Friday, June 29, 2012

Memories from the past .. my life at kampung house

[Pictures used in the article are not mine, but they resemble the actual items I'm talking about]

After a long time, I had the rare opportunity to drive my father to our land in Ampang, where our future home will be built. He bought the land some 30 odd years ago and built a twin half-brick house, in which he has not spent a day! All this while, he let his brothers to use the house until recently. During the journey, we spoke many things about our land, the current structure and our previous squatter home in Kampung Semarak. We shared fond memories of rumah kampung and our life there, since my father settled there around 40 years ago. The very next day, I was moved to take a look at the place I grew up 3 decades ago, Kampung Loke Yew, then known as Kampung Semarak.

The place is technically 15 minutes away from KL city centre, and less than 10 minutes away from the iconic KLCC (in normal driving conditions). The kampung looks is like an extension to the Kampung Ayer Panas Baru, the settlement around the famous hot spring well in KL (which was idiotically sold to an apartment developer and became PRIVATE PROPERTY). I still vividly remember the unpaved road from the market junction into the kampung. It changes into a wet and sticky mud path during heavy downpour and the small river will overflow its banks, flooding the low areas around. There were no electricity or piped water in the homes. Let's see how we lived in those 'era' ...

There were no electricity until the late 80s / early 90s, so we have to use the kerosene powered gas light. You'll need to pump the lever to create pressure in the oil tank that fuels the wool bulb (called mentol).

Our night-lamp is also kerosene lamp

After sometime, my father bought a petrol powered small generator, which enabled us to watch TV :)

Our TV was a simple Hitachi branded box
 Which uses a simple, native VHF/UHF antenna

For ironing cloths to work and school, we used chacoal powered iron box, which will be slid on banana leaf for non-stick effect. I've burned fair number of clothes using this device.

We didn't have piped in drinking water, so my father collects clean piped water from nearby public tap for drinking and cooking purposes. He will use these sort of plastic container to store water and bring them over on his motorcycle (that part is coming below).

Our home has a hand-dug deep well, which supplies water for cleaning purposes. We pump the water using the manual pump like this.

Pumped water is channeled into a clay container, which has layers of natural filter using pebbles, stones, beach sand and fine filtering sand.

Filtered water will then be store in large oil drums for usage. I miss the cool, refreshing baths using natural mineral rich water.

Moving into the kitchen, my mum whips up the meals using kerosene stove.

Another variation of the famous butterfly brand stove.

For baking cakes, cookies for festivals, my mum used this oven. The oven is placed on top of the kerosene stove for heat source. Controlling the temperature is almost like controlling a rocket launch, its that tough. The initial batches of cookies usually turns up burned and my father loved them. Now I feel, he made himself to like those burned cookies, so not to offend my hardworking mum :)
The availability of LPG tanks allowed us to get the ELBA cooker. Its a green colored all-in-one cooker and has a gas oven too. The cooker still works well at my father's home until today!!

 Since there were no electricity in the early days, preparation for cookies and savories for Deepavalis will be done using primitive tools. Here you can see the Ural, used to pound rice and other stuff to make them into flour.

For grinding masala pastes that goes in out-of-this-world curries by mum, there Ammi.

We grind wet materials like rice and lentils using the Aattukal. My mum had a business of selling Vadais, I and my brother love our time with the tool.

Obviously, the absence of electricity means no fridge, so my father usually buys fresh ingredients for daily cooking. For storing ingredients for festivals and functions, we use the white polystyrene box, with blocks of ice bought from nearby shop.

When I went to primary school, I got this bicycle from father. I was the only one in the school, with Chopper that has gears!!!

My father zooms around in his Honda C70, it was grey in color. He goes to work, send us to school and send my mum to work with this trustworthy workhorse.

When my mum got her license to ride, she used to go to work in her Passola!! She worked in school as a general worker.

My father's 1st car in his 30s was the evergreen Beetle. I still remember my grandmother's exact words when I excitedly told her he bought his car : "your father cannot keep his money quietly hah??" (unggeh appavukku kaiyileh kaasu vetchikitu summa iruka mudiyatha?). But he was so proud of this achievement, he even once challenged the kids, "I want to see at what age you buy your 1st car". I got mine in mid 20s appa ;)

He then proceeded to buy a Toyota Corolla SE

Then he moved on to Toyota Corolla LE, which he kept for 25 years and sold recently. The car still runs on the road. When I saw the car at a parking lot recently, I manage touch the good old car, which I used to drive my girlfriend (now wife) Linda. Nostalgic

Although it can be said that we lived in 'kekurangan', we were happy. We grew up, got educated and proper jobs and better life now. We do complain about our life now, even with so many advancements, facilities and utilities. Sometimes, we tend to take small but essential things for granted.

So friends, that's how I used to live a simple life before the rapid development swept through the kampung and changed the way we live forever. Paved roads, piped water, electricity and many other amenities. The kampung does not exist anymore, it gave way to a highway and the remaining land was given to UTM. All the settlers moved to public housing projects nearby. I'm looking forward to complete the home in Ampang and move there ... to live on our own land.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Ennaalah moraikiraan? - என்னல முறைக்கிறான்?

Note: Pictures are only shown for illustrating my feelings. Accept or reject the opinion at your own will. Comments are welcomed.

I've always wanted to write or express about this 'phenomenon' among the local Indians. Frowning or staring at another Indian, when they are looked upon in public places. This is very evident among the middle aged Indians, both guys and girls. Walk along the corridors of Leboh Ampang, Masjid India or Tengku Kelana, you'll come across hundreds, sometimes thousands of Indians walking along you, apposite you or crossing your path and you'll see.

I have the tendency to smile at anyone who looks at me in public places (kira bertembung mata lah). It can be anyone, any age. In my mind, either they know me or have seen me somewhere before, if not there's no harm in throwing a simple smile at no cost, right? Look up while you walk, how many strangers (Indians) will return a smile if you smile at them? 10% or 20%?

In my personal experience, very few will actually smile back. Most will give us the look as though you are about to pounce on them, bite their trachea and rip off their ribcage. 

Why this kolaveri pandangan maut? If someone is looking at us, it doesn't always mean they are having any negative thoughts about us. There's no harm in looking back, and smiling at them. Nevertheless, 'pandangan' can sometimes can get us in trouble, especially if we 'terpandang' a multimillionaire, mega-busy, ultra-important vetti paiyens flocking around bus-stops like hungry crows, with cigarette in one hand and helmet in another. They will immediately inhale large amount of air, pump up their chest (look around if got other paiyens in the herd to help) then ask the macho question : Ennalah moraikiraan? Yarulah aven? Ajar panunom poleh irukku! - yenda yeeteh (duck) vaayah, summa unnai oruthan silap-pah parthaleh, nee ajar paniruvehyah? ondiya iruntha inteh karat petchi varuma? Yen unnai summa parka mudiyatha? Ni enna avulo periya super model-ah?  I'm sure some of us have this lines running in our minds when encountering these groups of 'unsociable' people. Beware, if you keep pandang, they can transform into ... 

In some occasions they may even confront you, most the time this happens in clubs / pubs ... typically after some 'hydration' and 'workout'.

Sometimes in temple festivals, you may encounter this ...

Among the girls there's also same issue (not all girls OK). If a stranger guy terpandang one or a group of girls, these sort of dialogues may appear among their peers : yey, aven ennaalah yenneyeh parkuran, seriyana teruklah, paaren appudiyeh parkuran, kaduppa irukulah - aana unmaiyil manasukulle odurathu "wow nambe make-up inaiki cikappa iruku poleh, ada orang tertarik you".

I have many Sikh friends whom I've witnessed on various occasions that they never fail to smile, sometimes greet another Sikh in public. I've asked them if all Sikh know each other in a town, half of the time their answer is no. Naturally they tend to be sociable and ready to greet anyone.

My dear Indian friends of any ethnicity and culture, it doesn't hurt ourselves or others, if we smile when we are looked at. Athukunu poreh vareh idam ellam ellareyum paarthu coca-cola kudiceh kuthirei mathiri pallai kaateh vendam lah. Nammai yaravathu etarchiyai paarthal, avargalai parthu punnagaipathil tavaru illei. Senyumlah seindah suria, jangan muka macam se-indah water :)

வாங்க பழகலாம் ;)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Local Tamil movies - why I don't feel like watching?

Note: The personal opinion here is on why I don't watch locally produced movies. It doesn't propagate the idea of why readers shouldn't watch them. Accept or reject the opinion at your own will. Comments are welcomed.

Jeng Jeng Jeng ... after collecting much information, going through some of the local production's synopsis and psoriasis, I'm finally ready to pour out my feelings in here. I'm sure many of us yearn for a good movie, for entertainment or information purpose. Movies are a big pass-time of our generation, millions of people survive on movie industry in India. India produces more movies than any other country in the world. In Malaysia there's no less than 5-7 locally produced movies or tele-movies released annually. For the record I don't watch almost all of them. Sometimes I do accidentally land in channel that's playing the movie, after enduring 10 minutes of their storyline, I usually shift to babyTV or food channel which I feel worth watching. 

So many may ask (angrily), why this kolaveri onto the local movies? Why you being a biledi indiyan no support local movie hah? Because people like youlah we cannot develop in many areas, such as building a international space station and shoot our movie out there!!! 

Let me just give the glimpse of what I see OK. Here we go ... (some synopsis may appear, where possible)

Majority of local production has only one and only theme : CRIME!
(ngongkakmokka vereh kathaiyeh illeyadah?)

Aanava Attam

Jayakumar (Sreedharan), a professor whose dream is to build his own college. One day, he is faced with his daughter's kidnap who is meticulously planned by Siddarth (Vassan)

K-I-D-N-A-P (The-Crime-Begins)

Undercover Rascals

Zha The Movie
This movie emphasizes on how women are being abused sexually.

Vittaghan: The Hacker


KL to Ipoh




What do you see in all the movies above? Crime! Crime! Crime! If this is what they want to show in the movie, I better just read our newspapers front pages everyday, it shows our passion for crime in living color, every F-ing day! Already our community is topping the charts for the wrong reasons, why must we keep showing the dark sides of the community 'as the form of entertainment'? 

Some may counter this: crime story sells paa! If money is the only matter, better run some other business. Why must the community fed with mediocre storyline, highlighting only the negative elements? Aren't there any good stories such as hardworking people, rags to riches stories that can be made into movie as a source of inspiration? For the record, our very own Malaysia Indian producers, have made award winning movies in India such as Vaagai Soodava. We end up with more films like Ethirkaalam and Vilaiyaatu Pasange (The Tuff Nuts).

We move to next category : Horror!
(bang, peyiku konjam make-up koreingeh, parke cartoon mari iruku, bayameh varaleh)


I Know What You Did Last Deepavali


Panja Muni

Kattu Rani


Here we see list of so-called horror movies that make you shit your pants while watching them, even their posters are scary, no? This list includes Uttrachai Kali, Agoram, Uruvam, Athunge, Uyir & Athma which won BEST DIGITAL MOVIE in Film Festival Malaysia. Honestly, I don't even watch English, Korean, Indon horror movies, because I can't relate the over exaggerated storyline to any real events.

At least, these movies makes you laugh (a little) with their slapstick 'comedy' and attempt to entertain. (enakku itheyum parka manasu varaleh bang)

4S Ops Kossa Dappa - The Final Dappa
Ops Kosa Dapaa 2
Ops Kosa Dapaa
 (hot chics and cool cars tho, no I'm not saying anything about the guys)

Gaana's comedies

Naana Neeya

Expectations for the above movies are rather predictable: comedy and some happy ending. At least watchable when aired free for Ponggal or Hari Gawai.

By now, some might have already made a conclusion that I'm a local movie hater. No sir, I'm not. I've watched the following movies, at least more than once when its aired. I do find some bold and brave producers and directors come up with good, above average and sometimes simply superb local movies. These are the movies, that won't gross much returns for the producers (except for Appalam I think). These producers and directors must be encouraged, their work must be well publicized and supported.

Chemman Chaalai

Chalanggai (Dancing Bells)


Estet (not Tamil movie)
(majority local Indian artistes)

November 24

Many local film producers and director may not agree with me, they may even say 'if you don't watch, nevermind'. Some will also brush me (and other like minded critics) off as 'not matured enough' or 'you don't understand the pain and struggle' to produce and release a local movie. I ask, 'why go through pain and struggle to release a low quality productions and waste your effort?'.

Do you remember some group of 'smart people' organized 'hunger strike' (new trend for protests now, after protesting for 2 hours they kena hokkien mee and stout at nearby cheeneh kadeh) for compelling a private satellite TV to provide them with 24 hours channel to air locally produced contents?? If (God forbids) that happens, what can they show us? 24 hours of crime & horror movies listed above? Will it help our local talents to improve or just 'gundu chattiyil kuthirai ottureh kathai'? yosingeh, yosingeh ... thank you for reading.