As of late, racial sentiment is ablaze in Malaysia, and thanks to some certain assholes who is very much in control of Malaysian political environment and yet refuse to tone down on things that is associated to Hindraf, the some Malays and even the Chinese are having prejudice towards the Indians. These days, when we talk about the Indians in Malaysia, there are possibilities that the subject would be associated with Hindraf and their rebellious nature as well as their act of defiance. Whatever news regarding to Hindraf has been overly sensationalize. The innocent and peace-loving Indians who lived in harmony is also being labeled as traitor and not fit to be a Malaysian. Like the Chinese, the Indians are branded as immigrants who are unfit for equality. It seems, that whoever that said that only Chinese and Indians are immigrants are history blind and illiterate. They obviously do not know their history well. Either that, or they have been fed by biased history.
Some newspaper even have the cheek to suggest that if one see an Indian man and a snake, the Indian man should be killed first. How could someone make that sort of suggestion is beyond my comprehension. Sad to see how things has gone from bad to worst these few years. Indiscrimination towards the ‘darker skinned’ people no longer exists among most Malaysian. Efforts are no longer made to ensure that Malaysian are ‘colour blind’. People tend to point fingers and find faults in these ‘darker skinned’ people rather than see their genuine warmth and friendliness towards people around them.
Racist these days would generally view Indians as not trustworthy and aggressive and whoever mix around with them would end up tragically. I beg to differ. That is definitely a made up fiction and not true. I have been mixing around with Indian friends for half of my life as a Malaysian, and so far, I haven’t end up being bashed up or even dead yet. Most of them can be rather loud when they get excited or happy but most are very friendly and not aggressive at all. They are competitive, yes, but not aggressive.
I have forgotten how it’s like to celebrate Deepavali. If I’m not mistaken, it’s been at least 6 years since I stopped getting involved in Deepavali celebration. When I was in high school, one of my best friend is an Indian, and she would drag me to her house days before Deepavali so that I’ll be able to see and help out with the preparation. My friend’s mother treated her daughter’s friends just like her very own daughter. Every year during Deepavali season, we not only get to ‘steal’ sweets and various delicacies straight from the kitchen, but we also have our own colourful saree to wear on Deepavali itself. Yes… that was the good old days.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not an Indian, but I enjoy the festival of lights nevertheless. I remembered gossiping with my friend’s mother in the kitchen as they prepare muruku and sweets for Deepavali. Not to mention the sweet moments where a few of us (classmates of different races) sit in front of the house door and help my friend make the kolum. Kolum is one kind of mural decoration made from coloured rice, and is usually placed in front of the door. A symbolic to welcome guests to their home.
We’d be complaining about our aching back by the time the kolum is done, but it’s all worth it. Money could never buy that sort of joy, and I truly missed that kind of things. It’s just too bad that my friend is now living in oversea, and I can no longer experience a joyful ‘first class’ Deepavali. The most i could do now is attend a few open houses during Deepavali, but that is definitely not the same as experiencing the whole thing first hand.
Anyway, Deepavali is coming, and after a few trip down the memory lane, and missing the good old days badly, I decided to make a trip to Brickfield, ignoring the warnings that has been told to me that Brickfield is a ‘black’ area where it’s unsafe for other races except for Indians. As of late, there are rumours being spread that ‘white skinned’ people who goes there would not get out of it safely. Deep inside, I knew that whatever is spread in the newspaper about that place is not true. I am glad that I followed my instinct instead of listening to propaganda rumours that is widely spread these days.
Brickfield is definitely not a ‘black area’ where racist Indians who could not tolerate other races dwelled. But it’s a place of joy and light. Smiling faces are everywhere, and I was very pleased to discover that almost everyone over there are friendly and helpful. Despite of what people told me about people over there not being fluent in English or the national language, most of them spoke proper English with great fluency. Their command of national language would also put some of us in shame. Even through I did not share the same skin colour as most of the people in Brickfield, I received a first class treatment. Stall owners offers samples of delicacies to me generously, and by the end of my trip, my stomach was quite full.
I really do hope that indiscrimination towards the Indians could be restored. These people are very friendly people. It’s heartbreaking to see them being discriminate and marginalized just because some people spoke about their rights in a manner that is not accepted by the government.
Below are the pictures taken on 17th October 2008 during my trip to Brickfield:
The florist and various flower garlands for pooja ceremony as well as home decoration. Sweet scents of jasmine and other flowers filled the air.
This particular stall sells colourful traditional bangles for ladies, and it’s to be worn with the traditional clothes like saree. Usually the lady in question would choose bangle(s) that would match the fabric of her clothes. These bangles are made from colourful plastic and the price of it is quite kind to the pocket. I would have bought one if I were to celebrate Deepavali this year. Note the stall owner’s flashy smile? He actually knew that I was snapping his picture. Though busy managing his stall, he took time to pose for me. That’s not the first smiling face that I saw that night. He is one of many that flashes me smiles.
The picture above is a clown hired by a flower shop owner to entertain the public as well as do promotion for the shop. The clown attracted a lot of children and adults to visit the store with his antics, and even though he have his hands full entertaining children, he still manage to give me a peace sign.
Some of the traditional clothes that are sold in the Brickfield Deepavali Bazaar are dirt cheap. If only they have my size, I wouldn’t be able to resist from buying them.
Mahendi, or known as henna to some people is dirt cheap in Brickfields. Only RM5 per hand. If one were to get it done in a pedicure/manicure salon, mahendi painting would cost a bomb. Mahendi/henna is a decoration made from pounded herbs and is usually painted on bride’s hand and feet on the eve of their wedding. A symbolic of a beautiful and blissful marriage life ahead. It’s also to mark the honeymoon month. Once the mahendi fades, the honeymoon is over. Mahendi/henna can usually last at least 1 month before the colouring started to fade. These days, people have their hands and feet painted even though they are not getting married. A good option of body art for those who wanted to have a tatoo but do not wish to go through the painful needle pricking or the hassle of laser treatment once they decided that they are bored with the tattoo.
More smile from the girl who was having her hand painted with mahendi. I actually asked permission from her before I took her picture, she was more than eager to allow me to use her picture in my article. She was actually pleased that there’s someone who is interested in writing about mahendi and was more than willing to tell the story on the traditional mahendi usage. She was the one who told me that mahendi is actually used on brides, all credits should be given to her.
The mahendi painting on the young lady’s hand. She’s waiting for the mahendi to dry before it can be washed to reveal the beautiful final product, which is usually bright orange painting on the hand. Note that the design that she chose was a peacock. It symbolize inner beauty and power.
And what is Deepavali without the food and delicacies?
Various modern cookies sold in the Deepavali Bazaar in Brickfields. Quite cheap. RM5.80 per box.
The picture featured above is a kind of traditional Indian sweets known as Rawa Urundai. It’s made from flour, sugar and crushed peanuts. I used help my friend’s mother to make this during Deepavali seasons. Do not be fool by the appearance that depicts it as a soft delicacy. It’s actually rock hard, and not for people with weak teeth to eat. There’s a trick to eat this…you’re supposed to break it into half and put it into your mouth and let it melt instead of biting onto it. By doing so, it’ll spare your teeth from falling out. I used to dubbed this delicacy as rock candy, as it’s really as hard as rock.
More Rawa Urundai. This one is all wrapped up in colourful papers, and meant to be given away as gifts to the guest who visit during Deepavali.
Various traditional sweets and laddu sold at this mamak restaurant. These sweets are usually made from ghee, goat milk, sugar and numerous type of herbs. A definite cure for sweet tooth. These are supposed to be eaten slowly and let it gradually melt in the mouth. The texture is quite sturdy, and these dairy bars can take some time to melt in someone’s mouth. Usually laddus are served in various Indian festivals. In weddings and Deepavali, this delicacy is a must have.
By the end of my little trip, I bought a large pack of muruku, and I actually regretted it, because it was not enough. I originally thought that muruku that’s sold in Brickfield is very spicy, but I was dead wrong. The muruku that was sold in Brickfield is definitely made to suit Malaysian taste buds. It’s moderately spicy and not too salty. I wished I bought more. Muruku is also dirt cheap in Brickfield. One large pack for just RM5. I did not put the picture of the muruku here, because it’s all down in my stomach.
Cleffairy: If only Malaysian is skin colour blind, Malaysia would be a better and happier place to live in.