Julian Selvanayagam

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Papa's Journey

Papa began his journey-- with a metal trunk containing his worldly belongings. It was difficult to carry the trunk by hand. It was much easier to carry it on the head-- the balance was better. From Port Swettenham (presently called Port Klang), he walked to Kuala Lumpur, and there he rested for the night. After enquiring from people, he began his journey to Bentong, in Pahang. Papa did not realise what he was in for! It was about 54 miles, through the virgin jungles of Malaya.
He walked through Gombak, and up the Main Range to the Genting Simpah Pass. Then, it was downhill, all the way to Bentong. By the time he reached the Pass, he was so tired and hungry and thirsty. And he did not have anything with him, as he had no money to buy! He found a stream flowing down the mountain side, and he had a drink there. But there was nothing edible that he could find to ease his hunger.

As he continued walking down the rough road that had been built by Indian labourers, he passed a group working on a stretch of road. They used changkols (hoes) to dig the earth, and there were elephants that were used to clear a path through the jungle. As he walked by, some of the Indian labourers asked him where he was going to, and he told them. They were shocked that he was walking alone through the jungle road. They told him that there were tigers and elephants and snakes that could easily kill him.
They suggested that he travel with them later in the day to Bentong. And they asked him if he had eaten any food. When he said that he had not, some of them took pity on him, and shared some rice with him. He was very grateful for this kind gesture. He was able to rest a while, and he began his walk again. He felt very lonely, frightened, and tired. Eventually, he reached the small little town of Bentong. He found a place where he could curl up for the night, and went to sleep.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Papa's Adventure.

Richard K. Selvanayagam landed in Port Swettenham, Malaya, in 1926. He was an orphan, and did not have any relatives that he could turn to, in this new country. All he had, was an address of a friend in Kuala Lipis, Pahang.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A Malaysian Adventure

I was born in Kuala Lipis on the 19th of January, 1939--just before the outbreak of the 2nd World War.

Kuala Lipis was the State capital of the State of Pahang, Malaya. It was a lovely little town, nestled among the the hills of the Main Range mountains (Titiwangsa) of Malaya. It was a place tucked away among the lush, green, tropical rain forest. The town was built on the confluence of 2 major rivers of the country--the Pahang River, and the Jelai River. These rivers were full of fresh fish, and ideal for fishing, swimming, and boating--but there was also the danger of crocodiles!

Kuala Lipis had all the facilities of a State capital, but the town itself was small! The main part of the town was made up of 3 streets. Main Street was on higher ground, and Jelai Street was on lower ground, and it was on the bank of the Jelai River. It was in the shape of a crescent. And directly in the middle, was Cross Street. It connected the Main Street to the Jelai Street. At the point where Main Street and Cross Street connected, was an open space. This was the place where the Bus Station was located. And next to it, was the Railway Station. On one end of Main Street, was the Market and the Post Office, at the other end of the Main Street was the Police Station and the Fire Brigade Station. Main Street was where you could get all your groceries, provisions, photographic equipment, stationery, tailors and sewing materials, jewellers, and so on. Jelai Street was where you would find all of the craftsmen--tin and iron smiths, cobblers, tailors, carpenters, etc. And Cross Street was the delight of every child--that was where you found the hawkers, ice cream and iced-drinks, food stalls, and all kinds of preserved fruits to satisfy the variety of different tastes!

This was the town that my Papa had chosen to come to live in. This was 1926, and Papa had come all the way from Ceylon (Sri Lanka).