Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Memories of Past Ramadans (and Eid Fitr)

Ramadan was always the time to play firecrackers and cannon. In those days firecrackers were not just bunga api, but the more popular type were the ones that give a loud bang. Normally red in colour, and sold in a pack of 12. The Chinese light them up during Chinese New Year, giving sound almost similar to gunfire. If it blew up in your hand, surely you would lose a finger or two.
By the time I was 8 to 12 years old, Ramadans had always been a wonderful time. Iftar time were usually marked by the booming cannons around the village. In those days, it was not illegal to build home made cannon from the trunk of bamboo, pinang or coconut tree.
I was making my own cannon from the trunk of pinang tree at 10. We cut a pinang tree at Rahmat’s place, got a trunk section about 6 foot long, drag it home and hollow it out in the next couple of days. I simply cut the trunk in half, lengthwise, and dig out the soft heart. Then tie it up with jute.
We use carbide (villager use this to ripen fruit, bananas, jackfruit before selling them at the market) that we bought at the village shop as fuel. Calcium carbide, when placed in water will boil and release ethane gas. This ethane gas would ripen fruits faster. It is also an explosive gas. Light it with match and kaboom. Many kids had been burned playing cannon.
I used a small condensed milk can half-filled with water and carbide. This can is tied up at the end of 6 foot long thin bamboo which I carefully lowered down the mouth of cannon. One end of the cannon is buried in the ground at about 15 degree angle. Once the carbide mix is lower into the mouth of the cannon, we close it with a bundle of damp cloth. Five minutes later, the inside of the cannon would fill up with gas, I would open the mouth of the cannon by pulling the bundle of damp cloth away. The with a small fire, I lighted up the small hole at the bottom of the cannon…

Fire spew out from the mouth of the cannon.


julian said...

wow i am 58 years old lived near gelang (singapore) heard the tombaks booming in the area but never learnt to built one,now i got to learn one from a lady (i am not sexist----both are equal)
will get my kids to read this later
hope i got the spelling right----tombak

nooryahaya said...

its dangerous stuff to play. but with supervision and caution, it would be ok.

xguru said... just open by blog enojy

xguru said...
just open my blog u will find good pictures