Monday, January 28, 2008

The Constant Gardener.

This morning while I was driving for an appointment I noticed the number of foreign grass cutter we have going around the neighbourhood asking of anyone who wants their gardens or lawns cut. And there really is a lot of them doing their rounds every day on their bicycle or motorbikes. And they're all foreigners and almost everyday I'd get one knocking on my gates asking me if I'd like my tiny little (and I mean very tiny) lawn cut. It's not like as if they can't see that they grass is not at all long and even if I did want to get it cut, they charge quite a bit, somewhere around RM20-30 for such a small area that it's not worth it. And no disrespect to these foreigners but I simply do not trust having some unknown stranger in my house lawn, especially these days with all that's going on in this country.

This got me reminiscing back to my childhood to the house I grew up in. When I was growing up I used to live in this place called Kampung Tunku in Petaling Jaya. It was a decent residential area with mostly semi-detached bungalows. And we had this huge lawn both front and back. Those days most houses had huge and nice lawns unlike the terrace house of today. The lawn was so huge that we could park 3-4 cars in there and still have lots of place to play a game of football with my cousins. And that was only the front. The back was equally big.

When I was around 6 years old or so we used to have this Indian grass cutter, a nice young man who would come to our house every month end on the dot and offer his services to mow our lawn. And of course my grandmother would always say yes to him. And he'd only charge us RM20.00 for the whole front and back yard. He'd toil under the hot blazing sun for close to an hour an a half mowing our lawn with his trusty old lawn mower. Over time he became our regular gardener, cutting and sweeping the place and sometimes grandma would also get him to trim the hedges around our house. Of course grandma would pay him more for it. Sometimes after the mowing, we'd help him out with the sweeping. One thing I love is the smell of freshly cut grass.

I can still remember how excited we'd all be whenever he came with his bicycle and his lawn mower and the racket it would make when he started it up. We'd all (my cousins and me) gather outside our porch and watch him as he systematically went about doing his job. Halfway through, grandma would come with a nice pitcher of iced cold water or orange juice and lay it out for him. For us it was like a fun thing. We'd pour the drinks for him when he stopped for a rest and check out his grass covered mower. In time, he became like a close family friend to us. Grandma had no worries about us being out there with him alone. She'd knew that even though he was mowing our lawn and we'd be making a nuisance of ourselves, he'd look out for us.

And when the school holidays came by, he'd bring his son along to play with us. And he stuck with us throughout the years, even way into my early twenties, he promptly came over every month and he never raised his price. It was always RM20.00 no matter what. Sometimes I wonder how he managed to survive with those kinds of pricing. Maybe grandma paid him more, I really don't now but all I can remember is he never charged us more. And in time his health took a turn for the worse and his son who by now was grown up and around our age took over his duties. He did turn up whenever he could though.

Then one fine day, both he and his son never turned up for about two months. We were concerned but never did know how to contact him. Our relationship with him lasted purely in our lawn on that one day every month. Then one day his son finally turn up with news about his death. We were shocked, saddened and totally devastated. He was like a member of the family. We grew up with 'uncle grass cutter man' (as well called him) and now he's no longer around. His son didn't want to carry on with his dads business and I couldn't blame him. Who'd wanna be a grass cutter right? So, we bid him well and that was the end of our 'uncle grass cutter man'.

We did eventually find a new guy to replace him but somehow it was never the same. The trust, friendship and memories we shared with our 'uncle grass cutter man' was something that could never be replaced. I don't see myself or my children relating to the existing grass cutters we have these days. In fact half the time it's so difficult just trying to communicate with them and half of them look sinister to me that I wouldn't trust them in my compound for more than 10 minutes let alone an hour and a half! And besides, my lawn right now is so small that I could cut the whole place with a pair of scissors in half an hours time ... LOL! Maybe I should look for a real estate agent to help me look for a house with a bigger lawn then find myself a nice decent grass cutter and start a new tradition or something again with my kids ... LOL!


  1. I think I finally figured it out. You are a paid blogger?

  2. Upset waitress - yup, I am ... LOL! But I integrate them within real experiences of my life. I hope that's not a crime :)

  3. It's an interesting story. Too bad, such grass cutters are hard to come by these days. I agree that you shouldn't let the foreign ones enter your yard. Too many horror stories.

  4. Ah yes, those were the good old days. I once lived alone in a place that had a reasonably small garden. I had a man who had a slight mental disability cut my "lawns/dirt with bits of green in it" every month. His father used to drive him round and help him out if he got into trouble. Even though I really didn't need him I kept letting him come round because I admired the fact that he was out trying to make a living for himself.

    Great story Nick. Now get out there with those scissors before you bring the neighbourhood into disrepute.

  5. In my country, those grass cutter are employed by the government. Actually since, young... I've got a phobia from the sound produced by the machine. I will not go near them as I've heard of how the blades flew off & injured pple... LOL :)

  6. BT - Yeah, the world is longer the same anymore. And it's impossible to find a grass cutter in the same league that I grew up with these days ...

  7. Gypsy - That was a cool thing to do. At least he was out trying to make an honest living unlike lots of the people I know these days ...

    I'm in the midst of sharpening those scissors already ... LOL!

  8. Janice - I've always had the same phobia though I've never seen any of those blades fly off. In fact they don't use blades anymore. They instead have this kind plastic strip to replace the blades, much more safer but that still doesn't solve the problems of pebbles flying at you with blindly fast speeds!

  9. No not at all. I had to figure out when you say "assignments" etc. I think it's great! I've been looking into it myself. It's a bit confusing for me. I've been with Adsense for so long, it's hard to make that change. You know? It's so different from Adsense but more money daily.

  10. Upset Waitress - LOL! Sorry for being so vague ... AdSense really doesn't work for me. It makes more sense doing the other assignments which are much more worthwhile money wise, since the currency exchange rate here is three times more the amount of the assignments offered so that adds to a pretty cool sum monthly.

    I can understand the hard to make a change part, It was difficult for me when I took down my AdSense all those months ago ...


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