Friday, 30 November 2012

Moss or Fungus?

Guess what? (CNB 2012)

I did mention that earlier in the month, when the rains were heavy and often, some moss (or is it fungus?) grew around the leaves of the Episcia cupreata ('Red trumpet').The 'phenomenon' lasted but two weeks, and then it all disappeared. Aneh!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

What is This Life if Full of Care?


What is this life if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Note: In this crazy world of rushing around to do things here and there, pause for a while to just 'stand and stare'. Enjoy this 'nature poem' by Welsh 'tramp poet' from Newport, William Henry Davies (1871-1940). Generally known as "What is this life if full of care", I'm sure many remember this poem that we did use to recite during our schooldays of the 1960s.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

A Librarian in a Garden Campus

USM Library in the 80s (CNB)
In retrospect, everything that happened in our past always seem to have been good, sometimes even great. Maybe that is why many memoirs get written - we get very selective in recalling our past, our memories of life lived then. The passing years tamper our version of the 'truth', and our perspective would be quite different from someone else's anyway. But for me, as far as being a professional librarian for nearly three decades at the Universiti Sains Malaysia (Pulau Pinang), I can say with all honesty that ... mostly, I enjoyed it.

For one thing, the Universiti Sains Malaysia is set in a beautiful campus on Minden Hill and it is a garden setting, (later) complete with a lake. There are plants and flowers all over the place and come 'Spring time', the flowering trees burst into colour. Although in the beginning many trees had been sacrificed to make way for new buildings, later it became the policy to not cut down trees or to replant if need be.

Unfortunately the flowering tree behind me, in front of the
Library, was cut down to make way for a gazebo (1994)

The back gate into USM (CNB)
So every morning for me, it was a seven minute-drive to the garden campus, to the USM Library to work amongst books, students and lecturers. The USM experience spanned 25 years from 1982-2007 and another earlier one in 1976, immediately after library school. The Chief Librarian Mr Lim Huck Tee had no qualms about reemploying me again after nearly six years. In fact that very encouraging first year for this rookie librarian somehow ensured she stayed in the profession as long as she did.

Was it challenging to work in an academic library? You bet! First there were books and journals, then there were computers. And then IT (Information Technology) came into the library and a while after that it was ICT (Information & Communications Technology) and KM (Knowledge Management). Librarians had to keep up, and our card catalogues became obsolete and were replaced by online systems. From guiding students (and lecturers) how to search for information from printed sources in the beginning, to how to 'mine' authentic information from the Internet. Our information literacy skills workshops had to cater to every student and lecturer, at the appropriate levels. But I really did enjoy our teaching/guiding role.

Flame of the Forest trees near the Language Centre (CNB)

In the last couple of years before retirement though, I was involved mainly in human resource management. Simply put, I had to deal with the library staff and their myriad programmes and problems. Not so enjoyable, but lucky for me, I had a nice big office with large glass windows that overlooked a beautiful huge tree and greenery. All part of the garden campus.

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need - Cicero

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Tribute to Tun Dr Siti Hasmah

(CNB 2012)
Last Sunday evening, SB and A invited me to the tribute theatre 'Tun Siti Hasmah' at Panggung Sari, Istana Budaya. I had not been to see any performances here for sometime already, so I was indeed glad to be able to see the life of this venerable lady translated into a stage play.

Under the direction of Erma Fatima, it was quite well done and even Tun Dr Siti Hasmah (TDSH) herself thought it was a success. I must say the first part, where a young Siti Hasmah was played by Lisa Surihani, and the love of her life (TDSH's not Lisa's) Mahathir, whom she met in the Universiti of Malaya, Singapore was played by Nazim Othman, kept the audience quite entertained. The lively scenes at the campus and later at the hospital and kampung (Jitra) was light and sometimes comedic.

Even a little boy in the seat in front of mine seemed to be enjoying the show as he flapped his wings arms in tune to the 'mambo beat'.

But during the next phase, the 'tempo' changed. The more mature TDSH was played by Eja and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad by Esma Daniel. The 'plitik' (politics) in their lives inevitably became a more serious affair and sometimes for TDSH, very trying. But as we all know, she truly loved her man and his consummate love for 'nusa & bangsa', and stood by him, no matter what. Till today.

(CNB 2012)
This time I think the little boy in front of me did not really understand what was going on and I noticed that he either slept through parts or fidgeted left and right. But at the end, when all involved in the theatre (dancers, actors, etc.) came on stage to take their bows, he was all enthusiastically clapping away and flapping his arms in dance. I am glad that his mother had introduced him to the performing arts, particularly theatre, early.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Kyoto Nishiki Ichiba (Market)

Baby octopus at Nishiki Ichiba (CNB 2012)

Nishiki Ichiba is the 'kitchen of Kyoto'. In operation since 1311, the 126 small shops sell not only food but other 'stuff' as well. I guess being in Kyoto warrants a walk down this narrow shopping street of the market to see what Kyotoites serve at their dinner tables.

(CNB 2012)
(CNB 2012)

There are plenty of seafood shops because the Japanese are big on seafood!

There are shops selling non seafood as well, here is one selling tea and tea paraphernalia and another selling the most colourful candy.

(CNB 2012)

(CNB 2012)

April 2012

Ubud Market, Bali

Candle/incense holders

When in Bali, the colourful Ubud Market is a must-visit. Making it there early in the morning means jostling with mainly the locals for food shopping. But later in the day, the jostling (again!) will be with tourists all over the place! For whatever you fancy.

Posing by a napping stall keeper (BB 2011)

B in her favourite section - Clothes, what else? (CNB 2009)

(BB 2011)
You will always inevitably buy something, however small or mundane. Once I bought a batik silk scarf, another time, angklung wind chimes. B bought, what else but clothes, clothes, clothes? A and SB bought art on canvas. What did M buy? I think sama tapi tak serupa! Anyway there are just so many things that your eyes can feast on. Only the very frugal will resist the tempatations, but for the shopaholic, its heaven.

Fahimeh and I trying out some fancy headwear (BB 2009)
Bali 2009, 2011

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Colourful Markets around the World

I have mentioned this a few times before - I simply love markets, and I try to visit one wherever and whenever I can. Not the supermarkets, but the old fashioned 'wet' or open markets. They are just teeming with local life and culture.

One book I love is The World's Markets by John Brunton (published by Page One, 2010). I know I will not be able to visit all the fabulous markets there are on this planet, but at least I can ogle at the colourful pictures of the markets in this book.

What is it about markets that fascinate so much? Let me quote Brunton in his introduction. 'Step even fleetingly into the middle of a market in any country in the world. In just a few minutes, it will paint you a picture in broad, colourful strokes - not just of the cornucopia of food piled on the stalls, but of a dazzling slice of life encompassing traditional dress, culture and religion, transport and cuisine, and smells and sounds. A visit to the market is like a snapshot of the local people's everyday lives, whether they live in a teeming modern metropolis or a remote rural village. Far more than museums or monuments, a marketplace provides insights into local culture'.

The World's Markets by John Brunton

Going by continent, then by the countries within, this book is indeed pretty comprehensive in coverage. Selectively, in Africa, must visit markets include the famed Djemaa El Fna Square and Central market of Marakesh (Morocco), Khan Al Khalili souq in Cairo (Egypt), and the Antananarivo central market in Madagascar. In Europe there are the Christmas markets, especially of Germany, the village markets of France, Portobello Road market in London (England), La Boqueria in Barcelona (Spain), Florence central market, Italy and most other main markets in the various cities. In the Americas, there are these markets; La Brujas market in La Paz (Bolivia), 'Chichi' market in Guatemala, Mercado de la Merced, Mexico City and the Boston Haymarket in the USA.

In Asia the famous markets are the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul (Turkey), the 'Silk Route' markets of Bukhara and Tashkent in Uzbekistan, Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo (Japan), Kolkata flower market and Chandni Chowk in Delhi (India), Jatujak/Chatuchak market in Bangkok and Damnoen Saduak floating market (Thailand), Ben Thanh market in Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), Banjarmasin floating market in Kalimantan and Ubud market in Bali (Indonesia) and in Cambodia, the Phsar Thmey central market and Phsar Toul Tom Poung 'Russian' market in Phnom Penh.

What about Malaysian markets? These have been mentioned; Georgetown/Chowrasta market, Siti Khadijah Market in Kota Bahru, the Central Market, Petaling Street and Kampung Bahru market in Kuala Lumpur, also the market in Johor (the Pasar Malam), and the Kapit and Sandakan markets in East Malaysia.

Ex Libris CNB 1855

Friday, 16 November 2012

Books I Love: Di Bawah Lindungan Kaabah

My 2002 new ed. of DBLK (CNB 2012)
Di Bawah Lindungan Kaabah, an Indonesian novellete by HAMKA (Haji Abdul Malik bin Karim bin Amrullah) was first published in 1938. It is Hamka's first novel actually, and still widely acclaimed today. I watched the 2011 movie adaptation recently on Awal Muharram (Maal Hijrah) on TV and I cried buckets.

So I re-read the book, a new edition published in 2002 (my earlier copy had gone missing so I went out and bought a new one to replace it). We all know it is the story of star-crossed lovers Hamid and Zainab, who grew up together in Padang, Sumatra. Their love is doomed even before it can really start because of their very different social statuses. When you read the book, do not forget your box of tissues.

The star-crossed lovers (TV grab 2012)

'Hapuskanlah perasaan itu dari hatimu, jangan ditimbul-timbulkan juga. Engkau tentu memikirkan juga, bahawa emas tak setara dengan loyang, sutera tak sebangsa dengan benang.' ... Ibu Hamid

Ex Libris CNB 1253 

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Salam Maal Hijrah

Salam Maal Hijrah 1434

May we all 'hijrah' to become better human beings in this very tumultuous world. Have your 1434 resolutions in place, and 2013 will have been taken care of.  Amin.

Note: B embroidered the stylised 'Bismillahhirrahmanirrahim'  
while studying in USM.  

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Dining at Rebung

Rebung is the restaurant of Chef Ismail in Bangsar, KL. Although parking there is a bit of a hassle, I guess it is an inconvenience foodies sometimes have to put up with. We have dined there a few times and the food  is good. The buffet spread is just chockful of tempting dishes, so one has to go slow and easy.

Buffet spread at Rebung (CNB 2010)

The food is Negri Sembilan/Minang because the owner is originally from Rembau. The really delicious dishes are masak tempoyak daun ubi kayu, gulai daging salai, different types of kerabu, bergedil, etc., etc.

Once B & A took me there to celebrate Mother's Day and there at the restaurant there was the weekend 'cultural show' where we felt like complete foreign tourists invited to 'tepung tawar' the mock wedding couple.

A by the dessert table (CNB 2010)

On another occasion, we met Chef Ismail and his good friend Chef Florence. Of course the bibliophile in me had to add their cook books to my collection. So maybe I will not have to go to Rebung to savour Chef Ismail's array of dishes, but follow his recipes using my own air tangan. But then again, nah ...! Eating out is sometimes quite fun, really. Especially if someone else is footing the bill!

With Chef Florence and her book (AB 2011)

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Happy Deepavali

Making breakfast in Delhi (CNB 2011)
Deepavali Valthugal!
Here's wishing all who celebrate, a very Happy Deepavali. To our kind friends in India, who made our trip there in November last year most memorable, our greetings and may you and families enjoy the celebrations. May there be joy, prosperity, peace and enlightenment. Especially to Mr Babu pictured here in our host's kitchen, thank you for cooking the delicious parathas for breakfast and the nice 'curries' for dinner.

Monday, 12 November 2012

SA Garden Catalogue: Cape Plumbago

The heavy rains came early this year, so the floods in our southern states of Johor and Melaka started early in November. So also in Selangor, there are still many in evacuation centres. When writing about the garden, the weather always comes into play. The rains are a blessing anyway, and so we should be prepared for either a drizzle or a deluge.

Some plants in the garden did not fare too well with the over watering from the skies. The Desert rose plant is no more, some black/brown fungus/moss are attached to the Episcia cupriata (Red trumpet), and even the Plumbago is not doing too well right now because it loves a lot of sunshine. There are not too many inflorescences and one bush I had to drastically cut back because the leaves were being attacked by fungus and drying up.

Plumbago inflorescence in June this year (CNB)

Common name: Cape plumbago/Plumbago
Scientific name: Plumbago auriculata/ Plumbago capensis 
Family: Plumbago family
Origin: South Africa

The Plumbago loves the full sun and flowers all year round. Light pruning always will allow even more new shoots and inflorescence. Grow it in the ground or in containers. The pretty azure blue flowers are always a pleasure to look at. It is so easy to propagate too - just by cuttings.

The Plumbago grown in a container (CNB 2012)

I have Plumbago plants grown in the ground and also in containers. I obtained the first grown cutting from my   green-fingered neighbour next door about three years ago and I have enjoyed the blooms of this beautiful plant since.

2.02 pm

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Johor Jaunts

I just realised that I have nothing on the 'Jewel of Malaysia' i.e. Johor (from the Arabic Jauhar meaning Jewel), and it would seem like I'd never been there. But I have, from even as far back as the early 60s. When we were living in Gemas (Negri Sembilan) then, my Father would sometimes drive us in his always shiny, black Morris Minor into Segamat. This little town in Johor became the alternative place to get our household supplies. We would also visit a cloth shop there, especially for our Hari Raya bajus and curtains. I found out recently that the proprietor then was a Mohd Jikal, and he would later build his textile empire that is now Jakel! I digress.

Bro AG & family and A,B and me in Ayer Hitam (1990)
I never visited Johor again after we left Gemas for Pulau Pinang. Then my Bro AG married a girl from Batu Pahat and so the few jaunts into Johor from then on became more the 'functional' type - to celebrate functions with family. In 1990, from Melaka we went on to Batu Pahat where my Bro's in-laws lived, and also to Kluang where he did. The stopover in Ayer Hitam to buy ceramics there was sort of mandatory I suppose, so we did. (By the way, my Bro AG's mother-in-law served us the best ever laksa Johor I have ever tasted! But we did not have the opportunity to savour the famous Kluang Station roti bakar and kaya for breakfast because our train from there back to KL was too early in the morning. Cest la vie!)

A & B at Kluang Railway Station (CNB 1990)

My nephew NJS (Iman) worked in an oil palm estate in Johor and became betrothed to a local girl from a Felda settlement near Kota Tinggi. So in 2006 we had the opportunity to go there to witness his akad nikah (solemnisation) at a local mosque, and attend the wedding kenduri (feast) the next day at the girl's parent's residence.

Kota Tinggi being the place where the Sultanate of Johor began, my nephew did take us to see some of the historic remains, among them the tombs of Sultan Mahmud Mangkat Dijulang (in Kg Makam) and Laksamana Bentan (in Kg Kelantan). We also did see the quirky Makam Kucing Bertanduk (tomb of the Sultan's favourite cat - did it really have horns?) and the grave of a mysterious lady who married several times but her grooms were killed on their wedding nights, supposedly by the lady's 'scorpion twin'. Actually I have quite forgotten the details of this intriguing 'legend'.

The recent devastating flood then had submerged Kota Tinggi town and we could see the signs everywhere. Even the (Mayres) hotel we stayed in was only operable from its upper floors.

Family at Fazlina's wedding in Batu Pahat (2008)
Meantime my Bro AG's two children grew up and when it was time for their weddings (on two different dates of course), we went into Batu Pahat again. On the occasion of his daughter's wedding, I went with my Bro AW and his family. After the kenduri, we went on to Johor Baru to stay with my sister-in-law QA's brother and his wife. It was most kind of them to take us into Danga Bay that night for our dinner. But as for shopping there ... not really my cup of tea, I mean not really my glass of teh tarik!

Family at Farhan's wedding in Batu Pahat (March 2011)

We did get to celebrate Chinese New Year at a friend's home in Johor Baru in 2011. We were in Singapore then, so we crossed the Causeway into JB and later returned the same night. It was a wonderful occasion with fantastic lion dances and beautiful fireworks lighting up the Johor sky!

CNY lion dance in JB (CNB 2011)

But I know that I have not really experienced all the best of what Johor has to offer. I have always been fascinated with Gunung Ledang (Mt. Ophir), but my hope of ever climbing it is now zilch. So I guess I will never get to meet the Puteri who resides there (does she still?). I would love to go to Ujong Tanah (Land's End), now called Tanjung Piai, and the southernmost tip of the Asian mainland. Also the Endau Rompin National Park. Legoland Park? Just maybe ...

Saturday, 10 November 2012


This is Abi, a female cat. She was very much a part of our lives in Gelugor, Pulau Pinang.

Abi will be featured later in "Cats in Our Lives". Not a Hollywood feature or a TLC documentary film, but my blog entry, lah!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Pulau Pinang: the Isle of Enigma (cont'd)

Other than Ayer Itam, another neighbourhood I lived in was Gelugor. When I started working again at the Universiti Sains Malaysia in 1982, it just made sense (to me anyway) to live next door to the work place. The traffic jam from Ayer Itam to the University was getting quite bad already. So we moved from the family house to a rented terrace - in the almost new residential area of Taman Pekaka.

PP ferries against the backdrop of
KOMTAR on the island (PC)
Pulau Pinang in the 1980s and 1990s went through quite a bit of transformation - it got more crowded, both with people and high-rise buildings. The Penang Bridge was ready and open to the public in September 1985, while the Kompleks Tun Abdul Razak or KOMTAR, the tallest building in Malaysia then, was completed fully in 1988. And who can forget the ferry terminal disaster of this same year when 32 were killed and more than 1500 injured.

The electronics industry which started in the 70s just took off with hundreds of companies placing themselves on this frog-shaped island. The factories employed many locals (mainly from the kampungs, which put paid to our ever having local maids anymore), and later even more foreign hands.

I found Gelugor being slowly crowded in by more and more housing estates and shops, and even a Tesco hypermart moved in. But some things remain the same, thank goodness! Like the good old unpretentious Minah Restaurant, where many delicious meals were shared with family, friends and work colleagues. (Our wedding kenduri in 1976 was catered by this very same restaurant, reputedly serving the best Malay food in Pulau Pinang). But another newer Julisan Restaurant nearby closed after a few years.

Chingay in Georgetown 1987
Many events and places draw people to Pulau Pinang. The annual Pesta Pulau Pinang found a permanent site in nearby Sungai Nibong, but for us, after some years of frequenting it each December, found that more and more it was turning into a huge pasar malam (night market). And there were enough neighbourhood pasar malams on the island!

But the Flower Festival in the Botanical Gardens is always worth visiting. Even sans festival, the more than 100 year-old Gardens have always been a natural attraction. Bukit Bendera/Penang Hill was our weekend sanctuary many times from the madness below. Both the hill railway and the hill underwent changes. In fact in 2010 the old funicular railway was replaced, so gone is the romantic experience of a slow train ride up a hill station. (I understand that you now zoom up the hill in no time at all). Not forgetting also that the new Bridge changed forever the traffic to and fro this island. The beautiful old fashioned way of crossing by ferry has become more of a tourist feature.

Gurney Drive 1983
But the old familiar haunts of Batu Ferringhi, Balik Pulau, Fort Cornwallis, Gurney Drive, and the Esplanade always beckon although competing more and more with resorts/hotels, malls, and more malls.

But the Persatuan Warisan Pulau Pinang/Penang Heritage Trust (PHT) formed in 1986 did well in their efforts to preserve the history and culture of PP, but ensuring the preservation and conservation of old buildings have not been easy. Although George Town, PP became a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2008, 'unapproved renovation/demolition works are still rampant ...' (PHT).

Some beautifully 'conserved/preserved but living' colonial buildings include the very romantic E & O, the 1926 Heritage Hotel, and many more but only a handful of historical homes of Penang Malays are left standing. Two are the Syed Alatas Mansion on Armenian Street and the Segara Ninda.

After half a life time in PP, I left for a different pasture after retirement. But PP, although an enigma, and fast changing every so often, will always be my kampung halaman/hometown. So excuse me if I do more navel gazing here. After all, 'Pi mai pi mai tang tu jugak!

Pulau Pinang 1982-2007

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Pulau Pinang: the Isle of Enigma

Pulau Pinang is my kampung halaman/hometown, yet after living there for 37 years, it still remains an enigma to me. There are so many places there I have no inkling about and so many incidents I have no idea of. In retrospect, maybe I have never really tried to understand, being busy running around living life then; working 'to put food on the table' and bringing up family.

Kg Masjid, Teluk Kumbar
In the beginning during my 50s childhood, it was brief school holidays spent at both maternal and paternal grandparents homes in Teluk Kumbar; in Kampung Matahari Naik and Kampung Masjid. Those were idyllic days spent wallowing in clean clear rivers, observing little tupai/kuas (squirrels) in the pretty flowerbeds of bunga raya (Hibiscus) and bunga pukul empat (Mirabilis jalapa) and walking between padi fields. Now these are all gone and the developers have brought in their mean machines ... now there is even a Bandar Baru Teluk Kumbar!

Our old house after being transported
to Teluk Kumbar
Then in 1963 my Father moved the family permanently to the Malay enclave in Ayer Itam, PP. The Ayer Itam Dam built in 1962 ensured we had cool clear water you could even drink straight from the tap. The house we lived in was the typical kampung house on stilts. It was old and you looked up to the zinc roofs and wooden beams when you are in bed. In the daytime, rays of sunlight come through tiny holes in the zinc. At night its a different story altogether. Luckily I was then unafraid of pontianaks (aka pretty Malay lady vampires) who might just be resting themselves on these beams. So I never saw any! A very human person I remember then was the 'night soil' carrier who came around the neighbourhood, balancing two pails on a pole, to collect what he had to collect in the outhouse. (I heard many of these unfortunate beings contracted tuberculosis due to the work hazard).

Sometime in 1968 our old house was dismantled and moved to Teluk Kumbar, while we rented a place nearby (next to the white Mausoleum of Sheikh Omar Basheer), to await the completion of the new. With the new, the outhouse (pail closet) was replaced by indoor flush toilets. Thank goodness! Now 'going' in the night need not be such a great adventure. Though the poor NSC still had to come by our neighbours for a while after we had gone 'flush'.

A wedding entourage in Zoo Road
in 1976
I learnt that the nearby Zoo Road was once the site of the Penang Zoological Gardens but closed down in the 50s due to very high maintenance costs. The human residents there now live in terraced houses although there are some older big bungalows as well. The old Masjid Al-Gadrie there is small and cosy, but a tight fit to house the congregation during Hari Raya prayers. So there is the Masjid Negeri on Jalan Ayer Itam and now there is also the new Masjid Baru Ayer Itam (2009) in Jalan Thean Teik.

The Pagoda 1962
When you live in Ayer Itam, Bukit Bendera or Penang Hill beckons. So there were a few times that we went up the hill on the funicular railway. The Pagoda was another attraction but the steps were too much to negotiate. Although there was the Ayer Itam market, my father preferred to go into Tanjung, as Georgetown is affectionately called by the locals, to the Chowrasta Market. Sometimes I would go with him and inevitably we would be making a few rounds in the market before he finally bought the freshest produce. But the best thing about these outings? Eating nasi kandar served by very old mamak men at this very old shop off Transfer Road. I don't remember the name of the shop, if it had any, but I think it has been long gone. (But in PP, it seems that when one eatery dies, another two will sprout and hopefully at least one will be good.)

Water colour painting of trishaws in
George Town
As for public transport, in the 60s and early 70s it was adequate enough. There were regular enough buses, the taxis were not yet fleecing passengers, and even the trishaws were simple and adequate (compared to the garishly decorated 'tourist draw' now). I did enjoy the short trishaw rides in town when trishaws were 'kings of the road'!

Pre 1969, many came to PP for shopping due to its free port status, but when that was revoked I think many still came over, but more for the food. After all PP is the home of the original nasi kandar! And there is also the famous asam laksa, mee mamak, etc., etc.

Penang Road & Chowrasta Market
in the early 70s  (CNB)
My siblings and I would go to Tanjung to do our shopping for cloths, clothes and shoes (Zlin Store), mainly in Carnavorn Street and Penang Road. Then it was on to nasi kandar lunches at the Hameediyah or Meerah Restaurants and cendul & ais kacang dessert in Lebuh Keng Kwee. Talking about food, two Padangs (Commons) in PP were fun places to go for good hawker style. There's Padang Brown (where once we gorged on delicious satay, and then my Father realised he'd been pick pocketed!) and Padang Kota, for the best bihun/mee hailam and 'hottest' mamak mee mamak in town.

But I cringe when I remember the public toilets during that period, especially the one at the Prangin Road bus station. They were hell-holes you wanted to avoid at all cost!  Alas! The beginning of the never ending contributions to PP being called Darul Sampah.

For books, Campbell Street was the place to go, but for second hand books you went to the roadside stalls along MacAlister Road, but then they were later moved to Chowrasta Market into cubby holes on the first floor. Still a treasure trove of books but crammed and very badly ventilated.

From the kampung (village) to the bandar (town), the inevitable changes were ongoing ... (To be continued.)

Pulau Pinang 50s-early 70s

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Foods from Our Childhood: Bepang

Aaah ... the taste is so lemak manis (sweet and fatty?), and it is made of groundnuts, sugar caramel, and sesame seeds. This used to be the snack of our childhood in the 50s, when we would buy it from the neighbourhood kedai (shop). It still remains my snack of choice today!

Some call it bepang kacang, kacang potong, but whatever, it is just a very delicious snack to have on the go. Not too much of it though, or you might have to visit the dentist!

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Snapshots: Gingers at the SBG

(CNB 2011)

I took the photos of these beautiful, colourful inflorescences/flowers at the Ginger Garden of the Singapore Botanical Gardens the last time I was there. Some I have not yet been able to identify, but never mind, just ... enjoy!

 (CNB 2011)

Heliconia rostrata (CNB 2011)

Musella lasiocarpa/Golden lotus banana (CNB 2011)

Heliconia chartacea 'Sexy pink' (CNB 2011)

Calathea ... (CNB 2011)

Heliconia ... (CNB 2011)

Costus erythrophyllus/Red costus (CNB 2011)

Curcuma ... (CNB 2011)

(CNB 2011)

Musa coccinea/Red torch banana (CNB 2011)

Heliconia psittacorum (CNB 2011)

(CNB 2011)

Hedichium coronarium/Butterfly ginger (CNB 2011)

Heliconia psittacorum (CNB 2011)

These pictures show the Gingers (Zingiberaceae) and other banana-leafed families of Cannaceae, Marantaceae and Musaceae.
@SBG 2011