Monday, 31 August 2009

Contested Spaces

This "new" editor on the blogspot is driving me nuts. It's got some neat features for uploading images but moving the pictures around is really clumsy. So, am not going to try too hard for now.

Am sitting on by garden bench, listening to the birds happily chirping away. My papaya tree is fruiting finally. The other papaya tree outside our compound is sprouting a lot of flowers (for many months already) but doesn't seem to be able to bear fruit. Must be Jantan (male)! My longan-mata kuching plants is a little stressed after I transplanted it a little further away from the papaya tree but I think it will heal itself; otherwise I will slap myself.

And yes, testing out the mobile broadband my wife just acquired for our daughter who is is feeling a lot of pain in UPM with its almost non-existent Internet connection at her hostel. And a lot of that pain is also felt by the students in the hostels in USM too. The upload speed according to the little counter that comes with the package says something like 40 kbps to about 70 kbps. That really is not broadband. Yah, Yah, hopefully, UPM which is smack in the Multimedia SUPER CORRIDOR will enjoy better speeds.

The first picture up there? It's my neighbour who seems very happy celebrating Merdeka. Yes, Merdeka today. I looked along the whole row of my street. Only one house's got the flag up.

Ah, but behind our house is a huge padang (field) with many flags. But not the National flag; or even the State flag. They are flags celebrating the Month of the Hungry Ghosts. The Seventh Lunar month where Chinese believe the spirits of the dearly departure roam freely on Earth. My youngest daughter asked "why do they like our padang so much?". There are actually two other equally big padang less than 100 metres away. The Teo Chew Opera came and went. It wasn't as much fun as before. And the horrible modern dancers and singing was unbearable (earth-shakingly loud). I think the volume and vibrations from the speakers are a health hazard.

Last night they had a big dinner after all the ceremonies including the big bonfire of paper. They cook right there of course. I hope they don't go back running for the toilet. The signing was bearable. And they ended by about 10.30 pm. What do they do at the dinner? One big  event is the lelong (auction). Technically speaking, it is to collect money for charity. They mentioned a few people who needed medical attention. They also collected more than RM1,000 for the Chinese Primary School in the area (pittance, me thinks). One interesting auction was to take home the image of the Jade Emperor statuette. It went for about RM4,000 +. Generally, businessmen want to bring IT home for goodluck.

Of course, some of you may have heard about the more unsavoury practices of these auctions. The uncomplimentary remarks it that they are no more than "legalised extortion".  And we shall leave it at that.

(the system seems very slow when typing with this boradband connected).

So, what about contested spaces? It's when members of the public claim a public space for another use which is different from that originally planned. For instance, our shophouse five-foot ways are blocked and clogged up with motorbikes or wares to be sold by the shopowners. As for the padang behind our house, some one has set up a sort of "club house" where they drink and play cards and socialise into the middle of the night. There's that small little temple; someone did complain; the authorities came, took pictures, don't know what happened. Us, complain? We decided not; where are they going to go? We only wish that they don't throw rubbish everywhere after an event. Lower the "heart-wrenching" loudness; stick with the opera and get rid of the skimpy girls jumping around who can't really sing.

If you want to read more about contested spaces, try Gywn Jenkins book on George Town; based on her PhD thesis. Also some good stuff by Nihal Perera on Colombo, Sri Lanka.

1 comment:

omid said...

Prof You have a beautiful house. Your daughter in UPM can change her hostel to kolej 17 which has internet connection in its rooms. The price is almost the same but it is newer and more comfortable.