Friday, July 29, 2016
Dinner - Chakri, Pavilion, KL.
During a dinner fit for a king I was spoiled by choices at the buffet line and extended line. Chakri, mostly served Thai cuisine and it is about great distinct taste, one slurp of the tom yam you will feel the ecstasy of eating. All the flavors seem so natural, even the sweetness in their assortment of desserts was derived from natural fruits. Buffet in Chakri really a worth for your money, dishes are steadily replenished, the decor and environment is pleasant (first class) and staffs are friendly.
Friday, July 15, 2016
Thursday, July 14, 2016
In 1959 Uncle Lim was only a 20 yo, when he first set foot in Chinatown KL, the mobs thought he had a promising career as their bookkeeper with his experiences working for his family in Ipoh in their tin mining business. He was a hardworking and diligent when it comes to money. The most important things, he knows how to keep confidentiality when necessary.
In his early 20s, he was considered a well off with a good salary, a good room in a nice hotel and a good life. “A ba, you were handsome in your younger days”, I teased him while holding a picture in a frame next to a bottle of alcohol. The picture was him in his 20s. “No lah Napi, but I am sure my son is better looking, a mix blood you know”, he said to my surprised. That was 3 years ago.
In 1960 Uncle Lim was sent to Miri, Sarawak by his Boss to ensure the smooth operation of their business there. The Boss said it's temporary but at least 6 months. In Miri, apart of the work which occupied him most of the time, those days Miri was a quiet town, far from what he had enjoyed in KL. Fortunately, after a few weeks, Uncle Lim managed to have few friends to gamble and drinks his lonely nights away.
That Saturday night, Uncle Lim was wearing khakis and a white jacket, with lots of pomade to make his hair shining. He was walking with his friends to a club to drink and gamble as usual when he heard a woman screaming, “tolong, tolong”. A lady was about to be raped by 3 men. “Let’s help the lady”, said uncle Lim to his friends. Fists and kicks were flying (imagine a fight in a Hindi movie) but Uncle Lim and friends were fearless, like a hero. The 3 men finally fled away. “Thank you so much, by the way my name is Linda",
"I am an Orang Ulu, I work at my family restaurant over there”, a beauty with a soft spoken voice vibrate into Uncle Lim’s heart. “At least, let me cook dinner for all of you”, Linda was trying to repay their kindness. Since that day, Uncle Lim’s life in Miri has been no longer a lonely one. And friendship blossoms into love. Uncle Lim could not think of anyone else but Linda. After he met the Orang Ulu lady, he no longer interested in gambling and even drinking.
He always waited for Linda finishes her work and strolled with her in the small town while holding hands. Unfortunately, their love was not blessed by Linda’s family who wanted her to marry her own cousin. One day, when he was walking alone to meet his loved one, Uncle Lim was trapped by 10 men; one of them was Linda's cousin. He was beaten badly and hospitalized.
The first thing when he gained his consciousness, “I won’t give up on you Linda”, he said to her at the hospital. Linda Cried. He came out of the hospital but a letter was waiting for him, from the boss. “Darling, my time here is over, my boss wants me back in KL”, Uncle Lim told Linda, and tears were flowing. “That’s good, I will go with you wherever you are. If I don’t go with you, my family will make me marry the person I could never love, I love only you”, she was being stubborn.
Linda was actually pregnant with Uncle Lim’s but decided not to tell him until the day they can be together outside Miri. Uncle Lim was relieved knowing Linda’s willingness to go with her. “Let’s elope,you are the only one for me". "I will wait for you at the jetty on Thursday night, which is 3 days from now”.
They both were excited at the prospect of being united, even having a family together. Back home in Miri, “Are you crazy to bring Linda to KL, don’t you know what kind of lifestyle our kind of people is embracing? That is actually not good for Linda.
Boss will never agree to this”, his friend Marcus was actually jealous of Uncle Lim’s happiness and he thought they could never go drinking and gambling when Lim is with Linda. “I won’t meddle my personal life with Linda and with work, I love her so much”, Lim retorted.
“It’s all up to you, but Linda won’t be having a good life". "She might only get into trouble and hard life with us, the drinking, clubbing, gambling, fighting, and you are only 20 to raise a family you know", "Moreover, Linda could have a better life here without you”, Marcus reminded him.
The last words made Uncle Lim lost his sleep, thinking deeply to make his decision. Linda was wearing her best dress, purple shawl and accessories, her favorite lipstick and perfume too. It was a cold Thursday night. She was happy thinking about her new life, standing proudly on the jetty with a suitcase despite the cold weather.
She waited and waited, hours and hours. Nevertheless, she refused to give up waiting. But,..... Lim never came. The endless waiting was fruitless. 3 years later, Uncle Lim learnt that Linda gave birth to his son, but, she did not survive the childbirth.
During her pregnancy, she lived in recluse, abandoned by her family. She was heartbroken before she died. "Napi, we only regret the chances we didn't take, relationships we were afraid to have and the decisions we waited too long to make", I hugged A ba....he was crying.
The first time I met him, he was drunk on the street, he fell on the pavement and I thought someone died. Our friendships span of more than 5 years. Infact, one of my best friends even like a father to me in Chinatown. He came to Chinatown from Ipoh when he was 17 yo, with a GCE (equivalent to O level) and high dream of getting rich in the city of concrete jungle.
The third floor.
PG 18, not for those with a weak heart, pregnant or on a diet.
Uncle Lim was looking so sad that night, sitting down at a bench in a coffee shop. “At least he is sober”, I thought. “Don’t disturb A ba tonight (A ba was what he referred himself to me), A ba lost money gambling, must be the curse from the third floor”, he told me in his stern face. “Cheer up A ba, I pay for your dinner, but tell me about the third floor”, I tried to console him. “Ok, but Napi must promise A ba, never ever go to the third floor (he was referring to the hotel he was working)”, he said. “Promise A ba”.
Salma and Salim (not their real name) arrived very late (about 1.00 am) to KL from Kelantan. Salma had some urgent business matters to settle with a bank located in Jln Tun HS Lee the following day. She was pregnant and due to another 2 months. Their proton Wira took them to the hotel (real name is intentionally omitted from the story) in Chinatown as the appointment is in the same vicinity. Fyi, the hotel was famous and a big name in the 60s and 70s.
They didn’t have reservation and those were the days before Abnb or agoda. From outside, the hotel looks very bright and they saw through the glass walls that there were many people inside, quite cheerful looking. Salim, feeling very tired at that time saw an entrance to the basement carpark and drove there. Both of them took a lift and punch the button to the Lobby.
When they reached at the lobby, it looks different from outside. The lobby looks very somber, quite dark, old furniture’s and only 2 ladies were there, both were wearing white uniforms. Salim made a quick deal, gave his credit card and were given his room keys, 333. Salim and Salma made their way again to the lift and to their room. The corridor to their room was dark and they felt something was wrong in the room although they can’t explain it, quite the feeling of uneasiness. The temperature was exceptionally cold even before they turned the aircond.
After 5 minutes in the room Salma felt unbearable pain in her tummy. She grimaced and told Salim about it. Salim panicked and tried the room’s phone (his cellphone was accidentally left in the car), no sound. He went outside to look for help and found a lady in white uniform he was assuming the hotel cleaner. “Kak, my wife is having an emergency, any in-house medical team”, he pleaded. “Ask the manager at the lobby”, the lady replied. Salim left Salma and raced to the lift and he suddenly remembered his phone in the car so he decided to pick up the phone first.
After he took his phone he went to the lobby, but….the lobby looks so different, brighter, many people and the staffs were wearing batik shirts. He told his predicament to the receptionist at the counter. “There is no room number 333 and you are not registered as a hotel guest, the lifts do not stop at the 3rd floor. We cant find anyone registered with your name here ”.
Without hesitation, he sprinted towards the staircase to the third floor. He heard his wife screaming and yelling for help upon reaching the third floor. It was dark, but he saw four figures in white with long hairs surrounded his wife, lying on a table. They were laughing hysterically and look scary. Salim recited some verses from Al Quran and bravely moved towards them, hands clenched in fists.
Fortunately, the 4 figures gradually disappeared into thin air. He carried his wife downstairs to the lobby (the real one). An hour later, Salma was fined, the pain in her tummy also stopped, but they left to find another hotel….. The third floor used to be a club but mostly the mobs were using the floor for their activities. It was closed for the last 4 years prior to the story due to many ominous things happened at the floor…..
Friday, June 5, 2015
Monday, June 9, 2014
My late grandpa used to show off his turntable by playing loudly to the tune of American, British and local musics. The sound can be heard to 4 or 5 houses away left and right. Those were the days before videos kill the radio. We were fed to the music of Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder to Anita Sarawak. The days before heavy metals were unheard off, before techno. Lyrics were simple, easy to understand and chorus always in the middle. I was a little boy then but I was sure of one thing, my love for black American songs. The Supreme were goddess of music, Michael was beyond entertainer, Quincy Jones gave us the beat and Stevie....the blind artist, his music was so enlightenning. Let me tell you about Stevie.... Stevie Wonder was born in May 13, 1950, as Stevland Hardaway Judkins in Saginaw, Michigan . He has been blind since shortly after birth. A child prodigy, he has become one of the most creative and loved musical performers of the late 20th century. Wonder began playing instruments at an early age, including piano, harmonica, drums and bass. Wonder signed with Motown's Tamla label at the age of eleven and continues to perform and record for Motown as of the early 2010s. Among Wonder's works are singles such as "Superstition", "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" and "I Just Called to Say I Love You". and albums such as Talking Book, Innervisions and Songs in the Key of Life. He has recorded more than thirty U.S. top ten hits and received twenty-two Grammy Awards, the most ever awarded to a male solo artist, and has sold over 100 million albums and singles, making him one of the top 60 best-selling music artists. Today, Wonder is an inspirational to all, young and old, a handicapped that does more than he can give.