Sometimes, it takes a visitor to see aspects of what one takes as normal and the way living. I’m been away from the Malaysian way of looking at things, so it’s both interesting and absorbing to see the sights with blended native and visiting eyes.
This scene typifies the Malaysia (and South East Asia) that is so vitally intense, engrossing and interesting. As Malaysians obsessively watch Astro (and in this case, Taiwanese Hokkien soaps), they escape (or they see virtualised, abstracted, emphasised versions of their lives and living).
The scene above shows the huge umbrella. It belongs to a street vendor, probably selling food. Obviously, the vendor comes regularly to this spot, so X marks the spot. In the background are double storey shophouses, retailing a melange of goods and services. Not the clean, synthetic, uniformised chain stores that so disenfranchise themselves from being nostalgic tags in the timeline. No doubt, the middle class will remember the good times at KMart in Australia, with a passing parade of staff that service the outlet.
But here, in the Taman Desa suburb of Kuala Lumpur, you can eyeball and see the small business owner. And his wife (maybe) because she runs the non related business upstairs. And their children as they come back from school.
Here, someone’s taking Kodak to the Laundry.
In some capitalist Western societies, being a businessman seems to attract and undesirable trail of ethics, motivational queries. In Malaysia, a fair number of people are in civil service or work as nine to five office workers. But being a business person, particularly a small business person is not a withdrawal from society.
It’s just a place where you can hang your hat.