When my good friend, Christine, invited Jaime and myself to attend a ‘toy making’ afternoon a couple of weeks ago, I was completed unprepared for the emotions and strong sense of nostalgia that I was going to be faced with.
In fact, it started dawning on me during the drive in to the Arab Street area of Singapore, that perhaps I’ve not spoken enough with Jaime about my childhood and what it was like growing up in the days before computers, electronic games and today’s generation of gadgets and social networking. Or maybe I’d just forgotten myself?
As Jaime and I discussed the kind of toys we would be making, he asked me the question: “Daddy, do you think we should bring our own batteries?”… for a moment I wasn’t sure what he was talking about. His automatic assumption was that if we were ‘making’ our own toys, then they would obviously be electronic in nature and would require a power source…. OH MY!!
Once we arrived at Children Little Museum in Bussorah Street, I also quickly became aware that although ‘back when I was a lad’ of about Jaime’s age (4-years old), Singapore was another world away – I’m not even sure I knew that it existed (forgive me if I thought the world was indeed flat) – our cultures were already operating in parallel. With global travel something that I wouldn’t experience for almost another decade, the idea that kids my own age in a country some 6,000km away from the small rural Victorian town of Rupanyup where I was living were doing the same things as I was, was quite unfathomable.
You see, I clearly remember receiving a wooden top for my birthday… and the hours upon hours of enjoyment it provided were immeasurable. But guess what? – I have now learned that the same joy was being experienced well beyond the shores of down under and as far away as Asia.
Then there’s the game of ‘Five Stones’ – in Australia, we called it knuckles and it was played with either a synthetic form or sometimes even real dried out knuckle bones. In Singapore, it was played with little satchels that feel like mini-bean bags (and now while we’re reminiscing, kids from my generation in Australia would see the obvious resemblance in shape of these game items to the old ‘Sunny Boys’). – Jaime got to take the ‘five stones’ home and has been trying desperately to teach Casey – I think their tiny little hands are not quite there yet :p
Now here’s the kicker!! I would’ve placed money on the fact that Milo was as Australian as Vegemite! Once again, while we were growing up and being told to drink our Milo to get strong bones, healthy bodies and heaps of energy… so were the kids in Singapore!
Herein is the underlying motivation for the entire afternoon… The icon behind the Milo brand is none other than Nestlé, and the team in Singapore invited us along (with some other very close mates… and even my Hong Kong travel buddies and witnesses to the now historical, 2010 Bathtub Racing Dilemma) to share in their 100th Anniversary… Yes, you heard it right – Nestlé is much older than me and was filling the Singaporean kids with sustenance long before I was even running around in nappies (and even before my mother was a wee lass… and even when my Grandparents were still little critters).
Amazing right!? The company behind every day brands such as Nescafe, Kit Kat, Maggi and Milkmaid are a century old!!
So what better way to showcase their celebrations than a walk back in time – before the iPad and Nintendo Wii were even flights of fantasy for the science fiction buffs… the ‘internet’ must have been something we used to help us fish for yabbies in the dams and mud creeks around the outskirts of town right?
Once we arrived and had a few snacks, I was offered an iced cappuccino from this amazing futuristic looking machine (Dolce Gusto Circolo coffee machine – a modern day invention)… I MUST MUST have one!! – the flavour of my ‘cold cuppa’ was divine!… and I’m one of those guys that lives for his coffee.
Then we learned about the 100-year history of Nestlé in Singapore from none other than the MD himself, Valerio Nannini. Mr Nannini also learned a thing or two himself – such as the fact that Nestlé produced tins with a handle on the bottom to be recycled as money containers for many of the store owners and hawkers of the day. Simply pull down on the handle and the tin moves on a pulley system – store your cash and let it fly back up – ingenious really – and an absolute nugget of a marketing and branding idea all those years ago
Soon after, we were taken up a flight of stairs and were transported down another flight in time. A toy museum consisting of things I knew and things I didn’t… the school classroom setting that was so familiar to me that I was looking to see where (next to the pencil well) my name was engraved from times gone by.
Then the fun stuff began – first we made a ‘balancing pyramid’ – an amazing device that will balance anywhere.
Next was a kite – created and designed by us – Jaime is a much better artist than me and loves to paint, so he was the mastermind behind the design
On the way home, I had so many thoughts running through my mind… days gone by when life was just so simple. How great it was to be a kid – I almost wish that Jaime didn’t ever have to grow up. As I looked to Jaime and saw him completely sound asleep, the tears again welled in my eyes… I could say it was because a piece of dust had lodged in them, or that the sun was just a little too bright – but either of these excuses would be a lie.
Thank you Nestlé for a magical afternoon… thank you for inspiring memories long-forgotten… thank you for some wonderful bonding time with my son… and finally, THANK YOU for growing with me from early childhood until now!!
Footnote: Keep your eye out for another initiative that Nestlé Singapore will be undertaking as part of their 100 year celebrations – the fulfillment of 100 wishes for lucky people. Simply visit the Nestlé 100 years website and check it out – Wishes should reflect the theme of “Good Food, Good Life” and must be meaningful and beneficial! Closing date will be 15th Nov 2012. So what are you waiting for??
Source: Aussie Pete