Wednesday, May 06, 2009Long before Terengganu was blessed (or cursed - depending on who you talk to) with the discovery of petroleum within her waters, Terengganu folks were already familiar with "minyok".
We used minyok tanoh (kerosene) to light our pelita ayang (oil lamp) or the brighter and noisier pressure lanterns that you have to pump and prime before you get any light. Later on there were "Butterfly" stoves which also ran on minyok tanoh. Some of you might remember being sent to the local provision shop with an empty bottle so that the shopkeeper can gumba (pump) kerosene for you from a square tin that looks like a biscuit tin. The pump itself fascinated many young Terengganu lads. It is simple yet effective. It has only one moving part and that is the rod that you move up and down to get the minyak tanoh flowing from the big tin down the spout to your bottle.
Minyok tanoh is called such to differentiate it from minyok tanok (cooked oil) or minyok nyo (coconut oil) whose source is higher up and far from the tanoh (ground).
As you get closer to Kelantan, minyok tanoh gets to be called minyok gah. There is a famous Lorong Minyok Gah in Kota Baru. I guess minyok gah is from the the English "gas" which in turn is short for gasoline which is not kerosene at all. Gasoline is what Terengganu people call minyok petrol or sometimes called benzine (minyok benzeng). Oil for the engine is called minyok selendar because Terengganu motorists know that the oil lubricates the pistons in the cylinder. Engine oil is also called minyok itang.
Surprisingly, in Terengganu, perfumes are not called minyak wangi but air wangi. Preferences for eau de cologne perhaps? Perfumes used for Friday prayers are called minyok attor (attar) and brilliantine, cream or oil you put on your hair are called minyok rambut (hair oil). The popular brands during my time are Brylcreem, Yardley and for Hindustani fans of both sexes, Zam Zam.
Just like the car that needs change of minyok selendar every now and then, boys that use brilliantine changed oil on their head every few miles.
Underfoot, all the way from Trinidad and her famous Steel Band came minyok tar or asphalt. At one time many drums of asphalt were abandoned on the river bank in front of the Kuala Terengganu Post Office and quite close to Pok Kadir's famous stall. Inevitably, the asphalt found its way out of the rusting drums and onto the soles of Pok Kadir's customers. Some might get stuck to shiny mudguards of motorcycles or the body of some cars. These black stuff were not called minyok tar anymore. Off the road, they were called blakeng and seasoned motorcyclists and motorists cleaned them off with a mixture of minyok tanoh and apah nyo.
It was after a lot of headaches and copious administration of minyok rima (Tiger balm) did I suspect that blakeng came from the English word "blacking". Any other theories welcomed.
(Due to lack of breath and unsuitable voice, there will be no audio version of this post. Apologies.)