Tuesday, May 29, 2007
That's Wirat my colleague from Bangkok - thanks Wirat for letting me use some of the pictures you took !!!
Somehow I realise I keep writing about food when I write about places I visit -what to do I am like that only!! This quaint eating place in Malacca serving Nyonya cuisine was where we met the core volunteer group memebrs of our Max Family in Malaysia for the first time and over steaming plates of Nyonya delicacies our bonding began - Nyonyas and Babas we learnt was the name given to those born of the union of the lovely local ladies and their Chinese husbands -Chinese traders who were so busy amassing their fortunes they did not even spare time to return to their homeland to look for brides for themselves. So in this delightful restaurant with photographs of many Babas and thier sweet Nyonyas looking down benignly upon us I began my discovery of Malaysia all over again , on my third visit to this amazing country. Reading the word Sayang on the neon sign an old Hindi song from the Shammi Kapoor -Padmini film Singapore came to my mind and I started humming it "O rasa sayang re rasa sayang sayang re , hai pyar ka hi naam rasa sayang sayang re " and discovered Sayang meant "love" and it was a very popular folk song - soon we were all humming this catchy tune !! What lovely people and so much love and affection ! The night is young we were told and no visit to Malacca was complete unless we took a walk down the famous historical Jonker Street so that was excaclty what we did. Touristy yes but utterly charming with all kinds of wares displayed and some very intersting architecture out of which the most intriguing was this bar with bright yellow walls and green shuttered windows and the inside full of the most interesting photographs and maps which distracted us enough to miss out on the beer for lack of time !! Smiling prettily at the bartender we got away with some precious minutes to take pictures inside too even though we could not stay to sample their wares - Raja later on told me this was the famous National Geographic Bar. How could I have missed that beautiful Globe up there !!!!
Walking leisurley , slowly collecting little packets of souveniers to take back , still humming Rasa Sayang Re , there came wafting towards us on the humid moisture laden atmosphere along with some stray rain drops , strains of the unbelievable ,but sadly not unmistakable , voice of yes , Himesh Reshamiyya going oh dear surooor and we were sheepishly searching for the source of this assault on our ears ( pride in our new national icon of music be dammed and all) when we found it in this brightly lit rickshaw . Ramchandra Guha in his new book India after Gandhi has summed it up very well. The (almost) last lines in his book state that as long as people watch Hindi films and hum its songs India will survive. In Malapuram or Malacca !!!
Back to food - did you know that evenings in Malaysia are not over until you have had supper ? Don't be fooled by the sound of that - this is no sober six o clock supper but a rollicking indulgent feast to be had after dinner preferably a nice hour's drive away from home in the company of friends and family and who ever wants to put in their luck with the famished lot !! An hour's drive away from Malacca is Umbai (add an M and a few miles and you get Mumbai yes, but let me quickly say Umbai is defintley no Mumbai so lets not get distracted ) well - maybe the nariyal paani is the common factor but saying that is not fair to the huge cocunut shells , full of sweet , chilled with ice, nectar like water we were served at the open air restaurant we were taken to -take a look at this prize speciment here !! Mumbai nariyal paani walas - wake up to the magic an ice cube or two can do to your nariyal paani !!
Besides the iced cocunut water we were allowed to further whet our appetites with coconut jelly another mouthwatering concoction that was consumed faster than the rate at whcih the replacements came in !!! Then came the steaming , succulent servings of rice wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in coconut milk which kept us busy till the specially chosen fish barbequed in the huge grill finally found its way to the pride of place on the table ..the happy smiles tell you the rest of the story !!! Well, there was one bee in the bonnet or should i say one bee in the tee shirt of one of the gang who provided some excitement -poor Tan Fui got stung but luckily the ministrations of Dr Razak and Sr Tan saw to it that all was well. We all decided that a 24 hour watch was needed to see if the wings would sprout a la Spider Man and who knew we might have our own Bee Man to take back to KL with us !! But the next morning saw our would be Bee Man all smiles and saying , as he hugged me , Look Ma - no wings no stings !!!!
The Stand up and Live for Life Workshop that we had come to attend (see http://www.themaxfoundation.org/ for report and coverage) was concluded thus with many hugs and hand shakes and we were on our way to KL .
The roads are beautiful , the trees and foliage lining their sides green and lush oh what are these little Asian Tiger cubs doing right that Sherni India is not and when will have roads that simply like satin ribbon thread their cities togehter !!??
Soon the Twin Towers loom above you -that metal marvel , that unmistakable steel silhouette that no Sean Connery serenading C Z Jones or Kareena seducing Shah Rukh can diminish into mere props - day or night they stun you into awed silence !!!
One Last Supper begged everyone and we were taken by Fan that master motivator to sample Satay served with sugar cane juice and the most mouth watering peanut sauce - Sated or Satayed anyone ?? !!