Saturday, August 23, 2008

Pekeliling flats - A Forgotten Legacy


One of the blocks of the Pekeliling flats.

Old places have long memories. That phrase rings true whenever you think of the Pekeliling Flats. Abandoned due to a decision to redevelop the Tunku Abdul Rahman Housing Projects (as its more formally known), which is one of the earliest public housing projects in Malaysia after independence, the place is now a hollow shell of its former self as the development stalled to a halt post 1997. Drive past Jalan Pahang near the Pekeliling roundabout and the KL General Hospital and you can't miss it. A few of the blocks had already been demolished but those near the Police quarters are still standing with a few blocks still occupied.

Yet the place is surprisingly haunting as you walk past it, it seems to glare at you and challenge you to enter it and at times I confess that I do get the creepy feeling when I was there. My friend Visithra who accompanied me actually mentioned that she heard voices coming from the vacant elevator shaft and felt cold chills at certain stretches of the blocks where sudden temperature changes can be felt. Yet the more common dancer would be from the broken debris littering the floor and the presence of drug addicts which loiter around for their fix.


17 storeys upwards is a long way.

The place used to house thousands of living, breathing people and their absence is felt throughly though remnants of their past are everywhere to be found. Entering each room makes you feel like an archaeologist sieving through the rubble of the past to form a story of each of the occupant's life and times. Enter one and you find discarded toys and a graffiti of a list of football member's names. Next door is a doorway hung with mango leaves and leftovers of earthen pots belonging to an Indian family. Walk downwards and you see Koranic verses stuck to the walls and you know a Muslim stayed and prayed here previously. Downwards a discarded Christmas tree speaks volumes of past jolly celebrations.


A kitten makes it home on a discarded mattress.

The place wasn't totally devoid of life. Where humans had left a void, life will come back to fill the place as we found a litter of kitten makes their home amidst the rooms, a pack of dogs somehow running about the 10th floor as if its their territory now and a lone plant stalk somehow blooming amidst the crack of a concrete steps shows how life can flourish in the harshest conditions. Yet death is also present as a skeleton of a cat shows that life is harsh. The Pekeliling flats may not be your typical tourist spot but it is part of KL's identity and past and to many of the previous inhabitants it was home and had been for a large part of their life. They shared their joy together, their sadness, their fears and their hopes. All these now echoes in the empty halls as the flat awaits its fate, one which doesn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. If you there make a trip there at least once, go in a group and alert others that you'll be there in case of anything.


24, enough said.


Who is Kumar? a questioned that may never be answered.


It so easy to imagine a family sitting on this sofa and watching the television, now it lies empty and vacant as most of the other rooms are.


A hoard of shoes tells of a large family of school going kids.


Death stalks the living here.


A makeshift conference setting, but for whom?


A sad end for a soft toy.


Warning signs at the lobby.

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