Thursday, 9 May 2013

a place to call home.


Today 6th of may, monday, is a holiday in commemorative with GE13 (General Election)  in which the National Front is again was given the mandate to rule and govern Malaysia for another 5 years.

At about 12 noon I received a call from Dr. Sab.

"Are you free today", asked Dr. Sab.

"Well, yes but in the evening I've to be in CTC Sungai Buluh"

"I thought of visiting a friend in Meru, glad if you can join."

" Ok, just come over and fetch me."

"Around 12.30pm I'll be at your house." Dr. Sab confirmed his time to fetch me.

I know Dr. Sab is always punctual when comes to appointment. I had a puff at the house compound while waiting for him. At 12.30pm sharp he's already at the gate. Thought of taking lunch before visiting his friend. I suggested we just have a simple lunch at Pak Ngah's restaurant near my house.

Actually Dr. Sab has just bought a piece of land somewhere in Sungai Buluh. The reason why he's visiting his friend today is to introduce me to his friend whom he said an artist like us as well. According to Dr. Sab this guy is a self made designer and he built all the renovations of his house himself. Dr. Sab wants to get some idea for his house to be and to get my opinions on the house that we are going to visit later on.

I was eager to see his friend's house. It might be something interesting since his friend is an artist and designer as we are. I thought the creation must be something special if not Dr. Sab won't take me there. He knows my taste very well. Dr. Sab used to visit the house but still can't locate the place.

"Hello, Li are you in the house, I'm coming to your place now."

"Yes, please come over."

''I'm bringing a friend with me today."

"No sweat bro, just drop by, I will prepare some food for high tea."

"Actually I can't remember your address, can you please direct us."

The house is in Meru. I'm not that very familiar with that area but roughly I know where Meru is. After three rounds of lost driving at last we reached the destination. I was so intrigued by the first encounter with the entrance. It's a real designer's house. I just can't imagine there's a house like this in the heart of a housing estate. It's a single storey semi detached house, I guess may be something like 15 years old. It's the quintessential hideaway, with all the appeal of a tropical kind of resort, a place we can escape the city life, a serene and nature at the doorstep. 


"Alaikum mussalam, please come in."

"Actually today I was a bit busy tending my pond, the pump is not working, I'm sorry for the mess up."

"Sorry for the gate crashing." Dr. Sab apologised for not making an earlier appointment.

"It's alright, I'm about to finish already."

"This is my friend, Din." Dr. Sab introduced me to his friend.

"Hi, I'm Rosli."

Rosli ushered us to the verandah. I was mesmerised by the outdoor living areas, complete with water garden pool and not overly done waterfall. The garden exotic colours and the sound of melodic drips of water give the outdoor living space a sense of depth and enchantment.

Actually Rosli is a Town Planner by training, used to study at UTM (Universiti Teknologi Malaysia), Skudai Johor.

I knew most all of his lecturers. Most of them were either my classmates, junior or senior in UiTM (Universiti Teknologi MARA) somewhere in 70s. He was very surprised when knowing that I knew most all of his lecturers. What a small world.

"I studied Town Planning but more interested in Urban Design."

"So Tuan Syed Zainol Abidin Idid was your lecturer? "

Syed is actually a very active member in Conservation and Heritage movement in Malaysia. He studied Urban Design at Oxford University and a very firm and a kind of stick to his own kind of mind guy. Urban design is his life. Prior to his study in UK, Syed used to work at MPKB (Kota Bharu Municipal Council) as a Technical Assistant in Town Planning Division. At that time I pursued my Degree in UiTM.

"He was my thesis supervisor, you seem to know him."

"He was my classmates, my room mates and my very close friend. I used to stay in his house in Alor Setar for a month while carrying out my research for my dissertation back in the 70s."

I saw Dr. Sab shaking his head. This was really a coincidence. He thought for a surprise but it turns out to be a historical time tunnel.

"Dr. Ho Chin Siong used to work together with me when I was posted at KESEDAR Kelantan in 1983, after a short stint with KESEDAR he left and joined UTM as a young lecturer ", I continued with the history.

"After graduation, I joined KPENJ Johor for few years but working with the Governmet was not my cup of tea, I don't like the working environment. I left and joined  AJM (Akitek Jururancang Malaysia)  working under Puan Norliza, the ex MIP (Malaysian Institute of Planners) President." Rosli answered back.

"Puan Norliza was my wife's student. Have you registered with MIP? "

"Wow, what a, actually Puan Norliza did ask me to register while she was the President but I was not interested, I like to be free, be on my own, after all I don't do much Town Planning but more on design, like interior, house design, carpentering, painting, landscape and all sorts of creative works."

"You are like Mc Gyver. Very interesting."

"After a short stint with AJM, I joined GDP (Group Design Partnership) as the designer, I'm an auto CAD guy, so they need my service for architectural rendering."

"So you must know the GDP partner, Architect Wan Azami."

"Yes, he was my boss before, in fact when he quit GDP, he offered me to join him, but as I said, I like freedom, so this is my world."

"I was with him last week."

"If you happen to see him please send my regards to him. It seems you know all my acquaintances."

"Well, in this field we bound to bump into each other. Wan Azami used to be my neighbour at UiTM hostel. He's my batch studying in UiTM, he did architecture while I was in Town Planning."

Dr. Sab just kept quiet listening to our conversation. He also didn't expect what he's going through today. He's something like wondering about todays incidence. 

"I'm happy both of you are in the same wavelength.", suddenly Dr. Sab joined in the conversation.

"Anyway thanks to you for all this," I said as an admiration to Dr. Sab's efforts of bringing me here today.

All of us were talking, joking and laughing when suddenly Rosli's wife brought some cookies for our afternoon tea. Rosli is a very friendly, soft spoken and well mannered guy. He must have been a nice family man and very much appreciated by the family members. I can witness that when he was talking to his wife. They must have been a happy married couple, if not how can they raised 8 beautiful kids.

"We were planning for a sketching trip to Fraser Hill, if you like to join us, you're always welcome." I told Rosli about our planning for the sketching trip.

"Thanks for the invitation, its my pleasure."

Rosli's wife is a good cook. The kue teow and cucur udang were so tasty and nicely prepared. According to Rosli his wife is good at carpentry works. She did contribute a lot in fixing and DIY on the furnishings of all the interior works. Ladies are actually more meticulous than men.

I guess most of the materials for the building were either second hand or from junk yard store. Things look nice and beautiful when he put in order taking into account the scale, colour and placement. Locally sourced materials feature throughout the building, with rough stone walls both on the exterior, interior and in the landscaping. I was rather surprised when he mentioned to us that all the furniture, tiles, door, windows were all second hand or junk yard items which he collected from friends and some he got it through exchanging of paintings with the building materials from his clients. A smart way of how to create an artistic creations in an economical way.

After a good high tea meal, Rosli brought us to his so called hideout and painting studio. A pavilion on top of his porch. He just recently  created it as an open working studio, creating a good open space setting with a nice cross air ventilation.

Since it was on a raised floor, there was a good view all round, facing the newly constructed houses.
According to Rosli, before the coming up of the new housing, the pavilion was a nice place facing the open green and the small orchard. Now the view has gone.

From the pavilion I can see part of the house especially the front portion. This house has no setback because it has been taken over by the landscape yard and the fish pond. A nature comes first kind of thing. I love this kind of atmosphere. After the noise, traffic and pollution, our life needs balance. We need an essential healthy mind and body as an escape from the pressures of the city chaos. 

It's still permitted because there's no permanent structure but all are temporary including the pavilion. He showed some of his paintings, sketches and some wood works. It's actually quite airy up here although the time now is about 4pm.

The concept of landscaping was more towards maximalist. Almost all the spaces were occupied with pots and plants especially bonsai and also not to miss the Koi pond and aquarium.

He cultured and breeds the Koi for sales. He's also one of the member in the associations on the bonsai artists in Malaysia. Besides that he has a  large collection of rare species of fishes from Sri Lanka, Africa and numerous kind of salt water fishes which he converted into fresh water habitat. How on earth he does that really wonders me very much.

That's how he makes a living. 

A nicely crafted Bonsai can fetch up to thousands of ringgit while the Japanese Koi with special texture and design can go as high as hundreds of thousand of ringgit. Those items were popularly sought after by Chinese buyer.

There were foreign tourists from Europe, Japan, China and elsewhere around the globe visited this place.

It's already late in the evening. We have another appointment, this time I'm going to bring Dr. Sab to another house of a good friend of mine, staying in Kampung Delek Klang.

Before we parted ways Rosli showed us a movie production of his works and activities. He's actually a self made musician, in fact he himself composed few theme instrumentals in the video productions. A very talented guy with hidden secrets. It's a whole new experience for me to know this special and rare species of character. Very thankful to Dr. Sab for all this session with Rosli.

With today's sessions, there's another collection of character to my and our list. Hopefully we can have a good collaboration and a lasting friendship. It's easy to clique well if we are in the same wavelength and frequency modulation.

Today I some sort found a temple of relaxation best enjoyed in a healthy balance.

till next episode and time....thank you folks...