Thursday, October 1, 2009

Ah Mah's Numeral System

Short note: I was doing some groceries with Mom at Tesco yesterday, and we walked passed a guy. My Mom then told me that that when we were walking pass that guy, he looked up at me (pun unintended), obviously because of my height, and then looked down into the basket I was carrying.
"He must be trying to check out what you buy to eat so that he can grow as tall as you," my Mom later told me lol!
While some prefer to spend their summer holidays traveling to other parts of the world, or busy on other stuff, I had some other ideas. I went for some traveling throughout my seven-week summer break myself, but all were local destinations - KL three times, Penang twice, Ipoh once, plus a few small and short trips around Taiping and its vicinity.
I gotta admit I am quite a family-oriented guy, so it is natural for me to spend more time with my family and relatives during my holidays. Like I have once mentioned before, I love visiting my grandma because she would give me red packets every time I visit her haha. You know, old people, especially the Chinese really love giving red packets. It is already like a cultural thing, although the significance behind the act is not only about giving money, at the same time, it acts as a way to wish the receiver a safe journey and have a blessed life.
Dad's family house, where my Ah Mah is living today.
148, Jalan Kota; what a simple line for an address haha. The beige Ford is my Dad's first car so cute can!
My grandma's house is actually quite near to my house; it is only less than a ten-minute drive. It has been some time since I really explored the house. I used to stay there since I was born until I was seven, when I moved to my current house. There were too many memories during my seven years living in that bungalow that I don't think I would be able to mention them all in this entry. Anyway, I will mention one of them here.
There used to be a huge rambutan tree at the backyard and I used to pee there when I was small haha. Sometimes, I would play outdoor games like hide-and-seek with my cousins and while playing, we were too lazy to go into the house to pee. So, to save time, we just randomly pee in the drain haha. My cousin was even worse, he used to make his big business by squatting between the drain under the rambutan tree and settle his business (both local or international business haha) there lol!
Doing that made the place full of mosquito and that is why my legs is full of scars from mosquito bites and they remain until today.
Ah Mah during her younger days.
Ah Mah used to stay on the first floor, but age has caught up with her over the years and she has now moved to the ground floor, as it would be easier for her to get in and out of her room, without having to climb the staircase. However, the old room of hers in the first floor still remain there.
Ah Mah has never gone to school when she was younger. She can't read or write but guess what, she is able to do her account everytime she goes out for shopping for groceries, using her very own numeral system. It is one kind of its own and nobody but only she herself understands it. My aunt and uncle have been staying with her for so many years and they still couldn't understand her system haha.
I am sure Ah Mah is very proud of her numeral system.
I know Ah Mah's numeral system exists since I was young, but I was never bothered to ask her about it. During my last visit at her place recently, I tried asking her and she took out a piece of paper and started to show me how the system works. Reena, if you are reading this, you would realise that Ah Mah is super advanced haha. The next thing you know is, she might sign up for a Facebook account to check on her grandchildren haha!
"You have one friend's request from Ah Mah" lol!
For a person who has never stepped her foot to any schools, her ability to come out with her very own numeral system can be considered something to be proud of. It will take some time for a person to understand the numeral system of Ah Mah. She doesn't use "comma" in her numbers, and the "dot" has a different meaning than that we all use. For example, she write 1,000 as 1.000 and 1.00 as 100. Think that is confusing enough? Wait till you see how she write the price of something that cost 25.00.
She write that as 2005 haha! Creative, isn't she?
In the process of writing 25.00 in her version. Notice she uses a blade to sharpen her 2B pencil.
The smaller fonts represent the real value of each price.
I also asked her how would she recognise different bills from different people, since she doesn't know how to write alphabets. To my amazement, she had her own alternative way. For example, if that bill comes from my third uncle, she would write a "3" at a corner. I gotta say I am very impressed with my Ah Mah. Next, I wondered what would she do when she wanna write the stuff she bought from the market; fish, carrots, chicken for example. As for that case, she had no choice but just leave them blank 'coz she couldn't spell out those names.
I suggested to Ah Mah, "Why don't you just draw out pictures to represent the stuff you bought?" haha!
I spent some time going through ways of writing different types of price with Ah Mah, and having her to test me by writing out any random price she told me. However, she complained that the numbers I wrote were too small and she couldn't see it clearly, and asked me to write much bigger than that lol! After just only one lesson with Ah Mah, I can now proudly say that I am the only person in the whole family who knows how to read "Ah Mah's Numeral System" haha!
I am sure she would be proud of me, which spells more ang pao for me the next time I visit her lol!


Anonymous said...

lol. ah mah so cute. i remember living with my mah mah too. they are very loving people.

calvin said...

@ jg:
old people actually long for our attention greatly.
but sometimes, we are just too occupied with our daily routine that we forget about these people whom once upon a time, raised us up from small little babies =\

baguettequeen said...

Ah ma is so adooorable! Wish her longevity :D

Chung Min said...

You not going to explain how your ah mah's numeral system work kah??haha..

Kae Vin said...

yo can become mathematician ady lol

Reenybob said...

GET HER FACEBOOK! AHAHAHAHHA! aiyoh she so cute >.<

a. Lu said...

In the photos of her younger days, Your grandma looks really smart!

calvin said...

@ huei ying:
yea, it is always nice to talk to older people at times. they will always tell you countless of interesting stories during their younger days.

once a person reached a certain age, i find that they tend to behave like small kids again =P

calvin said...

@ chung min:
haha, it is too confusing and troublesome actually to explain the system as it has a lot of rules and exceptions lol!

calvin said...

@ kae vin:
haha, become professor emeritus also possible i think!

calvin said...

@ reenybob:
you better teach her how to use facebook when she has one haha!

calvin said...

@ a. lu:
that is why her grandson is also very smart xD

Sheryl0202 said...

you are such a sweet grandson! Aw........

Reenybob said...

you should tell her that her granddaughter is also very smart.

very smart ass, that is :P

calvin said...

@ sheryl0202:
because ah mah is such a cool grandma xD

calvin said...

@ reenybob:
you know what, i just visited ah mah just now, before i leave tomorrow and she complained that all of her grandchildren but me never been bothered to visit her. that is why she love me most haha!

you better make her notice that you're smart, by visiting her next cny ;)

p/s: ohh yea, she calls you lina now, not gina or rina haha!

Reenybob said...

wei! is not i not bothered to visit, is i duno wat to say and i also so damn far and wat la! i also nv grow up in tpg so i also not exactly emotionally close also.

ask her get skype/fb :P ill write on her fb wall everyday :D

"ah mah le hor bo?!"

calvin said...

@ reenybob:
haha, just kidding-lah. just say out whatever hokkien words you know to ah mah, although i'm sure it's pretty limited lol!

if you have run out of words, just repeat the words all over again haha!

and i think you gotta write on her wall every minute since she is so damn free that she would reply you almost immediately haha!

Reenybob said...

"ah mah wrote on your wall"
"ah mah commented on your link"

calvin said...

@ reenybob:
how about "ah mah threw a sheep at you!" haha! =P