Birch Road or Jalan Maharajalela?

Jalan Tun H.S. Lee now and when it used to be Hight Street. This picture is taken from Kuala Lumpur Dahulu dan Sekarang, an article on Photo Credit: Mohd Radzi Jamaludin’

I didn’t grow up in Kuala Lumpur so I don’t know the old names of the roads and streets in the capital city. By the time I moved to KL (1996), the names had all been changed.

I believe the major renaming happened in 1981 when Mahathir Mohammad was the prime minister. Wiki describes the exercise as a ‘post-independence decolonisation’ effort: the original names of the roads and streets in question were of British public figures. (I’ve been told that Jalan Madge was named after the young daughter of a British official, but I haven’t been able to confirm this. The name of this road has not been changed.)Read More »

Fat Fears

My fifty-seven-year-old sister started wearing sleeveless clothes just last year. Mind you, she has always been considered the beauty of the family and is as slim as I am fat. When I was younger I resented her looks – especially when my father, in his capacity as an official at a sporting event, insisted that she present a bouquet to the guest of honour. My mother had suggested eight-year-old chubby me, but my father said my sister (sixteen at the time) should do it because she ‘looked better’. I was furious and felt very much my fatness and grubbiness – I’ve always felt that fat children feel much dirtier than their thin friends. For a start, we are usually sweaty and hot, and often sport red, angry faces from being fat-shamed.Read More »

Listen to Roger!

Apart from having great respect Roger Sutton, Editor in Chief of The Horn Book, Inc. (regardless of whether or not I agree with his opinions), I have always, always been enormously entertained by his writing in The Horn Book Magazine and his blog Read Roger. And, now (well, for a while now, but I’ve just started listening), there’s the Horn Book‘s podcasts so … more Roger Sutton! How creepy do I sound?

The podcasts are hosted by Sutton and editorial assistant (at The Horn Book GuideSian Gaetano, who discuss stuff they ‘find important, exciting, and fun’ and laugh. A lot.

They’re rambly, not always on-point, and listening to them is like eaves-dropping on conversations that sound like they don’t have a point, but, really, truly, they do. Sort of. In any case, they talk about books ad reading, and all the stuff connected to those subjects, and they’re interesting and friendly-sounding and knowledgable. Love it, love them!

The episode pasted above is a great example of the podcasts, and one of my favourites, so far!

Curious About Nigeria

last-trainI’m currently reading Paul Theroux’s The Last Train to Zona Verde, without having read Dark Star Safari, although it’s been sitting on my shelf for several years.

As the standfirst of this piece in the Guardian declares, the book is depressing but compelling too. I am reading it because of my imminent move to Nigeria. I started reading Dark Star Safari a few months ago, but stopped when I realised that Theroux does not pass through the country I am most interested in, the country which I hope will be my home for many years to come. Sadly, Nigeria is not a stop in in The Last Train either, although it gets several mentions (nothing good).

looking-for-transwonderland-travels-in-nigeria-noo-saro-wiwaLooking for non-fiction books set in Nigeria, I came across  Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria by Noo Saro-Wiwa (a native of the country, and the daughter of the late author and environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa). It promises to reveal the ‘real’ Nigeria, warts and all; and I am inclined to take Saro-Wiwa more seriously than a white writer just passing through, no matter how illustrious he might be (Theroux is actually my favourite travel writer, but travel writing especially by those ‘just passing through’ should be, in my opinion, regarded as fiction in as much as it offers views synthesised by personal expectations and experience, impressions and prejudices, and reshaped and re-ordered for coherency).

Anyway, just reading the review of Last Train has depressed and horrified me. Perhaps the only thing to do is to see and experience a place firsthand.


Ink Crisis, part 2

So, yesterday, my daughter I-Shan, my friend Ann-Marie and I went to Ink Crisis, Chin Yew and Stephanie Yong’s joint art show. It’s at Findar’s, a space on the fourth floor of a shophouse on Jalan Panggung (China Town). (I was quite pleased that the climb up the stairs left me sweaty but not breathless.)

The walls of the space was covered with pictures by the two artists, including art drawn directly on the white paint. The contrast of black ink on the white wall was attractive and, although there was a lot going on, it didn’t look crowded or overwhelming – as it might have if lots of colours had been used.

panoramaRead More »