Things I Used To Do

By Julian Mokhtar

Have you ever stopped to think about things you used to enjoy doing but for various reasons you either don’t or can’t do anymore? Maybe because of education, family or work commitments, nobody to do them with, lost interest or just “too old for that”. Do you feel a sense of regret? Do you miss doing those things? Do you ever think of getting into them again, or are you resigned to letting them go? When I was much younger, one of my favourite things to do was assembling plastic model kits, mostly airplanes. Back then, the most widely available brand was Airfix from Britain, later joined by Revell from the US and Tamiya from Japan. I spent many happy hours assembling and painting models of Second World War planes, fighters like Spitfires, Messerscmhitts and Japanese Zeros, and bombers. Later on I became interested in motorcycles and assembled several kits. By then I think the popularity of plastic model kits had died down so they weren’t so readily available which more or less ended that hobby for me. Being interested in motorcycles, I was thrilled to discover a magazine called Choppers which featured custom chopper motorcycles based on Harley-Davidsons, Triumphs, Hondas, BSAs, and others. I bought every monthly issue from then until I think it went out of business. I learned a few things about engine maintenance from them, some of which I tried out on my neighbour’s bike. I was quite upset when I went home after several months working outstation to find my mother had thrown them all away (but had kept my brother’s huge pile of football magazines). Any thoughts of being a biker never became reality because my parents were against me getting a motorbike because of the risk of injury or an accident. However, I rode bicycles quite a lot during that time to school and with friends after school and on weekends. There used to be a lot of tin mines around Kuala Lumpur then, some still operating, stretching from Ampang to Cheras where we used to go “scrambling” on our bicycles. Friends moved away or went to study overseas, my family moved, I started working, turning my interest in guitar into a job, and so stopped cycling. I took it up again after several years, retrieving my brother’s old bike from my parents’ house. It became my main form of transport if I had to go into town or to the shops. I could ride through congested traffic easily, go out and come back in half the time it would have taken if I went by bus or taxi. I haven’t ridden since the late 1990s for a number of reasons such as driving and generally having less time to ride. Now I live in an area which while not hilly, isn’t exactly flat either. After not riding for so long it’s a bit more strenuous than I like and I’d forgotten how hard the saddle can be (I tried, about 1 1/2km). We still have a bicycle and lately I’ve been thinking of getting back on it. At least around the apartment car park which is level, to start off. I don’t think I’ll get back to the tearaway/hooligan level of my youth though but I do need to get back into shape a little. Another interest of mine was drawing. I did quite a few, some in class while a lesson was going on. I liked pen and ink and pencil more than colour or painting. Again, that stopped after I started working because of lack of time and space to do it. I have to be in the right frame of mind to draw as well and there were other things taking my attention. I still have the drawings from back then, I may yet get them out and start again because it’s something I miss doing sometimes. What are the things you loved doing when you were younger but had to stop or put on indefinite hold while you studied, worked, married and started a family? Maybe you have the time now to restart some of them. I know sometimes there’s some inertia to overcome, I’m as guilty of that as anyone, but go ahead and rediscover what you liked about them. There’s a lot to be said for the satisfaction, fulfilment, or just the plain enjoyment you’ll get.