Serendah The Pleasantville

Many refer to Federal Route 1 as the ‘Old Road’. This is the old road of the old road traversing Serendah. On some stretches, original sections of the trunk road were bypassed instead of widening it.

Serendah faded away after the opening of the NSE but slowly bounced back as a pleasant retreat for city people clamouring for nature and greenery.

Narrow as the road was, an invading army marched through it. According to Wikipedia, Federal Route 1 was the main route for the Japanese Imperial Forces moving from Songkhla to Singapore during the Battle of Malaya between 1941 and 1942.

I used hand-colouring with faux Technicolor tones to depict the town’s gradual return to life; from black and white to sepia to full colour. The concept was used in the 1998 film, Pleasantville, starring Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon. More of Serendah coming up.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f6.3, 1/800 sec.

Goyang Kaki

Rawang has soul. And soles. Taxi drivers and a passenger chilling at a taxi stand, watching life going by and sizing up a stranger with a camera. So-called ‘outstation’ taxi service is a waiting game for both passengers and drivers. The first passenger that arrives wait for other passengers to fill the car. It is a cost-effective ride sharing system.

The carefree connotation of the popular Malay idiom ‘goyang kaki’ (swaying a foot or leg in relaxation) is deceptive here. Idleness at this old part of town belies the bustle at the many newly developed areas in Rawang.

Rawang didn’t really suffer when it was bypassed by northbound traffic using the NSE. There is boom instead of gloom for two main reasons. Rawang was a busy hub and remains so. As a commercial and transportation hub, it serves the smaller towns such as Batu Arang, Serendah, Batang Berjuntai and beyond.

Astronomical residential property prices in KL/PJ meant people are willing to stay further in neighbouring towns. The number of new hypermarkets and housing estates in Rawang bear testimony to the phenomenon. Some of the locals I spoke to lament that everything has become more expensive as a result.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f4.5, 1/800 sec.

Beware Of Geeks Bearing Gifts

After reading the article about post-wedding financial ruin, I am thinking non-Chinese couples may want to study the Chinese “system”. The system is simple, well-refined and brutally honest. Don’t invite people who give RM20 ang pows or bring a crowd-sourced rice cooker.

What’s the point of spending RM50k on a wedding banquet and you end with 50 recycled (re-wrapped) gifts. Of course, bankrupt lah.

Everything must be recouped and the P&L bottom line is the most important at the end of the wedding night. Not sex. Well, a loss can ruin the sex. Many couples just open up the red packets after the guests leave, count the cash and settle the restaurant bill with it there and then.

It is very practical as it reduces the risk of robbery on the way home. Some restaurants now provide a strong room to count the cash as robbers have struck at the source before.

To understand the psyche, one must understand why the Chinese refer to a wedding invitation as a “summons’. You pay what you eat. Plus pay a little extra so the couple can make a profit, after deducting the F&B bills.

There is an unwritten code of ethics; where you mentally work out the ang pow value base on the dinner venue. If you estimate the restaurant is charging RM 800 nett per table, you give RM 100 (minimum). There is a formula published in a 2000-year-old Chinese almanac somewhere, I think.

What the couple fear most is a bunch of raging alcoholic friends showing up and emptying the brandy bottles. The other type of guests they hate are those that pay for one pax but bring along a family with 5 kids.

If you go with a giant gift box thinking you look hipster or smart geeky, you are wrong. Every one else regard you as a cheapskate idiot. Nobody cares if you are long-time friend who has special knowledge of the couple’s aspired brand of air fryer. We all know you found the cheapest deal on Groupon.

Think you can get away with under-paying? Think again. There is always a reception table and someone from the groom’s side manning an accounts book. A relative from the bride’s side will be appointed auditor. I think the vote-counting system of many democratic countries copied this practice. Non-monetary gifts are hated because they screw up the system.

Every red packet will be opened on the spot, and the name and amount jotted down. It is important you write your name on the packet or it is considered a spoiled gift. I asked one couple why? They said it is to know how much to pay should they get invited by the guest in future.

For Chinese couples, a wedding reception is serious business and every guest knows that. Remember to add 10% to cover the 6% GST next year on.