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The Obscura Point of View: Penang Day 1

This is fate. The Maker’s way of saying;

I’m suppose to do this the way it is right now. On my own.

6 days after coming back from Sydney, I’m packed up and headed for Penang for 5 days. I only ever go back to Penang for Eid Fitr celebration because it’s my mum’s hometown. That or that one time when I stayed in Penang for a class trip back in college.

This is a whole different thing.

I’m rediscovering Penang ย from a whole different point of view. I call it The Obscura Point of View.

Obscura Photography Festival

Initially I plan to go for Obscura Photography Festival on my own for Che Mat’s Workshop then it became a team plan until 2 days before I came back only to know that some people weren’t happy about the plan. Then I’m back to square one.

Considering I’ve paid for the workshop and my flight, I might as well just go anyway even if this would be my first solo trip in Malaysia. I mean c’mon, it’s Penang for god sake. It’s generally a lot better than Kuala Lumpur; what with the haze and all.

So, Penang is a go no matter what. It’s easier to go according to your own plan rather than depend on others anyways. Except that as days go by, I get to know more people who are interested to go for the trip. Each one arriving on different days. Whaddya know? I got a bunch of like-minded folks for a super cool event again.

It was slightly weird. I think to be in a familiar place you’ve been countless of times but this time for a different reason. Touched down at Penang International Airport was odd – the last time I flew here was in Dec ’09 to see my late grandma. Even then it was a 12 hours thing. So being here again sorta kinda made me reclaim all these memories for better hopefully.

Instead of heading to Green Lane or Gurney Drive as I would have usually with my parents,

“Chulia Street please” I told the taxi driver.

Very odd feeling, a good one I’m sure. Unsure most of the time but good nonetheless. And being the typical me, I’ll grab by the bull’s horns when I’m on this path anyway.

IMG_2005

Had it not been for Obscura, I wouldn’t have known about Syok at Chulia Street. This place surpassed my expectation. Even Dorsett Penang can’t win this one. Honestly, I think it’s like staying with a big family. Everyone’s so warm and inviting for a chat, always available for a chat actually. Even my roommates are really cool too. I was told, a lot of the Obscurians are also staying here. We’ll see who I’ll bump into tomorrow morning.

The bed’s really comfy, all you need are here – with a good eye aesthetically too. Kudos Karen and her team! Heck, they’ll even lend you their umbrella too ๐Ÿ™‚ Bicycles are available for rent as well.

For a moment, I had to remind myself that I’m only in Penang, not another country. Constantly reminding myself that there’s no timezone difference. Brain’s still going cuckoo I guess but I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I don’t feel like I’m in Malaysia at all. Pedestrians are able to walk a lot better here and I’ve been making friends with random people in an instant. It just has such a good vibe this state, how far ahead they’ve come now – truly, ultimately I can feel a great community is nurturing it’s power together.

I didn’t realised that Syok at Chulia Street is situated right smack in good food area. Only 3 minutes away and I’m back at my family’s favourite food joint for Nasi Kandar – Hameediyah at Campbell Street. Eating alone is really no big deal, in fact it’s the only time I can check on updates actually.

Hameediyah

Then upon reading my email, I got to know that Che Mat’s students are required to register on site later in the evening at China House. It was only 4pm at that time. Slowly taking my time walking in the rain (thank you God!), I head back to Syok to grab Obscura’s map. Wasn’t sure how far China House was but I’m sure I can just walk to the other end.

When I asked one of Syok’s staffs about the direction, two guys who were chilling at the common area overhead my conversation and spoke out aloud saying that they too are heading the same place to check out Filmmakers Anonymous show and other exhibitions in China House. Hey hey!

China House

It’s then that I got to know Adli and Kadir who runs their own creative space near where I live. Along the way Kadir found this particular shop that fits for his photoshoot or something like that in one of the lanes we walked.

When we arrived at China House, the show was already running and we dispersed. People actually offer you seats and make space for you. All this little gestures are so rare in KL that I’m easily amused by it.

At first, I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb looking like a lost lamb and dressed up so..normal. Everyone looked like they below in this festival while here comes a kid who .. came with an open mind to learn. The movies were..interesting. There were one or two I really liked. Ramadan (Umar Muhajir) and Bajet (Zam Nayan).

See here’s the thing about shorties, often I come across either dark genre or emo. And it has become such a stereotype that it had me going “What else is there?” so when I watched Ramadan and Bajet which both are from different genre – one’s more self discovery and adversity while the other is about the quirky side to everyday life – it made me pay attention to the storytelling and craft. Both of which were executed well. There’s a certain depth and natural aspect to it, which I find more appealing.

Obscura Photo book

When the show ended, both Adli and Kadir nonchalantly introduced me to other Obscurians who then I got to know that our circle of friends are quite small. I also got to know that I have two more look-a-likes. People from all over the world are here for this, you’d be missing a lot of greatness if you decide to skip it.

Managed to even check out the Handmade Photobook Workshop by Yumi and Nozomi. which wrapped up today. I really wanted to join this one but oh well. The results of other people’s photobooks were really cool. Each one presented their book and told us their thought process, journey and ideas about it. Loved it even more on how they have to search their materials in Penang. So it’s just not about making the photobook by hand, it’s the journey and exploration. I’m such a sucker for that. Even the photographers who are here to exhibit participated too. It’s just such a shift, there’s no status, hierarchy of any type. Everyone’s like everybody..just with passion.

Obscura

Then, Gianni Frinzi (an award winning publisher) had an impromptu talk about the books he published and won. It was suppose to be about showing his books but eventually with the Q&A session, it turned out as a proper talk about publishing books (mass or niche etc). Truly, in just a matter of hours, Obscura has managed to inject all sorts of awesomeness from every angle – it need not have to be strictly Photography but indirectly, it links back. Gianni spoke about how Amazon has changed the game with distributors and why self-publishing is more important now than ever.

One thing I realised during Gianni’s session is that in order to stay alive (literally and metaphorically) – a person has to have a few cards on the sleeve. Being a jack of all trades is really what’s gonna keep you awake and sated. It’s always finding ways to get something done, expand your mind and make the most of what you have. Not so much about making it big (I’m sure to a certain point it does) but it has a lot to do with striving for the best while keeping it balance because in the end it’s about communicating with your client and knowing what your audience wants. People tend to find commercialism to be..well over compromised but I don’t think that was the case with Gianni. You need a certain standard to achieve greatness and that standard is there for a reason. So strive it. Break it if need and don’t forget to have fun while doing it.

Gianni Frinzi Obscura

It’s those little pieces you know? Doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll change the world but with enough little things to make a difference, eventually it’ll give a big impact.

Work hard, hard work.

It is what it is. No short cuts. Just you and fun doing what you wanna do.

I’m so freaking grateful that Vig brainwashed me to go for his massive festival. No amount of words can describe it.

You know..you’re still not late to join the fun – Obscura goes on till Sunday June 30. So come!

Tomorrow, my Obscura fever begins..one I’m quite terrified to be honest. Why? I hear so many people say the same thing about my instructor – strict. Jeng jeng jeng..

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” –ย Marcel Proust

Umm..all photos above were taken with the iPhone. Sorry.

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To Fall in My Sleep: Personal Thoughts

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.โ€ย 
โ€•ย Ralph Waldo Emerson

The world constantly moves faster than you last remember, it’s as if time is high on ecstasy and yet here we are ever ready trying to catch up.

The trick to actually catching up with the world and life is that you should take a breather. Know when to do so, where to do it and who to do it with and for some unknown reason you’ll know you’ve got it all figured it out.

Maybe that’s why I love taking a drive in the early morning (it used to be late night too but it’s becoming quite dangerous as we move forward). At times, taking it with someone else but it’s always about the drive. About the sensation of just moving, going anywhere the road may take us.

Sunset in Kuala Lumpur

A lot of the times I think of myself as a loner of some sort or at the very least socially inept person. Then I read this post from facebook and it all just made so much more sense about myself, answers almost every freaking thing I’ve been wondering about myself.

GuideToUnderstandingTheIntroverted-87361

 

I tend to worry about how others would react knowing that I do like my space and I don’t mind people not coming to me, making themselves more awkward trying to make it less awkward by talking to me. It’s ok, that if you don’t feel like talking and I don’t want to talk.

Maybe it’s the experiences I’ve got myself into in the past that made me this way. I used to be this person who makes sure everyone is ok. Everyone I know feels comfortable. In some twisted kinda way, I want to be liked so much, I put myself out there for them only to get a few burns in return.

I went into recovery mode, reanalyse myself and see what was the core issue considering the web I’ve spun and got stuck in. Slowly, I discover doing things on my own gives me a certain kind of fulfillment that I’ve never felt before. Then eventually, that needing everyone to like me feeling disappears.

Learning to make your own energy is important, it’s kinda like a survivor’s number one must have swiss army. When the going do get tough, that’s when you’ll have to dig deep..at times deeper in fact and then magic happens. Perhaps, this thing I’ve been building up might not bode well with many but those who do – I’ll go to the end of the world if you need me to. That’s just who I am and that’s also kinda my weakness I try to shield away.

This week has been a week of reawakening about the shortcomings I have in me that I need to work on more. Things that are not impossible to overcome and achieve, things that if I overlook will be the death of me. So, while it’s been a bittersweet week, a heartbreaking one at one point; I got out of the funk in 10 minutes after brooding. Back on track, back to making things happen. I’m thankful for these shortcoming I have, more than ever, it’s becoming my compass right now. Adjusting to the wind and heart.

So maybe there will be a new adventure coming in the next couple of months. But for just this short frame of time, I’m going to take a break from life in reality and go away for a bit. 6 days to go before I get to go Sydney after 17 years since my last visit.

Life is life. Not taking it seriously can be a waste but taking it too seriously can also be a jeopardy. Find your balance, find where you heart sings and dance. That’s the place you’ll know you should have your feet stay grounded.

 

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Think Tank Traveling Post Mortem

  

Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind. – Seneca 

We all love things the way it is, most likely because comfort zone gives us a certain contentment. Something like a safety net. What we tend to forget is that, comfort zone tend to make us complacent, accept things as static as the Statue of Liberty.

Even snails make a point to move, no matter how slow it takes to do so.

Change challenges ourselves to get the best of what we can do. It gives us better understanding about ourselves and build our confidence even more.

The same thing I noticed with blogs of this new era. I come from what I would like to call the dinosaur era of blogging. Back in the ’00s, blogs were personal window to our souls. We make friends through blogs because we were truly connected with each other through opening up our minds and hearts. We had such a personal relationship with other bloggers to a point where we would write to each other, send packages; heck, one time an old blog friend was a victim of the Katrina Hurricane and all of us supported each other by doing whatever we could to help. We were like a family in our own world. At times, they know more than we tend to let out to others in our lives.

That was what blogs has meant to me. A personal experience, a personal life I’ve built with strangers.

While participating in the MySelangorStory, it opened up my eyes to accept how different the blog world has become today. It’s so different, I felt like an alien. Despite blogging for 7 years, what blogs of those days and today talk about are so varied, it’s like being in another lifetime.

Whenever I meet blog friends of mine, we’d catch up about each other like any normal friends would. Bloggers of today talk about which event to attend, what competition makes good write up or how ads help increase income. Of course all these are good but I just felt so..out of place I guess?

Being paid to blog was unheard off then, now; so many people are such, to a point I felt like blogging is an extension to advertising. Well, in a way it is.

So it was an eye opening experience indeed to learn about what people blog about today or how they got to know each other. ๐Ÿ™‚
One thing’s for sure, I still want to keep that personal feeling intact in anything I do. That way, it feels genuine and a ticket to be connected with other people. Losing this part of me will only make me be like a robot. It didn’t matter what my blog idea is about, at the end of the day, you’ll be able to intercept bits and pieces of me in every entry I write.

The traveler sees what he sees.  The tourist sees what he has come to see.
– G.K. Chesterton

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The Beginning

The Future may seem terrifying if we are to ponder it right now. It is less intimidating when we make the most of the present and embrace the future for whatever it is. People tend to worry about the past and future. They rarely think about being in the moment.

The future belongs to God, and it is only he who reveals it, under extraordinary circumstances. – The Alchemist

What happened in the past 6 days has been the result of that. Of living in the moment, freeing myself from any ridiculous expectations of how people should be, what the places are like or why we do things a certain way. The future to this is up in the air and to be honest, I forgot it was a competition from day one. All we did was enjoying ourselves, opening our minds and hearts to new things, experience the dream we never thought of and laughed because that’s how we were feeling.

If it’s any consolation, the entire MySelangorStory trip itself is like a grand prize on it’s own. One you’ll have rare opportunity to have again. So, whatever I wrote in my previous entries were purely how I felt not because it was competition and I had to do it. Instead, it was my way of giving back to others and hope it keeps spreading around. That way everyone will be able to have their own version of MySelangorStory.

Since Amelia extended a little bit of time for all of us to finish up our posts, I had some time to experiment with iMovie after 6 years of not touching after college ended. Indeed, I had to go through the tutorials to learn how to make one. Ah, the noob in me has finally emerged again.

I used the theme from iMovie thinking it fits with the look I’ve been achieving and I must admit, it is cheating so it’s ok that I don’t qualify for a video category ๐Ÿ™‚ I had a blast going out of my comfort zone making it for fun anyway.

I tried (and failed miserably) at keeping the video under 3 minutes. This one lasts 3:18 minutes instead. Ok so this is the result of a noob’s work. You’re welcome to laugh XD

Day 6 actually ended after our dinner in Haven because the morning after, everyone didn’t get to say goodbye to each other as one was sound asleep *stares at Victor* or have an early flight to catch like Alid, Kemal and Citra. Followed by Chia Li, KK, Fadli and Sy. Others were either hitching rides from their family, friends or Tourism Selangor‘s crew. So there wasn’t much to report except for feeling somewhat sad for MSS to end.
Oh, Chia Li stayed up late making origami stars (I used to love collecting when I was a kid) with a message inside. That was really sweet of her, this roommate of mine ๐Ÿ™‚
Quite the eccentric bunch we all were during this tour. A giant family moving about together. One that will be told for many many many years to come I’m sure.
Somehow, I feel this trip is only the beginning to something more.

And it would’ve have been what it was without Tourism Selangor, Amelia, and the many sponsors who supported us throughout this journey. Everyone deserves a bigggggggggggg hug ๐Ÿ™‚

Voice out, I’m all about sharing thoughts and if this deserves a vote – simply click MySelangorStory/TheBeginning.
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Projection

A few days ago, Black Tomato had this interesting weekly competition and I got inspired with it and made this wallpaper of the thoughts I want to project out to the world. I think if each of us got around to fill in the blank canvas with thoughts and emotions, then stick it anywhere we always spend most time looking; we’d all be more positive and happy.

It’s just a theory but I really do think it would work because we will be able to to see our own state of mind laid out in front of us rather. That’s when you get to analyse yourself, see yourself for what you are than *think* about what you may be. You can’t disregard it, nor make excuses and delete it because it’s right there..in front of you.

Each and every word in that canvas are linked to each other one way or another. And a lot of them would not have been the case if it weren’t for traveling. It made me grow a lot in terms of being more humble and laid back. We know all things don’t happen the way we want it to be but if you go along with the journey to getting there, you’d learn a lot more when arriving at the destination.

The journey not the arrival matters. โ€“ T. S. Eliot

So I can’t imagine what it’d be like not to travel at all. Not able to see, smell, touch, talk and love while traveling would be absurd to me. Then again, even those who travel and not able to experience those little things are just as pointless as each place we go (even the places we already know) is capable to teach us something we can apply to ourselves.

๐Ÿ™‚ If you think you have not enough money to travel, I’d say bogus! Travel is just a state of mind – even the city you live in has a lot of hidden secrets you don’t know about. Go, discover your roots and have lots of fun while you’re at it.

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Final Destination

I always wanted to have a travel blog for the longest time (and many have been nagging me to set one up) but I never got around to do it for many unknown reasons. Perhaps it was the low self esteem or maybe I was waiting for the “right” moment to do so. Honestly, I don’t have a clue.

So..

I guess now is just about as right as it can get, I guess?

Two days ago, I was planning on setting one up but it never materialised. Yesterday, after having a long talk with Michael who knew of my tendencies to travel around had talked me into this. He was one of the big people in my first company I worked with who actually granted me a month of unpaid leave to go backpacking around Europe in 2006 (after only worked for a year). Such a thing was almost unheard of.

And it took place exactly 4 years ago.

That decision simply changed the entire course of my life. Literally.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to not do it back then and I find this quote by Mark Twain very fitting.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover

          – Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Alright, we’ll see what I can come up with from here and out. There’s just too many stories, photos and thoughts to go through!

*Takes a deep breath*

Until then, have an open mind. There is always something new out there in the world we can learn from.