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I'm not a big fan of the food bazaars: expensive, crowded, too sweet/salty/bland food, unhygienic. But i do appreciate their sociocultural significance to the Malaysian people. It's a gathering place, a melting pot over the basest of human needs -- food. Every type of person is to be found, every creed, every take, every ambition. It's something to look forward to, something to anticipate, an eager feast of not just the body, but of lust and the soul.
Click on each image for the larger version. All photos taken with an iPhone 4S. Hipstamatic, John S Lens, BlacKeys SuperGrain Film.
View the full set (15 photos) here.
All shots taken with an iPhone 4s processed with Hipstamatic (John S Lens, BlacKey B&W, Cherry Shine Flash). Inspired by Ben Lowy.
It's not unique to Malaysia. Anywhere else in the world where modernity has encroached has had to give up it's traditional values at some point. The first signs of decay is the migration of the young to the cities, the second sign is the contempt that begins to creep into the perceptions we have for the kampung (village). The final nail in the coffin is when those that hold the kampung dear disappear, through death and old age, and the young, comfortable in their lives and newfound powers, do not see the purpose to return. It's a life cycle of values -- they only last as long as those who remember them do. Or those who want to remember.
But, they aren't quite gone yet, not here in Malaysia where a majority of the Malay population live and make their living in the rural landscape. The spirit is still alive. The values of a welcoming home, of generosity, of lovingly prepared food where everyone chips in to prepare the feast, of communal prayer and of respect, love and honor for the elderly.
A marker of the Malay tradition. Long may it continue.
View the full photoset on Flickr (15 shots).
I was in KL Sentral this morning, and as i was walking around, the sweet sounds of a violin came over the air. A little known fact about me -- i play the violin too, or rather, i used to play it as a teen. Can't say i was any good, but it is a lovely instrument to play, and given the chance to pick it up, i'd do it again.
It seems the source of the music was a elder Chinese man. He must have been in his 60s, sitting in his chair, violin in hand. His song selection was limited, just to a few well known tunes. And he played them in an unending loop. Not particularly dextrous, with notes going randomly off-key every so often. But interesting enough that i stood there for more than several moments to listen. His violin case quickly filled up with coins and notes, he emptied it once it was half-full; perhaps that's a busker's strategy: people are more likely to tip when they see an empty case?
You'll find the mamak restaurant everywhere in Malaysia. Run mostly by Indians, either of the local or the sub continent variety, they perform a very important function by making sure there is always food to be had at any time of the day, any day of the week, everyday day of the year. 24/7 -- day in day out the curries, the roti canais, the nasi lemaks, the fresh coconuts, teh tariks and dozens of other items on the menu that can, given time, give you a heart attack, diabetes or both.
And yet Malaysians flock to them, at all hours. Truly, we love our food. By extension, we must love our mamaks.
Click through the images for the larger version. All shots taken with a Olympus OM-D EM-5 with Panasonic 14mm f2.5 pancake.
A chinese man with indian curry. Globalization at it's best.
Looks closely and you'll find a hidden easter egg in this photo. Hint: it has nothing to do with eggs.
Keeping the figures straight. In a purely cash business, millions of ringgit per day flow through the mamaks across the nation. Easily, millions.
Ming Thein is a clever man. Engineer. Physicist. Horologist. Photographer. Cigar aficionado. Metrosexual. I've known him for a more than a year now, and i still find it hard to pin him down. There always seems to be different shade of him i haven't seen, layers within layers, like a never-ending onion. Constantly evolving, always looking to create something from nothing. A dynamic, modern, educated and talented Malaysian, if there ever was one.
He recently opened his Leica and Jaeger Le-Coultre exhibition here in Kuala Lumpur to great fanfare, the opening officiated by the Minister of Tourism, Datuk Ng Yen Yen. And today, was kind enough to take some friends and fans on a personally guided tour. His energy and enthusiasm for the subject matter was infectious, and he was happy to share his techniques and methods. Professional hubris? "I don't mind showing you how i did it, because even if you knew how, you wouldn't be able to replicate it." Fair enough, i suppose. And he would be right.
The exhibition, though pared down from the gala opening, was amazing. 18 fantastic photos of watches that most mortals can only dream of owning. It's a testimony of his art that even so, the 5 of us in attendance, felt just that much closer to the dream, than if we had simply seen the watches in the window display or on the pages of some glossy magazine. I have no doubt, that based on the strength of the images, if any of us had half a million ringgit in our pockets, the Jaeger Le-Coultre showroom would have been our next stop. They were just breathtaking on so many levels, each one able to articulate a particular aspect of the Jaeger brand.
In many ways, observing Ming during his tour, and how he interacted with us, and more importantly, how he interacted with his art, told us a lot about him. If there was one word i would use, it would be pride. He is genuinely proud of what he has been and is able to do, describing the photos as his "children" when asked which one is his favourite shot. Just like a proud parent, it would be unfair to ask him to name one he liked best.
Click on the image for the larger version.
The tour group, at the start of the exhibition
Explaining the intricacies of watch design
Which is more complex? The watch or the Man. The answer isn't so obvious.
Long shadows, longer impressions
Enjoying a rare cigar at the end of the tour. Apt considering his talent is a rare one.
I don't get a chance to shoot many weddings indoors, so when i got the invite to attend an old friend's wedding reception, i jumped at the opportunity. I've known Bernard Sia for many years, we went to school together as young boys. After graduating, we lost touch, but then ended up working for the same company for a while and have been in contact ever since.
If there ever was an eligible Chinese bachelor, Bernard would have been it. I honestly did think that it would be several years yet before a lucky lady tied him down, but i was wrong. Lee Yan, a lovely lady with a disarming smile, is his wife, and they look great together. The camera, of course, doesn't lie!
Good luck you two, may you live long and prosper.
Click for the larger version. Click for the full photoset.
In loving embrace, k-i-s-s-i-n-g.