Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Celebrating Deepavali At Sri Maha Mariamman Temple In Kuala Lumpur

For witnessing a big, traditional Indian holiday like Deepavali, it makes sense to head toward the big, traditional temple in town. For Kuala Lumpur, Sri Maha Mariamman Temple is the perfect spot. Put on your fancy sari and let's go.

The grand temple, gopuram proud.


First step, get your pretty puja thali set.

The scene. The next step, line up to say prayers in the most religious section of the temple, the inner sanctum.


More steps, making your rounds to other shrines throughout the temple complex. If you need a little help with your puja, temple priests are there to assist.

All these steps, time for a little lunch break. Hi bird.


It's an intense experience, just ask the girls.

Portrait of a woman in her best celebration makeup.


"I was there!" Plenty of cell phone snaps being taken.

Exit through the gift shop, a branded bag for you to transport your puja items.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Getting Ready For Deepavali In Malaysia

Every fall, Indians celebrate Deepavali, or Diwali, known as the festival of light. Think Christmas for Hindus, a season of family celebration, gift-giving and parties. Malaysia has a large Indian population and it takes its Deepavali seriously. Time to get prepping.

In the Indian neighborhoods of Kuala Lumpur, stores expand into the street, turning shopping into a lively bazaar experience.


Staples of Deepavali, colored rice to use to make a kolam and fireworks (or popping things, since fireworks are banned in Malaysia).

For house decorations, you gotta pickup some festive paper cut-outs.


Maybe also grab a few classic sculptures. A relaxing Ganesh is an easy impulse buy. Just like in the US, some of the biggest movies of the year play during the holiday. Get some snacks and soak up some Bollywood.

Honoring various deities is part of the holiday and is known as performing a puja. A big part of the ritual is elaborate flower leis, all hand strung.


You also need your fancy Deepavali clothes, especially for the kiddies. Snazzy. Wait, how'd that boring Orang putih (white man) get on that regal sign?

And then there's the food, it's always all about the food. Huge feasts, topped with endless, sweet desserts.


Get your supplies and bring on Deepavali!

Friday, 13 October 2017

Rumah Penghulu Abu Seman House

Right in the heart of modern Kuala Lumpur is a great example of a traditional Malaysian house. It was built in a few stages between 1910 and 1930 and belonged to the local headman of Mukim Bagan Samak, a village in the northern state of Kedah. The house was moved to Kuala Lumpur in the 1990s by a local NGO that promotes cultural preservation, Badan Warisan.

The house. Planted among the sprouting skyscrapers, a nice respite to the modernity march.


Office, a later addition. Posts and beams are fitted with specific colors of textiles, both for style and a tight seal.

The living room, main area, dressed up for a wedding reception ceremony. It doubles as a sleeping area. Grab a mat and have a snooze.


Roof tile. Interesting tidbit, you only have one person install the roof. The tiles, when wet, are bent around the person's thigh, meaning each tile has to be that exact size/curve. Multiple tile guys, mis-fitting tiles, leaky roof. Dining area. Since you sit on the floor, the windows are low, letting you see what's going on outside. All clever designs borne of experience.

Bedroom, reserved for family elders. You need to earn your way off a sleeping mat.


Children games. Marbles are for girls. They play in the house, make noise, letting mother know they're where they are supposed to be. Sneaky. Kitchen cupboard.

Outside plant with egg shell ends. More clever action. Eggs on during the day so kids don't injure themselves. Eggs off at night so bandits do.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Shopping At Dato' Keramat Market In Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur is a modern city that has sprouted an endless field of skyscrapers, many of them with fancy grocery stores within the fancier malls that occupy the base of tall buildings. If you're looking for something different, some of that old world shopping experience, there are still a handful of "wet" markets spread throughout the city.

In our neighborhood, head to the Keramat market. "Wet" means that in addition to vegetables, there will be meat and seafood. The "wet" is named for the wet floors, a by-product of all the melting ice that's thrown around. Among other fluids.

The market.


Meat men.

Leftovers. Apologies to Frederick Sommer.


Vendor portraits, as heroic as they pose to be.

Moving out of the wet market section, the veggie ladies busy pruning their wares.


If you don't have piles of stuff, go the fancy route and pre-plate your product. A little secret of homemade Asian cooking - pre-mixed seasoning packets.

A man there for the social scene. Boston is his favorite US city.

Monday, 9 October 2017

The Ruins Of Ancient Kuala Lumpur, Part II

Time to take a closer look at a typical abandoned house. It's not much more than a shell of concrete block and plaster. At one time, the container for family history.


The future is right behind the property, an apartment complex. Inside, nothing left, save for some fine tile work and subtle architectural features.

Must have been a hip time in this house back in the day. Swanky KL. Now, a canvas for basic graffiti.


Some things left behind: shoes and a dressing cabinet.
The stripped kitchen. Time has definitely passed by the usefulness of this house, this lifestyle in KL.