The Bhai Bicycle

The vintage Raleigh bicycle used to be known as the Bhai bicycle as it was preferred by local Sikhs who were bigger in physique.

It was also popular with mobile hawkers as it can manage heavy cargo. This one is missing the centre stand, chain box, dynamo, teardrop-shaped headlight and bell.

The likeable thing about Mokhtar is that he is not an aloof or narrowly-focused man, given his fame and success. He engages you in a genuine conversation and can talk about anything under the sun.

The baker asked me which other Slim River attraction I will be visiting next.

Me: I like to hear your recommendations.

Mokthar: I can tell you like places with “character”.

Me: True. That’s why I am here.

Mokhtar: Go to Slim Village then, where there is a strange town square. And don’t forget to visit the nearby hot springs and waterfalls.

Me: I like strange places.

Mokthar: I know. You are strange, too.

He proceeded to give me some very specific and useful directions. With a kaya bun in hand, off I went chasing waterfalls again.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 125, f4, 1/320 sec.

A Bolt Of Lightning

A girl cycling past an old shop wall with a big crack. It looks like wall art featuring a bolt of black lightning. Something else hit the town dwellers.

Tanjung Malim people seem to be unusually curious and conscious about the presence of a stranger with a camera. And I don’t even use a neck strap or a big camera.

A few stopped cycling, walking and even driving just to watch me work. At this spot, several courteous pedestrians and cyclists crossed the street to avoid getting into frame, thinking I wanted to shoot the wall alone.

During my walkabout, some came forward to talk instead of me approaching them. One guy ran after me to tell me there is a interesting building in the opposite direction.

Good people.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f5.6, 1/250 sec.

The Barber

Much of my time on the journey, so far, was spent engaging the locals. Usually the conversations can get quite interesting and long. Some will even invite me into their homes or to a coffee shop for a drink.

As for shopkeepers, I try to keep the conversations shorter as I know they need to tend to business and customers. But there is one businessman who can (and have the skills to) hold a long conversation.

The guy whose career began at the top; the barber.

The ideal place and time to join in a conversation is at where a conversation is already going on. I stepped into the Hibiscus Indian Barbershop in Tanjung Malim town.

Kumar the cheerful barber was originally from Tamil Nadu in India. He has been here for eight years and can speak fluent Malay. His customer, Deen from Kelantan, works in Tanjung Malim.

Apart from the two seen here, he has six other kids and that prompted a good-natured chat about traditional aphrodisiacs and birth control (or lack of). Heh.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 500, f4, 1/60 sec.