Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Red Kebaya
I watched the film yesterday with Ma Hen. Even though the film got sort of bad reviews (from some of local medias and friends), we enjoyed it.

The film is being promoted as if it is about the lady in the red kebaya, a 'joget' girl named Azizah. Just look at the posters and trailers being aired over the media. To me, however, Azizah (Vanida) is only a supporting character (and she did it well!). If you are expecting more from Vanida, you might be dissappointed as "Red Kebaya" is really not about Azizah. The film is really about Mr John Reynold (Bob). Why do I think so, there are few things that you should note.

Firstly, if the story is about Azizah, the audiences would be 'introduced' to her life instead of merely 'listening' it from Hoggy (Zahim) and herself. We were never introduced to her life when her husband left her when she was pregnant to join Chin Peng. And how she came to become a 'joget' girl. We never knew the hardship she faced as a divorcee (malay word 'janda') bringing up her son, Adik. Also failed to be depicted was how the community at that time (especially Malay community) persived 'joget' girls. Another interesting point is that, throughout the film, how Azizah felt towards John was not really 'shown', we merely take her words and gestures. Unlike John, who dreams of her in his waking hours. The Malay word would be 'angau' (a-ngau).

Instead, the audiences get to know John in a very 'intimate' ways. We saw how unhappy John is with his marriage. We saw how the wife refused him and treated him. His 'angau' with Azizah. We also saw his nightmare of having to kill a communist. We saw the communist whom he killed but never saw Azizah's husband and had to take her words that her husband had a scar (thus, not the communist that John killed). We also get to know how he is in person (i.e. kind hearted, 'lowly-paid' hardworking man, etc). He also is a hopelessly 'romantic' person. He cried when he declared his love to Azizah whereas Azizah didn't even shed a single drop of tear.

The film is somewhat different from other Malaysian film. The story lines. The cinematography. But then again, is it really a Malaysian film?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Month of Syawal

Maybe it's a bit too late to be writing about Syawal. Nevertheless it need to be written. The month of Syawal follows after the month of Ramadhan. If Ramadhan is about fasting, Syawal is about celebrating of the completion of a fasting month. This is the month where Malaysians (especially Muslims) went visiting each other and ask for forgiveness.

For Malaysian with 'kampung' to go back to, this is the time for 'balik kampung'. Family members (brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts etc) get together to celebrate 1st Syawal.

The signature delacacies for Eid Mubarak (1st Syawal) are lemang, rendang, and dodol. Lemang is some sort of starchy / sticky rice cooked in bamboo. It is eaten with rendang.

Rendang is either meat or chicken other cooked in spices and coconut milk. There are rendang consisted of jackfruit, and even tapioca shoot, but generally the rendang that you eat with lemang is the meat / chicken kind.

Dodol is a traditional malay 'candy'. It is very 'chewy' like a buble gum but you can't make buble out of it. It is made of among others coconut milk and sugar. The initially liquid ingredient, is cooked and stirred till it is thickened.

Less and less people cook their own lemang and dodol due to the tedious work and effort needed to produce a good lemang or dodol. For lemang your need to find the bamboo. Rice and water (mixed with coconut milk ) need to be just right for the lemang to taste good. The fire (usually wood is used to make the fire) must be control so as the lemang would not burned.

While dodol could be cooked over gas stove, the mixture need to be continously stirred to avoid burned. Stirring a very sticky mixture needs some degree of strength and patience.

More people prefer buying lemang and rendang from roadside hawkers. These hawkers could be easily found along the road heading back to 'kampung's.

Next time if you are in Malaysia somewhere in Ramadhan, do stay a little bit longer for Syawal to experience more traditional Malay food and the celebration of Eid Mubarak.