February 7, 2015

Sibu Tales : Scales for Weighing Vegetables

Long ago, it was common for every one in Sibu to use the dachin or Chinese scales. Then later there was a lot of arguments about business men cheating customers by using dirty tricks on the daching.

Also at the same time, Malaysia was going metric as it was a fashionable and global trend. The country's leaders decided that we had to go metric and not use Imperial measurements which were deemed imperialistic and colonialistic and too British, besides other reasons.

So in came the new scales with metric system.

For a long time local Chinese people and especially Foochow women from the villages could not get used to the new measurements of Kilogram, milligram. And especially my grandmother who found 1000 gm too big a figure!!

One Tan, one Kati, one Leong were familiar terms which local Chinese had been used to for all their lives.

In schools teachers also had to teach the new measurements and had to "re-fire" the imaginations of the students.

Teachers would have to use realistic examples to help students learn about kilograms.

" This pig in your farm is  80 kg. and your uncle's weight is 80 kg..." and the Foochow kids would answer..."Or....jian ni oh...really?"

But strangely, when measuring many big animals, the Chinese daching is still being used and the "dots" read and converted.

Some people are good at converting katis to kilograms. Are you?

I depend on the scales. I have to agree with the scales and walk away feeling happy. No point debating with a scale...And I won't tell the hawker off that "His scale has eaten me...." which is the Foochow expression of "cheating on the scales"..

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