"The sharp knife of a short life

I've had just enough time..."

- "If I Die Young" The Band Perry

I see Beauty in many things. And like the ghosts that only speak to you if you notice them, they tell me wondrous tales. With my camera and my thoughts, I captured these as faithfully as I can to share with you. And by doing so, they gave me the reasons. And though the thousand reasons may not all be sweet and some indeed bitter; they are still reasons to live. Come to think about it, that is Life, isn't it?

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Dragons & Pheonix and Creatures Mystical

I've had just enough time to...   see dragons and pheonix and creatures mystical...

 Taken of the temple against the rainbow building in the center of Kuching

Dragons and pheonix
And creatures mystical
Exist in this age and time
In our imagination only
They said

But I saw them dances
On rooftops and by moonlights
In the eyes of the child
And the tales of old men
Who has not forgotten to dream

Dragons and phoenix
And fairies and elves
Frolic in the twilight hour
Together with the unicorn
In Never Never Land

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Reflection On A Quiet Christmas

I've had just enough time to...   enjoy a quiet Christmas

Taken in the park on Christmas day

This Christmas, I decided to do something different. Under a cool, overcast sky; I took a walk in the park and have it all to myself. Everyone is out there somewhere celebrating Christmas or visiting friends or be just at home with their family. I took a long, slow walk playing out the year that had gone before and relived that long journey as I walked, alone with my thoughts. I liked doing that sometimes. Long walk in lonely places and nothing was lonelier than the park today.

I chose a bench to sit down and savour a different feel to this Christmas. Surrounded by trees and the songs of birds, there was not a Christmas tree or blinking lights in sight nor any replays of Christmas songs. But I could not get away that easily. Among the greens, white Christmas rose to the surface and I could not get rid of it. So I might as well change a few words and sing a few lines.

I’m reflecting on a quiet Christmas
Not like any I used to know
Where the dewdrops glisten and I listen
To the birds singing in the trees

I’m reflecting on this quiet Christmas
With every Christmas wish I made
‘May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be divine’

A couple having their marriage photos in the park

I thought about the miracle this Christmas. A friend had a stroke and internal bleeding in his brain. A young man with an unemployed wife and a young child. What will become of them? The doctor told the wife to take him home and ‘get ready’. Within days, he is out from bed and moving around apparently on the way to full recovery. We are hopeful and fearful at the same time but each day is a blessing and a miracle.

After enough reflection and recharging of my soul, I went home to take a bath but decided to go back and took a shot to share my quiet Christmas on a day when I do nothing and yet felt strangely fulfilled. The bench I sat on was now taken up by a young couple with cans of coke, snacks and a portable radio. The scene I wanted to shoot was now taken by a couple taking their marriage photos in the park. I smiled at the change of the situation though it denied me my shot. So I went to another part of the park to take a different shot which is the one you saw. On the way back to the car, I saw the marriage couple going up the stone bridge and shot them. I was so engrossed in what I did that I did not take note where I was standing and a large weaver ant crawled up my leg and bit my upper thigh. With an instinctive flick of my hand, I sent it to Ant’s heaven.  

It was just an ordinary day in the park. It was also Christmas. Nothing happened yet a lot of things did. Even in reflecting, we should not overdo it. So I walked back, satisfied with how I spent my quiet Christmas. “Merry Christmas and May All Your Christmases Be As Nice.”


Sunday, 23 December 2012

Help KLPac, The Arts Need Help too – Part II

I've had just enough time to...   be pierced in the heart.

 A place to be creative...

I was asked by an artist friend just a week ago “Art… Luxury or Necessity?” I do not know the correct answer so I gave a personal one - “One thing I find in many of my travels - poverty and wealth never have any correlation to happiness. If anything there is a bias of happiness towards poverty ironically. To the rich, art is more often a luxury. They can do without it. And if they do enjoy it, it ranges from entertainment to passion. To the poor, after the essential of survival and if they enjoy art, it is quite often a need. A need to lift themselves off the depressing life they live and gave them hope and fulfillment. Like happiness, there really is no correlation but a bias and intensity.” I concluded by saying, that I hope I was making some sense. We could expand the term ‘poor’ from beyond ‘materially poor’ to ‘culturally, emotionally and spiritually poor’ and we can then understand how an organization like KLpac touches the lives of so many of us. It enriches the lives of the 'rich 'and transforms the lives of the 'poor'.

A place to chill out...

I personally think that KLpac is modest when they declare “while KLpac has served the general public, it impacted 3 groups – artistes/arts group, youth and the under-privileged”. Nurturing, developing, and providing the avenue for growth for the first group. Exposing, stirring interest and expanding the horizon of the second group.  Reaching out, touching them and giving hope for the third group. All these KLpac had done and is doing.

A place to get the rhythm...

However, KLpac may have impacted the general public more than it gave itself credit for. Many years ago in the early days, I asked a local singer, songwriter friend – “what is so different about performing arts?” It seems so, ‘inefficient’ (they could put it in DVD, couldn’t they?). I could not remember the exact words he said but some words stuck like – ‘communicating with the audience’, ‘closeness’, ‘touches you like no other medium’, before he went into the really bloody stuff like – ‘tearing out your heart and chewing it raw!’. That was when I said – ‘Enough!’ and dismissed him as those artsy-fartsy type. Chewing my heart. Imagine!

A place to have fun...

Then I went for this performance. And this beautiful lady sang till the tears rolled down her cheek. Those couldn’t be real tears could they? Not when she got to do the same thing again for another 5 nights! Then she stabbed me right in the heart from where she stood 10 meters away. I felt a piercing pain in my chest and a chill ran up my neck to the side of my face. Why are my eyes welling up? 

You came through such an experience transformed, humbled. And some of the words made sense for the first time. You have been touched. It is like a high. You went back seeking it again and again. You do not find it often but that does not stop you from looking and I believe it makes you if not a better person, a more sensitive and caring one.

A place of dreaming...

Oh! For that sublime, exquisite moment when your tender pulsating heart was torn from your rib-cages setting all your senses afire! 

Oops! I am going to have that term thrown back at me if I am not careful. It is the dream of every artist to be able to touch you this way. That is when the sublime moment is shared between the artist and the audience. What is more meaningful than to feel life with the sharpness of a razor’s blade? KLpac is the place where moment like this happened. For that reason alone, its fire should never be extinguished...

A place to keep our balance...

A place for the young and matured...

A place for the child and woman in us...

A place of magic...

A place to learn...

A place to participate...

A place to ponder...

A place of movements...

A place to reach out...

A place of sharing...

But I’ve not mentioned the one reason, which I do not have a photo which can do it justice.


Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Help KLPac, The Arts Need Help too – Part I

I've had just enough time to...   find a place where Arts survive and thrive

A place to make music...

KLpac need your help. KLpac (Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Center) is a “not-for-profit organization dedicated to nurture, practices of traditional and contemporary Malaysian Performing Arts”. It is now fighting for survival. Although it produces more than half of Malaysia’s performing arts show in the country, it receives zero funding from foundations and government. No. That is not a typo error – it is 0% while most of such organizations in other countries will receive a significant portion of their funding from their government and institutions. To make matters worse, the 2007 Economic crisis hit it hard and it lost 75% of its corporate sponsors from 12 to only 3. 

A place to dance...

With the rising costs as well as putting up a larger number of shows – from 66 in 2006 to 188 in 2011, is it any wonder that there is a gap between expenses and the revenues it generates? It is now in debt to the tune of RM1.3 million. It is only the belief and passion of volunteers and artists who donated their time and money that kept it going for so long – 7 long years. That is dedication for you. And they are not passively waiting for their own demise but taking matters into their own hand with the same belief, passion and dedication that has kept them going over the years. They are not giving up without a fight.

A place to sing...

KLpac is staging a fundraising act this Dec 22 to Dec 23. Buy a ticket and be entertained in the process with a show of comedy (laugh in the face of danger and worry), dance and music. Or make a donation, your money is going to good use.

A place of laughters...

But if you ask me, why I’m supporting KLpac personally, I think I can do better with the images I took in the KLpac Open House in 2009 than words. The founding members conceived KLpac with this vision “A space to dream, to nurture and to realise, a space to laugh and a space to cry, a space to educate and a space to create”. For me, it is a place –

A place to feel...

A place of passion...

A place of transformation...

A place to dress up...

A place of reflection...

A place to fall in line...

A place to let go...

Watch out for Part II where I will give you more reasons why you should support KLpac and share with you the lives they touched. And of course, more photos!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Beijing Opera #1 – I Am A Painted Face But Not A Clown.

I've had just enough time to...   be touched by the tragedy of Xiang Yu

Taken of the dressing of Xiang Yu before his Beijing Opera performance

I am a painted face
But not a clown
Who moves you with laughter

I move you to tears
With tragedies
Of my own
And that of others

The world is
A greater comedy
Than that
Played by the clown

Will you laugh
Or cry
Along with me?

Xiang Yu项羽, the “Overlord of Western Chu” is a proud and complex man. He would save his horse when all is lost but not himself because he is too proud to face his people in defeat when not one of his 8,000 loyal soldiers who followed him to overthrow the Qin Dynasty survived. A brilliant strategist who won battles after battles but rushed into a trap he knew was set up for him to save his concubine. A caring leader who ordered his 28 remaining soldiers to take the last boat to safety while he stood to meet his end but a tyrant who buried alive 200,000 enemy soldiers who surrendered. He was honorable enough not to kill his nemesis Liu Bang by deceit when he had the chance yet there was no honor when he killed his own commander Song Yi for not listening to his advice. This was the King that bade farewell to his concubine.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

No Photo, Yes Tomato.

I've had just enough time to...   shoot a "No Photos" sign

Taken in a Shanghai food exhibition :D

I said “no photo” 

You said “yes tomato” 
I said “no film” 
You said “yes firm” 
I wrote it in black & white 
You said its blue & black 
I said “its Chinese” 
You said “No Italian” 
I look at you 
You look back at me 
I smile sadly 
You smile back 
I put down my sign 
You put down your camera 

The world is alright

These are the celebrity chefs they asked us not to shoot, ain't you glad I did! :D

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Keeping My Nose Above Water

I've had just enough time to...   keep my nose above water

Taken of the turtle keeping its nose above water in Gunung Lang, Perak, Malaysia

Keeping my nose above water
That is what I do
As my whole body goes under
I fight to stay afloat
With my nose just on top

Pulled down by my weight
The world upon my shoulders
Pushing me under
I struggled to the surface
Push my nose up above
Desperate to survive
Another moment

Maybe a helping hand
A chance upon a random log
Or to make it to dry land on my own
But that seems so far away…
I paddle there

Bobbing up and down
Grasping air with every breath
I just keep going
Keep reminding -
Courage is in the struggle
That spirit is all
Keeping me
From going under…

Sunday, 9 December 2012

The Monk Who Would Not Ride On An Elephant

I've had just enough time to...   want to ride on an elephant

Taken in a Hindu temple that we stumbled on by accident in Termeloh, Pahang, Malaysia

To ride on an elephant 
A sultan not a mahout 
High above my subjects 
A subject of envy 
Feeling like a king 
High above all 
Till I met a monk wearing 
A smile 
Walking on bare feet 

He did not want 
To be on the beast 
I can tell 
For some reasons 
That infuriated me 

What pleasure can there be 
To ride on an elephant 
If others are not envious of me? 

So I try to steal his smile 
By fraying his skin 
Though he cried in pain 
As the lashes flew 
His spirit could not be broken 
As I could his bone 

What pleasure can there be 
If I cannot submit 
Every one to my will? 

I rode the elephant back 
To the palace 
And the rain 
Falls on me 
The elephant 
And the monk that I killed

Thursday, 6 December 2012

The Leaning Tower of Teluk Intan.

I've had just enough time to...   take the 110 steps up the leaning tower of Teluk Intan

The Leaning Tower of Teluk Intan against the straight lamp post :)

There is a leaning tower and it is not in Pisa. In the center of the town of Teluk Intan a Pagoda structure rise 25.5m from ground level and tilted slightly to one side. My skeptical friend whom I took to the tower downloaded an app into his smart phone and measured a tilt of 2.8 to 3.0 degrees so it is not an optical illusion. The reason for the tilt is the soft ground on which it is built and the water tank at the top though it is no longer in use.

It reads 2.8 degrees tilt

From the outside, the wooden structure appears to have 8 storeys high but from the inside, you will discover it only has 3 floors with the water tank on top of the third floors. It held enough water for 800 people which used to the entire population of the town when it was built. Today, it has an estimated population 120,00 and is the third largest town in the state of Perak. The tower has a board base of 13m which gradually tapered to a top width of 8.1m. There are 110 steps to the top if you are counting.

A wave from the tower

The popular story of its origin was that a rich merchant consulted a “Feng Shui” (the Chinese system of geomancy) master who advised him to build a large storehouse at a strategic location which has a commanding view of the downriver traffic to increase his influence. The British District Officer upon learning of this got another “Feng Shui” master who advised him to construct the clock tower to counteract the move. Thus, the tower was born from the titanic clashes of the “Feng Shui” masters. But this comes to naught when the Japanese invaded and used the tower as an observation post during the war.

So if you happened to be in Perak, drop into the town of Teluk Intan (Diamond Bay) formerly known as Teluk Anson to the British and pay a visit to the leaning tower of Malaysia.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Window Obscure

I've had just enough time to...   view a window obscure

Taken of an obscure window in the small town of Teluk Intan

To see the world from
A world within
Partly hidden
Window obscure

“I ain’t leaving this room”
Bright and sunny
Drizzling in rain
Window shuttered

Movements, interesting movements
Part of the wall

Saturday, 1 December 2012

The Last Tree Standing

I've had just enough time to...   witness the last tree left standing

Saw this last tree left standing in Malacca, Malaysia.

Of all the tall shady trees
That once graced this area
This is the last one standing
The last bastion against the encroachment
The last hangouts for the remaining birds
The last tower yet to be stormed
But it is a losing battle
For the black tide of
Development swept all in its way
It too will fall
And when it does
Who shall mourn its passing…?


My horizon:
Jet-black mountain, crumbling into the sea
Littly city, you're still so young
But you got so dirty
Hey old ocean, are you still holding on?
You look so sad and empty
Fires burning, forest falling
Forevergreen, forevergone

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