Saturday, June 12, 2010

Enter a Different World

Papa is now in the throes of planning for my first and their homecoming trip to “this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England”. Almost thirty years ago, Papa was among a group of nine JPA scholars (including three girls) who were UK-bound to be trained as professionals in the various fields that the young country on the cusp of adulthood desperately needed.

Margaret Thatcher had completed the first year of her eleven Downing Street years. In Malaysia, the change of guard to a “tough, shrewd and practical” leader was less than a year away. Their first stop was Malaysia Hall, then situated in leafy and elegant Bryanston Square, a short walking distance from the Marble Arch tube station and the famous Hyde Park. During the early days in London, a few seniors took them to some of London must-visit places including Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace and the halal Indian food restaurants in Paddington.

On one occasion they bought Indian food take-aways and had a glorious picnic in the park overlooking the Royal Albert Hall. As for the food served in Malaysia Hall, breakfasts were invariably depressing. His face fell when he saw people all around him tucked not too keenly into their bowls of cereal. But lunch and dinner were a different kettle of fish all together, with young people enthusiastically and patiently lining down the stairs to buy 50-pence set meal of fluffy rice, daging masak kicap (or chicken dish) and vegetable (sometimes bean sprouts?), served by plump Caribbean ladies.

After a few blissful days in London, they made their way to a very archetype English market town in East Anglia to begin their A-Levels programme under the tutelage of some eccentric yet keen sixth form teachers.

For the impending homecoming visit, Papa looks forward to revisit the sixth form college and the house opposite the college where he lived at close quarters with other 17/18 years old former students of VI, MCKK, KGV, Anderson, MRSMs, SMSes, etc etc.

Alas, no such opportunity to revisit the great Malaysia Hall that we have lost. Wish us a safe, hassle-free and meaningful trip to the Old Blighty, will ya.

UPDATE (Jan. 2013): Cartoonist Lat has also documented the atmospheric dining experience in Malayisa Hall here!/photo.php?fbid=10151322046893567&set=a.10151279734313567.487691.692788566&type=1&theater


Naz said...

Have a good trip!
East Anglia? My place was just down the road then! :)

Awang Goneng said...

Hey, we must meet up. Not in the old Malaysia Hall of course, but we can still walk past the old one and say the unmentionable about those who sold it down the river.

Do drop us an email when you're nearly here.

Al-Manar said...

I have said it before that your dad keeps old photos and documents extraordinarily well. I am sure he has many other things hidden in his cupboard. Go and have a peep with your mum when he is away lecturing.Those photos of London and around look vaguely familiar.One of them must be by the Terengganu River with the miniature bridge to Pulau Wan Man in the background.
I think dad's next posting will show you standing in front of the miniature Big Ben. Happy homecoming.

GUiKP said...

Yeah we had a glorious trip. Only now I got the opportunity to see the sprawling hamlets of East Anglia from the motorway. But we didn't venture as far as Essex or Norwich.

What a delicious meeting it was with the famous couple at tukdin. Everyone who dines there apparently knows both of you. What a pity it was rather brief as the wife insisted that we took the kids to Tower Bridge for them to indulge in child's play. They had fun striking a pose, breakdancing and watching harmless lovey dovey scenes.

OMG what have they done to Malaysia Hall, which we visited the previous weekend. New is not better. The new Malaysia Hall is claustrophobic and stale.

Pak Cik
Don't be surprised if we find a 1986 letter addressed to Papa which mentions something like "Thank you for coming to our Shell London Office and meeting with AK Hassan, H Lian, Z Itam, etc etc".

No we didn't see the miniature stuff. Instead we saw the real Tower Bridge, Big Ben, and the house where Papa stayed in 1980/2.