Friday, July 17, 2015

Sifting Beansprout Husks

Sat down for a morning chat with the old folks. Of course there's a purpose to these chats. Often, the old folks oblige. Work thingies. Volunteer work stuff. Fun hours.

Each time I do this, my understanding of Malay and Hokkien is stretched to the limit because the old folks throw in vernacular jargon and I have a problem with understanding some of their accents. The biggest issue- I understand them 100%, but I can't answer them in the same language. So they try to accommodate me by speaking half in English or Mandarin, which sometimes take longer to get what they're pronouncing. Hurhurhur.

As we talked, the old folks were sorting out beansprout husks. I would have offered to help except I didn't know what they were picking out! Could only help with the shifting of bags and trays. There were two stations of sifting and filtering out dirt and dust and whatnots, and a third that runs a final check of the thoroughly sun-dried husks.

Those clean husks would be lumped together and sewn into tiny pillows used by babies and toddlers. The senior activity centre also sews patchwork blankets. Each blanket or pillow is made by hand and at a slower pace. Unlike other social charities which offer handicrafts for sale as a way to supplement income and provide a living for the less privileged, these seniors at these senior activity centres are luckier. They do it as a way to occupy their time, have fun with a hobby, and chat with friends over a social activity. They don't do it to churn out products to hit KPIs. They're so done with that.

Occasionally we order patchwork blankets or beansprout pillows from them in bulk from the various senior activity centres. But lead time has to be longer, and often, if we have a preference for fabrics, we supply it. Many social charities offer these handicrafts too. We prefer to order direct than to go through an online shop or a middleman.

Had very good chats over three hours. Many old folks cheerfully talked to me. They showed me the final product after all the sifting of the wet and dried husks. I must have had a pillow or two like that as a child, sewn by the grandmothers. Can't quite remember though. It was probably a never-ending supply until I grew out of it. It does make a soothing whooshing sound as I flip the little pillow around. I could always place orders for these cute beansprout pillows. Yet I came away with a gift of handcrafted effort from the old folks. A pair of pillows. Too sweet lah.


Cavalock said...

I actually discovered a few large bags of these back in the old family home several months ago. But we threw it out cos we were afraid there could be bugs in them or something.

imp said...

Apparently once they're thoroughly dried, they're okay. So even if they somehow get wet, it's okay and simply put them out in the sun again. But yeah, might as well throw them out unless you've a purpose for them.