Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Evening with Yaël and Conan

What an unusual day.

I looked up Yaël Naim's 'New Soul', which Joel identified at Audrey's wedding reception with that incredible smartphone app that identifies songs.

And a brilliant live version:

And then, on Google Plus, I saw Alpha's posting of Conan O'Brien's secret Santa project. You can access the link here.

Curious about Conan O'Brien, I looked him up on Wikipedia and learned that he won an essay competition back when he was 17. I found the Boston Globe article here, and reading it reminds me once again of what I love so much about writing, that it's about characters, about people—and real people at that.

I like what he says about Hemingway, which I have found to be true as well: "[Hemingway] has a vocabulary about as extensive as mine, but he puts it together well."

The article is here. But just in case the digital version disappears, here it is in its entirety.

* * *


By Phyllis Coons -- Boston Globe -- December 3, 1980 -- Section: LIVING

This weekly series focuses on Massachusetts high school students in the classroom and their EXTRA CREDIT - the hobbies, jobs and interests that round out their lives.

He writes stories in a garret, but he's no starving artist. He lives in a large house in Brookline with a large family . . . five bothers and sisters, his parents and grandmother . . . in a comfortable style which his friends call "The Corporation."

"I live in the corner of the attic because it's quiet there and nobody can shuffle my paper around," says Conan O Brien. The 17-year-old Brookline High School senior's latest story, "To Bury The Living," won him a top prize in the National Council of Teachers of English writing contest. "The competition was very stiff, " says Marcia Castellon, administrative assistant for the Council's 1980 Achievement Awards in Writing. More than 5500 students from schools in every state and American schools abroad were nominated by their English teachers to take part. "The writing performance of this student was compared with other able students and was adjudged to be of superior quality," says O'Brien's citation.

O'Brien's story is about a middle-class Irish undertaker who can't take it seriously when his son wants to enter a writing contest for a college scholarship because it is understood that he will work at Leigh Herlihy and Son Funeral Home. As O'Brien described the situation: "Leith felt numb at first. What his father had said (about Herlihy and Son) didn't shock him, simply the fact that it had finally been said. Without looking at his parents, Leith knew how to focus on his grandmother. She alone had the power to change it all, she alone had witnessed it twice before. Better than anyone else, Grandmother Herlihy knew the cycle. After a long pause, she looked into Leith's eyes and nodded her head.

"Leith, sick with frustration, felt the smallness of the room. He stood up and kicked his chair from under him. Without looking at anyone, he ran from the table and up the stairs leading to his room. The door slammed and the entire house shook with the force. As the china in the cabinet rattled, Grandmother Herlihy thought back to a similar scene 30 years before."

The story ends with the boy crumpling up the contest application and dropping it into the wastebasket. "I wanted it to be about real people and not end it with a walk off into the sunset," O'Brien says, running his long fingers through wiry red hair and shifting his 6 foot 3 frame as he put the pages of the story in order.

"No, it isn't autobiographical, but it comes from a sense of family tradition. We have a lot of it in our family. We all know where to sit at the table for Sunday dinners, and we always used to go to our grandparents, the O'Briens in Millbury or the Reardons in Sturbridge, for holidays.

"It had a big impact on me when both grandfathers died within days of each other. Grandfather O'Brien was a banker and Grandfather Reardon was a policeman, who also sold real estate so that he could support his large family. "In order to enter the contest we were asked to write about something that was a real experience for us, and that's what I wrote about, how hard it was for me then in the 7th grade to understand that that part of our family tradition was gone."

O'Brien's father, Thomas, is a microbiologist who does research at Harvard. His mother, Ruth, is a law partner in Ropes and Gray. Neither profession appeals to him. "I'm interested in writing, history, and politics. That's my dilemma. I like all three. I worked as a congressional intern for Robert Drinan and then for the candidate he endorsed, Barney Frank . . . street work and mail drops. It's a chance to meet all sorts of people."

"My family says that I've been scribbling since way back, but the writing I do now is mostly for the school paper, The Sagamore.' I was editorial editor last year and managing editor this year, which means that I don't have as much time to write, but I am freer to choose what I'll write about."

John Medearis, editor in chief, says, "Conan's contributions are extremely valuable. He is able to bring out the points which aren't predictable. My favorite piece of his was the spoof on the typical high school student . . . boring, boring, boring. He's a good mimic, too, especially of movie star heavies and he's co-captain of the debating team."

Tom Bresnahan, a classmate in English, says, "We all have to re-write the simplest of assignments in order to get the word choice and the sentence structure clean, but Conan probably does the most re-writes until they come out sharp."

O'Brien's English teacher, Christopher Reimann. says Conan's writing is very good. "Unlike most high school students, he is able to communicate what he is thinking very clearly. That can be a two-edged sword. If your thinking is confused, you have to have the ability to handle ambiguity. I criticize Conan's papers not on a high school level but on a more mature bassis and he handles criticism fairly well. It is clearly important to him."

O'Brien says, "There's not that much that separates me from other students, except that I take English very seriously. If I get a mediocre mark in math, I let it slide, but not in English.

Adds Conan, "I wrote to E.B. White, one of the writers I admire most, once and asked him how he handled criticism of his writing. You put so much of yourself into it that it's hard not to take criticism personally. White wrote back that he never minded critics much except when they had their facts wrong."

"I like Hemingway, too. He has a vocabulary about as extensive as mine, but he puts it together well. And Woody Allen. He's made up a style of his own. Everytime he starts with a thoughtful sentence he slips in something totally absurd."

Asked about the name, Conan, O'Brien says it is not for mystery writer Conan Doyle, but for Gaelic priests. "Something so simple that you can't make a nickname out of it.

"College? I'll take the best one that picks me. I tell my parents that next year they'll have to ask someone else to drive the little kids around and do errands, but I'll miss it just the same. There are a lot of real characters in this family."

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thoughts after lunch with Eric Peris and friends

I reflected on my first meeting with the legendary Eric Peris in this post:

A year and eleven months later, I found myself having a meal with him—and friends!—again.

(Many thanks to Aunty Sheila who made all this possible in the first place.)

During lunch, one of the things Eric talked about was the careless shooting attitude digital photography seems to encourage—it seems to be a recurring topic for him—in which photographers these days seldom think before they shoot, partly because we are no longer constrained by the 36 exposures of a 35mm film roll, and partly because 'bad' shots can be erased later. The conversation—principally with Uncle Rahman, Danial's father—began with Eric talking about why he doesn't bother getting larger capacity memory cards.

He summed up his stance in three words—"Think of 36." We would do well, he believes, to imagine we are still shooting with a limited roll of 36 exposures; then, he says, we will be more careful before pressing the shutter.

This led me to think of two recent shoots I did for a UM friend's company. At the first, I had forgotten to charge my camera's battery the night before, and to make things worse, I had forgotten to bring along the spare. Every shot counted, and—thank God, really—the battery lasted. I ended up making just about 200 exposures in four hours; I have a feeling the company may have wanted more—or at least, more shots taken so that we'd have a larger pool for selection.

At the second shoot, I went all-out and shot something like 800 frames in six hours. Were the shots from the second engagement necessarily better than those from the first? Not necessarily! More varied, yes; capturing more random nuances, yes; but more compelling as a portfolio on the whole? Not necessarily.

I do believe that photography is about knowing what you want and going for it; yes, you do approach the subject from different angles—but from a FEW angles, not by racking off 100 frames or so, hoping to record the anatomy of a yawn. (Then again, some people seem to like this sort of stuff these days.)

* * *

Later in the day, on the way home from a five-hour whirlwind errand run—which included the said lunch—I thought about the Penang workshop/trip I made with the PCP people in May 2007. After the morning photo walk, I remember hearing one of the guys at the workshop asking another, "So, how many gigs [gigabytes] did you shoot?"

Strange that the question wasn't, "How many good shots did you get?" let alone, "Did you encounter anything interesting?" or "What did you see?" It wasn't even, "How many shots did you take?"—the question was about the total size of the digital files!

At that time, I secretly thought to myself, "I think I took more pictures than that dude, but because my camera's files are small, I probably didn't hit anywhere near a few GB."

We are no longer Hemingway's old man, out there pursuing that great marlin, but mere trawlers, sweeping the sea with our giant nets and hoping to get lucky. We think—as these modern 'fishermen' do—that we can easily dispose of with whatever we don't want.

As I look back on those photographs, I find that I had shot nearly 500 pictures over the morning and evening photo walks; I can barely count 10 gems, looking through them. Amidst all that trawling I did get this picture:

But it was taken in the evening, when I was less obsessed with shooting every moving object, and more attentive to texture and form—when I was relaxed enough to look down at the beach and notice the extremely long shadows the strolling pigeons made.

This was the shot that received praise from renowned studio and advertising photographer Kelvin Chan during the group sharing session.

* * *

Plug: A photography exhibition on Nepal, curated by Alan Ng, is on display at Kokopelli Travellers Bistro, 4 Section 14/46, PJ, until the end of this year. So hurry, drop by and see it!

The photos include a stunning silver gelatin series by Alan Ng, and photographs taken by restaurant owner Ariff Awaluddin, Soraya Yusof Talismail, young Ushuaia Arif, Ange Choy, Choy Khye Fatt, Wong Lee Ling and Tovee Wan HL.

How do we maintain relevance in a world where photographs are so effortlessly made, and, perhaps for that reason, so arbitrarily disposed of?

I think this is what Eric Peris has been going on about all his life, and his photographs give us a strong clue as to the direction in which to head.

So I got my copy of Gitanjali signed, but unfortunately Soraya could not make it; Imaging Selfs will have to wait!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It's really not about being 'green'

People get it wrong. They think I'm against plastics, styrofoam and the like because I'm an eco-fanatical tree-hugger sort. Well I'm not green; the grass is green, but I'm quite positively some shade of brown or tan.

I'm against wasteful use of synthetic materials simply because I like aesthetics. I take photos, I paint, I write. And my subject matter often comes from the world around me. Needless to say, plastic bottles generally don't look good in photographs—certainly not in nature photographs! And no one looks good eating out of a styrofoam container.

I believe in wildlife conservation not because I'm enraptured by the cuteness of dolphins, turtles and elephants, but because I think natural ecosystems are awesome. And when it comes to conserving an ecosystem—be it a coral reef, a rainforest or an arctic tundra—every member of the ecosystem needs to be conserved. In fact, it's often the small creatures that keep ecosystems alive; rainforests can survive without tigers, but they can't survive without the fungi and microorganisms that break down dead matter.

I endorse responsible and independent tourism, not because I think tour operators are crap (though of course, some are), but because, honestly, who wants to go snorkelling with hundreds of other day-trippers? Who wants to go for a jungle hike that feels more like a weekend school excursion? And who wants to take pictures of impressive architecture and sweeping landscapes with a menagerie of tourists in the foreground?

I support local agriculture and sustainable fisheries—and generally the whole 'going local' thing—not so much because I'm convinced of a creed or something, but more so because—let's face it—this is the only way that's going to work in the long run.

The December issue of National Geographic features an article on city living (link here—KL made it into the pages!), in which it is suggested that sustainable cities are the best bet for survival on earth. It must be realised, however, that sustainable can mean anything from perfectly synthetic (we don't need rivers because we can manufacture water) to a 'ruralisation' of cities (by going back to the natural way of things).

I know my opinions may well be a wet blanket in the dreams of many engineers, but I truly believe the key to the future is in the past, and that future cities really worth living in, will bear the unmistakable hallmarks of the best villages of the past and present.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Totally made my day

At the Rantai Art Event 'Revisit' at Urban Village, next to BLC.

Jia Ming, meet Jia Ming. Yes, same characters. ;-)

I vaguely remember having met another Jia Ming before, some time ago. But what are the odds!

This is Jia Ming Suen, artist, sketchbook and notebook designer, among many other things I'm sure! Blogs here:

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Rock: It Matters if You're Black and White

I am convinced that rock music, more than any other art form, is best expressed visually in black-and-white, or sepia-tinted, photographs.

I would go further and assert that these ought to be film photographs, and medium format at that (though I use 35mm), but these points are, I suppose, a little more debatable. For me, at least, I find the N80 so much more responsive than the D50 when it comes to autofocus in low light, and there's less camera shake when used with long lenses, too. I believe the newer cameras have superior autofocus, but I don't intend to spend that kind of money on a new digital SLR when most of my work is done on film.

Anyway, for my rock guitarist brother's 21st birthday, I prepared a portfolio of images I had taken, primarily during the later parts of 2010 and 2011, of him 'in action'. These are some of them.

* * *

Studio. 6 Strings, Taman Connaught.

Stage. The Library, e@Curve.

Stage. Opera, Sunway Pyramid.

* * *

The following were taken after the portfolio was completed, at UCSI's Contemporary Music Festival, 27 Nov 2011.

Bass and guitar.

The band performing Dream Theater's 'Endless Sacrifice'.

Thoughts on Street Photography

The moment I saw these guys walking my way, I thought of a friend in Singapore whom Kishan described as wearing a cravat of late.

I barely had time to whip my handphone camera into action before they disappeared behind me. And then I realised a few things about street photography.

It is commonly held that street photography benefits from a wide and fast lens, and fast film or a high ISO. It also benefits from a small and inconspicuous camera, which is why rangefinders—especially when painted black—have been an enduring favourite of street photographers. SLRs, while perfectly black, are in no way subtle, and compact cameras, while subtle, are often not responsive enough to capture split-second moments on the street.

But there is, I believe, an approach to street photography that leaves less to chance, and enables the photographer to get compelling shots even with an SLR. And that is to use a tripod and a wide lens, to disappear into the busyness of the street, to capture the subjects walking by, using a cable release or remote control to trigger the shutter. This way, the photographer becomes a 'passive hunter' of sorts, crouched and all but hidden behind the camera, making passers-by and other people on the street less self-conscious. No doubt, many will try to avoid the camera. But pedestrian pathways are usually narrow enough for a wide lens to prevent any possible escape on the part of potential subjects.

Bring a friend along, put two stools out on the streetside, and have a conversation over drinks in one hand and the cable release is the other, being mindful of what's going on in the corner of your eye. Pre-focus the camera and set it on Manual, and trip the shutter whenever something of interest happens within the camera's field of view.

Because in all of this, street photography, I feel, is not so much about capturing random scenes you pass by, as it is about capturing scenes of people and things that pass you by. And this calls for a certain discipline, patience, and directed focus more typically associated with the 'passive' art of landscape photography.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

O Donna Eileen Peris

Eric Peris's mother passed away on 30 November, at the age of 96.

At the memorial, the Sinhalese Buddhist priest, who is somewhat familiar with the Peris family, mentioned the family's artistic tradition, that it fulfilled one of three areas of the complete life, that is, the area of Aesthetics.

Aesthetics, the part that relates to how you see the world, to your artistic sense of things around and within you. "This requires discipline, especially so when the whole family is involved."

Ethics. "This is how you relate to others, and to society."

Religion. "This is the redeeming of space and time."

* * *

Dixie, the family dog, died earlier this year at the incredible (by dog standards) age of 19.

They are indeed a long-lived family. But what is even more enduring is their art—indeed, it would appear that long after every last Peris is gone, the works they have created will outlive them and continue to influence and inspire many generations to come.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The 'McCurry Moment', and Changes in KL

It was last Friday, and the moment I saw the image appear on my handphone screen I knew I had somehow broken new ground. It was like a 'McCurry moment'; Cartier-Bresson developed the idea of the 'decisive moment'—in which split-second gestures are anticipated and captured by the photographer—while Steve McCurry went on to interpret this in context of juxtapositions.

McCurry's images frequently depict the 'shared' decisive moment, the point when the individual decisive moments of two or more individuals meet.

For me, it began with the (apparently) homeless/jobless man. And then the woman came along. Because of the phone camera's ridiculous shutter lag, I really had no idea which part of her walking would be captured. When the final image was recorded, it turned out to be that moment when she picks up her skirt (and pace) and prepares to descend the stairs—her motion and momentum juxtaposed against his stillness.

(Note to self: I need a faster lens, both to counter hand-shake and reduce motion blur when taking pictures like this.)

* * *

There have been some observable changes in town, particularly at and around the Central Market area.

View of KL Tower from the Dayabumi-Central Market bridge, 5 November 2009.

Same view, 1 September 2011.

Note the new HSBC building, otherwise known as Quill 6.

Man descends steps at the Dayabumi-Central Market bridge, 5 November 2009.

Same view, 1 September 2011.

A roof has been built over the bridge. While this makes walking in rain somewhat more tenable, it obscures the view and the feeling of 'openness' which so characterises that area. Kinda like the effect of the roofs/canopies of Petaling Street and Jalan Masjid India.

* * *

According to the KTM website, the Kuala Lumpur station (Old Railway Station, as distinguished from the KL Sentral station) has been reinstated as a stop on the intercity route as of 1 October 2011.

I think it's only been about a year since they pulled the plug on the station (for the intercity routes), but I guess you can't keep a good station down. Elton John had this song called 'This Train Don't Stop There Anymore'. Well I suppose it won't be said of the intercity trains!

This applies to west coast trains on the North Line only, as the KL station is north of Sentral; South and East Line trains terminate at Sentral. An exception is the venerable Ekspres Rakyat, which plies almost the entire west coast, from Singapore to Butterworth.

Departure/arrival times from KL, to:

JB Sentral; 1400/2000
Butterworth; 0850/1615, 1510/2120, 2300/0630 (next day)
Padang Besar; 2120/0835

To KL, from:

JB Sentral; 0912/1500
Butterworth; 0800/1400, 1400/2100, 2300/0630 (next day)
Padang Besar; 1830/0525 (next day)

(All information correct as of 29 November 2011.)

The Mogul-inspired façade of the Old Railway Station at dusk, designed by architect A.B. Hubback. The station started operations in 1911. It is officially 100 years old this year, and I didn't know that—there doesn't seem to have been news on it at all!

More information here.

Titus, Joy, Yen and Jia Hui on Platform 1, waiting for the 6.30 a.m. ETS train to Ipoh, September 2010.

View from intercity train rattling through Platform 1 en route to KL Sentral.

Driveway, front of station.

Photographed 30 October 2011, while mistakenly waiting for Juin at the wrong place.

* * *

A promo display for the KTM Komuter 'transformation plan' has been put up at the main entrance foyer in KL Sentral. Looks like quite a complete overhaul of the existing system—about time too!

(That cartoon-like character next to the boy in green T-shirt is a person in the KOMI suit. KOMI is one of the KTM Komuter mascots, the other being MIKO.)

Meals Station has taken over from Warong Kita.

It is open 24 hours—one of the few outlets in Sentral to do so. Can't remember if Warong Kita used to be 24 hours also, but I think not; it just opened very early in the morning.

* * *

The other night—I think it was Saturday night—I dreamt, among other things, of Kaun, Yen, Jia Hui and Adelene.

Before that, in the dream, I was making some sort of Milo concoction for Mich. She said an average cup the way I did it would be RM20, and I said that it was impossible. I was being very generous with the Milo powder, the extra chocolate powder and the milk, but it couldn't have come up to RM20.

How did such an exchange find its way into my dream? I think it comes from what I do with my cocktails: Mich and Joan have observed that, if I made cocktails commercially as I make them at home, I would quickly go bankrupt!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

KL Observed: Random

Some scenes around town, this month.

Face lift, front façade, Pudu Plaza.

Pudu Plaza, front façade.

The Sphere, Bangsar South.

I concur with Yen; one of the foodie gems in the area, still relatively undiscovered. Among other things, Strongbow draught pint RM15 at S'Mores on Wednesdays, and Guinness draught pint RM12 from Thursday to Saturday (albeit till 10pm only)—yet to try!

Entrance to Lift Lobby from parking, Menara SSM, KL Sentral.

Talk about gender correctness!

Replacing road signs, at and around Jalan Abdullah, Bangsar.

1NasiLemak, Hang Tuah LRT station.

Seriously, the government should consider a campaign to promote nasi lemak as a 'unity symbol'. Then again, Namewee got there first.

Filing into the Monorail, Hang Tuah Monorail station.

View of the Asian Heritage Row, from Faber Imperial Court.

I wonder what aspect of 'heritage' this street embodies... unless it's the Asian drinking heritage you're talking about. But then again, there's not much in the way of Asian drinks here!

Chatime, Cheras Leisure Mall.

Seems like no matter where Chatime springs up, a queue is guaranteed.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Alexis with Kishan and Jean

Jazz nights are really the bomb. And it's hard to beat Alexis Ampang for an overall great evening out with friends.

Kishan was back again over the weekend, and I met up with him and his friend Jean. In a world choked by the "iPad culture", it was great hanging out with real people, listening to real music. Nadia Aqilah, an up-and-rising R&B/soul singer was performing; the band included Emmanuel on drums!

We admitted we'd probably never understand what people find so enjoyable about clubbing. We paid less for a lovely bottle of wine than what people pay at clubs for alcohol they can barely truly enjoy; we had a meaningful conversation while people in clubs probably can't get a word across; we sat down to great food and great music, while club music is so loud it's barely audible.

Fire oven pizza—one of the highlights at Alexis. We mixed the Quattro Formaggi (four cheeses) and Al Funghi (mushroom) toppings.

We also shared a bottle of Salisbury Chardonnay, a plate of honey-roasted root vegetables (pumpkin, carrot, onion, garlic), a meringue-strawberry pavlova, and a pot of passionfruit tea.

And then, when they cleared everything up, we took some concept photos with the upturned/stacked chairs.

Kishan says I can compensate for any deficiencies/problems in photographic situations. That is evidently an overstatement, but I would indeed like to think that that's principally how I approach photography—as an attempt to overcome challenges in conveying how I feel about something or someone or someplace.

Kishan, Ben and Jean.

Metal barstool and shadow, with stacked wooden chairs.

Remains of supper.

On another note, I mentioned how Lewis Pragasam hasn't been playing the Alexis for a while now. And then, lo and behold, turns out Pragasam and band will be anchoring year-end celebrations at the Alexis!

Friday 30 Dec, 10 p.m.
Saturday 31 Dec, 9 p.m.

Free admission. Come one, come all!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Deepavali 2011

Mist and roofs.

Diagonal shadow.

'Slow' food, fast food.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Return of the Bike

I spent the better part of yesterday morning cleaning and sprucing up my bike, the one my parents gave me for my 21st birthday. An adventure is coming, I hope!

Taken on the first day of Haluansiswa (orientation week) 2009, this is, as far as I know, the only picture of me and my bike, on campus. Somehow I just never got down to asking anyone to take a picture of me riding the bike, although the idea did lurk in the back of my mind for some time.

I told Kaun the other day, after completing his Convo shoot, that, for all the shoots I've done for various friends over the years, there's one shoot I never did—mine! (Except for the MPM shoot, but even that was only at/around DTC.)

And so when I look through the photos of my friends at their shoots, I always tell myself that there's no such thing as a 'bad' Convo shoot, because it is better to at least have photos, than to have none.

Demimu Kurshiah

Untuk Juin.

Cahaya lampu satu,
Cahaya lampu sayu,
Bunga mekar di waktu malam.

Tiga tahun di tanjung, di tangga,
Setahun lagi hilang (entah ke mana),
Bayu lembut sampaikan salam.

Bagai lilin membakar diri,
Mekar kini
Nescaya mati di siang hari;
Api terpadam, cinta terbenam
Bagai kawan lama, tak kenal lagi.

Jalan lurus, jalan selari
Tapi kita menoleh ke kanan kiri,
Manusia mengejar barang fana.

Bukan sia-sia
Haruman dibawa ke mana jua,
Mengharumkan nama kita berdua--
Kamu dan aku, menunggu, menanti

Bara cinta, biarpun sementara
Bagai mentari, menerangi malam.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Kaun, Kang and Fikri

Today I did a convo photo shoot for Kaun, Kang and Fikri. Not, of course, my first such shoot, but this one brought back memories, in no small measure because they were some of the people I actually started the whole UM journey with.

I'm down with sore throat (and fever looks like it's just around the corner), but thank God, we completed the shoot. It's been a rather long two weeks, but given the rest I had last week, I can't seem to figure out the cause of this present illness.

Anyway, the thing is, I was reminded of how I was very frequently sick during my undergraduate days. I used to have very long spells of flu, and even during my Student Council campaign I barely did any campaigning as I was down with the flu then, too. I remember re-joining debates at the beginning of my second year, and then withdrawing a few sessions into the semester. This was almost entirely due to fatigue, as I found myself feeling very drowsy and falling asleep almost every session.

And yet, in spite of these recurring seasons of illness, I pushed myself to make the most of my time on campus. I think this is one of the main causes of my irreversible weight loss, and my irreparable facial textures. I pushed myself because I wanted to live life literally to the very fullest; at the end of my three years I was able to look back with pride and satisfaction at everything that I'd been through.

Something that is not widely known, but that people like my ex-roommate, How (and possible Adrian) noticed, was that I was never really interested in photography. It was something I could do, and back in those days before the ultra-proliferation of DSLRs my 'talent' was an asset which I was able to put to some good use.

Nonetheless, the things I enjoyed most were physical activities like cycling, walking and swimming—just exploring every corner of the campus.

On Kaun's convo day, we talked about chasing sunsets. The conversation went like this:

Kaun: Cool sunset wei!
Ben: We can shoot it from Bukit Cinta.
Kaun: By the time we reach, gone dy.
Ben: Then we should chase it.


Kaun: That's a good one!

And these were my thoughts after that:

I guess that's what rainbows and sunsets are for - chasing. We had both on Wednesday evening, after the rain. They don't last, and that's precisely why we must go after them while we can.

Congrats again, Kaun. Here's to the sunsets and rainbows we've chased, and will continue to chase!

* * *

Well, guys, today's was one last UM sunset for us all. We really couldn't have asked for a better way to finish this part of the journey. Thanks for inviting me to be a part of it all over again. ;-)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Lanterns at 3rd

It was after the PKV Junior Visitation on Monday (Mooncake Festival) that I bumped into this group on the way out of college.

This obviously wasn't the official 3rd Lantern Walk. I guessed it was the PM group, having some fun after Haluansiswa last week.

I asked Gabriel, "Ah, all of you PM this year is it?"
He said, "Yeah, second time."
"Hah?! Second time? Oh, you're in third year already!"

I still find it hard to believe that people like Emily are in third year, and people like Firdy, Adila, Hwei and the law gang in fourth/final.

It was so nice to see Uncle and Aunty Foong again. A welcome, familiar sight in a rapidly transforming campus.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Mr & Mrs

Ryan and Audrey Lo.

Showers of blessings!

Well, not quite yet. It's only 10.00 p.m. on Friday on the other side of the planet.

But here's a hearty congratulations, in advance!

Dewan Tunku Canselor

[The Dewan Tunku Canselor is] unsurpassed in concrete plasticity. Despite its concrete expression, the building is appropriately tropical and has weathered well over the years. Every year, convocations are still held in this building, which is the iconic centre of the university.

-- Ngiom, on Dato' Kington Loo. From Ngiom (ed.), Shapers of Modern Malaysia. Pertubuhan Arkitek Malaysia 2010.

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They built the KPS Auditorium, they built a ghastly white 'new' Chancellery, and they built a so-called 'second' DTC.

But there will ever always only be one Experimental Theatre, one 'old' Chancellery, and one DTC. Dato' Kington Loo left behind a legacy set in stone, and one that will continue to weather well... just like the students of this age-old institution.

Here's to all of you, to all of us.

Convo 2011. Happening this 3-8 October!