On this day in 2015, I met Indonesian Chinese school teacher Lix Xia when she was wandering by herself in Chinatown KL. The then stranger and tourist told me she is from exotic Cirebon and it was my first time hearing of the ancient port city in West Java. At first, I thought she meant Seremban. Haha.
I asked to take pictures of her on the street and she asked why. I told her I like her (mild) freckles. Honesty helps:-) We spoke in a mixture of English, Hokkien (Fujian) and Mandarin.
If you ever go to Cirebon, book a hotel room through me at http://www.mycen.my/agoda/
Search for Cirebon on that page and Agoda will list at least 38 hotels there.
#cirebon #java #indonesia #indonesian #chinese #freckles #tourist #chinatownkl
Putrajaya’s Ramadan Bazaar is refreshingly different and somewhat bizarre. It is more a showcase of clever marketing tactics, than of food.
Many of the stalls have banners with hipster catchphrases such as ‘the real original’, ‘no additives’, ‘infused’ and ‘yogurt-fied’, for example.
Quite a few proclaim a small town’s name where the dish and seller supposedly originate; leaving you wondering why they are not selling in their home towns.
If in doubt, one can always ask via their Facebook (and ‘like’ symbol) displayed on the stall.
Maybe I found all the hipster mantra odd because I spent the last two weeks at rural Ramadan bazaars where traditional food and a smile was the appeal.
Here’s sweet and sulky Aini selling red velvet cakes. I don’t like velvet cakes so I bought some layered blueberry and tiramisu cheese cakes from her.
How can I not? She baked all the cakes herself, all night, while listening to indie music.
Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f6.3, 1/80 sec.
Under the blazing sun and fasting, Norsiah Nordin is trying to eke out a living selling durians harvested from her own trees. I really respect that. Not just for her fortitude and adherence to religious obligations but also for her sunny disposition by the roadside.
Makcik wanted to give me a bunch of durians for taking her pics. When I declined, she wanted to give me cash to go print her pics at the 15-minute ‘instant print’ shop down the road.
Many younger people I photographed are happy to get the url to my website, Facebook or Instagram to look up their pictures later. Senior citizens without surfing skills or internet access do not have the means we take for granted.
I will make a properly-framed picture and surprise her later as I have done with a few others in past trips. Meanwhile, the encounter is another reminder to get a portable printer or a separate instant camera. Young or old, instant gratification brings joy.
Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f2.8, 1/500 sec.
Went inside a grocery store in the suburbs of Slim River to get some info and a drink. There I met Nurul Izza behind the cashier counter. Her stern-looking mother was keeping a watchful eye from the back of the shop. Heh.
When another customer came in, I went to chat with the mother. Sounding a bit perplexed, she said her daughter is a university graduate but chose to run a provision shop instead.
I told her is nice to see a young woman succeeding in a trade mostly dominated by men. Nurul can drag a cooking gas cylinder, talk terms with gruffly suppliers and discuss local history with me, all at the same time.
She’s not just like a boss, she is the boss.
Yet she blushed and giggled when I invited her outside the shop to photograph her. She said she’s shy. The interior of the shop is really too dark to do justice to her sweet smile, I explained.
I even asked the mother’s permission and aunty approved with a smile. After more coaxing, the daughter finally relented. So here’s a portrait of a local entrepreneur.
Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 320, f4, 1/320 sec.
Still in Behrang, I walked into a vintage Indian grocery shop to get a soda. Met a friendly and sweet old lady there. She’s the proprietor, is in her seventies and operates the shop by herself.
The surroundings seemed deserted and she appeared delighted to see a new customer. Delighted not so much for the sale but for a chance to talk, I guess.
After the initial chat, I asked if I can photograph her as we speak and she agreed. Glad I asked because she was very natural in front of the camera. Depending on the subject we broached on, her facial expressions changed quickly from that of amusement, fear, excitement to sadness.
We spoke about the decline of Behrang town, the floods that hit her shop and life in a small town. I asked about her children. She turned her eyes away and paused for a little contemplation.
With a heavy sigh, she explained they left for the city a long time ago and no longer stay in touch.
Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 1600, f4, 1/250 sec.