Welcome to my Kuala Lumpur

This is my way of sharing my discoveries, re-discoveries, memories & experiences

as well as other bits & pieces of information I have of

growing up in Kuala Lumpur.

Your comments & suggestions to make this blog your reference to all things KL would be very much appreciated.

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

KL KrashPad - Chow Kit Kita (Part 3)

From Jalan Sri Amar, we move along to Jalan Raja Laut.
The children at the overhead bridge, waiting to cross the road.  They are in for lesson number 2.
Question: Who was Raja Laut?
     YTM Raja Laut ibni al-Marhum Sultan Muhammad Shah, born in Kuala Selangor in 1850.  Penghulu and Magistrate Kuala Lumpur, member of the Kuala Lumpur Sanitary Board, Chairman of the Kampung Bahru Agricultural Settlement.
     Appointed Raja Muda in 1899 but superseded in 1903.  However, allowed to keep the title until his death in 1913. (Source: royalark.net)
     When Sultan Muhammad died in 1857 without appointing an heir, Raja Laut, while being competent, was not able to succeed his father as he was the son of a concubine (Raja Asiah). (Source: http://yapahloy.

Prominent residents of Kuala Lumpur, 1884
(from: MALAYSIA a pictorial history 1400-2004 by Wendy Khadijah Moore)
Raja Laut (cropped and enlarged)
The Chow Kit area is also home to vagrants and homeless people.
A number of NGOs do operate food kitchens and other social services in the area.  I think that this is becoming a vicious cycle - more people - more help, more help -  more people....... but  to paraphrase the words of the late Mother Theresa, 'do it anyway.'
Passing the Thakardas building.  The National Library used to be located here before moving to its own premises at Jalan Tun Razak.
I never noticed it before, but there is a Gurdwara (Sikh prayer house) located in this building.
We now arrive at Tiong Nam Settlement.
     In all my years of growing up here, I never once wondered about the origins of the name.  I just assumed that it was the name of the developer or something.  It is one of the earliest Chinese housing settlements in KL but it is now considered a slum according to this article.
     According to the same article also the Chinese community refer to this as Tiong Nam Ku meaning the Middle South Area.
     According to an interview with Mr. Ong Yoong Nyock, founder of Tiong Nam Logistics Holdings Bhd (I don't think there is a link between the company and the settlement, I was just looking for the meaning or origins of Tiong Nam) published in www.frost.com, he said that the name carries the meaning of East (Tiong) and South (Nam) in Hokkien.
     Middle South or East South, either way it baffles me as the area would have been North or North West of KL Town Centre not the South East.
I only remember one Chinese Temple at Jalan Tiong Nam 5.  Over the years, a number of residential houses have been converted into Temples.
Posing for group photos in-front of the Temples.  For most of the children, this was their first time visiting Chinese temples.  Unfortunately, however, these were closed.

Selamat Hari Merdeka

Wishing all my fellow Malaysians a Very Happy Hari Merdeka.

For those who wanted to watch 10 Tahun Sebelum Merdeka, here are the links to all 4 parts.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

KL KrashPad - Chow Kit Kita (Part 2)

This is a replica of the map used for the walk-about session.
After Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, we turned into Jalan Sri Amar.
I have not been able to determine after whom this road is named.
Most probably this street is named after Datuk Sri Amar DiRaja Abdul Rahman bin Haji Andak, but I'm only guessing here.  Read about him here.
On one side to this road is the EON Bank building, formerly Wisma Cycle Carrie.
Cycle & Carriage, the distributors of Mercedes Benz vehicles in Malaysia, used to have their show-room fronting Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman with their workshop at the rear, stretching all the way to Jalan Raja Laut.
The children passing the Eon Bank Building. 
On the other side is what is known as the Jalan/Lorong Haji Taib area. While this is known to be the haunt of transvestites, prostitutes, pimps, addicts, pushers and other 'bad hats', this is also where local petty traders source their supplies from the many wholesalers operating here.  A bakers' supplies store is located here and with the Hari Raya (Eid) festival just around the corner, that place is packed with shoppers.

Who was Haji Taib?
     I couldn't get much information on-line, then I remembered a friend who left a comment in one of my earlier posts saying that he was a decedent of Haji Taib.  So I emailed him for information.
      Haji Mohamed Taib bin Haji Abdul Samad (1858 - 1925) was a descendant of Raja Mas and Sultan Baginda of Bukit Tinggi in Sumatera Barat, Indonesia.
     Haji Taib arrived in KL at the turn of the century (1900s) having eloped with his Dutch bride and having been disinherited for doing so.  They arrived with only the clothes on their backs.
     His first occupation in KL was that of a street lighter - going out at dusk, adding water to carbide and then lighting the acetylene gas lamps that lined the streets of KL at that time.  Later he ended up as a Chief Clerk in the Land Office where he got to know about the best deals and bought them for himself.
     His son, Orang Kaya Haji Abdullah, built on this wealth and in the 1920's owned the whole of Malay Street and Rodger Street, a large portion of the Central Market area and loads in Chow Kit and Kg. Baru.

KL KrashPad - Chow Kit Kita (Part 1)

Remember in my earlier posting I mentioned that I followed Fahmi Reza and his charges from KL KrashPad on their walk-about on August 7, 2010.  This post is the first of a series about that.
 logo courtesy of Fahmi Reza
Among the aims of the project are to map the people, the culture/religion and the history of the Chow Kit area. This will be undertaken by a group of children between 13 to 15 years old, with some adult supervision/advise provided by Fahmi and gang. 

Why would I be interested?  Chow Kit is famous for all the wrong reasons, yet I grew up in the area 'untouched' by all the vices associated with it.  (Any vices I acquired or display has nothing to do with the area.)  I was aware of the 'goings on' in some nooks and crannies , but the majority there were pretty much normal, decent folks who went about their lives just like anywhere else.  So when someone comes up with a project to dispel the 'dark myth' associated with the area, why should I not be interested?
Anyway, back to KL KrashPad and the Chow Kit Kita project.  About a dozen children, between 13 to 15 years, have been selected as the pilot group.  I was informed that the group was supposed to be multi racial / cultural, but as the visitors to the Pad are predominantly from one ethnic group, they will have to do.  The adults facilitating this group, however, are a mixture of ethnicity, religion, cultures and backgrounds - truly Malaysian.
The session started with an introduction, briefing and some small training to prepare the group for the walk-about.  The session was friendly and informal, and the 'adult' facilitators don't look very much older than the participants.  I was the only 'uncle' there.

It's interesting, when you have a group of children who have only been with their own ethnic/religious/cultural grouping both in school and the community they are from, there is a bias in favor of their own kind; but get them exposed to other ethnic/religious/cultural groups, and what begins as a curiosity is soon replaced by excitement and acceptance when they realize that we actually are not so different, one from another.  Kudos to Fahmi and team.
The children ready and raving to go.  This shot is also to show a little of the ambiance of the KrashPad, catering to the teen crowd.
The walk about commences...
... let by Fahmi.
First stop and first lesson, "do you know what is the name of this street?" Every one got it right, but when asked who it was named after...
 from google images
... every one of the children agreed that it was named after our first Prime Minister.
The Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) and Putrajaya are among places named after the Tunku or his full name Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra al-Haj ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah.  The Tunku is also known as the 'Father of Independence'. 
from google images 
Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman is named after our first King.
Colonel Paduka Sri Sir Tuanku Abdul Rahman ibni Almarhum Tuanku Muhamed was our first Yang di-Pertuan Agong.  Something I didn't know, which I found in Wikipedia, is that he was the 8th Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Seri Menanti and the 2nd Yang di-Pertuan Besar of modern Negeri Sembilan.

The road was re-named after His Majesty in 1963.  Prior to that it was known as Batu Road, possibly because it was the main access road to the tin mines in Batu which I recon was in the area of today's Jalan Ipoh/Selayang/Gombak (think Batu Caves).
The last time I saw a tin dredge in operation in KL was in the 1970s in what is now Taman Danau Kota, off Jalan Genting Kelang. 


Friday, August 27, 2010

Hungry Ghost Festival 2

The Hungry Ghost Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the 7th month of the Chinese calender (August/September).  Generally the 7th month is considered a 'ghost' month and auspicious occasions such as weddings are not held during this month.

On the fifteenth day the realms of Heaven and Hell and the realm of the living are open and both Taoists and Buddhists would perform rituals to transmute and absolve the sufferings of the deceased. Intrinsic to the Ghost Month is ancestor worship, where traditionally the filial piety of descendants extends to their ancestors even after their deaths. 

Activities during the month would include preparing ritualistic food offerings, burning incense, and burning joss paper, a papier-mache form of material items such as clothes, gold and other fine goods for the visiting spirits of the ancestors. Elaborate meals (often vegetarian meals) would be served with empty seats for each of the deceased in the family treating the deceased as if they are still living. 

Ancestor worship is what distinguishes Qingming Festival from Ghost Festival because the latter includes paying respects to all deceased, including the same and younger generations, while the former only includes older generations. 

Other festivities may include, buying and releasing miniature paper boats and lanterns on water, which signifies giving directions to the lost ghosts and spirits of the ancestors and other deities.

Today (August 26) is the Taoist ceremony.
While the Buddhist ceremonies were a subdued affair, the Taoist one does provide entertainment for all their guests, this worldly or other worldly.  Today there was a movie being shown.
I have not seen one of these outdoor projectors in years and watching the projectionist at work was in itself entertaining.
In any entertainment of these sorts, seats are always left vacant for the many 'other worldly' guests who come a-calling.
There is a lot more food stuff today then there was yesterday.  I also noticed that some of the Buddha images have been covered up.
Much of the food is non-halal (not kosher).  The amount of meat available is probably the reason why many of the Buddha images have been covered up.
There was a performance by a person in period costume.  His movements were as if he was in some sort of trance.  The people surrounding, watching him were holding lighted joss-sticks.
He was accompanied by the sound of a cymbal and drums.  Being Chinese is not a prerequisite to be part of the performance as the 'drummer' shows.
After his performance, he took a short break.
Food and other stuff were brought to be blessed by the priest.  I was admiring the golden lotus on the head-gear of the priest.
Some of the sweets and folded joss paper were distributed amongst the devotees present.
Just then a fire truck passed by.
A large bonfire of 'Hell Bank' notes, joss paper and other paper items were being prepared.
The fire truck moved into place near where the bonfire was being set up, as a precautionary measure against any 'accidental' incident.
I noticed the paper mansion from yesterday was missing, probably already set alight as an offering to the dearly departed.  The boat-house was still there to be part of today's offerings.

That's as much of what I could record of this year's Hungry Ghost Festival at Jalan Chengal, Kuala Lumpur.  I missed some of the stage performances that were held earlier. Maybe next year I'll be able to record the full event, from beginning to end.