Posts by Azlan:
17.10.18 – Kuala Lumpur to London to Dublin. Adieu.
After 2 weeks of break due to family commitments, I continued my project in a place called Tanah Serendah Sekebun Bunga. It has been a while since I last set my foot here. It is almost exactly 2 years back. This is the only chance that I had to roam the streets of Kota Bharu, as I am tied with work for most of the other days. The photos may not show the true essence of the town but I believe that if we dwell long enough, we will capture its beauty and soul. I will set my foot here again, InsyaAllah. So here are the sevens from Kota Bharu.
This is Pak Zainal. He is 72 and paddles his trishaw everyday from Pantai Cahaya Bulan to the town center. I met him while he was waiting for passengers at Pasar Besar Siti Khadijah. At 72, he said that he is not as strong as before. He will usually get back aches if he paddles for long hours.Today, he has yet to get his first passenger and it’s already past 9 am. “Tak tentu” he told me. Pak Zainal told that he does not have many children. Only 5 to be exact. I told him that if it were to go by Kelantan’s standards, then 5 is still small, but big if measured to KL’s standards,
At his age, it is a pity that he has to work, but sometimes parents just do not want to depend on their children and prefer to earn for themselves. I believe that is what “Projek Sara Hidup” means.
After a week break, I once again wandered the streets of KL. Early yesterday I went around the Malays’ premier settlement in KL, the Kampung Baru. Kampung Baru, the only traditional village left in the city center, is well-known for its foods galore especially nasi lemak, i.e. Nasi Lemak Mak Wanjor and the once popular Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa as well as other equally good roadside stalls serving roti canai, lontong and local kuehs. Didn’t know what to expect, I strolled along the silent road. I first reach the newly reconstructed Masjid Jamek Kampung Baru where the early morning kuliah was still going on. Stayed in the mosque’s compound for a good few minutes before I went towards the Pintu Gerbang Kampung Baru. Several traders were seen setting up their stalls at the pasar karat which takes place every weekends. Most of them were selling pre-owned/bundle goods. So, here are the sevens.
This is Pak Anjang. He is from Ipoh and has been making a living in KL for more than 30 years. Pak Anjang previously worked in a private company where he later decided to work in the public sector. It did take long as after only 3 years he quit the government office as it did not match his personality. He decided to start his own business and became a stone and ring trader. There are a lot of asam garam in business he told. He once had a small shop in Masjid India, but the flooding of immigrants in that area is not doing any good to his business as they become a constant nuisance in the area. And being a “zikir” person, his fellow neighbours in Masjid India were not very happy too, as most of them practices black rituals. That was when he decided to move out and ply his trades in different places. He will mostly be in Kampung Baru for a couple of weeks and move around between Taman Melawati, Bangi and Sri Rampai during the other days. He only set up his stall 3 times a week. He sources most of the precious stones from Burma (Myanmar). The stones are priced from few ringgits to thousands or hundred thousands of ringgit. He kept most of his precious stones away as thieves are always on the lurk. And Pak Anjang believes that a right buyer will someday come for his most precious stones.
The 4th week, and I still find this place very interesting. Full of life, even in the early hours. I started today a bit earlier than usual. I started my walk from Jalan Bunus and headed straight to Masjid Jamek KL, hoping to catch something there. And. Something very compelling happened. Before that, these are the seven photos for today. Read on to know the whole story.
These are some of the people behind Unggas Kuala Lumpur. A group of people who dedicate their life every Sunday morning preparing, packing and distributing foods to the poor and homeless around the area. Unggas Kuala Lumpur is the only team allowed to use Masjid Jamek as its base. And in collaboration with Masjid Jamek itself, they had held several activities there. One of the prominent members of the team, “Mami” said that the foods are mostly prepared with their own budget and some comes from the regular contributors. They are seriously looking for volunteers to help them with their activities and also welcome generous contributions from the public. The team had volunteers from Nilai University and IKBN Sepang this morning. When I reached Masjid Jamek, most of the food have been distributed by the volunteers. If you are interested to be part of the team or know more about them, do check out their FB page Unggas Kuala Lumpur.
This is someone, homeless (gelandangan) I assume, whom I met while on my way to Masjid Jamek. When I managed to catch up next to him, I asked, “Abang nak pegi mana?” “Nak pergi Masjid Jamek. Mereka ada bagi makan-makan pagi ni” he said. “Oo saya pon nak ke sana jugak, saja jalan-jalan ambik gambar, untuk projek sendiri”. Then he replied “Saya pon tengah buat research sebenarnya ni. Pasal gelandangan di KL. Dah berbulan-bulan saya jadi gelandangan. Tapi dah nak habis dah research saya ni, lagi 2 -3 hari je”. Then things start to explode in my head. “What? Are you sure? Biar betul dia ni?” On our way, he shared a lot about the homeless, from the government effort, to the relief provided, the problem with homeless themselves and what we can do to help them. Some of them are unruly and will stay the same way even there is help provided he said. In few minutes, we reached Masjid Jamek where he helped himself to the packed meals.
We sat at a corner and continued our chat. Then boom again! He said he got an offer to be a Dean in one private university, somewhere in Bestari Jaya and continued “Saya akan sambung phd untuk retiree di NSW, Sydney lepas pencen.” I was like “What the heck?”
Then I discreetly look at him up and down. You know la, a photographer have to pay attention to details. Yup, true enough, he is a true gelandangan of how a gelandangan should be, I concluded to myself. I am somewhat still sceptical about what he had said. Then after a while, I asked him his name. He said “Amin”.
Moments later, I found myself chatting to Mami, we talked mostly about Unggas KL and her own experience doing soup kitchen. And at that juncture, I also asked her about “Amin”. And Mami’s reply caused the third explosion in my head.
“Yes, he has been doing his research for months and yes, he is a Professor!”
Note to self – Lain kali jangan pandang orang tak ada mata.
Seriously I don’t have any idea of what to shoot this morning. Even though I am just into my third week, seems like I am drained, completely blank. But I forced myself to go out. Didn’t know what to expect. Before 7, I left home. I wandered around for the right place and ended up at Lebuh Ampang. The unfamiliar territory. It’s been ages since last I set my foot here. I spent a few good minutes wandering around the area which seems a bit unkind to me. But just be aware of your surroundings and things will get easier. I told myself to be patient, stay alert and hopefully things will luckily unfold right in front of you.
So here are the seven for today.
I’ve made it a point that I must approach at least a stranger today. Well, this is Murugan. He is from Chennai, India. A lot of them are from Chennai. I started with a chatter and asked him the normal ice breaking questions. He has been in Malaysia for 2 years and came here with his friend, Raja, leaving all his family members behind. They live upstairs. In the shop house. What does he do in Malaysia? He sells those Gajra / garland for a living. I bet he is making good money selling those. The big gajra is sold between RM25 to RM30 per piece. The smaller ones should be cheaper. It’s not that hard as he showed me. (But it do require some skills). He said “10 minutes”. While he was finishing the piece, I showed my camera and said “Photo?” He nodded. To my pleasure, I snapped some and at times, he turns to the camera for that connecting moments.
By the time he is done, I asked him for his email and promised him that I’ll send him the photos. And lastly, I told him to show it to his family back home.
No rush. I was more discreet in getting my shots today. Scouted around the place and came across a lot of interesting characters which makes me wonder what the world has turned into. The gloomy back streets, littered with wastes and pests is a stark contrast to the streets across, where the happening is. Seems like these streets are being left just to be the way it is. To be the forgotten realm. But strange enough, I saw beauty lies beneath.
This is Guna. He’s from Ipoh and lives in the street. He has been in KL for years and chose to live here. He wouldn’t tell me why. He saw me while I was crossing the Jalan TAR and followed me then. He had a plastic bag full of clothes with him. He said he is going to give them to those who needs and wants me to photograph it. Because he wants others to do the same, to do the good deeds.
“I want you to write an article, tell Malaysians to do good deeds”.
He is saddened of what Malaysia has become. “Mahathir should have forgiven Anwar. It makes me and my mother sad”.
…and he literally cried in front of me. I said to him, to help others you first have to help yourself. He insisted me to take his photo. Then again he repeatedly asked that I follow him so that I can photograph him giving the bundle of clothes to the poor. We talked about half an hour. Before I request to excuse myself for the umpteenth time, and for the last time he asked me to write a book and be titled “Highway to KL”.
And I advised him to stay sober.