Friday, July 30, 2010

Best friends

My dogs.

George, old faithful.

Ryan, young pup.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Building Thoughts

Over the three years of my life in the University of Malaya, the theme 'build' has pervasively underscored my experiences in and out of campus.

God is the Master Builder
He is building me
He builds with stuff that comes from heaven
And tools we cannot see.

From the 'Rebuild' adventure in which we sought to restore the PKV Booth, to the PKV theme of 2008/2009, 'Coming Together, Building Each Other'; from the Duplo gifts at the PKV Convo 2008 to the Experimental Theatre project -- it's always been about building.

Old stone to new building, old timber to new fires,
Old fires to ashes, and ashes to the earth
Which is already flesh, fur and faeces,
Bone of man and beast, cornstalk and leaf.
Houses live and die: there is a time for building
And a time for living and for generation [...]

-- T.S. Eliot, 'East Coker'

Brewing these storms in our teacups
Rebuilding the booth of the Lord;
Recovering, discovering
The truths we forgot.

Paint on the walls
Of cracked roadside stalls;
Man raises a building,
He praises the gilding
Of stones drawn grey and white
In tones strung day and night.

At the chimes we sat and stared
Out rhymeless windows at whitewashed walls,
Behind which truth still could ring true.
Processional -- it could be me or you
Stirred by stirrings deep below, of a voice which calls
At times when we are but too scared.

Building and building, but what's next?

Thursday, July 22, 2010


17 July was, for all the logistical nightmares that came with it, arguably a great success.

Since 'The Lord of the Rings' in December 2008, when I coordinated (with a lot of help from Shannon and Ai Wei) a group of 80+ students from some 13 campuses across Malaysia, it was always my desire to return to an MPO performance with more than 100 students in tow.

At a final count of 171 attendees (due to a rare technical error on my part; it was supposed to be 172) from across 16 campuses, I got more than what I bargained for. And at a performance of Mahler's 3rd Symphony, no less; I actually think we might have rivalled the size of the orchestra (plus choirs!) onstage!

So here's a big thank you to those who made it, and who brought friends!

In chronological order;

George, who did not join us for the concert, but helped me organise the tickets over a hurried 'dinner'.

"This one, even the machine cannot do!" he said.

Chian Ming and the UPM contingent.

Joan, with sister Grace and friend Jothi.

Evans, Yinka, Taofeekat and Francis.


Leanne and the Monash contingent.

Joshua and the Law contingent; Lydia and her UKM friend Su-Jian's group.

Amos, Jee Haw, Remy and girlfriend.


Annabelle and the Calvary contingent; Sabrina and the massive crowd from 4th College.

The VI Scrabble Team of 2001-2004.

Ruth, with sister Alicia and friend James.

Shannon and his army, as usual. ;-)

* * *

Speaking of milestones, I think the move was quite an experience for our dear George.

Since 2002, at the age of 6 months, he had only known one home; one garden (even as it underwent changes over the years) and one corner of the world. This was his biggest move since we bought him from the breeder then.

* * *

Christina introduced me to Animoto, and now I'm hooked!

Made this promotional trailer for the PKV Convo 2010:

This test run for SUSI:

And this snippet of last December's Taiping trip:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Brickfields with Mensa

So it was that Mensa Malaysia decided to conduct a photo shoot to document Brickfields as it is, before the transformation plan revamps the area beyond recognition.

It was on the morning of Sunday, 18 July, that Poh Wah convened a small but enthusiastic group of shutterbugs (and morning lepak-ers for the job, including newly-elected Chairman, Azrai, and long-serving R&R Makan group leader, C.T. Yong.

We were divided into two groups, to cover different roads in the area.


Pigeons, Scott Road.

'Rapha' means 'healing'.

Azrai ponders the inexorable advance of development.

Sunday market.

The future.

Bicycle and posters, market wall.

The Indian presence in Brickfields is clearly seen in the flower garlands hung before the statue of St Mary, at the Our Lady Fatima Church.

My group: Azrai, Vin Li and Su-Min.

(Ah, how small the world!)

The bird trader.

What's in the pipeline for you, O Brickfields?

Banana leaves and building.

(Also, when the building comes, the banana leaves. Get it?)

Goal post through broken grille.

Walking past Johor, Brickfields.

* * *

All pictures shot on Kodak Tri-X 400.

Nikon N80 with 50mm f/1.8 lens and 80B filter. (The filter wasn't used for any particular effect; I was lazy to swap filters so I left it on.)

Friday, July 02, 2010

Back in Malaysia

Well, I'm back from the United States!

I was there for five weeks, on exchange under the State Department-funded Study of the U.S. Institute (SUSI) for Student Leaders on Global Environmental Issues.

We were based at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawai'i for four weeks, during which we made a week-long excursion to the Big Island of Hawai'i. The final week of the programme was spent in Washington, D.C.

SUSI '10, and the 52 rolls of film pending processing.

(All in all I shot some 58 rolls of film, six of which were developed in Honolulu.)

Some good news that arrived by mail while I was away. Thus ends three years in arguably the best possible way.

(I already knew, but it's really something to see it in print!)

* * *

Sneak preview of life in Hawai'i:

The bus service in Honolulu goes by the self-explanatory name, 'The Bus'.

(Nikon P5000)

Hiking up Diamond Head Crater in Honolulu.

The most recognisable landmark on the island of O'ahu, it's a dead volcano near Waikiki Beach. It was so named because minerals in its surface appeared to sailors out at sea like diamonds.

(Kodak Tri-X 400)

Ka'upulehu dryland forest on the Big Island.

The vast beige patch is uprooted African Fountain Grass, Pennisetum cetaceum, a highly invasive species.

(Kodak Ektar 100)

A Naupaka hedge leads the way to the sea, near the Pu'ukohola Heiau National Park on the Big Island.

I didn't actually notice that the green 'leads' to the sea, till Yen pointed it out to me.

(Fujichrome Velvia 50)

Green Turtle, Chelonia mydas, at a coral reef off the Mauna Kea Beach Resort.

(Fuji X-tra 800)

Halema'uma'u Crater at sunrise, Volcanoes National Park.

This crater is one of the most active in Hawai'i, and in the world, spewing tonnes of hot sulphur dioxide gas daily.

(Fujichrome Astia 100)

O'hia lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha) sapling, Kilaue'a Iki Crater, Volcanoes National Park.

Volcanic ash is very fertile.

(Kodak Portra 160 VC)

* * *

Besides carrying home quite a number of books and a handful of souvenirs, I also acquired some photographic gear at fantastic second-hand and consignment prices, and some film.

This is what my fleet looks like now.

The amazing thing is that ALL my film gear (three cameras, five lenses and a few filters) costs about the same as what many people pay for DSLRs these days.

* * *

On another note, my portfolio is ready and actually has been up and running since before I left for Hawai'i.

On at least three occasions in America, I had people ask if I were a professional photographer.

I have never quite figured out how to answer the question. I mean, I don't take photographs for a living; however, saying 'no' may give the impression that I don't take photography seriously, while in fact I do.

After discussing with my parents, I think I'll go with their suggestion: 'professional freelancer'. Or, would 'professional amateur' make any sense? After all, the word 'amateur' originally meant 'lover'.