Here In My Home - Malaysian Artistes For Unity

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Malaysian Unique Election Poster War

I don't know about elections in other countries but here in Malaysia whenever there are elections, creativity comes to the fore in the election poster war. Here I would like to highlight some of my favourite photos of the creative ways these posters are displayed, specifically for those of a military theme as I love military related things. Well it is a poster "war" right ! Hope you all enjoy them as much as I do.




Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Premium Putu Piring Under A Tree

This blog has never claimed to be a food review chronicle, but instead it attempts to document those few remaining souls who bravely sail against crass commercialism to produce food items the way it should be produced. This usually results in food that is not only authentic but delicious, with a balance of tastes that only such preparations can deliver. Usually such establishments operates from under a tree with no signboard advertising their presence, yet they survive from the patronage of those who seek out such artisans and who will go to great lengths to locate them, not even including those who have tasted such deliciousness and become repeat customers. The stall I am featuring is one such operator, and after a lengthy hiatus due to family matters that caused me to worry that they had finally closed shop, I rejoiced after discovering that they had reopened about two weeks ago. Nonetheless it has taken me this long to finally be able to write this feature, as usually by the time I arrive at the stall after work the stall would have run out of their putu pirings, their specialist offering that I dare claim as being the best in Kuala Lumpur. Located along Jalan Jujur in Bandar Tun Razak, the old man and his wife who run the stall are the embodiment of the specialist artisans who concentrate in making the best product they know, in this case the freshly steamed putu piring but in this case are supplemented by a small container of puttu mayam as the consolation offering, usually for those who arrive too late to buy their putu piring. This usually happens by six in the evening after they open in mid afternoon, so you have to come early in order to make sure you can get your putu piring.

So yesterday I was lucky enough to get the last batch of putu piring that the uncle and auntie were making, so I am able to document their putu making process to boot. The process itself I have mentioned in my previous post, but I must say their being generous with the ingredients is what makes their offering such a delight to savour. If there is a product that would earn the title of being premium, then their putu piring has to termed as premier putu pirings. Look at this picture of the mountain of rice flour mix atop the putu mould and you can clearly see that you get full measure. And to see the oozing gula melaka from the recently steamed puttu, you know that you are getting gula melaka chips in the puttu and not a mix of flavoured plain sugar that seems to be standard nowadays. This is plain to see from the sugar container. This the real deal, broken up palm sugar of the highest quality they can source, as the taste testifies they have taken care that this will become a natural caramel once steamed and not have any artificial aftertaste of non-premium gula melaka. And to complete the experience, Auntie will only put fresh coconut shavings on top the ready puttu before putting a square pandan leave on top, so the creamy of the coconut and the aroma of the pandan will mix together to add more zing to the taste. After all this are complete, the puttus are quickly packed to seal in all the goodness as they continue to steam in the package, that when they are unwrapped a cloud of steam smelling like heaven would be released.

As I drive away with the last eighteen pieces of putu piring of the day, I take this photo of the uncle and auntie closing shop. As you can see from their set up, selling three pieces of puttu for one ringgit does not bring them fabulous revenue as it would if they had given up their artisan ways for pure profits. I am not a fool and realise that sooner or later they too will go the way of other food artisans, like the uncle selling freshly fried spicy potato filled curry puffs that gives both pleasure and pain when you bite into them, that has since moved on. There would come a time when I will not be able to open up these wrapping of crumbling sweetness that seeps with caramel goodness. But until that time comes, I will try my best to arrive in time to buy this old couple's puttu pirings before they sell out, at least once a week until they too finally move on.

Monday, 25 February 2008

SMART Parking...woops SMART Tunnel Toll Motorway

Well this morning being a Monday, I thought I would forgo the normal freeway traffic congestion that even makes three of our traffic policeman scratch their heads on how to resolve the mess for the SMART tolled motorway. Big mistake! Like I said before the motorway that was supposed to relieve traffic congestion at the main Southern Gateway to the city centre(their words) has itself become a contributing to the congestion within the city. The supposedly reduction of travel time from ten to fifteen minutes to just four minutes has now become a half hour affair instead. So can we claim for false advertising now as even after good money for the toll in the hopes of achieving congestion free traffic, we are still served more of the same traffic jam similar if we take the toll free routes into the city? How can you promise congestion free traffic when cars are crawling slowly within your traffic? Do you think by making traffic announcements through the car radio systems is a sufficient solution to warn your customers, who has no choice to divert into other routes once they are in the tunnel? And that is if they are tuned to the limited numbers of radio stations broadcasted within the tunnel, or otherwise they would miss the traffic broadcasts. So how can you relieve congestion for motorists who use the tunnel motorway in the hopes of escaping the jam on the routes just beside the Smart Entry points.

Well what can you say about people's disappointment once they have entered the toll lanes when see that the entrance itself is jam-packed with cars unable to smoothly enter the tunnel. It does make a mockery of the traffic signs saying the speed limit is 60 kilometres per hour and camera enforcement is in place. How can one achieve the speed limit when you are crawling along at not even 10 kilometres per hour. The wonder is that the crawl is due to the occurence of a three car fender bender, even at such low speed. Hmm makes you think what will happen if a high speed crash occured within the tunnel, a full traffic meltdown perhaps all over the city. Anyway even after you pass the crash site, you still face the congestion due to traffic snarl to exit onto Jalan Tun Razak. Well if you are lucky like I was today, your waiting time was greatly reduced because there was a senior policeman controlling traffic at the exit of Royal Selangor Golf Club underpass, thus you could exit the tunnel in a reasonable progression as he has a good feel of traffic flow direction. But this is not a permanent affair, and I believe the policeman had just arrived to assume the traffic control duties, as before that the traffic flow was still a stop and go affair. So the people in authority, please ensure you have a good traffic police officer on duty there, and it would go a long way in alleviating the traffic jam that we commuters has to suffer everyday. And that would be a blessing indeed.

Friday, 22 February 2008

Riverbank Graffiti Art- Part 2

Well what a coincidence. A day after I posted on the graffiti art along the Klang River banks, what do you know The Star paper featured the guys responsible in this article.

Friday February 22, 2008


TWO artists who call themselves The Super Sunday take graffiti art to new heights with displays of their work along the Klang riverbank and other public places. Zulkifli Salleh, 24, aka Kioue (pronounced as ‘Kayu’) and Sharane Mat Zaini, 31, aka Tha-B, have no qualms about calling themselves vandals. Armed with aerosol spray cans and donning face masks, they often strike by night and by morn their handiwork is ready for public view.

Strange artists: Kioue (left) and Tha-B of The Super Sunday with their art tools - aerosol spray paint and face masks.

“The one thing that is so challenging about grafitti art is the fear of getting caught,” said Zulkifli, a native of Batu Pahat, Johor, who started doing graffiti in year 2000. Not that they have not had a run in with the law before but he had recalled that they were promptly let off once the police officers saw their work. “In Malaysia, graffiti art is still considered a new movement and we see it as our responsibility to educate the public on what it’s about.” The artist added that unlike the early writers who sprayed offensive words on private property and forced building owners to incur expenses when they had to paint the walls over, we hope that these same people will look at our work and see it as a way of decorating a bare wall. To date, Sharane’s and Zulkifli’s work can be seen along the bank walls of the Klang river, car parks and the inside of public toilets. Some of their notable pieces have included Sharane’s life-size depiction of Transformers character, ‘Optimus Prime’ and a collaborative mural by the duo depicting Kuala Lumpur’s skyline and the LRT system. More of their works are also available at an exhibition at the Annexe building in Central Market from Feb 23 to March 9.

IIn public eye: Art by other graffiti artists along the riverbank as seen from the Klang bus stand.

Nevertheless, these ‘vandals’ are not merely exercising their right for free artistic expression. A business collaboration formed in March 2007 has seen the duo offering mural and graffiti painting, in addition to T-shirt printing and design and break-dance performances for private functions. To date, The Super Sunday has elicited favourable responses from karaoke lounge Matrix Eagle Jukebox, the Cineleisure cinema, Melia Hotel and The School Club, an entertainment outlet in Bangsar Village. They are also in the 2007 Malaysia Book of Records for the longest graffiti in Universiti Malaya.

Touch of colour: Super Sunday’s contribution to the riverbank walls.

In a further attempt to popularise graffiti art, the duo have organised workshops and demos for aspiring artists at Rakan Muda events. “Just like painting on canvas, all the fundamentals of art applies to graffiti. You have to be aware of the basics like form, concept and colour. And because the medium of transfer involves aerosol spray paint, you have to master the basics like nozzle control, pressure and graffiti styles,” said Sharene. Ironically, the workshops are also a platform to advice young artists against vandalism. “If it’s a self-initiated free project, always be very, very selective about location. Zulkifli, for example, did his first work in Batu Pahat in an abandoned house where the roof had fallen in. “And always look out for quality besides staying away from propaganda. You want the public to see your work as a beautification project and not as a mess where it becomes an eyesore,” he added.

The Super Sunday Concept Store is at 4, Monorail Station Bukit Bintang, Jalan Sultan Ismail, 55100, Kuala Lumpur. For details, call 019-3768735 or 016-9471541.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Riverbank Graffiti Art

In my travels overseas I have always marvelled of some cities capacity to allow their creative citizens to express their talents, either thorugh arts and crafts markets, busking, mime and at the very least graffiti, which if done well is a very high value art. Thus it enthralled me when I discovered after alighting from the LRT at the Central Market station that on the riverbank of Klang River beside the station, a group of of artists has taken unto themselves the task of brightening such a foreboding embankment with graffiti that has the quality of art. I am amazed that our graffiti artists has reached such a stage, and I suspect that some of them are actually professionals as there are some websites being hidden in the art. Although the sampling gallery tries to give an inkling how good their art is, I must admit that such camera phone pictures does them no amount of justice. How I wish the art is actually easily accessible so that our citizens can admire them more easily. Only then can we truly appreciate them because if the art can give such an impact from afar, think how much thrilling it would be to view it directly in front of you. I hope the authorities would be open to have some space for them to display the art in a more proper way, or at least some forward looking property developer thinks that this would be a good addition to their urban living spaces. Until that happens, we can only gaze at such art from afar.

Monday, 18 February 2008

The Last Stall In KL selling authentic old recipe Malay Kuehs.

Well I know the title of this post is a mouthful but let me guarantee you that in the event you are lucky enough to patronise this simple stall selling old recipe Malay kuehs, you do get a mouthful of pleasure biting into the kueh. Notice that I said old recipe and not old style kuehs as to me even though there are still other stalls selling old style Malay kuehs, the recipes they are made to are no longer authentic as compared to the taste that you would be getting say even twenty years ago. And this is all in the name of economy and profit margins where taste becomes secondary as long as the kuehs sell.Located in front of Kampong Pandan Dalam mosque, this unassuming stall still displays its old sign that just says curry puffs and kuehs stall in Malay, the same as when I was initially recommended their curry puffs by my colleague way back in 1992. Only on closer look will you notice the more modern small banner now advertising that this is Auntie Ina’s curry puffs stall together with their price list.

The special here is definitely their Bull curry puffs, a giant of a curry puff that is actually closer to a Malay style meat pie as the filling is pure beef that will make even the Granny from Wendy’s Burger not ask where the beef is. It used to have a more saucier filling like a steak and onion meat pie, but I guess Auntie Ina has changed the recipe to a more Malay palatable dry black paper minced meat filling, tasting a bit like murtabak filling. Nonetheless it is still utterly delicious and one piece should fill you up as a light snack as you bite into the aromatic curry puff. Now I ask you when was the last time you actually bite into an aromatic curry puff purchased from a stall in KL. Such curry puffs are now rare creatures, now only residing in more high priced residences like bakeries. Another thing that has changed about the bull curry puff is the price, from fifty cents to eighty cents a year ago and the current price of one ringgit each. But considering that the price has only doubled in the space of fifteen years, it is still value for money in my book as you get a full quota of meat instead of smallish bits of meat flavouring the starch mix that you usually get as ‘beef’ curry puffs. Besides this meat filled pies they have the more traditional potato filling and sardine filling curry puffs but frankly I am more enamoured with the rarer Bull version, so I rarely buy the other types of curry puffs here.

Why should I when I have a choice of other fully authentic kuehs to choose from. If you look at the shot of curry puffs being fried in the kuali (wok), you should notice the tray containing undistinguished green triangles. Well here is a case of being fooled by one’s looks as this is actually kueh lopes, still wrapped in their banana leaves in order to ensure their freshness. No green colouring is used here and you can taste it in the kueh, especially if you opt to only mix the lopes with the requisite coconut gratings when you are ready to eat it, as the stall is quite happy to supply you the gratings to take back. And again I need to say that this is no milk ejected leftovers that most kueh sellers are now wont to use, but pure fresh grated coconut. And when you pour the brown sugar over it, you can be assured that you will be eating something as good as home cooked, that is if you still can ask your mother to make it. The same brown sugar is supplied with their lompat tikam, the best I have tasted since I acquired a taste of it after buying some from the Ramadhan Bazar East Coast stallkeepers. I believe this is the Pahang version, as it does not have the red glob of glutinous rice, but just the coconut milk topping and flour custard that is good enough as it is. Another old recipe kueh that is a favourite with my kids is the kueh keria, glazed with sugar syrup as it should be and not with the little sugar dusting that is normal now, making such a traditional kueh more like a sweet potato tasting doughnut and not sweet potato flour rounds as it should be as you can get here.

Since I was a little bit early at the stall when I took the photos, their other kuehs like kueh kosui, masalodeh, kueh lapis and kampong style fried noodles or vermicelli were not ready yet to be displayed. Yes that is another reason why the kuehs here are so good, they are prepared on site. You can even see them preparing the curry puffs with a hand cranked curry puff making machine like you can see in the photo. As it is, I can only buy a small selection of kueh on each visit, as otherwise there would be a bit too much to consume. Imagine if I took a sample of each type of what was available today, there would be fourteen types of kuehs to take back home, way too much for my family to finish. My salute to Auntie Ina, may she long uphold her tradition of selling authentic old recipe Malay kuehs.