s not often that we get to have ice balls.
When we were there, there wasn’t anyone at the barbers. I would have gone but I didn’t need a haircut nor do I think do they cater to women.
I remember as child, back when I was still living Malaysia, I’d follow my babysitter to his barber for his haircut. I’d sit quietly, watching the barber trim my Abah’s short hair, giving him a shave and even doing a shoulder massage. I know that my late grandfather used to go to these barbers too.
When Dude told me that he needed a haircut, I suggested that he go to one of these barbers but he refused, something to do with wanting to keep his ears. Pffft, as if the barbers would cut them off.
I would have taken more pictures but I was too preoccupied with my lovely ice ball to be taking anymore. Not even when we got our fortunes told at the Indian gentleman’s table. His cute little parrot/parakeet (I’m really bad at bird identification), came out of it’s cage and picked out our fortune card from the pack.
The entire event was an interesting and educational experience and I hope that more such events would be held, just so that we don’t lose these old trades.