Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Year in KL Flickr - Down Memory Lane


My first meetup with KL Flickr, it was a group which I instantly feel in love with for the warm company, crazy antics and great times I was to have in association.

My relationship with the KL Flickr group began in December 2006 when I arrived back in Kuala Lumpur after 5 years being in Sabah. I was curios as to how being in a group of photographers would be like and how they would treat a point and shoot user as many times have shown that some people do not tolerate P&S shooters, putting us down as not professionals and not worthy of their attention of the gear heads. But the notion that things would be hard to get accepted was soon dispelled and has led me to continuously head back time and time again for the sheer energy, friendliness and advise sharing that all members within the group have extended over the past year. Here is a chronicle of the events that I have attended but which is by no means a comprehensive telling of all activities carried out due to the numerous mini meetups, teh tarik sessions and walks that the members have put time and effort in organizing to make the group successful.

So it all began by stumbling into Izzi's Bukit Bintang with no idea who I'm meeting up with and the kind of reception I was going to be in. Looking around the second floor there was Shafina (of which I wouldn't have known at that time) who was the earliest and we both looked at each other and wondered what to say. But things soon warmed up and as the members trickled in the atmosphere got even more heated up. It was clear that many of them have met up previously and exchanged greetings and hugs and I think I was a bit shy at that time and a bit taken by Kazzie's action of overly friendly affection to any member of the Flickr group, imagine getting a kiss from a south african hehe. Times were great, I had fun met Visithra who with me was her first Flickr meet as well, Syiqin who came all the way from Penang with Nagen, Kazzie, Kenmin, Eddie and Jenn, Priya and many more. Photo exchange was great and as an added benefit, they had a photo contest which I managed to get picked for second place and a free Pixart book (Of which I finally managed to get done in Dec 2007). So ended one of the most memorable event I had for a long while and a love interest of returning for subsequent meets.


The girl photogs were a force to be reckoned with.

Over the next few months, activities after activities were planned and one happened to be the Brickfields photowalk suggested by Visithra and backed by me. The turn up was huge and as we waited by the mamak along Jalan Tun Sambathan I think our numbers almost took up most of the space and the mamaks were quite amused as some of us began taking pictures of them preparing the daily meals. We walked through the backlanes, braving evil eyed junk traders, friendly church going makciks, barged into a session at the Palace of Fine Arts as the students went about their dance and singing lessons, kacaued the resident cendol man, took street shots while the locals were staring at us wondering what the hell we were up to and finally took shelter as the rain came pouring down on us. My first Flickr walk which ignited a passion to do more with the group.


Faris was quite unlike himself that day and Han was saying as much, more macho and carefree and became the model of the day for the group.

The next time I returned to a group meetup was at Petaling Street at the Old Town Kopitiam at Central Market. Again the usual faces where there yet I still struggled to put names to faces but Shafina and Syiqin were growing familiar at this point as well as Kenmin, Visithra, Han and many others. Johan also appeared in the picture and that was fun especially after I met him for the first time at Flickr meetup in Ivys at the Asian Heritage Row meetup in January after he returned from the Haj and more botak from the experience. We did lots of street photos, Magnus leading the way and we bumped into mentally disturbed indian guy and more. Rain again in the evening curtailed the walk but we managed to reach Starbucks at Kota Raya before ultimately dispersing.


It's always chaotic and fun when the group is there in force and the things we do its amazing that we have not been barred from any establishment to date.

For the group, March was the first anniversary since its founding so it was a big bash and I do mean big! The guest list alone showed at least 50 people stating that they'll be there but we often have people FFKing. Many new faces, many old faces. Shaolin Tiger was there as well as many others that I could not commit to memory. Things got sizzling as we had a slideshow presentation of past meetups that Shafina and the older members such as Johan, Han, Kazzie, etc had contributed while the cupcakes that Shafina's sister made were fabulous. Even as the food was not enough to accommodate the number of people that came, everyone was having too much fun to mind. People were just snapping away and laughing, it had a very merry festival feeling. A representative of Photo Book was there and again lucky draws abound which again I manage to get a free magazine hehe. The party didn't end there. not even with the antics of Li Yin with her socks, Visithra and Kaz posing on the floor and Kazzie bellowing everyone to disperse as Izzi had to vacate us for other patrons. We sauntered back down Bukit Bintang, found ourselves at the light room and spent hours taking photos there and finally ended up at a mamaks behind Bukit Bintang Plaza till I am. Fun fun fun and tiring.


A group shot of the girls as they lay on the grass awaiting a group shot that never materialised as the guys didn't join in.

My first mini meetup was organised by the Cuddly Family. It was at the TTDI Park which I've heard was nice but never had the chance to go to. The usual suspects were there, Johan, Han, Shafina, etc. Kenmin came a bit later with Syiqin and the best memory of that day was of poor Kenmin walking near the lake and slip and fell in, luckily his camera was unharmed. Had to leave early to service my car so missed the mamak session.


Melaka was great, our first out of KL jaunt and it went about splendidly with a joint with the Singapore Flickr group.

Our first outstation trip was a blast. Two days one night in historic Melaka was what the doctored ordered for a vacation. So many things happened that thinking back brings about so many happy and funny memories. There was Syiqin and gang getting hopelessly lost in Sg Besi, Visithra waiting by the side of the road helplessly and Kaz and I coming to her rescue, staying at the fantastic Baba House, meeting the Singapore Flickr people, walking down Jonker street at night and eating the street food, running from the rain and playing Jenga at the coconut groove, vowing to wake up to see the sunset and hopelessly missing it, pigging out on bowls after bowls of cendol, posing with lizards, Nagen spraining his leg doing jump shots, going on a river cruise that instead headed out to the Straits of Malacca and going home exhausted. Too much to tell.


Lunch at the Ivy brought about pasta and creme brule.

A small meetup was held at the Ivys at Asian Heritage Row, met Johan for the first time as well as Kong, Hakim and Matt. The ambiance was heavenly and the food great. Later it was a short photo walk around the place. Again had to go while they all stayed and mamaked.


Magnus became our defacto tour guide as it was his territory at Chow Kit.

I've always heard of Chow Kit but have never been there all these years so at the chance of going there I jumped at it. Again most of them were late except Shafina. Met Amery/Awie, Ekar again from the Thaipusam meetup and more. From the start we all got hopelessly lost as we split up in the crowded Pasar Chow Kit, interesting place. Soon as Magnus joined us we walked along Chow Kit visiting the seedier red light district where sex toys salesmen ply their trade from suitcases, prostitutes and akuas openly beckons for business and needles and condoms can be seen on the street. Took time to photograph some ruins and walked down some more along Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman where we had excellent Mee Rebus before dispersing.


Erna was kind enough to invite us to the workshop she hosted at the Islamic Arts Museum.

The first time I met Erna I found her to be bursting with energy and humour. An invitation by her to the group for a pin hole camera workshop got the support of the members and we came in force. Cutting, pasting and assembling the cameras was an enlightening experience and Erna was ever the patient instructor. After we completed the course, the Museum was even so kind as to provide lunch and later as an added bonus, Erna took us all through the current photo exhibit they were hosting entitled Neither East Nor West which was enlightening especially narrated and presented by Erna.


Praveen first appeared for the Tengkat Tong Shin walk by Visithra and was soon to be inducted as a permanent member.

The group of us were again assembled for another photowalk, this time through Tengkat Tong Shin and Bukit Bintang. It was a small group but fun. It was an eye opener to know that the lesser known back lanes of Kuala Lumpur outside the glitzy and metropolitan KL there was another side that held so much charm and interest that many people never realise. I met Praveen for the first time here and soon she was coming along for most of the meetups then. I wanted so much to follow them to the meetup later that day at KLCC but things crept up and I just lost the mood halfway and had to head back, a sad loss really as they had fun visiting A Samad Said art exhibition later that day.


A stolen kiss from Prakash to Shafina is forever immortalised on photo

When the international Flickr team was noted to be coming to KL we all had to be there, some took MC, others applied for leave and the rest just came as soon as they can after work. At this time also got our first batch of KL Flickr shirts and were busy sorting the lot out for members. Besides the company many came to be part of the event and also for the suspected freebies such as the free one year pro account handed out by the Flickr Team. Held at Masons at the Asian Heritage Row it was a night to remember with socialising, dancing, food and many many photo opportunities.


The team members gathered for a photowalk I organised to Kg Abdullah Hukum which thankfully was a success

It was nearly half a year that I joined KL Flickr and I never stop losing momentum. A wanted to do a Flickr walk to Kg Abdullah Hukum before it was demolished for redevelopment and I felt it was our job to chronicle the untold history of KL before it was lost forever. I was a bit astonished that so many people responded and even with such hitches as the meetup place being closed it went off without much of a hitch. Corey came along as did many other members old and new. It was a lovely experience as we walked through kampungs that seemed so out of place in the ultra modern Kuala Lumpur, visiting the villagers and chatting with them, receiving their hospitality and even being invited to their house. Sadly at present most of Kg Abdullah Hukum is now gone.


Patriotism at its best especially from the member who is more Malaysian that any of us.

Merdeka was going to be big as it was the 50th celebration of Independence. Flickr was there and about to capture all of it. It was crowded and people were out in droves but that didn't deter us. Visithra had an idea for a Project to get people to write their thoughts on Merdeka and we'd film them. Anna did one up by bringing her contest cutout of Eka, Serena C and Pietro everywhere we went and it was a sight. We walked the parade route, lepaked at DBKL square, headed for lunch at the Coliseum and went along Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman and back to Central Market where a few of of chatted the day away. Sad happenings marred the day a bit as Kazzie had her handphone stolen though.


Baby Simba arrives at our Rahmadan Flickr Walk.

Another small meetup this time for some Rahmadan pig out at the Section 8 pasar Rahmadan in Subang. Kazzie was puasaing with the Muslims there and so breaking fast was a treat for her as well. Walking by the various stalls selling items like ayam perchik, nasi dagang, satay, kuih melayu and much more whetted our appetites. It was special to be able to accompany them all as they waited for the announcement to break fast and we continued on at the mamaks till late.


The group of us relaxed and enjoyed the ambiance at Bora Asmara thanks to Shafina.

Big bashes were planned at Bora Asmara for our post Puasa gathering. It was quite a large event and made even more so by Grom and his family joining us as well as Matt and wife. Shafina and Han brought Raya cookies to compliment the dishes we ordered for everyone. Everyone were in traditional baju Melayu and even Prakash and Visithra were in Indian attire. We were so boisterous that we were afraid that the management would kick us out that night but we all had fun. Musicians serenaded us all as the girls took to dancing in the grassy knoll and Grom's kids joined in. Truly this is what the Flickr family stands for and its thanks to Shafina for finding the great venue to hold our meetup.


Praveen became our pet model for the day and grumbled about it but I secretly suspects she enjoyed the shots everyone took for her.

It was the height of the Hindraf rallies and KL was creaking to a halt as the police went full force with the roadblocks. Even heading out of town to the remote Bagan Lalang there were numerous road blocks targeted at the estates. Not letting that dampen the mood we all arrived at what was Sepang's Gold Coast, which I still think there are plenty of beaches better than this. Some of the members promptly setup a flash setup and soon it became a model shoot. Praveen was busy that day as she became the star of the evening. Whats heading to the beach if not for the great seafood and Bagan Lalang had lots to offer for that though it tooks ages for the food to reach our starving group.


Johan and Eppi ties the knot and Flickr couldn't just stay away.

Our most prominent member and one of the founding members decided to take the plunge and tie the knot with Eppi. Invitations were extended to members and we all came to celebrate with him. A night full of glitzy dressed people, Prakash's emcee commentary for the wedding video, tons of camera which must have shocked the other guests and a long night of fun as we danced, laughed and photographed. But man was I pooped after the morning shoot at Pekeliling.


CheDin taking a break 17 floors above Pekeliling Flat.

I'd never thought I'd return for a second time to Pekeliling but there was where I found myself. The first was with Amir and Visithra and the second after everyone saw the photos of our exploits. There were danger to entering what must be a known druggie den and a lawless area but the attraction was too good to be left out especially the chance to walk up to the rooftop before the buildings are demolished forever. It was scary, the rooms felt eerie without the occupants, there were objects and junk strewn all over the place making walking treacherous, we found signs of druggies, being accoutered by Indian thugs and finally braving vertigo and safety to finally reach the top where we shot each other. Truly its something I'll only do once and not again and thank the lucky stars I made it out alive and in one piece.


Jenn looked fabulous as she strode to the altar in the gardens.

The final she bang of the year must be Eddie and Jenn's wedding in December. I first met them the previous year during my first meetup and it was poetry to end the year with their wedding. And it was a lovely wedding, set by the lake amidst a lush green landscape and tranquil surroundings. Kazzie was helping the couple to photograph the event and we were there to back her up. It was hectic and fun and we found out that holding a garden wedding in the monsoon season had its downside as we were subjected to rain, mud and ruined equipment but the happy couple said they wouldn't have it any other way. And small miracles do happen as the rain cleared and held back long enough for the ceremony. Freeing my car from the mud laden grounds was another experience that I won't forget soon enough. The next day, Kazzie, Han, Visithra and I headed off for a weekend at Frasiers Hill. Lovely way to end the year. Cheers.


Angelia said...

it was a beautiful summation and a very accurate description :) really wish we could join y'all for some of those flickr meet ups, not always children friendly haha

here's to another year ahead! :)

mizie said...

Kervin... u amazed me with such a wonderful words. Keep it up bro.

and lets KLickr & flickering more!

Prakash Daniel said...

dude, awesome words man, as for me KLickr will be something that i will cherish and happy for, my first walk was the Kg.Abdullah Hukum walk and that was the begiinging of a great start of photography and friendship...

vis said...

awww this is sweet ;) happy anniv kervin ;)