Sunday 25 December 2011

Merry X'mas 2011

Wishing all who celebrate, Merry Christmas 2011

 The above photos were taken at the SACC mall, Shah Alam (CNB 2011)

Saturday 24 December 2011

Books I love: Fragrant Rice

Fragrant Rice by Janet De Neefe is a memoir (cum cookbook) written in 2003 about her 'continuing love affair with Bali'.  I bought and read this book after I went to Bali the first time in 2009, because I too had fallen in love with this enchanting Indonesian island.

De Neefe first went to Bali in 1974 when she was a 15 year old teen, with her family from Australia. Then she visited the island again after ten years, and met her future Balinese husband Ketut, on the second day there. They were married five years later, and now have four children - Dewi, Krishna, Laksmi and Arjuna - and run the successful Honeymoon Guesthouse and the Casa Luna and Indus restaurants.

The author has truly immersed herself in the culture and life of her adopted island.  Here she gives us 'insights into the ancient myths and rituals (including tooth-filing) still alive in Bali today'. She also runs a cooking school and in her book has provided many delicious recipes handed down through generations of her husband's family. There are recipes for Ayam Gerang Asem (Sour chicken stew), Bakso Ikan (Glass noodle and fish ball soup), Bregedel Tempe (Tempe fritters), Betutu Bebek (Smoked duck), Satay Lilit (Seafood satay), Kangkung Pelecing (Spinach {sic} with sambal), and many more.

Note: Janet De Neefe is the organiser of the Ubud Readers & Writers Festival held every year in October since 2004. She initiated it after the Bali bombing of 2002, when the tourist numbers to the island paradise dwindled drastically.

"Except a living man there is nothing more wonderful than a book! a message to us from ... human souls we never saw ... And yet these arouse us, terrify us, teach us, comfort us, open their hearts to us as brothers" - Kingsley

Ex Libris CNB 1765
My copy of Fragrant Rice (CNB 2011)

Pictures in De Neefe's book showing the ground-touching and
tooth-filing ceremonies she and her children underwent

A Culture Vulture, perhaps

A Culture vulture is defined by as someone who is extremely interested in classical forms of art. Their tastes are considered high brow, possibly to the point of annoyance.

The above clearly does not define me, because I do not think anyone has been annoyed by my tastes (except perhaps my two daughters when they were very young and had to accompany me on all my 'cultural forays'). I have done my fair share of enjoying artistic/classical/cultural concerts and performances, but not too much of the 'high brow' type. The performing arts especially, have always interested me, but more as appreciative audience than artiste.

In school we were guided in our appreciation of art, literature and classical music by our local and expatriate teachers. During varsity days, there were interesting performances at the UM Experimental Theatre. Then in the UK, the West End and Sadler's Wells theatres provided countless sessions of ballet, musical concerts and theatrical performances for me. Back in the workplace at USM, the Pusat Seni (Arts Centre) also presented many artistic works at the Panggung Sasaran. I always thought that when I retired and lived in Shah Alam/KL, I would be a real 'culture vulture' and attend all performances at the Istana Budaya, Dewan Filharmonik, etc. But ... the truth is, I have not really been to many. Ah, such is life! Things sometimes never go as planned.

Anyway, below are some performances I attended at the Istana Budaya and the Dewan Filharmonik.

Jan 2011 - Muzikal Tun Mahathir 2 (CNB 2011)

Terima Kasih Cinta (CNB 2011)

Lat Kampung Boy; sebuah muzikal (CNB 2011)

Konsert Jamal Abdillah (CNB 2011)

I did not get to see the prodigy on piano - 11 year old Tengku Ahmad Irfan Tengku Shahrizal  perform at the Dewan Filharmonik in January this year, but when he performed with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra in October 2009, A and I were enamoured. We are sure he would have a fantastic music career ahead of him. You go, boy!

A got Tengku Ahmad Irfan to sign our programme book (CNB 2011)

Artsy Fartsy, maybe

... by Rafiee Ghani

I am not really artsy (used to describe someone who likes and actively indulges in art), but may be, a little artsy fartsy (having an overly strong interest in appearing to be aesthetically aware). [Definitions from the Urban Dictionary]

Anyway I am not an art collector, but I did buy a modern art painting from the artist himself. I first saw Rafiee Ghani's work in a hotel coffee house in Pulau Pinang, maybe ten years or so ago and I liked them instantly. I resolved then to acquire at least one original piece of his art. I was able to do so a couple of years back and the painting now hangs in the lounge of our little terrace home in SA. Not everyone who sees it, likes it though, but then 'one man's meat is another man's poison', and  'one man's weird is another man's wonderful'.

"Pink Melon" by Rafiee Ghani (CNB 2011)

The "Pink Melon" in SA,SA (CNB 2011)

I have seen some of Rafiee Ghani's paintings in a gallery in Shah Alam, also once at the Nippon Artfest in November 2007 at the KLIA. B and I also had the chance to attend his solo exhibition 'Rainbow Warrior' at Galeri Chandan (in 2009) and it was really a wonderful collection of paintings, with his own son as muse. I have yet to visit his studio in Puncak Alam, but will try to do so in 2012. Hopefully by then I will be able to acquire a second painting of his, when I find the gold at the end of the rainbow...

A Rafiee Ghani painting at a Gallery in Shah Alam (2007)

Another RG painting at the same Gallery (2007)

A RG painting Mid Day Sun II at the Nippon Artfest (CNB 2007)

Another RG painting The Sea Front at the Nippon
Artfest (CNB 2007)

The 'Rainbow Warrior' exhibits (CNB 2011)

The artist Rafiee Ghani explains his 'Rainbow Warrior' (CNB 2009)

B at the 'Rainbow Warrior' exhibition (CNB 2009)

One of RG's painting in the 'Rainbow Warrior' series (CNB 2011)

The Artist and I at Galeri Chandan (BB 2009)

Another  'Rainbow Warrior' painting by RG (CNB 2011)

Monday 19 December 2011

A Garden in December

It rains very often at the end of the year, and December 2011 is no exception. It has been quite wet, wet, wet. The Northern Hemisphere winter is upon us and the temperature, even in the tropics has been 'not too hot'. The trees and plants are doing well and even my little terrace garden has a profusion of flowers. But lately there had been lots of snails in the vicinity, so keen gardeners, including me, have had to resort to ridding these pests with 'snail food' (read poison). Otherwise, all is well in paradise.

Of the flowering plants in the garden at SA,SA in December, these are in bloom: Plumbago, Straits rhododendron, Crown of thorns, Jasmines, Mock orange, Gardenia, Melati, Maiden's jealousy, Torenia, Episcia cupreata, Periwinkle, Desert rose, and (surprise, surprise) Hydrangea. The Frangipanis unfortunately have not shown any signs of flowering for some time already.



The above pictures were taken in mid-December 2011 (CNB 2011)

Sunday 18 December 2011

A Movie Collection at SA,SA

At SA,SA* we have quite a fair number of movie titles on CDs/DVDs - about 600 on my last count. This collection is incorporated into the library shelves/cupboards both upstairs and downstairs. Most of us in the family are movie buffs and other than watching the new movies at the cinemas, and reruns on Astro, we also watch or re-watch (re-view?) movies at home. Thanks to Speedy outlets selling some movie CDs/DVDs at the bargain price of RM5 each, I always browse their bins to find titles that are 'watchable'. Sometimes I find 'gems' for RM5, e.g. Australia, The Jane Austen Book Club, Tea with Mussolini, etc. (I know, I know you can download movies from the Internet, but hey, I'm old-fashioned, and a laggard when it comes to innovations).

Although most are in English, I have quite a fair number of Malay, Indonesian, Chinese and Hindi movies. There are also movies in foreign languages like Farsi, French, German, Spanish, even Portuguese. Subtitles help a lot although the quality of translation is sometimes questionable. Even laughable at times!

My favourite movies are usually the romcoms (romantic comedies). Why? Because romance and comedy equals fun and entertainment. Nothing serious. I hate scary movies and never watch them. (Okay I admit, I have watched a few including the The Exorcist but would rather have not, really). Thrillers are fine because they put you on edge. Fantasy is okay, especially children's feature cartoons! 3D movies are fun to watch, but I wish they would enable us to do away with the cumbersome goggles. Favourite movie stars? Drew Barrymore, Sandra Bullock, Tom Hanks, Anthony Hopkins, Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep, Robin Williams, and Gong Li  are among the actors that I like.

What movies have I watched and liked? The last one was a Cantonese movie called Hu Du Men. I will write about it and others in future postings of 'Movies I like'.

*SA,SA is Seri Aryan, Shah Alam

Saturday 17 December 2011

My Sabah: 18th Regatta Lepa, Semporna

Beautiful, colourful lepa(s) at the 18th Regatta Lepa,
Semporna (CNB 2011)

As promised, here are pictures taken at the very colourful 18th Regatta Lepa (22 & 23 April 2011) at Semporna. This annual event 'celebrates the proud heritage of the nomadic Sea Bajau community'. More than 80 lepa (single-mast sailboats) competed for the title of most beautiful lepa. Other activities carried on also included kelleh-kelleh (dugout boat) competition, kumpit (small boat) tug-of-war, maglami-lami night & beauty queen contest, cultural performances and fireworks display.

More beautiful, colourful  lepa(s) (CNB 2011)

Yet more beautiful, colourful lepa(s) (CNB 2011)

An Igal dancer on board a beautiful lepa (CNB 2011)

The lepa are beautifully decorated with colourful masts and buntings, some topped with little bright parasols! The lepa 'owners' in the 'beautiful boat competition' include individuals, organisations, even universities. On nearly all the lepa, dancers including children, do the mengalai/Igal. It was fun to watch the dancers try to outdo each other - in dancing style and costume.

Child Igal dancers (CNB 2011)

Igal dancing is in their blood (CNB 2011)

A line-up of beautiful, colourful lepa(s) (CNB 2011)

Child Igal dancer accompanied by gongs played by
her grandparents (CNB 2011)

Portrait of a young Igal dancer (CNB 2011)

Young girls in their 'mengalai' (dance) costumes (CNB 2011)

More Igal dancers (CNB 2011)

Proof  I was there! (A Tourist 2011)

A teen Igal dancer (CNB 2011)

A young boy and girl mengalai (dance) to the beat of their
granny's drum (CNB 2011)

The mengalai (dancing) begins at a very young age (CNB 2011)

Really, I have never seen so many shutterbugs as I did that day. Tourists and locals alike were shooting away, trying to freeze these interesting and colourful moments. I could not tear myself away because I wanted to imbibe the occasion as much as I could, so I stayed till the sun was set and it was night.

The sun is almost setting on the lepa(s) (CNB 2011)

Enchanting sunset on the lepa(s) (CNB 2011)

Night falls ... on the lepa(s) (CNB 2011)

In the evening, on the Dataran Regatta Lepa, the opening ceremony was held, and results of the various competitions were announced at this Maglami-Lami Night. This included the Ratu Lepa (beauty queen) contest which required the participants to don beautiful costumes and do fantastic mengalai (dance).

The Ratu Lepa (beauty queen) contest (CNB 2011)

Cultural performance at the opening ceremony of the
18th Regatta Lepa (CNB 2011)

On the last night, the closing ceremony was held at Padang Pekan Semporna. Apart from speeches by local dignitaries, it showcased cultural performances of the traditional Igal dances, songs rendered by Bajau and Semenanjung artistes, followed by a very impressive display of fireworks.

The Tarian Igal - at the closing ceremony (CNB 2011)
April 2011