Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Our house is littered with books everywhere...in the living room, under the table, by the bedside table, and of course, in our throne room!

Even from a very young age, my son has shown a love for books. He is currently into Malay rhymes like "Aci, Aci buka pintu," "Can mali can," and "Suriram." The blue book (pic above, top left), "That's Not My Robot" is a particular favourite at the moment.

My wife buys books for all of us. Her recent book presents to me include The Artist Revealed (pic above) which she got during the Malaysian book fest at PWTC a few months ago. It features a short story about major artists through the years as well as their self-portraits. I think she is enjoying reading about them because unlike other art books, this one features the artists on a personal level and talks less about their works. She particularly loves reading about the female impressionists such as Berthe Morisot and the wealthy American artist, Mary Cassatt, who were both supportive of and influential to the artistic development of their Impressionist male counterparts.

Also, I think she is secretly smitten by the outwardly-gruff Edouard Manet!

The book isn't of great photo quality but it gives a glimpse of how all the artists were friends with or related to each other, and how they supported each other.

She also borrowed a book for me from her office library written by Ilse Noor, which features beautiful prints of Malaysia as well as some poetic writings of her travels around Malaysia. The book was commissioned by Shell.

So, these are some of the books we are reading now...although most times, we do tandem reading of several books at once!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Weekend visitors

It was quite a busy weekend for me and my wife. On top of that, our maid wasn't feeling very well, and our son was extra active! But, it was a great weekend with friends, art and food!

First of all, I had invited my friend, Awie (pic above), to visit my studio and help me manage it this weekend. Musa simply adores him! The picture above makes him look very fierce, but personally, Awie is a gentle and soft-spoken person and a good friend. That's us having breakfast in my garden.

On Friday night, Azma brought her friends (pic above) over to view some of the paintings. One of them wanted to buy a painting for her future husband who is very much into art. She says that he picks up a piece of painting wherever he travels. It would be her maiden purchase. I think it's nice of her to surprise her man with something he likes! I hope that whatever painting she chooses, he will appreciate not just the artwork but also her gesture!

Azma's other friend was quite well-versed in art and has visited many of the famous art museums to view the original artworks. How I envy her! The above picture is of us having dinner -- roast chicken and potatoes.

On Sunday afternoon, we had invited Bingley and his brother (pic above, Kevin and wife, Devina) along with their wives over. Bingley's brother, Kevin, had expressed his interest in art, too, previously and finally managed to clear some time to visit my studio on Sunday.

He chose two paintings that were different from each other -- one was a soothing sunset landscape of the beach, the other was a vivid piece of the Janda Baik sunset.

I like these two pictures of Bingley and Musa below. Bingley was looking at some of my sketches done in the East Coast, and Musa was very interested to take a peek at them also!

It was very encouraging for me to know that the interest in art is spreading among more Malaysians...I feel very happy about this and it renews my semangat to continue with my paintings and to stick to this path!

To Azma, Bingley, Fatimah and friends, thank you for spreading the word.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The East Coast Chronicles: Cherating

Cherating was another disappointing stopover. I remember Cherating fondly from many years back as a small kampung that was considered a must-stop among backpackers and foreign travelers.

Swaying coconut trees,
small wooden huts and chalets,
walking barefoot along the small lane,
the sandy beach across with the pounding waves and
blue, blue sky that stretches forever.
RM20 chalets a night.
Homely hospitality.
De'moon chalet up on a little hill.
Nightwalks by the beach.
Staying up to count the stars.
These are the Cherating I recall in my mind.

That day I arrived in Cherating, I thought that I might have made a wrong turn into a different town, yes, town! Like almost everywhere else in Malaysia, the place has been over-developed with tall buildings, cement structures, etc. There are brick walls instead of wooden ones, there are astro dishes everywhere, karaoke blaring away, air-con boxes jutting out of walls and making that awful hum to break the day.

I guess the community there was not able to maintain the uniqueness of Cherating that made it so appealing in those days. Maybe the Cherating today is run by the new generation, I don't know.

It just seems stuck in between. Not really traditional, and not really modern. Confused, more like!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The East Coast Chronicles: Kemaman

I used to go to the East Coast a lot during my days in advertising. Some of our best clients were in Kuantan, Cherating and Kemaman.

In Kemaman, things sure have changed since. Small towns got bigger. Narrow roads got wider. Roadside stalls got demolished. The fishing village is vanishing, the makciks that used to sell keropok lekor are now fewer in numbers.

There was a small roadside stall in those days along Pantai Geliga, run by all the females of a family. They sold the best satar I've ever tasted.

Satar is mainly made up of fish, coconut, shallots, chillies and ginger, mixed to a paste and wrapped in coconut leaf, then grilled over low fire. The best ones are the savoury ones (so many people make it too sweet), and this particular stall at Pantai Geliga is rather famous, even in those days. Apparently they were among the first ones to sell satar. Today, they are even listed in the Tourism Terengganu website!

When I went there recently, it just wasn't the same anymore. It used to be a place where you could hang out with good food, pleasant company and scenic views. Now, the beach road is no longer there, replaced by a big and busy road. The patrons of the stall are mostly locals from around the area, and the overall ambience just isn't as friendly and laid-back as in the old days.

The place was jam-packed with people, and we couldn't get a table. In the end, we just ordered some to take-away. Despite the unwelcoming changes, one thing still remained the same...the satar was still damn good!