Saturday, 28 January 2012

"Perfumed Gardens" by Rafiee Ghani

Catalogue of Perfumed Gardens by Rafiee Ghani (CNB 2012)

With my niece in tow, yesterday I went to the Galeri Chandan in Bukit Damansara to see the "Perfumed Gardens" exhibition of the art works of Rafiee Ghani. It was inspired by his four months sojourn in India last year, March to June, I think. I went to India in November and so was very curious to see his creative perspective of this country. I am no art critic but as the artist himself stated, "It's about feeling". I really feel that the paintings are most evocative of the 'hidden' India - beautiful, though maybe forgotten or neglected gardens that abound in the ancient forts, palaces, and tombs, especially of the Mughal era. Then there is decaying Old Delhi and the life that must go on for its inhabitants.

I must apologise because my pictures here (of some pieces at the exhibition) do not do justice to the vibrant colours that are Rafiee Ghani's signature style. We all know he is a brilliant colourist. So if you have the opportunity, do go see this beautiful collection of paintings. I'm sure you will come away feeling that you must visit/revisit India.

Rafiee Ghani's Moon Lake, oil on canvas (CNB 2012)
This is one of my favourite pieces.

RG's The Milk Maids, oil on canvas (CNB 2012)
Another favourite piece.

The paintings of Rafiee Ghani were oil on canvas and mixed media on paper, mainly. There was also two walls with his sketches and photographs of Indian images taken with his 3G phone. There were his Moleskine sketchbooks (of the Red Fort and India Gate), unfortunately then, under glass. But I understand, because they were for sale at RM21,000. The paintings were in the range of RM4,000 to RM32,000, if I am not mistaken. But believe me, they would look good in any living room.

RG's The King goes Hunting, mixed media on paper
 (CNB 2012) 

RG's Fly-by, mixed media on paper (CNB 2012)

RG's Saffron Sky, mixed media on paper (CNB 2012)

The Goa series by Rafiee Ghani, oil on canvas (CNB 2012)

RG's Fire in the Mountains, oil on canvas (CNB 2012)

Photo prints and sketches by Rafiee Ghani (CNB 2012)

RG's The Rose Gate, oil on canvas (CNB 2012)
Yet another favourite piece.

RG's Hope Valley, oil on canvas (CNB 2012)

Posing with Rafiee Ghani's The Girls always Visit and Kiss
the Girls, both oil on canvas (2012)

27 January 2012

Buddy Bears Revisited

Malaysia, tempat tumpah darahku (BB 2012)

So I did get to hug the Buddy Bears after all. (Of course not all the 143 of them. It would have taken the whole day! And it would be too much, pardon the expression, 'camwhoring'). We went to the Pavillion again for more photo opps with the colourful bears, on the second day of the Lunar New Year, a public holiday. There were many people there, and sometimes you have to wait your turn to hug a bear of your choice. My choice of bears to hug were from the countries I have lived/visited. Here are some...

The UK

India, Indonesia
Italy (left)
South Korea

Note: Somehow we missed Brunei and Holland/The Netherlands! Anyway, less (2x) 'camwhoring'! Again, pardon the expression!

24 January 2012

Chinese New Year Foods

My earliest memories of Chinese New Year were the celebrations in Alor Star, Kedah in the mid fifties. As children, my siblings and I looked forward to the lion and dragon dances, albeit with a bit of fear. After all to a young child, the pounding drums and clashing cymbals were very loud (tung cheh, tung cheh, tung tung cheh, tung cheh...) and the lions/dragons looked 'fierce'. And then there was the ever grinning big-headed  'clown man' with the fan. We also looked forward to the tangerines/oranges and the kuih bakul - delicious when steamed and smothered with grated coconut. But making the traditional nian gao or kuih bakul seems to be a dying skill as the newspapers lament. Made from glutinous rice flour and sugar, the mixture (poured into banana-leaf moulds) has to be steamed for 16 hours. Very slow cooking indeed, but very good to eat.

I was introduced to yee sang (raw fish salad) only some years back and I do look forward to lo hei ('prosperity toss') with family and friends during the Lunar New Year period. This salad is not only delicious but very colourful as well. I understand that yee sang is traditionally served on the 7th day of the Lunar New Year, but as attested by the newspapers again, hotels and restaurants serve it even in the days running up to the new year celebration!

Yee Sang ingredients - salmon, crackers, peanuts, sesame seeds,
strips of carrot, turnip, pomelo, cucumber, pickled red ginger,
smothered with plum sauce, sesame oil & seasoning (CNB 2012)

Lo hei! (CNB 2012)

Yee Sang - tossed and ready to be eaten (CNB 2012)

24 January 2012

Monday, 23 January 2012

Gong Xi Fa Cai

Here's wishing all who celebrate, a Very Happy Lunar New Year 2012. May the water dragon bring good tidings.

The New Year dragon at Suria KLCC (CNB 2012)

Giant lantern at the same venue (CNB 2012)

B, me & more lanterns at Suria KLCC (JA 2012)

Sunday, 22 January 2012

A Favourite Eatery: Sari Ratu

I love Nasi Padang/Masakan Minang, first tasting it at a shop in Jalan Transfer, Georgetown in Pulau Pinang eons ago. My father Ba had introduced it to his children, although a more frequented eatery along the same road was the Kedai Kopi (Coffee Shop) that had a Mee Daud gerai (stall). Many a times Ba would take me there for makan and the mee bandung was just exquisite. Daud had a certain rhythm in his movements as he measured the ingredients into plates in exact amounts. Anyway Daud later moved from there to Batu Uban. I digress.

My friend RMN (and spouse) first introduced me to the Sari Ratu outlet in Kelana Jaya some years back. Her husband's ancestory goes back to Padang, Sumatra so he knows what good Nasi Padang should taste like. I was hooked after this introduction, and the next foray in Kota Damansara was with B. We ordered almost everything available and ended up with a bill that should have paid for ten instead of two! I guess we couldn't help it because everything looked delicious, and they were. Since then we have eaten at other outlets too - in Subang Jaya, also in KL Jalan Sultan Ismail.

Our first lunch of 2012 was at ... you guessed right, Sari Ratu. This time it was the outlet in Desa Pandan, with our friends from Pulau Pinang Faten & Azizi, and JA. Needless to say, they also enjoyed the array of dishes that we all had - ayam pop, dendeng balado, rendang daging, gulai tunjang, daun ubi tumbuk, gulai ayam, paru goreng, udang balado, begedil, ikan nila goreng, etc, etc.

The spread I (CNB 2012)

The spread II (CNB 2012)

My plateful of a little bit of everything (CNB 2012)

Happy foodies at Sari Ratu (CNB 2012)

1 January 2012

Saturday, 21 January 2012

My Thailand in Pictures & Poetry (2004)

(With apologies for my very amateur Haiku -  my maiden attempt! Dare I even call it Haiku? Unrhymed, 17 syllables - 5, 7, 5 right? Maybe Haiku in the form/structure, but the concept? Again, my apologies especially to Basho, Buson and Issa!)

This time we greet you
Sawadika from Thailand
Land of smiles aplenty

Bangkok fair, we come
Tis charming to see beauty
Your people so warm
M, B & ethnic ladies from the mountains hawking in the city (CNB 2004)
The Palace is Grand
A must-see sight by evry (sic) one
Bangkok's most famed place

Three happy imitators (AB 2004)

Gold, gold everywhere (Our Guide 2004)
The rain it pours down
Drenching us and some students
Despite it we smile
A, M and me with some college students (BB 2004)
Here sir, let me help
Smoothen your uniform right
Do your thing, guard well
Changing of the Palace Guards (CNB 2004)
We make a quick stop
At Bangkok Gems Gallery
Real gems being people
A, B & Gems Gallery salesgirls (CNB 2004)
The Bangkok sky train
Takes us places we want to
Seek Thai courtesy
M, A & B while we await our sky train. Smile, father! (CNB 2004)
The Tuk tuk we ride
Flys through the Bangkok traffic
The driver gleeful
While A, B & M enjoyed the ride, I was petrified! The driver
thought he was in F1, I think (CNB 2004)
Lo Ayutthaya
Steeped in history and beauty
The old capital

In Ayutthaya
Bang Pa In Summer Palace
Beckons visitors

At the Summer Palace's formal gardens , its like being
 in Europe (Our Guide 2004)
Elephant family
In nice green topiary
With B, A and M

In the gardens of the Summer Palace (CNB 2004)

Posing by the 'Sages Outlook' tower (Our Guide 2004)
Reclining Buddha
Swathed in yellow, oh so bright
Tourists pose around
A, B, M & Reclining Buddha at Ayutthaya (CNB 2004)

B, A & Bodhisattvas as far as the eye can see (CNB 2004)

The Buddha and M (CNB 2004)
You must never pose
Higher than the Buddha's head
Out of reverence
M poses with the most photographed Buddha head in Thailand
(CNB 2004)
On headless Buddha
You never superimpose
Your own head ever
A by the headless Buddhas. We saw a French tourist superimpose
her head on one body for a photo, & got strongly rebuked by both
guards and the locals. Silly tourist! (CNB 2004)
We then come across
The rare 'moon and star' hawker
So some fruits we buy

A poses with the 'moon & star' hawker (CNB 2004)
Damnoen Saduak
Floating Market here we come
Busy and bustling

Floating tourists! (CNB 2004)
We spot a vendor
She has durians on offer
Which M promptly buys!

The lone vendor & fruits galore (CNB 2004)
The floating market
So many photos to take
For rememberance
Anything and everything is available at the market that comes
 to you (CNB 2004)

No problem if you are higher up, a pole picks
up your money and delivers you your ware (CNB 2004)
B, A, buy pencils
From this boy oh so charming
He knows how to trade

B, A & a little trader in pencils (CNB 2004)
The Rose Garden has
Ceremonies rural, Thai
Elephants the stars

In the Rose Garden
The elephants show the way
To a joyful ride
A & B have ago atop an elephant (CNB 2004)

Baby, the star at the Rose Garden (CNB 2004)
August 2004