Student days …… Words cannot describe the beauty of its carefree days. It is a personal treasure that everyone has; one that comes alive again when you meet an old friend or when you visit your home town. Memories of how things were then, the pranks, the games, the loves…
Young Emotion, authored by Ipoh-based obstetrician and gynecologist Dr Teoh Soong Kee, is a collection of treasured memories from his days as a teenager in Penang. It was during his secondary years at the prestigious Penang Free School where his love for writing began. Young Emotion contains snapshots in poems and short stories, of student day-memories which engages the older reader to reminisce of similar happy days, while opening up to the younger reader a glimpse of life in the ‘good old days’. Not just refreshingly lucid, Young Emotion is raw and rich with the passion of a witty yet eloquent youth, who from humble beginnings, journeyed through student days with caring friends and inspiring teachers who helped shaped his life. Through the pages of Young Emotion, you will not only be transported back to your happy days as a youth, but inspire you to consider living the rest of your life with passion and purpose.
Young Emotion (117 pages) is available at Dr Teoh’s clinic at Ipoh Specialist Hospital (call Tracy 05 255 1406) or at St Peter’s church (call Jenny 05 546 0444) at a minimum donation of RM15 per copy. All proceeds will benefit the Penang Free School student fund.
The PSPA Singers made their debut with a repertoire of arias in their musical presentation entitled “Voices from Vienna to Broadway” at Tandoor Grill Restaurant in Ipoh recently. Along with three prominent singers from Thailand, Sirikhwan Buathong (soprano), Thanis Sonkloe (baritone) and Salith Dechsangworn (tenor), the singers gave a rousing performance, not only through their vocal prowess but also facial expressions.
Led by music director Marianne Poh, who is herself a soprano, the show had an interesting programme, with the first half consisting of Mozart’s well-known operas, Don Giovanni and Cosi Fan Tutte, and the second half, a selection of evergreen musicals from The Sound of Music to Miss Saigon and Les Miserables.
The first half began with a solo presentation, kicked off by Marianna Poh’s rendition of L’amour est un oiseau rebelle (Love is a rebellious bird) from the 1875 opera Carmen by Georges Bizet. Then, Thai baritone, Thanis Sonkloe, took to the stage with Mozart’s Deh, vieni alla finestra from the opera, Don Giovanni.
The second part of the first half was arias from Mozart’s Don Giovanni. First was Giovinette, which was a scene at the wedding party for Zerlina and Masetto. This was followed by Là ci darem la mano where Don Giovanni, the philandering Count, tried to seduce his housemaid, Zerlina. The last aria, Eh via, buffone wrapped up the second part.
In the third part, Così fan tutte, two sisters, one blonde, and the other a brunette, discussed the men of their choice. It ended with the women sending their men to the army.
The second half of the presentation was on musicals through the ages from light to the serious, beginning with The Sound of Music from 1959. The selection of songs included Edelweiss, My Favourite Things and Do-Re-Mi.
Tracks from Miss Saigon were Sun and Moon and Last Night of the World while those from Les Miserables included I Dreamed a Dream and One Day More.
The audience asked for an encore and to their delight was awarded with not one but two additional pieces; local hit Belaian Jiwa and African hymn Siyahamba.
Woven in Deception is a classic Indian tale condensed in a 153-page book on the trials and tribulations of three generations of a wealthy Indian family, spanning over a century. The book relates the geographical move from India to Malaysia and the continuing struggles faced by three generations of the Kamelanathan family, apparently due to a curse inflicted upon them.
Although the theme seems heavy-handed, Woven in Deception is pretty much a light and easy read from start to finish. The author is able to keep the reader entertained with her tales that are easy to comprehend and, notably, identifiable individual and group behaviour within typical Indian households.
So, if you happen to be looking out for a good weekend read, nothing too mind-boggling, this book is quite straight forward, and would make an ideal selection.
The author, Nirmala Kasinathan, of Indian origin and a doctor from Ipoh, aptly reflects the Indian diaspora in Woven in Deception, beginning in the early 20th century. She takes readers through a litany of imaginary happenings, portraying living conditions during the British and Japanese Occupation, right up to post-Independence and leading to incidences as current as 2010.
The historical background of Malaysia and evolution of the Indian origin compliments the unravelling of the extended family saga spanning three generations. The book tells tales of love, marriage, betrayal, despair, frustration and more. These emotions and manifestation of human sentiments are revisited through the unfolding of the descendants’ lives throughout the book.
Woven in Deception is centred on the belief that a curse so strong had been inflicted upon three generations of the Kamelanathan family by an angry, never-to-be father-in-law. The reading reveals the customary practices (mainly superstition), within the Indian and Ceylonese communities where an elder of a family, takes on a superiority position to consult with an astrologer for predictions on their family members’ future. An astrologer’s word, however illogical, is seemingly held in high esteem and is considered the absolute truth, no evidence required. As spelled out in Woven in Deception, each member of the extended Kamelanathan’s family’s misfortune is decidedly due to the curse, inflicted three generations earlier.
Progressing through the chapters, are revelations and turning points in the lives of the protagonists in each generation. Secrets and personal longings are reflected upon to justify intentions and actions taken. The “sizzle” factor, however, takes on a rather passive note, as the author chooses to depict the main characters’ private lives and thoughts rather politely. However, the storyline does reflect, in reality, the workings of a typical class-conscious Indian family.
Whether by design or not, Woven in Deception’s storyline is, in my opinion “woven-in-deception” through the revelation of strong subliminal influences which form the crux of the Indian community’s identity. The Indian social organisation is, till today, structured on its culture, superstition, social norms, caste system and its discriminating patriarchal social system, that define roles of family members within an Indian household.
As an advocate for the equality for women, I abhor patriarchy, and commend the author, although she did so passively, for revealing the conservative traditional and restrictive beliefs practised by Indians and Ceylonese till today.
Woven in Deception is a good medium to create awareness to the readership on gender discrimination and social-class segregation, caste systems, traditions, norms and culture that inhibit the progress of the Indian community, per se.
To quote Arundhati Roy, an accomplished Indian author and political activist, “Our strategy should not only be to confront but to lay siege. To deprive it of oxygen, to shame it, to mock it, with our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance , our sheer relentlessness – in our ability to tell our stories. Stories that are different from the ones many are brainwashed to believe.”
Woven in Deception (166 pages) is published by Strategic Book Publishing in Houston, Texas. The book USD12.95 and can be ordered through the publisher’s website: http://sbpra.com/NirmalaKasinathan or at www.amazon.com or www.barnesandnoble.com.
For Malaysian readers, the book can be obtained directly from the author at RM40 per copy (inclusive of postage and handling). Contact Dr Nirmala at 016 508 4263 or 05 527 6453, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. (Those interested can bank into Maybank account 108225181197 (Acc. holder: Nirmala a/p A K Nadan @ Kasinathan) the cost of the books as ordered and email the author the banking slip as proof of transaction. Kindly provide full mailing address. Books will be sent by Poslaju within 2-3 days or may be collected personally from the author’s residence in Ipoh.
Perakeans throughout the state will be treated to world class poetry next week when the state hosts over 200 international poets from 24 countries, including Malaysia.
The event was announced by the Executive Councillor for Health, Tourism and Culture Nolee Ashilin bt Dato’ Mohammed Radzi during a press conference recently.
The poets are participants of the 33rd World Congress of Poets (WCP) who had picked Ipoh and Perak as their venue of choice for their annual event.
Also to be held simultaneously will be the 4th Pangkor International Poetry and Folk Song Festival.
The week-long event lasting from Sunday, October 20 to Sunday, October 27 will be officially launched by Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abd Kadir on the Monday night, October 21.
The theme for this year’s congress is, “One World Through Poetry” and will include programmes on the exchanging and sharing of ideas between participants.
During the duration of the event, recitals will be held at Ipoh (Gerbang Malam, Lost World of Tambun) and at Perak’s iconic spots such as Lenggong and Matang Mangrove Forest before proceeding to Pangkor Island.
“Perak needs an art gallery” said State Exco for Tourism, Culture and Health, YB Nolee Ashilin Mohd Radzi. Nolee made the statement at a press conference after the closing of the ‘Ipoh Drawing Marathon 2013’, the Perak chapter of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture’s ‘1MCAT’ (1 Malaysia Contemporary Arts Tourism) programme.
Nolee was responding to a closing speech made by the President of Persatuan Pelukis Perak Dr Ahmad Lothfi Hj Ibrahim, who urged YB Nolee to look into the viability, not just as an opportunity for Perak’s artists to display their works but also, to “preserve Perak’s heritage for future generations”.
Noting that Perak was the only state without an art gallery, she stated that the state was currently identifying a suitable location for the gallery and would be discussing the issue with the National Visual Arts Gallery. “A permanent gallery can also display other forms of visual art including cartoons and would be suitable to display the expensive works of art such as those on display during the marathon.”
The event was launched by Datuk Dr Ong Hong Peng, Secretary General of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. It included the Ipoh Drawing Marathon, a 24-hour event which started at noon on Saturday. It attracted over 50 artists with some artists coming in to participate at different times throughout the event.
Held at Kinta Riverwalk the artists were required to produce artworks using charcoal and draw figurative or non figurative images surrounding the Riverwalk. Sixty of the drawings were selected for a coffee-table book to be exhibited at the Tourism and Culture Ministry and at hotels.
Ipohites will be treated to a cultural exchange extravaganza this weekend by the presentation ‘Beyond Ketupat & Kimchi: Celebrating our Cultural Inheritance’ a Korean and Malaysian cultural dance presentation.
The event will be held at the Ipoh Town Hall this Saturday October 12 at 730pm.
The cultural dances will be performed by Branch 2 Dance, a traditional Korean national dance team and Gema Warisan Budaya presenting a sampler of traditional Malaysian dances.
The presentation is organised by event company ‘The Brain Truster’ and ‘Prospect’.
According to Danielle Liang of The Brain Truster the purpose of organizing the event was to create awareness for cultural heritage preservation.
To emphasize her point of cultural heritage she held her press conference at the Happy 8 Hotel at Old Town, a restored shop lot turned boutique home stay while the event will be held at Ipoh Town Hall, Old Town built in 1917.
On the night a unique art exhibition comprising painting and installation arts will be on display contributed by both Malaysian and Korean artists each giving their interpretation of what Malaysia is to them.
Ipoh’s night life has improved, so said several people working outside of Ipoh, when they returned over the extended Merdeka weekend recently.
Indeed their observation is spot on, for over the last two years, the night scene has been heating up all around town with more outlets opening and being upgraded in Greentown, New Town and also Old Town at the heritage enclave surrounding Concubine Lane. These new outlets offer more than just drinks and are now offering a wider variety of light snacks and meals for the family, with live music included.
The Changing Scene
Just two years ago when returning children came home to Ipoh for long weekends and holidays, their night hangout joints would be at Ipoh Garden East. On major public holidays, the roads leading to the pub stretch between Medan Ipoh 1 to 5 would be jam packed with cars and patrons would socialize, party and eat at the scores of pubs, coffee houses and eateries there. It was the place for a night out in Ipoh which ultimately earned it the title of being called the Bangsar of Ipoh.
The choice was pubs and karaoke outlets at Medan Ipoh 4 while Medan Ipoh 5 was where the food stalls were located and where whole families would come out for dinner and supper. The other alternative night outlets then were in Greentown with similar watering holes and establishments. However the variety and concentration of outlets in Greentown could not compare to Ipoh Garden East. As such Ipoh Garden East had remained the night location of choice for close to 15 years.
With the proliferation of more hotels both starred or budget now opened throughout the whole of Ipoh, an inevitable outcome was a demand for new establishments both for entertainment, drinks as well as food within the proximity of these hotels.
A new F&B (food and beverage) concept that has now caught the fancy of Ipohites, and has seen the establishment of quite a few of them, is that of the Gastro Bar. Originally conceived in the west to combine elements of good gastronomy with the more relaxed pub style drinking, the Gastro Bar is best epitomized by some of the newer establishments that have popped up all over town, one of these being Bricks & Barrels.
Owned by brothers Calvin and Kenny Leow, both Ipohites and former Michaelians, they established the outlet as they found it difficult to find an enjoyable outlet for a drink and some music when they returned home to Ipoh from Kuala Lumpur where they work as engineers.
They enjoy a social drink, don’t smoke, love to cook and return home regularly. So they came up with the concept of Bricks & Barrels, based on the English pub and where one can dine comfortably on good, even gourmet food while being entertained with live music.
The location at Lau Ek Ching Street was selected because its facade was similar to an ‘English town house’, two heritage houses joined together where the front and back walls are opened to create one expanded unit to enable happy hour chill out meals whether at the front yard or more privately at the back air-well area.
Besides attracting the evening happy-hour crowd of office executives, it also has a family meal following who patronize the outlet for its good food.
Calvin Leow describes B&B as a Gastro Bar. “Actually it was originally created for the whole family. However, the initial concept was for just a bar. Now that our kitchen is being better recognised we want to attract whole families.”
The families usually come in for dinner and leave when the drink crowd comes in although some stay on for the live music.
Drinks with a Decent Meal
The concept of having drinks with a decent meal has certainly paid off for James Kennedy the owner of Barbeza outlet at Medan Ipoh.
Barbeza is one of very few outlets in Ipoh Garden East that has lasted for five years without changing hands, unlike scores of other neighbouring outlets that have changed hands several times.
Kennedy attributes his success to the fact that he caters to his customers’ requirements and creates events to consistently attract his regulars. Additionally, his kitchen, which serves Italian cuisine, contributes 25 per cent regularly to the monthly revenue and has a regular family following who come for their meals in the early evening. Regular pizza takeaway orders are also a common request.
Over at Greentown the scene has grown. As is usual, pubs have changed hands over the years although Mikes Place at Lebuh Satu has remained at the same location and with the same owner since it started 10 years ago.
What has also changed with each change of ownership is the theme of these outlets. Secret Garden over at Jalan Cheah Cheng Lim is a pair of old colonial bungalows with spacious compounds converted to a coffee house that serves drinks and full meals. Bar.Racuda, another bungalow outlet recently opened several months ago, offers similar and very interesting food and has live music during the weekends.
Obviously anticipating better times ahead, Bryan Ngan who first started the Haven (across from the Syuen Hotel) five years ago, has opened another outlet called The Museum Wine Bar at Persiaran Greentown 6. Museum offers live music and serves tapas (small snacks which may or may not be hot) while the Haven which was recently upgraded, offers karaoke with light food, both western and local. At the Haven which has limited parking, Ngan employs a security guard for customers to park their vehicles at the back lane which helps to alleviate their concerns on security.
Then there is Healy Mac’s, the “real Irish bar” which has great food, though, at premium prices and live music six nights a week. Monday nights here is Quiz Night (centre pic) where tables of customers participate in a quiz with the goal of a tower of beer as the final reward.
Ipoh Old Town
Over at Old Town while the area is becoming active in the day, the nightlife is still confined to the heritage enclave around Concubine Lane.
The dominant outlet here is Yoon Wah, a ‘Tai Chao’ food outlet that introduced snow beer to Ipoh over a decade ago. Its shop, located at the east corner of Concubine Lane has expanded across the road while its al-fresco tables line a block along Jalan Bandar Timah.
In July this year, Plan B, a franchise outlet from Kuala Lumpur, opened right next door to Kedai Kopi Kong Heng. Designed to blend in with the heritage image that is Old Town, the outlet is understated in its decor, discreetly cosseted by clever landscaping with bright open spaces and is air conditioned. It operates daily from 9am till 10pm and serves western food.
Interestingly, Dr Mike ‘Gurmil’ who owns Mikes Place in Greentown, has himself ventured to open his second outlet in Old Town calling it Mikes Place 2 (MP2, top pic) with his immediate neighbour being Yoon Wah.
Capitalising on the heritage theme, he has upgraded a unit on Concubine Lane into a cosy and chic outlet with decor that retains as much of that Old Town image as possible. Obviously aware of the challenges with opening a pub, MP2 opened recently in August for four days in a week and serves light fare.
Ipoh New Town
The location in Ipoh which has seen the most makeover activity over the last two years is New Town. The change probably started with St Patrick’s Irish Pub along Jalan Raja Ekram and gradually spread to its neighbouring back street at Lau Ek Ching street which saw the start of Bricks & Barrels and subsequently another two pubs and a dance club.
The party growth has since spread to the opening of two clubs, SOS on Jalan Yang Kalsom and House Music Club on Jalan Sultan Idris, both of which are well patronized especially on weekends.
Fussy Ipoh a Testing Ground for New Concepts
“If you can sell a new product to Ipoh you can sell it anywhere” – Calvin Leow of Bricks and Barrels
Ipoh is certainly no laggard in the area of F&B concept contribution to the larger world. We can now see Ipoh White Coffee outlets everywhere in Malaysia and touting the fame of our delicious Ipoh bean sprout and chicken noodles.
Due to Ipohites’ demanding standards, another concept developed in Ipoh might soon find its niche throughout the country, and probably beyond, is Bricks & Barrels.
Bricks & Barrels’ business concept and design which owner Calvin Leow described as being ‘Vintage Industrial’, has attracted a following and is due to open its first franchise in KL at the end of this year.
Calvin Leow is from Ipoh. He well knows that Ipohites are fussy and “if you can sell a new product to Ipoh you can sell it anywhere”. Considering that Bricks & Barrels will be celebrating its second anniversary in November, Leow’s gut judgement to create something different will show dividends soon and is another feather in the cap for creative Ipohites.
Ipoh theatre lovers will be in for a treat at the end of this month when the Johann Strauss operetta, Die Fledermaus or ‘The Revenge of The Bat’ will be performed here by Australia’s Touring Opera Company, Co-Opera.
The operetta is being brought in by the Perak Association for the Intellectually Disabled (PAFID) as part of its annual fund raising project in collaboration with Co-Opera. It will be performed at 7.30pm on September 30 at the Kinta Riverfront Hotel and Suites.
The prologue of this comic operetta relates how a “Dr Falke’s best friend Gabriel Eisenstein leaves him naked in the centre of town with only his mask to cover his crown jewels after a drunken fancy dress party. Good friend Einstein may have long forgotten his practical joke but Dr Falke’s hideous embarrassment in front of the whole town requires revenge. Thus the stage is set for ‘Revenge of the Bat’ set in the glamorous high society of early 1920’s Art Deco Australia.
According to Association President, Dato’ Dr Yeoh Beng San, PAFID was formed in 1980 and is a voluntary, non-profit charitable organisation that caters for the educational needs and well-being of the intellectually disabled in the State of Perak.
The Association manages five schools, three sheltered workshops and a sheltered factory in Ipoh and functions through annual grants from the government and donations from the generous public.
The Association is targeting to raise RM500,000 from the event. Tickets are priced at RM300, RM200 and RM100 per admission. For every 10 tickets purchased, one ticket of the same denomination will be given free.
For further enquiries call 05-547 0186 or contact Ms Lai 017-585 4376.
For two weeks recently, thousands of opera fans around Ipoh and some, all the way from Kuala Lumpur have been thronging the Guan Di Temple, located along the Batu Gajah main road just to catch a glimpse of the performances led by renowned Hong Kong opera performers, Sung Hung Bor and Ko Lai. As part of the temple’s annual celebration, the opera performances were staged for 20 consecutive nights, from July 30 till August 18 this year.
Guan Di Temple in Batu Gajah with its history of more than 100 years is one of the very few temples in Malaysia that still provides the venue for opera performance for such a lengthy duration. All visitors were welcomed with free seating on a first come, first served basis.
This time around, Ching Yin Cantonese Opera’s troupe leader, Peggy Choy has once again invited Sung Hung Bor and Ko Lai taking up the role of male lead “shen” and female lead “dan” after a successful performance by the duo last year. To the delight of all local fans, this year, Peggy Choy also invited top Hong Kong Cantonese opera performers, Chan Hung Chun and up and coming star Alan Tam, taking up the role of comedic “chao shen” and second male lead, respectively.
In line with requests from the audience, the troupe has been staging plays mainly from the “Mou” or martial arts genre which requires the lead “Shen” and “Dan” taking up the roles of generals or warriors.
An interesting phenomenon for this year’s performance is that the local audience has been very supportive by posting almost instantly, photos taken during the performance onto Sung Hung Bor’s Facebook page, thus allowing his fans in Hong Kong and other parts of the world to enjoy and share the excitement as well.
The performance by the Ching Yin Cantonese Opera troupe this year has attracted a young audience in rather large numbers, which is a rare occurrence indeed. It is hoped that more efforts can be made to promote Cantonese Opera to the younger generation.
Those interested in Cantonese opera may call: Lee Choe Leong 012-500 6479.
Perak Society of Performing Arts (PSPA) 6th International Ensemble presentation was a remarkable show that allowed the audience to experience an exotic journey from the west to the east by trekking through the Silk Road and experiencing the moods and sounds of the ethnic communities all through music.
The experience was made more authentic by PSPA Music Director Eugene Pook’s selection of western and eastern instruments such as the Gu-Zheng, Erhu and Dizi. Pook admitted that this was the first time he tried this east-west combination of instruments to create an authentic experience of musical cultures to target a wider audience.
Similarly the selection of pieces from Mozart’s Turkish March, the first piece played by a string quartet and piano set the mood to start the journey which was subsequently followed by Chen Yi’s Tibetan Tunes.
Jiang Ying’s Silk Road, played just before the interval was a superb eye opener. The piece started with the Erhu and Yangonin which presented an image of a central Asian location alive and bustling.
Silk Road was written for Chinese Classical orchestra. Pook described this piece as heavy and said it was the first time it was played using western instruments. To help him with the arrangement Pook called on musician and friend Chen Kam Chien, the result of which was most enlivening.
The night carried on with AW Ketelbey’s ‘In a Persian Market’ followed by an excellent performance of Tan Dun’s Eternal Vow (from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) finishing with Liu Tieshan and Mao Yuan’s Dance of the Yao People. For the encore the ensemble fittingly played Kitaro’s Matsuri to give the night an exotic finish which probably left the audience craving for more.
With the exception of flautist Jennifer Teng from Taiwan, none of the other musicians had performed with a mix of eastern and western instruments before that night. Amil Sulaiman on Cello remarked that “all were amazed that their effort and hard work was worth it”.
Classical Chinese musicians Yew Fei Fei on Guzheng and Chong Koi Min on the Ehru are in their twenties and according to Pook “this was their first time playing at a professional level. However, their passion and talent for their music made it easy for them to blend easily with the western musicians”.
Pook was very encouraged with the positive response to Silk Road and stated it has given him courage to challenge the boundaries and to take Ipoh’s music community to another level.