30-Day Writing Challenge Day 9

9. Something That Happened In A Mall 

My neighbourhood mall, IOI Puchong, has been around since 1998. Puchong was not as large and as busy a city as it is today; back then most of the area was covered in palm oil estates and abandoned mining pools (you can still find a very large one behind the mall, although these days people call it a ‘lake view’ lmao).

Many things have happened for me in IOI; it almost feels like an old friend that has watched me grow. I have also watched it change, from its early days with the old wing up to the expansion of the new wing, new coat of paint, new facilities, etc.

When the mall opened, it was very grand as there were no other big shopping malls in the area. Their anchor tenant was JUSCO (Jusco doesn’t exist anymore; now it’s called AEON). What I remembered best was riding the carousel in the centre court as a kid. My parents would pay a few ringgit at the concessionaire, and my brother and I would excitedly clamber onto one of the ‘horses’ for a spin.

When I went to high school, it became a hangout spot for my friends and I. The LRT didn’t exist and Grab wasn’t a thing, so we’d take a good old-fashioned bus. We’d go to the arcades, watch a movie, go bowling, play snooker. I’ve even gotten trapped in the lift once!

I had dates there, usually at a fast food place or Sushi King (very fancy, back in the day).  When one of my best friends left to study in the States, we had our farewell party for him there (haven’t seen him for a decade. Wow.)

Today, I still go to the mall regularly. It’s good that they’ve managed to keep it updated with renovations and also new tenants, so the mall doesn’t go the way of those old, tired shopping malls that look like they’re going to crumble any second. In fact, I think it’s doing better these days, what with new restaurants and entertainment outlets.

IOI Mall holds a special place in the hearts of Puchong-ites. It’s not so much the outlet as it is the memories and experiences it has offered to locals, and I can’t imagine the city without it. Although there are many other places further away that are grander, this neighbourhood mall will always remain my go-to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

30-Day Writing Challenge Day 8 : Your Worst Birthday

8. My Worst Birthday

Birthdays feel a little passe, now that I’m older.

On my birthday this year, I was working (it was a weekday) – although, I have to say that it was a fun assignment where I had to interview a street chef and try their food. Then my weekends were so taken up with part-time work and other stuff that I only managed to have a simple dinner with a close friend (and that was like a month later, so we could celebrate our birthdays together, lol).

My worst birthday was probably my 25th one. Apart from having a quarter-life crisis, I was also burning out from work, which required long (and odd) hours – working weekends, overtime, having very little time with family, etc. On my birthday, I was out early in the morning and only finished work at midnight. When I got home, my mom had waited up just to wish me, and she said “I hardly see you these days.” Which made me feel extremely guilty, so I quit my job, which caused a big row because it was a company with ‘good prospects’ (even though the reason I quit was because I wanted to spend more time with the fam).

Moving on to happier topics, my best birthday as I recall, was my 9th one which was also the only one I had which was a ‘proper’ party. It was held at the A&W in Taman Jaya, where I had a Sailormoon cake (was obsessed with the cartoons back then) and some classmates over. We played games with balloons and teased the A&W bear mascot by pulling its tail, and it got ‘angry’. I still have photos from that party somewhere!

 

 

30-Day Writing Challenge : Day 7 – A Neighbour

7. A Neighbour

I’ve had terrible luck with neighbours, but my current ones are by far the worst. They’ve moved in for half a year now, and in that span of time have:

  1. Constantly thrown garbage into the drain, causing blockage
  2. Parked their vehicles in front of our home, blocking our driveway. Also did so with other neighbours, and when requested to remove their vehicles, retorted with “tak boleh kah?” (what, so I can’t?) in a rude manner
  3. have threatened to hit my mother with a brick after she told them to remove the bricks which they left in front of our house after a massive wedding party (their tents were expanded to the front of our house, and two adjoining houses, blocking the entire road for 3 nights.) Following the incident, we lodged a police report for safety.
  4. have blasted music from their ugly, souped up cars such that the entire neighbourhood hears it, late at night.

Last night after midnight, they were setting off fireworks to celebrate some one’s birthday. Now fireworks are banned in Malaysia, but people usually turn a blind eye when it comes to festivals like Deepavali, Chinese New Year or Hari Raya.

Deepavali is long over, and it disturbs the neighbourhood peace, especially since these aren’t small crackers but the large, booming ones. Of course they don’t care if there are babies or the elderly sleeping, because if they don’t sleep, no one else can apparently.  You will forgive me for wishing that one explodes in their hand while they’re setting them off.

Since the threatening-to-hit-my-mom incident, we’ve installed CCTVs. The bad behaviour is not limited to when people are around, but also amongst themselves. The adult men of the household pee on the front porch (why they do this I have no idea, do they not have toilets in the house?) and the children, following this stellar example, pee at the grass separating the front of our homes.

There’s only one word for these people: a public menace.

Do they own the house? No. They’re renting it, and from the neighbourhood gossip, have been owing the owners several months in rental. (But the owner is probably too scared to kick them out, since they seem to be gangsters). They also recently bought a large screen LCD TV.

What’s your neighbour from hell story?

30-Day Writing Challenge – Day 5: An Inanimate Object That’s Important To You

5. An Inanimate Object That’s Important To You 

I can’t even remember when exactly I started wearing it, but I’ve always had a small jade pendant on a silver chain which I never take off, even for showers or when I go to bed. The pendant is an amulet of sorts that was blessed when I was ‘taken in’ as an ‘adopted daughter’ of the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion, Guanyin (or Avalokitesvara, as she is known in Buddhist texts).

I haven’t been able to find anything on the Internet, but according to what I know, it is common for Malaysian Chinese families to have a child ‘adopted’ by a particular deity, so that they may enjoy protection and blessings. I don’t recall much of the ritual, but I think it involved me going to a temple and there was a monk presiding over it. We also had to buy the jade and have it blessed.

By virtue of having had it for so long, it feels weird whenever I don’t have my pendant with me. I’m not very religious, but I also believe in the supernatural. There have been times where I felt afraid and the presence of my pendant (and the belief that it affords me protection) have helped me to sleep, especially when I am alone in a foreign place.

 

 

 

30 Day Writing Challenge – Day 4: A Strange Phone Call

4. A Strange Phone Call 

When I was about seven or eight, we had prank calls to the house all the time. This was before mobile phones and caller IDs. The caller would ring us up, and when we picked up saying ‘Hello?’ there would be silence on the other line… until we hung up. Sometimes we’d catch a giggle, which sounded like a young girl’s – which led my mom to believe that it was one of my friends from school. I don’t know how she did her sleuthing, but she found out it was one of my classmates and complained to the mother about the incident. The girl got the whupping of her life, and the calls stopped.

There are still two things I don’t understand until today: why the girl did what she did (and why only to me), and how my mom managed to find out who it was. Guess I’ll just file it under life’s greatest mysteries.

 

Book Xcess Tamarind Square, Cyberjaya – Largest Bookstore In Malaysia / Open 24 Hours!

A book store that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week sounds like every bibliophile’s dream come true – and you can actually find it at Book Xcess @ Tamarind Square in Cyberjaya. Opened last year, it’s also the largest book store in Malaysia, spanning over 3,000 square metres of space. 

*As a self-professed bibliophile, it’s a little embarrassing that I haven’t been to the place until recently, despite it being quite close to where I live. Lol.

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The Book Xcess at Cyberjaya is the company’s seventh outlet, and like all their other stores, sells new books at discounted prices of up to 80 percent! (apparently how they achieve this is by getting surplus titles that can’t be sold. They’re all in brand new condition!)

Most of the books are 1/3 of the price you get at regular bookstores, so you can get really good deals. They carry up to 200,000 books. If this isn’t bookworm heaven, I don’t know what is.

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HUGE floor space, divided neatly according to categories. You have stuff like general fiction, classics, teen fiction, non-fiction: biographies/historical, children’s books, architecture and design, comics, graphic novels, romance, young adult, fantasy/sci-fi, and many more. Note that because these are surplus books, you might not always get the newest or the most popular titles (eg if you’re looking for Harry Potter / Hunger Games / etc. you might be hard pressed to find them here).

 

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Because the space was converted from a carpark, the design actually incorporates elements of that into the store, such as the overhead signs which have been left in their original spots, the pillars painted over with numbers, and the concrete flooring with ‘exit’ and ‘parking’ signs.

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There’s also a nice spot for you to hangout with your laptop, complete with power points. No charges! Very popular with students for their assignments. There’s also a cafe serving drinks, cakes and sandwiches.

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A section selling beautiful notebooks and journals. They also carry craft books and pop art wall hangings.

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Spent a good two hours browsing. Bought some books for a friend and one for myself – Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. I’ve been wanting to read this ever since I heard about it from an architecture library curator, who said they used it for book discussions. Haven’t started yet but it’s basically told through the eyes of Marco Polo in which he seems to describe different cities in his narrative, but they’re all actually about the same city – Venice.

Book XCess @ Tamarind Square is open 24/7, for if ever you feel like hanging out at a bookstore at 2AM.

BOOK XCESS (CYBERJAYA)

L3M-04, Tamarind Square, Persiaran Multimedia, Cyber 10, 63000 Cyberjaya, Selangor

Some other pictures I took of Tamarind Square. Love the architecture here, which is a mix of industrial (raw, unfinished concrete, greys and black steel) + lots of greenery. Pity there aren’t many shops here.

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Rumah Attap Library & Collective @ The Zhongshan Building, Kuala Lumpur

Hey guys! I recently worked on a story on unique libraries in Kuala Lumpur – which included a Japanese-themed one and a children’s library in a refurbished wooden village house. Being a book lover, it was awesome to be able to share their stories and make sure they got the attention they deserved.

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One of the libraries I went to was the Rumah Attap Library & Collective at The Zhongshan Building in Kuala Lumpur. When N came visiting last year, I took him to visit the building, but we seemed to have missed the library as it is tucked in a quiet corner on the 3rd floor.

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Like many of the tenants at Zhongshan, it’s hard to determine what exactly lies behind each unit’s closed doors – until you knock and take a peek inside. In Rumah Attap’s case, visitors will be welcomed by various posters of upcoming art events, shows and festivals on the walls.

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While it’s not very large, the space is brightly lit and roomy, with plenty of sunshine filtering in. With a cosy couch in a corner and various paraphernalia lining one side of the wall, it feels more like someone’s apartment than it does a library.One of the most stunning fixtures in the library is the wall of books on wooden shelves. The library has over 3,000 books, mostly on art, culture, philosophy and sociology in the Chinese language, and a selection of English and Malay works as well.

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Started in 2017, the library came about as a collaboration between three local arts and culture organisations, namely Amateur, In Between Cultura and Au Sow Yee Studio. It was decided that a physical space was needed for the orgs to host their programmes, such as book readings, film screenings and cultural talks – and when Zhongshan called for tenants to fill up its units, the library was born.

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Brochures for upcoming events and activities.

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Since the space is run by volunteers, it is only open on weekends. They regularly host programmes such as talks by scholars and book reading sessions, so keep updated on their Facebook page.

RUMAH ATTAP LIBRARY AND COLLECTIVE 

84c, Jalan Rotan, Kampung Attap, 50460, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

**While you’re around the area: check out beautiful graffiti art on the walls of the adjacent building. 

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Little Giraffe Book Club @ Batu 11 Cheras, Selangor

We tend to picture libraries as tranquil, cosy sanctuaries – so the last place you’d expect to find one is in an old kampung house in the middle of a Chinese village. Opened in late 2017, the Little Giraffe Book Club at Batu 11 Cheras is anything but your average ‘library’. Formerly a dilapidated home, the space was given a new lease of life by curator Lee Soon Yong and a group of passionate architecture students, who envisioned a communal space that would also benefit the community.

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Originally, the Little Giraffe Book Club was a community initiative started by a group of kindergarten teachers with the aim of educating children in the village. Back then, the library was housed in a mobile container. Seeing the need for a proper place and with support from the locals, Lee, a former architecture student who grew up in the village, embarked on the project after returning from his studies in Taiwan.

Much of the building’s old exterior has been retained – from the pink and green wooden panels to the traditional windows and grates, zinc roofing and shaded veranda. Like many village homes, the compound is not gated, and there are benches and seats for visitors to rest on.

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The interior has been remodeled into a library-cum-cafe space, with open, lofty ceilings. One side of the space also features floor to ceiling windows, so the result is a bright, cheerful space with plenty of sunshine to filter in.

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The library corner, which sits on an elevated section, carries a large selection of children’s books in various languages. The layout of wooden shelves and steps makes it more fun and interactive for the children, who sit cross legged on the floor to read their books or play with toys. To be frank, this is the noisiest ‘library’ I’ve been in – but I’m sure it works well for the kids, because most of them learn through stimulation and play.

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So why a giraffe? Lee says it’s because children like animals, and a giraffe is far sighted – just like their vision to improve the community through educating the next generation. “You can’t force adults to read, but you can encourage reading habits from a young age,” Lee explains.

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The space is not only a library – it also runs as a cafe, which is how they support the book club. Their specialty is rojak – (for the non-Malaysians reading this, it’s a type of salad. But definitely not the healthy kind lol), since one of the people running the place is the son of the couple who run the famous Rojak Wan stall in TTDI! I never used to like rojak until I had Rojak Wan’s – the beautiful combination of fresh fruits and veggies, tossed in a thick shrimp paste sauce and topped with crunchy crackers, fried Chinese crullers and ground nuts – is simply divine.

Aside from rojak, they offer coffee and simple fare such as burgers and rice dishes. Expect a long wait if the place is crowded, however.

Due to the zinc roofing and its lack of air conditioning, the space can get very warm in the afternoons. It’s best to come in the mornings or evenings, and if you have an off day on the weekday, come then to avoid the weekend crowds.

LITTLE GIRAFFE BOOK CLUB

114, Jalan 15, Batu 11 Cheras, Selangor

Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 1pm to 10pm

facebook.com/littlegiraffebookclub