Thursday, January 17, 2013

New Year, New Hobby

It's never too late to embark on a new hobby. People I know have done so, and successfully too. An ex-colleague bought a Harley upon retirement and rode all over the country, his wife a willing partner. 

As for me, I had long wanted to build a collection of old china, ever since my late grandmother left me a pretty blue-and-white porcelain bowl (pix below) almost a century old.

Grandma's champagne-hued serving dish
Grandma's extensive collection of pinggan mangkuk lama had somehow disappeared, I know not where, following her demise. I was too busy raising a family in Kuala Lumpur to keep track of things.

Over the years, there were intermittent forays to the weekend flea market at Amcorp Mall, Petaling Jaya, to look at things. There were lots of interesting items but you really need to poke around a bit to find the ones worth buying.

Enter Che'Pon, a lady of both means and leisure. Had it not been for her, I would still be stuck at 'thinking' (about starting this new hobby).

Che'Pon, in her late 50s and retired, is nuts about old stuffs. She would go the distance to get what she wanted, in particular trawling the internet looking for items at bargain prices. 

Her home is a treasure trove of barang lama, all restored and lovingly maintained; crockery, furniture, cameras, vases, jars, pots and ewers, Peranakan heritage items, brass iron and belanga (cooking pot) .. 

When I first stepped foot inside her lavish abode, I was pleasantly surprised to see a beautifully restored almari dapur (kitchen cupboard) taking a prime spot in her living room. 

[Remember those pre-refrigerator days when leftovers were kept in a multi-tiered wooden cupboard, the doors of which enclosed with mesh, with each cupboard leg placed in a small bowl containing water to prevent ants from getting to the food?]

She told me she bought it for a song (well, almost) but the restoration had cost quite a bit, naturally. The end result, however, was a charming piece of woodwork.   

Pieces of old crockery, mostly of bunga kangkung motif like the  Chinese teapot below, were showcased in the cupboard. Those plates transported me back to the 1950s; we had used similar ones for our meals.
This bunga kangkung motif was very popular back then.

A fortnight back son Naj and I decided to pay a long-overdue visit to the Amcorp Mall flea market. He had wanted to check out old typewriters (he's an earnest collector) whilst Mom just wanted to browse around. 

Told him I used to have a 'Remington' eons ago. Well, actually it was Grandpa's but I had used it as much as he did. That Remington has since disappeared without a trace too.
Tok Ayah's trusty Remington, now living in eternal bliss in typewriters' heaven, I think.
dolu-dolu punya - translucent cookie containers..

dessert dish.. orang dulu panggil piring dodol.
That trip resulted in the haul above. Glad to report I'm on my way to old china heaven. These six cookie containers with covers and five matching side plates can be considered my starter kit.....

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Gifts From The Heart

Apologies are long overdue to a couple of folks who had me in their thoughts during their travels. I had been meaning to put this posting up a month ago... as always, kemalasan set in.. *sigh*

This beautifully crafted plate comes from Palestine, a gift from my colleague Amir Effendi who, together with fellow Muslim Aider Muhammad bin Kamarulazizi, went on a mercy mission to Palestine in November last year.

Thank you Amir. You know what to get me on your next trip, to Nepal, in March. A tiny chunk of the Himalayas would be a welcome addition to my collection.. hehehe..

My sister Hanizah is a frequent traveller to Istanbul. She fell in love with the place on her first visit and has been returning ever since. Izah and her teenage daughter Faten have even developed a friendship with a local woman and her family.

She got me this finely-crafted plate on her last trip. I do have another piece from Istanbul courtesy of a friend, but this is my first 'Blue Mosque' plate. Thank you sis for keeping me close to your heart always. 

No prize to those who guess correctly where these come from. The windmill motif is a dead give-away. Got these charming little klompen from my Facebook friend Hasnah and her Dutch husband Farid/Frank. Thank you both.. Pak Abu and I await your return, for another round of makan-makan..

Further postings on decorative plates can be found here:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

January Round-up.. sort of..

Hello folks, here I am again. Tenggelam timbul, bak kata orang Melayu (the English equivalent is 'now you see it, now you don't'). 

Before you know it, we are already halfway through January. Time rushes by so fast it's frightening. In the blink of an eye, tomorrow is yesterday, and we are all a day closer to the grave. 

[Whatever the case, at least the world didn't end on December 21 2012. Put the fear of God into you those Mayans, didn't they? That they ran out of stone slabs was true after all, eh...]  

At the home front, a brand new cucu made his grand entrance on December 18. Being the first grandchild for both sides of the family, Hasan's arrival is a welcome diversion from our admittedly boring, mundane daily routine. 

Hasan in blissful slumber after 'cukur jambul'

Come February, with the grace of Allah swt, a new son-in-law comes aboard, thus increasing the family's journalistic quota from three to four. Izhar's subbing for a newspaper while bride-to-be Ann is with a news portal. May they find mutual bliss in journalism, a vocation much maligned these days. 

Insofar as Kata Kama is concerned, I don't know if I can ever live up to the promise of non-procrastination. That I'm getting lazier is the truth. Besides, the mind too is getting foggier with age and it is beginning to show.

Workwise, there's Muslim Aid Malaysia Humanitarian Foundation to contend with. If the current schedule is anything to go by, we are in for multiple projects that could help bring some degree of relief to the needy.  

Our WASH (water, sanitation and health) project is on-going; the one in Pulau Mabul off Samporna, Sabah is cruising along nicely and the focus is now on a couple of other adjacent islands, as well as the Orang Asli communities in Peninsular Malaysia. 

The tanks are up in Mabul..

Besides our regular work with the refugee kids from the Myanmar-Muslim, Rohingya and Somali communities, there's a host of new issues concerning children to look into in Mabul and nearby islands.

Breaking fast with Rohingya kids in Meru, Klang

In Mabul, schooling is denied to many children due to lack of proper documentation. Concerned, a local diving resort operator has taken it unto himself to educate the kids by setting up a makeshift learning centre named  'School of Hope'. 

Lunchtime for the Myanmar- Muslim refugee kids in Selayang 

The Foundation chipped in with whatever's needed to ensure the 'Hope' kids are at least literate. Reading, writing and crafts are taught. Teachers are mainly volunteers, local and international. 

Just as things are moving according to plan, the centre comes under official scrutiny from the state department. Their main gripe? "School of Hope' is not officially registered as a school but carries the 'school' legend. 

Performance by School of Hope kids

Whatever the case, it's 'no can do' to just sitting back and watching these kids while away their time doing nothing, and growing up illiterate. It's either education or a lifetime of servitude, petty crime, or hardship. 

Last year concluded with two mercy missions, the first to Yangon and Sittwe in Myanmar and the second to Palestine, both bringing much needed food, clothing and medication to the people under oppression there.  

This year, come March one of our boys will be trekking up the foothills of the Himalayas, to Annapurna to be exact. The mission is to create awareness and raise funds for our "Palestinian Appeal". project. More on this later when all the details are finalised.  

In the same vein, a calligraphic art exhibition called 'At-Tayyibah' is currently on at the New Straits Times Gallery in Balai Berita (Jalan Riong, Bangsar). It began on January 2 and concludes on January 25. 

Digital Calligraphy solo art exhibition

The exhibition showcases 34 pieces of stunning digital calligraphic artwork by noted khat master, Ismail Md Zain, a friend of the Foundation. Part of the proceeds from the sale of the paintings will be channelled to our 'Palestinian Appeal' fund as well.

It is heartening to note his work has been getting good response from the public. Quite a few pieces have been sold. Do drop by NST Gallery at Balai Berita for a peek. You'll be surprised at the beauty and clarity of each artwork..