Pilgrim of Beauty

Life, Death, and Everything In-Between Including Ice Cream

Month: July, 2015

My Baby’s Back!

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Zooming at the speed of light… past the milk and butter. I guess supermarket aisles can look pretty awesome sometimes. This photograph was completely unplanned for (not that any of my other photographs were) as I had to take some pictures for our malls’ tenants (y’all still remember I’m in retail management, right?) for a competition. Turns out my boss found this shot to be incredibly flattering of the supermarket too so all’s well with the universe.

Oh, and by uploading this image with my watermark on a Friday morning (2am y’all… livin’ the life of a retail corporate employee), I’m happy to announce that my MacBook has returned and is now working beautifully. Apparently, the hard drive died… of causes unknown, though I’d put my money on playing the Golden Girls on repeat every night before going to bed. Comedy helps me sleep, but it kills my laptop so I might cut back on that a little… and just when Mamrie Hart enters my life with her boozy jokes. Dang it…

Anyway, short update, and I’ll be posting about another location this weekend as usual, god willing if I don’t die from exhaustion. Today’s a public holiday for everybody else, but I’ll find myself picking up my boss from her place again in 9 hours and heading straight back to the office. I certainly hope you will be having a much better day than I will

The National Visual Arts Gallery Pt. II

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And then, it feels like we’ve stepped into the looking glass and realised Wonderland was really more macabre than we have ever imagined. Yes, the imagery was as shocking as the vending machine itself, sitting at a lone corner in the dark, with the only light glowing a sickly yellow from within the machine. I could almost hear the thud of meat as the hooks mechanically moves and drops them to the floor, and the flesh sliding against the screen as it settles to the ground. In art, even the grotesque are celebrated. I’m just not sure it I enjoy as much as I would a Renoir painting. And in case you’re wondering, the Malay words above translates as “Fresh Frog Cow(s)”.

… who comes up with these?!

So, busy day. I had to rush out to pick up my boss from her place, then take a thirty minute drive down to the office while listening to Electroswing in the car hoping to make the journey less awkward than I think it was. In all fairness, it was actually quite comfortable. We ended up just talking about property in Singapore, my projects during the weekends, family, food, the slight possibility of her tagging along at one of my excursions whenever I visit a new place that I think deserves a feature… now wouldn’t that be an interesting title for a post? “Hanging Out with the Boss”.

It is something I wouldn’t mind exploring someday because I think not many people are able to connect with their employers the way I do mine. I think… I’m picturing Anna Wintour hanging out with her newest secretary… wouldn’t that make the headlines? Besides, my boss jumped at the idea and told me,

“Do you know what’s the good thing if it happened?”

“What?”

“You don’t have to drive! Akmal (her driver) could drive us!”

“… so you mean, he’ll come pick me up from my place?”

“Yeah!”

… exciting, or intimidating, I’ll let you decide. I think it’ll be fun, albeit a little unnerving perhaps. But hey, I was the one who actually threw the suggestion, so why not own up to it?

Anyway, minor digression, and it’s back to the art gallery.

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I’m not entirely sure if there are any permanent exhibits in the art gallery aside from the one that houses this pair of paintings and the horrific vending machine. Regardless, it is nice to see work produced by local talent displayed on the walls. I’m a little dismayed by the lack of visitors though, and I’m not even sure if Ramadan is a good excuse for the empty gallery. Could it be that people just aren’t enthusiastic about the surreal and the strange (which seems to thrive in this gallery)?

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Some of you might scoff when I say this but I really do miss seeing paintings by Impressionists hanging on walls, marbled Greek gods posing sensually on pedestals, alien scripts incised on stone tablets, porcelain figurines painted in lurid colours, woodblock prints featuring samurais and geishas, china that didn’t come from China… Oh give me the Fitzwilliam or the Ashmolean any day… though the particularly small Scarborough Art Gallery I visited with my dad when he came for my graduation in the UK was surprisingly delightful too.

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I realise I’ve been describing museums and not art galleries earlier, but most items displayed in museums are usually works of art anyway. When you think about it, almost everything in existence is a work of art. From the tissue box on your table to the pillow you nuzzle your face with: who dictates they be in the shape and form they are today? Some designer in a sweatshop who couldn’t be bothered to come up with a spherical tissue box (oxymoronic, no?) or a durian-shaped pillow most likely…

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My friend and I were pretty weirded out by some of the exhibits, so he decided to shake it off by attempting a split mid-air, which resulted in this absolutely stunning photo of his impeccable form. We couldn’t even figure out why there were so many pinafores lined up along walls in this part of the gallery… They do make for one unsettling photograph though. Well, one that’s mitigated by my friend jumping in mid-air.

So that’s the National Visual Arts Gallery ladies and gentlemen. I’d recommend a visit only when you happen to be passing by the area, or when you’re waiting to catch a show at Istana Budaya. Frankly, I’m not too impressed by the place, though there were a few hidden gems here and there, like the (dare I admit it…) vending machine.

Alright, I’m becoming less eloquent by the minute and I have a rough week ahead of me. Good night and so long folks! Next time, a snazzy looking café or two! Depending if I have to drive my boss to work again…

The National Visual Arts Gallery Pt. I

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Good morning world! This might be one of the few rare occasions (or is the first?) that I’m actually typing in the morning. I guess there’s a first for everything, but since I only have approximately ten minutes to type everything I want to type about the National Visual Arts Gallery before I rush out to fetch my boss to work and for work (on a Sunday! Jesus, Shiva and Buddha have mercy…), I’ll have to make this really really quick.

… I hope the picture above isn’t as grainy as I think it is…

Alright, so quick recap: my laptop is still being serviced and I haven’t heard a word from the service centre which is driving me nuts. I managed to borrow a friend’s MacBook for two nights to upload and edit (thank you Cezlynn and Qwang Szaen!) I was supposed to work on this on a Friday night. I crashed. I was supposed to work on this on a Saturday night. I crashed again. Hence, Sunday morning. Plenty of unnecessary drama has been happening, but I’ll save those for a different day, and now ladies and gentlemen, the gallery:

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I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this in previous postings, but I’ve always complained about the lack of good art galleries in Malaysia. The National Visual Arts Gallery, unfortunately, also does not hit the mark just yet. Being located right next to the more popular, and arguably more culturally significant, Istana Budaya (National Theatre), the gallery seems a little unprepossessing comfortably blanketed in trees, hiding it from view as you drive past it along the busy Jalan Tun Razak.

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The gallery is immense, but not the British Museum “immense”. It has the usual offerings: temporary exhibits, sealed off areas for renovation, water fountains … where am I going with this? But for a building with the “National” designation in front of it, it lacks charisma. When I visited this place with a friend on a Sunday afternoon, the place was unusually empty, with an old lady for a security guard dozing off into sleep at a bench when really she should be questioning my use of my iPhone as I snapped away uninhibitedly.

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Aaaaand time’s up! I have to get out of the house now lest I’m late… to be continued in the next post in the evening!

BRATS

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetYes, that is the name of this wonderful surprise I stumbled upon a couple of weeks back. With its minimalist decor and oh-too-hipster vibe emanating from within, I wondered if my get-up (pink-checkered shirt with matching hat) would be a little too colourful for the slick and chic crowd shuffling inside. But who could resist not entering?

Before I jump into BRATS, allow me a quick digression on what’s been happening the past week. As you all know, my MacBook is currently being serviced so it has been a grievous past few days working with my company laptop and its infuriating trackpad that’s more capricious than I am. I know I shouldn’t be complaining because I at least still have another laptop to work with and that I’ve managed to transfer most of the crucial data I need to continue my work, but oh the thought of being unable to edit on a MacBook for at least a couple more weeks is distressing. The colours of my photographs aren’t what they are when viewed on a different screen, so I find myself deliberating at length whether I should even post them up.

That said, a friend of mine has kindly offered his MacBook to me during the weekends, and I could temporarily use it to upload photos, add watermarks, then upload them up to the blog; hence, the usual ‘complete’ product you see up there. Big shout out to Zack (said friend) who has been incredibly supportive and who so willingly allowed me to borrow his laptop. Also, I am aware that I am a day late with this and I’m actually typing this out at three in the morning, but now that I have this arrangement with Zack, my next post this weekend should be up just as you’re smelling your coffee on a Sunday morning. Well, depending on which part of the world you live in that is.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, it is back to BRATS.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetOnly two weeks old when I made the visit, I was secretly glad I discovered the place before eagle-eyed food critics penned their comments online. Their menu is remarkably simple, serving mainly hot dogs, some sides, and beer, though with the noticeable absence of caffeinated options, which prevents me from labelling BRATS as a café just yet.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetIts interior is limited to only three colours: white, grey, and beech, with the occasional splash of green from potted plants and herbs at the back.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetI can imagine this place becoming popular among those who wish to update their profile picture; BRATS’s unadorned walls are the perfect backdrops for that très chic selfie you’ve been dying to take.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetTheir gourmet hot dogs were fabulous too; though a little pricey for a sausage in a bun, I’d come back just to sample their entire list. I went for their mango and jalapeño as it looked the most interesting of the lot, and it sure didn’t disappoint with the additional caramelised onions on top.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetWhile BRATS have not begun brewing coffee at their establishment, I was fortunate enough to explore it on the same day a buck-toothed coffee connoisseur set up shop within the premises. His name is Wei Xiong, and when he’s not brewing coffee for friends and family, he’s busy photographing newlyweds in Melbourne. An incredibly friendly chap with a gorgeous Instagram feed (look up @twofrontteeth), Wei Xiong is friends with the founder of BRATS and made arrangements to serve specialty coffee he’s brought over from down under within the premises.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetWe spent an hour or so talking about coffee and photography as he hastily brewed batch after batch of coffee to customers while I took the occasional sip from my fragrant and mildly acidic Ethiopian (or was it a Kenyan?).

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetIt’s a rare and beautiful thing to be able to sit down and have a pleasant conversation with someone new. I’ve always found it awkward having to initiate a conversation within such a setting unless I’m in a position to do so (e.g. I’m reviewing the place). I’ve definitely gotten more comfortable with it having had plenty of practice of just putting on my journalistic persona, but there’s always that unexplained initial hesitation I associate with shy little children who hide behind their mothers that consume me before I step forward and greet with that first “hello”. Perhaps it’s the bane of having worked in a corporate setting for too long: I don’t feel as comfortable in my own skin anymore. That outgoing person who’s always the loudest in the group has been reduced to a meek lamb who fumbles his words through any argument.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetI learn from Wei Xiong that he’s back for a friend’s wedding, and so decided to throw in a three week holiday just to hang around the country he used to call home. We then talked about how the appreciation for coffee in Melbourne has more depth compared to Malaysia, where everyone here consumes coffee for the sake of consuming coffee. We talked about his struggles in securing Caucasian clients instead of more Asian couples in his efforts to diversify his portfolio. We talked about how BRATS is truly one of the very few establishments that have nailed minimalist industrial chic, before agreeing that one of the best things of living in temperate climates is the ability to dress in layers. Oh how I do miss putting on cardigans that don’t keep me warm but give others the impression I know what the hell I’m doing with my wardrobe.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetBefore long, we parted company. He to make more coffee with what little supplies he had left till the evening, and I to rush to an art gallery before it closes for the day, but not before we followed each other on Instagram, which was how we said we’d keep in touch.

My trip to BRATS had been a fruitful one as I got to take lots of photographs (although it’s driving me crazy how the white half of the walls looks grey on my screen…) so if you’re ever in Taman Paramount, do drop by for a visit. Order a hot dog or two and pair them with the beer available on the menu.

Alright, I’m off for now. It’s half past four in the morning and I’ll only get a couple of hours of sleep at this rate. Coming up this weekend: The National Visual Arts Gallery. Until then, good night!

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