Friday, July 30, 2010

Moths to a Flame. Delectable Su at Pavilion, Thai Somtam Seafood at Changkat .

Details from Michael the Moth's wing. Canon 60mm f2.8

First of all, some really, really delectably wonderful news. Su's latest baby. Delectable is now open at Pavilion, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur. If you are looking for something to make you smile and take away the stress of the day, do drop by there for some Kek Lapis (in loaves), Fruit Cake (Loaves and small "happy" packages) and her latest offering, the delectably light and flavouful Banana Cake (in loaves).

I loved her humongous cookies, sold together with a cookie tin. She has a couple of new desserts available in cups too, including the Trifle. The shop is located on the 6th Floor, next to Times Book Store. You can't miss it!

Delectable Su's Peach Treat, Strawberry Treat, Nutty Treat and Trifle plus the Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies in a Jar. Sigma 50mm f1.4

It had rained the night earlier. The glistening wet ground seemed to welcome the clarity of the sunny blue skies offered. It was a Saturday morning, my usual day for running errands and pick up good to stock up for the week, my chore day. This was slightly special because I wanted to pick up the highly rated Sigma 50mm f1.4 lens to try on my camera. By the time I had finished grocery shopping, it was close to 11am. The sun was near it's zenith and the evaporating vapour from the wet grounds made the air suffocatingly humid and thick. I almost had to make an effort to suck in the air.

Since my friend was at Maju Towers, I decided to take the monorail from Bukit Bintang. Just a few stops away, will be Medan Tunku. The station was relatively thankfully quiet. A couple of characterless people lined the sides of the track, waiting for the train to arrive. Banal characters with loud voices that fill up the void like the smiley emoticon in phone messages. I would notice them when they are there, but it will not be significantly missed if it weren't.

Part of the surviving skills in this city is to be aware of people getting close to you yet avoiding eye contact. Eye contact is trouble. Invariably it will mean getting involved in other people's problem, be it some street urchin who wants some money, some people asking for donations for orphanages or a confidence trickster trying to scam you. We live in a cruel world. I hate to be torn by moral obligation yet I do not want to part with my hard earned money just to enrich another undeserving person. Being Paranoid, I could never trust that the money I donated goes to charity. Moral Dilemmas and Happy Weekends just don't go well together.

KL Monorail at Bukit Bintang Station. Canon 50mm f1.8

The train ride was pretty uneventful. Cocooned in my own world of anticipating the rush of holding a nice lens and with Sandrine Piau's emotive rendition of mélodies de jeuness muffling the hum of the train, the city appeared calm and tranquil.

Empty high rises line both sides of the monorail track. They are our modern equivalent to the massive cathedrals of the past. Despite hundred of millions spent building them, they remain stark, obscene steel and glass monoliths, pointing to the sky in obeisance to Ba'al. Phallic symbols of the new Popes of the modern world, Politicians and their bastard offsprings: Business Bigwigs. These structures are the symbols of fertility that comes from the corruption of the mind and soul and nepotism. The new religion is Money, with the CEO as Cardinals and the laity administered by the middle management priests. From Mondays to Fridays, penitent worshipers congregate and bow in penitence for their financial transgressions, the expensive meals, the ill afforded holidays and luxury clothes. The confession boxes are our little work cubicles or office rooms and as penance for our sins we are made to sell our souls, sell our dreams and ideals for a few measly bucks that will embolden us to go deeper into debt.

The sleeping man on the overhead bridge. Sigma 50mm f1.4.
"The first moments of sleep are an image of death; a hazy torpor grips our thoughts and it is impossible the exact instance when the "I", under another form, continues the task of existence. " Gerard de Nerval, Aurelia.

3 train stops and a short walk led me to the pedestrian bridge that will bring me to my Canaan, the land of Cameras and Lens. I was mentally accosted by the sight that greeted me on a hot afternoon at the bridge. It left me frozen in my tracks. A man was sleeping on the bridge in the afternoon. He was in a deep slumber and a transistor radio was playing too. The black wire you see at the left side of the photo served as an antenna. And what I presume to be his life possessions were bundled in two large plastic bags on his side. At first I thought i had stumbled on a dead body, but he showed some signs of life. He snored.

He snored loudly and unabashedly. I was aware that in a sprawling metropolis like KL, there is is bound to be homeless people. This was the first time that I had seen one up close, sleeping on the hard cement, with some newspapers for a pillow. I turned away and started to walk to my destination. Just like a lot of people, I am averse to the sight of death, extreme poverty and suffering. Even politicians love to talk about happy subjects like development and distribution of equity, yet mumble and skim over discussions about homelessness, drugs and alcoholism, sort of a silent affirmation that they are in part, accountable for social problems in Malaysia.

On the return journey, I hesitated taking the pedestrian bridge again. I was partly ashamed for just walking by and doing nothing, yet am prepared to spend what is a princely sum by this homeless man's standards on some frivolous camera lens. I made a silent wish that he would have woken up and left and I will be spared the spectacle of a suffering fellow human who have to brave the forces of nature just to get some shut eye.

I was not that lucky. He was still there. I did not know what to do, and decided to wake him up. he looked annoyed, but gave a smile when I waved 2 ten ringgit bills at him. I don't know what he was going to do with the money, whether he would buy himself a square meal or blow it all off getting sloshed on cheap liquor. I did not want to wrestle with morals and ethics. I was ashamed of just handing him the 20 ringgit and washing my hands clean of what I had just witnessed. I wanted to convince myself that I have done my part. As an underhanded way to justify my actions, I reminded myself of the ASEAN charter of non interference.

If the so called "Morally Upright" heads of Nations can allow and entire nation Burmese people to suffer from bad politics and allow the Legally elected Head of the Nation to remain imprisoned at home and just watch from the sidelines, so could I. After all, what is one man compared to a nation?

Mr. Michael Moth is dead. Canon 60mm f2.8

As it is, leaders of Nations do not make great Moral role models. Most of you would have come this conclusion long ago. I continued to grapple with the image of this unknown, homeless man. His eyes continued to haunt me as I made my way back home. Dark, large, lifeless eyes. Soulless and scary, like the eyes of the dead moth above. The eyes of a man who had obviously suffered much to the point of being indifferent to any more hard knocks in life. He was probably at the pits of his existence.

Many people are drawn to the bright light of the city like Moths to a Flame. The city beckons with lofty dreams and extravagant ambitions. Most people survive, some do very well and others fail miserably. Like the flame that consumes the moth, some die, swallowed by the fire of greed by indulging in crime. Others are burnt by the blue flames of alcohol or the slow flame of the cigarette lighters dissolving heroin or burning crystal meth. The city is not for everybody.

Some, like me, survive through hard work by grovelling at the feet of the Cardinal CEOs or Pope Politicians, working hard attempting to join their exclusive cloister. Their exclusive monastic order with the new opulent hedonism which takes on vows the exact opposite of the traditional vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience.

Chastity, Poverty and Obedience are reserved are for commoners like us, the nameless faceless entities. They will use their wiles and even coercion to ensure we observe those vows in subservience.

The delightfully refreshing Steamed Calamri with Lime from Thai Somtam Seafood, Changkat Bukit Bintang. Sigma 50mm f1.4

I started out this post by attempting to write about Distributive Justice and the Social Contract, by attempting to talk about Hobbes, John Rawls, Kant, Plato, Nussbaum and Amartya Sen. In the end, the post reminded me more of a dissertation on Political Justice than a light hearted post more suitable for a food blog. Despite the great minds and the good intentions of those elaborate minds, there is yet to be a solution that is amicable to all parties. Those interested can just google the names yourselves, or buy me some coffee for an x rated condensed version peppered liberally with F words.

Just like that plate of delicious Steamed Calamari, you can never distribute each mouthful with the equal amount of Garlic, Lime Juice and Chilli with the Calamari. By the time the tediousness pf the daunting task is completed, there would have been some evaporation and you would have to start all over again. The dish would have rotted by then, or I will play the role of a political despot and finish up that plate and leave you exactly one mouthful, sparing you the agony of dividing the morsels.

Duck in two styles with Foie Gras. The thigh confit was crumbly and soft and waiting to fall off the bone. Beautiful. From Sage. Canon 60mm f2.8

It amazes me that people are still attempting to equate equality solely by numbers and percentages. Isn't it equally important for the citizens of a country to be happy? One man's foie is another man's poison. Equality, Distributive Justice and big names mean nothing to a homeless man suffering in hunger. I am abhorred by the lack of shelters for the homeless in KL. I am abhorred by my own apathy to the plights of those around me.

Crispy Duck Salad from Thai Somtam Seafood. Although it was much cheaper than the Duck Confit from Sage, the pleasure derived from eating it was not lessened by it's price. Sigma 50mm f1.4

As a follow up to that homeless man's plight, I googled around and found a few soup kitchens around town that is still active.



(Munirah Abdul Hamid 012-2363639 Rohani Teh 03-78744203, 017-6413835)

4. Methodist Church Drop In Centre

1 Jalan 2/36 (PJ Old Town),
46000 Petaling Jaya
Tel : 603 7784 2519
Head of Ministry : Steve Yew (016 289 1603)

Caramelised Banana with Chocolate Fondant and Ice Cream from Sage. Perfectly halved bananas looks like smiley faces, no? Canon 60mm f2.8

As a parting note, just a book that caught my fancy this week. Gerard de Nerval's Aurelia. De Nerval was part of a French group known as the bousingos who were very rowdy and participated in orgies, naked poetry recitals and ate food of human skulls for shock value.

De Nerval himself had a pet lobster which he brought for walks in a public park, tied to a blue ribbon. He was a great translator well known for translating Goethe's Faust. He often wrote in a stream of consciousness style and had a profound influence on the surrealists and impressionists.

Unfortunately he had a mental breakdown and hanged himself, with the manuscript of Aurelia in his pocket, a story about his love for this imaginary woman and a documentation of his journey into insanity. Beautifully lyrical and dreamy and filled with prose that can elicit tears and laughter at the same time.

It is getting late, and i guess it shows by the hurried ending of this post and the numerous typos and mistakes. Will correct them later. Nice weekend!


CUMI & CIKI said...

great post PA, and just to let u know, Steve of Methodist Church Drop In Centre at 1 Jalan 2/36 (PJ Old Town),Petaling Jaya
Tel : 603 7784 2519
Head of Ministry : Steve Yew (016 289 1603)

is a good friend on mine! I do voluntary work with the addicts there on Sundays. There is a small free clinical where the ex-addict or even addicts can come for simple medication after a check up by the voluntary drs. I help with the medication.

Anyway, thanks for the support and for posting the addresses of the shelters, if anyone wants to donate short expiry drugs I hope they will do so at the shelter!

Cheers big ears!!

UnkaLeong said...

Like a moth to a flame,
burned by the fire,
My love is blind,
Can't you see my desire?

Food for thought ;)

Thailand Club said...

OMG now every photo is like a piece of arts, u r transforming a food blog to photo album lor!

minchow said...

Political despotism akin to calamari dish hoarding - nicely done! I shall opt for the condensed version with liberal lashings of expletives from you dear PA... coffee incoming!

Paranoid Android said...

@Ciki: Oooh! You have such a big heart. Do congratulate Steve for me for doing a fine job.

@Unka: That will be the subject for another post! Thanks.

Paranoid Android said...

@TC: I have to thank Sky for his advice on buying camera and taking shots. Thank you too, for always encouraging me.

@Mins: Will be waiting for your coffee.

J said...

Oh no. I'm not no. 1 (re.commenting) anymore. Far from, in fact! :(

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