VIBRATING AIRWAVES

Music may be called the sister of painting, for she is dependent upon hearing, the sense which comes second…painting excels and ranks higher than music, because it does not fade away as soon as it is born… – Da Vinci

Sitting down in the living room after a long day preparing for a presentation that ended wrong. Felt like writing today, just to restart again what I planned to do. It’s been a long week. A funeral that I couldn’t attend. A flooded house which I couldn’t salvage. A brother who I never knew how to talk to. Sitting down listening to the piano and writing is the best I can do for now.

Who cares about plotting lines on paper when things seem so impermanent? When life is as fleeting as the notes that linger in the air just enough to be heard, to be experienced? I guess that’s why humans make maps. To mark the unbounded Earth in his grasp, so as not to lose her. We are all afraid of getting a little lost. But little does he know, she is gone once the isolines are laid. Life is too large to be contained on a piece of vellum.

I think life is like music. Ever in the moment, to be savor – be it a sweet tune or a desolate refrain. Musicians map your brains only for a while and most likely you’ll never remember the song the same way you heard it the first time. It is ever evolving depending on how good your memory is… but in a good in a way, so that you can tweak it to your liking for the day.

The music has stopped. The moment is gone. But what it has inspired me to write whatever that is written here. Read it like you’re listening to a piece of music. Come up with your own impression. Life is never a one-way street unless you make it so.

GO TEMPLE

I woke up early, excited to head to town with Wai San on a much-awaited phototrail around Chinatown. After washing up and putting my iPhone (my camera, as I was a little behind this month to actually get films), I was picked up by Wai San and headed to Kuala Lumpur with a wonky map in my head. We parked at the tail end of Jalan Petaling and began our walk.

Our first stop was my clan’s temple on Jalan Tun H.S. Lee, although I almost never go there for anything.

Kwong Siew Association was established in 1886 by migrants mainly from the Kwong Foo and Siew Foo prefectures of Guangdong, China – hence the name Kwong Siew.

In 1888, Chinese artisans constructed this multipurpose building and it served  as a Taoist temple, a ceremonial and community hall. Meetings were held here with the kapitan (Chinese captain) discussing affairs ranging from migrant work issues to settling disputes as well as weddings and funerals.

We went in to offer our prayers and some pictures for the taking. It has the pervasive central courtyard of Chinese architecture that emits sunlight and helps with ventilation. It is painted in red as the color is regarded as auspicious.

And these desires of wealth and prosperity are fully expressed in forms of dancing fishes and crowning dragons as well as the rich use of materials like gilded carvings. A hop to another Chinese temple nearby reveals the same sense of tuned spirituality tempered with earthly hard work.

An intriguing part of temple prayers is that, incense or some smoke-producing elements like embellished papers are burnt. Its symbology lies in the smoke which will carry your prayer to the gods upon your utterance.

We traipsed gingerly back to Jalan Tun H.S. Lee, carefully criss-crossing people and pavements as streets began to stir awake with automobiles and curious tourists.

Sri Mahamariamman Temple is one of the oldest Hindu temple in Kuala Lumpur. Built in 1873,  near the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station as K. Thamboosamy Pillay’s family shrine. it was relocated to its current location in 1885. It was opened to public in the late 1920s.

It currently sits slightly across to the right from Kwong Siew Association when it was relocated in 1885 and boasts a highly ornated gopuram (entrance tower). It houses Mariamman who is worshipped by migrant Indians as she is identified as the protector during their journey from India to Malaya.

A Indian wedding was taking place when we walked in to capture the impossible height of the gopuram. It did however, provided much needed relief from the sultry sun and Wai San took many shots of people mingling and one very lucky baby.

I, on the other hand was trying to capture a somewhat serious moment. Near the central nave admist the chaotic festivities, the bride and groom exchanged sweets – promising each other a mellifluous marriage that s already on its way.

Wai San bought me lunch – curry laksa with brinjals and long beans at a place I cannot recall now. Our trip slowly dazed into a halt, with Wai San driving me back home.

PIPE DREAM

Wai San, who is one of my oldest friend (not old per se) and I have been talking about this for months, if not years about going around KL. To embark on a photo trail of our old capital, dining in decaying kopitiams and rediscovering the city’s charm where we spent our ‘somewhat-formative-years-of-adolescence’.

Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to capture the mosaic of sights and sounds, hawker foods before the fading architectural landscape of our beloved city born of tin and mud… and continue to grow our friendship along the way.