Modern Society at DC Mall

DC Mall is a new half-empty shopping gallery that’s located at the heart of Pusat Bandar Damansara. The mall itself is quite nicely laid-out, with a spacious al fresco dining section, and Modern Society is one of the new restaurants that popped up there.

We started the dinner with some appetisers. The Nyonya chicken wings (RM19.90) feature tasty, crispy skins, but the chicken meat is quite tasteless – the marinade didn’t really seep through. The sambal sauce that accompanies the wings is good – and just as spicy as it should be. The popcorn chicken is very yummy crunchy. It’s served with garlic sauce (RM18.90)

Cikin!

I ordered the foie gras risotto (RM49.90) for my main. The portion is fair, and the risotto is prepared in apple chutney and goji berries broth, giving it a sweet taste. The foie gras chunk is nicely done, but the taste isn’t strong enough to counterbalance the sweetness of the berries broth – so the risotto leaves a sweet aftertaste. I would’ve loved for the flavour to be more balanced, considering that I preferred a more savoury main. Overall it’s still quite delicious.

The foie gras risotto

Another main that I tried, Tacos Trio (RM36.90), is delicious. The tacos are served with pulled oxtail, fried chicken and seafood. The pulled oxtail is very nicely done and soft – it’s excellent.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The dessert selection is very limited – there are only two items on the menu. I had the panna cotta (RM20.90). It’s really good, with a slight hint on minty taste. Much recommended.

Verdict

Overall, Modern Society doesn’t disappoint. The service is fairly impersonal, but very efficient. However, I wish the dessert selection was more extensive. But this place is still worth checking out – the menu also includes a long list of quirky cocktails and drinks for those who enjoy a tipple or two.

Kenapa Nak Speaking BI? Why Do Some Malays Prefer to Interact In English?

A person’s identity is defined by a multitude of elements, linguistics being one of them. Judging from the incessant conversations & arguments on the social media over the use of various languages, it’s clear that many Malaysians are, indeed, still experiencing a sort of identity crisis. While the common perception around the world is that one should be allowed to speak or write in any language he feels most comfortable using, in Malaysia, many stigmas & preconceived notions are still associated with the mere choice of which language to use in public.

This leads to a common dilemma faced by many Malaysians, especially Malays, when expressing themselves in public. “Should I introduce myself in English?” “Should I tweet in English?” “Will I appear conceited if I keep using English on social media?” “Should I use Malay to fit into a certain crowd?”; these are among the most common questions the Malays have to ask themselves from time to time. Tired of being bogged down by these questions, many Malays choose to use Manglish or bahasa rojak in order to achieve a semblance of balance between using English while maintaining some street cred among their friends (apparently, using too much English can be social suicide too).

My answer would be, yes, you can use any language that you want, as long as you get your points across. What’s important is to ensure that you can eloquently express your points using the language of your choice.

After all, language is a means of self-expression, so to hell with labels, no?

Moving forward, let’s dissect the common arguments given by those who are against the practice of Malays using English in their daily interactions:

.

Frequent Point #1: “Kenapa nak guna English kalau bercakap sesama Melayu?”

There are many reasons why some Malays use English when conversing with fellow Malays. First of all, it’s important to debunk the myth involving the Malay’s use of Bahasa Melayu (Malay) at home. While most of the Malays exclusively use Malay at home, there exist pockets within the Malay community itself where this convention doesn’t apply. Many middle class families have inter-generational exposure to the British culture and language, so naturally, they speak English at home. This is a reality; I know of some guys who speak no Malay at all, in spite of them being of full Malay-Indonesian ancestry. They also went to international schools and received their tertiary education overseas, so they were never exposed to learning Malay in school. Malaysia is also a heterogenous society, and many people of our generation are essentially products of mixed marriage. In many mixed families, to ensure balanced dynamics between the parents who came from different racial backgrounds and upbringings, English is often used as the primary language at home. It’s a neutral arrangement, and enables middle-of-the-road solution to the language & cultural dilemmas faced by these families.

Aforementioned cases aside, many Malays speak English among themselves as it’s the only way they get to practice using the language. Languages, unlike subjects like Mathematics or Science, cannot be mastered by the mere virtue of attending classes and lectures. You need to practice using the language often if you want to be proficient in which. Many Malays, especially those who grew up outside the urban middle-class environment, struggle to find a nurturing environment to practice their English, and who else do they have apart from their good friends to practice using the language with? After all, speaking English with their friends is much more fun than talking to themselves or to the mirror, no?

.

Frequent Point #2: “Japan & Korea are highly developed nations and the people don’t even speak English!”

Yes, English isn’t as widely used in these two countries as it is in Malaysia. But it’s important to not discount the fact that Japanese & Korean languages are widely used in academic journals & publications as well, especially in comparison with Bahasa Melayu-Indonesia. I’ve been to South Korea, and while the people don’t speak much English, they have wide access to all kinds of reading material in their native language. The bookstores are filled with any Western title you can think of, but translated into Korean, for local consumption. Compare this with our situation here in Malaysia. It’s not common to see Western titles being available in Bahasa Melayu. Have you seen any work by Franz Kafka, or Orhan Pamuk, translated into Malay? The Malay sections in bookstores are often filled with religious books, cookbooks, some children’s books, and that’s all there is to it. Some of the bestselling books like the Harry Potter series & Twilight have been translated into Malay, but apart from these examples, options are very limited. There have been efforts to translate more books into Malay, but with the environment of tight scrutiny against any books published in, or translated into Malay, (remember when an Irshad Manji’s book was only banned after it was translated into Malay?) the status quo of treating English as the foremost language in knowledge seeking is not going to change anytime soon.

To seek knowledge beyond what our local textbooks entail, Malaysians have no choice but to be proficient in English.

While the Koreans are currently doing well speaking Korean and little to no English, there’s a growing awareness among the Koreans on the importance of being fluent in English, which explains the influx of expatriates working as English teachers into the country nowadays.

.

Frequent Point #3: “Orang cakap BI ni semua poyo lah eh?”

Language is a powerful means of communication, and humans are programmed to speak the language they are most comfortable using, especially in everyday, casual situations. Many Malays speak English for a number of reasons, but it’s not likely that these Malays do so to impress anyone. They just want to communicate their points. After all, it’s the eloquence, wit, and the wisdom behind one’s speech that matters the most, not one’s choice of language. Language only allows you to communicate, but if your points are irrelevant, even the most sophisticated use of a language won’t be able to salvage your arguments.

No language is more posh than another. Using English doesn’t mean that someone is trying to be pompous.

.

Frequent Point #4: “Kalau orang Melayu tak memperkasakan Bahasa Melayu, siapa lagi?”

Using English in your daily interaction doesn’t mean that you completely disregard the Malay language. Malay is a beautiful language that reflects the Malay community’s long oratory traditions. It’s gracious and polite. Most of the Malays, including those who speak English most of the time, still feel sentimental attachment to their native language. After all, it represents their identity and heritage.

Malaysian communities residing overseas speak English most of the time, but during their gatherings (which I got to experience from time to time during my 3-year stint in Melbourne), they still use Malay. Most of these overseas Malays can still speak perfect, mint Malay, and I don’t think this will change anytime soon.

Now, contrast this with the bastardisation of the Malay language done under the guise of “colloquialism” perpetrated by those who claim to uphold the Malay traditions in the country. Look at how many of the Malay speaking youths spell “aku” as “aq”, for instance. The dilution of Malay’s linguistic purity is also made worst by the blatant transfer of English words into mainstream Malay. Nowadays, people use advertensi in place of iklan, and bajet, instead of belanjawan.

Now, pray tell, who’s at fault?

.

These are the four points I can think of at the moment; there are more, of course. Let me know, by dropping a comment or two, if you have more to add to these. Cheers.

.

Speak soon,

Faizal Hamssin

 

60 Minutes in Old KL

Kuala Lumpur has got to be one of the most dynamic cities in Asia today. It is fast-paced, and with flurries of construction activities spread across its large urban expanse, exudes the appearance of a boom town preparing itself for the future. Malaysia has been experiencing rapid economic growth since 1980s (albeit at a slightly muted pace lately) and KL is the showcase city chronicling this phenomenal shift of the nation’s fortune. The rise of western-style consumerism has turned much of the city into a sprawling, featureless metropolis of hundreds of banal malls, gridlocked cloverleaf intersections, posh condominium blocks (with a lot of empty units, however), and many, many Starbucks, KFCs & McDonald’s outlets.

Pockets of Malaysia’s pre-boom past still exist, however, awkwardly amidst the city’s sea of skyscrapers. The old quarter of KL, the epicentre of which sits at the confluence of the Klang & Gombak river, is only 4 LRT stations’ away from KL’s modern, bordering on featureless downtown of huge malls & cookie cutter office blocks. While various efforts have been made to rejuvenate this much-blighted area of town, you may still witness the rustic elegance of near crumbling Chinese style shophouses interspersed with old temples and open air markets here.

Crumbling shoplot, Old KL
Crumbling shoplot, Old KL

Lebuh Pasar used to be the central business district of KL. The area is characterised by its grand shophouses & office buildings, some of them ornate, with neoclassical columns & accents. Many of these buildings were already crumbling until the recent effort of rejuvenation turned the square into a pleasant public space, with neat benches and fountains. The buildings surrounding the square have been repainted in some vibrant colours.

Shoplots facing Lebuh Pasar, a pedestrianised public square
Shoplots facing Lebuh Pasar, a pedestrianised public square
A Moorish inspired structure, KL
A Moorish inspired structure, KL

The area surrounding Lebuh Pasar is fairly pedestrian-friendly, but expect creaky pavements & broken traffic lights. There appears to be a large presence of Bangladeshi migrant workers who live and work in the area. Many of the local shops have Bengali, instead of Tamil, signboards/advertisements alongside English & Malay, a reflection of Malaysia’s constantly evolving demographics.

IMG_6670
An Indian flower shop, Old KL
IMG_6662
Lorong Bandar 1, KL

More random shots taken using my humble iPhone 5S camera:

IMG_6687

IMG_6686
Street art carrying a rather sanitised message of patriotism, Old KL

Of course, every stroll in old KL has to end with some delicious food, and this time around I chowed down an amazing Chettinad meal at Betel Leaf, Lebuh Ampang.

IMG_6666

It was a great meal, I’ll probably talk more about the restaurant later.

.

Exploring our own turfs can be an exciting experience; it opens our eyes to beautiful things that we might have overlooked all along. Next time, if you have the time, grab your backpack, bring a bottle of water, get on the LRT and stop at the Masjid Jamek/Pasar Seni station. You’ll find youself in a colourful part of town, pretty rugged & unpolished at that, but refreshingly vibrant & authentic.

.

Speak soon,

Faizal Hamssin