Thursday, January 15, 2009


Talking about the quaint, the obsolete and the everlasting allow me to roll back the time. Back in the early sixty's those of us who were fortunate to be around then would recognize these photos.

The quaint would be anything which borders on the old-fashioned, strange or unusual but in a special pretty way; the obsolete would be out of date, out modded and non functional. The everlasting would continue existing, being there for eternity. These three adjectives help us to qualify things, events or whatever that have crossed our path. How we qualify them is certainly not global or dictated by any directions or norms. It is certainly a prerequisite for attractiveness, that make the old world charm a hit and a run for your dollar. The tourism industry builds itself in wanting to give these nostalgic world. Globe trotters and backpackers seek the extra-ordinary. They are familiar with modernity. Sadly the past has been wiped away and we are fortunate if any resemblance can take us back into time. Museums especially help towards that direction. Simply photos help to achieve that requirement. Those who either by planning or chance keep a storage of sorts will of course do service. I am helping out in my own way taking us just a few decades back with photos that otherwise would remain hidden in the pages of albums or stuck in old brown envelopes.

Those of us who crossed from Butterworth to Penang by ferry would remember seeing these barges or wooden tongkang . Their size and their numbers qualify their prerequisite as transporters between the large ships at anchor in the channel and the wharfs nearby. Modern containers and deep water wharfs have put them aside and you can hardly see even one either at Penang or any other ports in the country. Dwellers in the houses on stilts too have change their means of livelihood and it is not surprising to learn that their old homes have now become a source of attraction thronged by visitors daily. The obsolete may yet offer quaintness or nostalgia.

It is a spanking clean city now. You would hardly dare to flick your cigarette ashes anywhere less you are caught on camera or physically. This 1962 picture caught the sight of North Bridge Road in Singapore. I guess even if you move to all corners of Singapore now you will never find such norms where people do business in the most casual way with the bustling chaotic but friendly nature ever meet again.

I am not arguing that you will still find a Malay home like this in some corners of Malaysia. But look closely. Notice the upright planks on the wall and windows. No this house is not under seal. Just that the owner or the carpenters have somehow decided to construct as it is. Or maybe it is an attempt to dry the planks completely before they are used in the best possible way. As it was all shut up, I had no opportunity to talk to the owner and get some explanation. Still it sits in a most beautiful part of the kampong.

( More to follow as the mood dictates )


Uncle Lee said...

Hello KotaStar, wow! I love your pics here.
It brings back memories.
I have always loved Penang, Singapore because of the sea, besides other ahemm interests, ha ha.

You and me we gostan back long ways...from the days of Chin Peng, Tunku Abdul Rahman, think I took part at Malaya's 1st school Mass drill at the opening of Merdeka stadium...

And next day was at the stadium when the British Union Jack was lowered and Malaya's brand new flag rose up.
It was very emotional, even though I was only in Form 3 join Tunku when he cried out 7 times, "MERDEKA"!

Yes, I was there...and heard Malaya's first National anthem being played by the police band....'Negara Ku'.
I knew that song before as "Terang Bulan". Love it too, especially in Kronchong beat.

Yes KotaStar, I still treasure those memories....of Negara ku.
You keep well and bring back your memories...
Keep well my friend, let the good times roll....
Best regards, Lee.


Pak Non,

Saya cukup "jatuh hati" kat rumah tradisi tu.Dia punya surrouding tu boleh lari/lompat sana- sini sambil nyanyi lagu hindustan.

Al Khalifah said...

Yes..let the mood dictates. My favourite Malay houses was the one made of solid wood, cengal? jati? etc...and they decorated the door, window, wall with amazing craftmanship. Whenever I woke up early in the morning, it was fresh air with birds chirping outside...mmm how I missed my late grandma/pa...