Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Rediscover Kuala Lumpur with POSKOD.MY

Get the low-down on another side of Malaysia's capital city in Stories from the City: Rediscovering Kuala Lumpur, a collection of articles from online magazine POSKOD.MY, edited by Ling Low and Dhabitah Zainal of POSKOD.MY and published by MPH Group Publishing.

Stories from the City, a compilation of selected Kuala Lumpur-centric
articles from online magazine POSKOD.MY

How is the Coliseum, KL's oldest cinema, still in business? Can you make a living from hunting ghosts? Where do migrant workers (from Myanmar, for instance) go for a taste of home?

Find the answers to these mysteries and more. Get off the beaten path and rediscover the city with those who know it best. From makcik traders to hip-hop stars, cosplay fans to urban farmers, meet the people who are the beating heart of the city.

"When we visit a place as tourists, we look for the obvious monuments, the postcard icons marked as ‘unmissable'," writes Low, the outgoing editor of POSKOD.MY. "But often, it's the smaller details that stay with us: the smell of the subway, perhaps, or the toothy smile of a fruit seller. If someone is rude or polite to us, it sticks more vividly than the most impressive scenery."

Hence, from 2012 to 2015, "POSKOD.MY has made it a mission to rediscover Kuala Lumpur," Low states. "We wanted to ask questions about the city, to unravel its daily mysteries, from the mundane to the profound. What happened to Sungai Buloh's leper colony, once the largest in the Commonwealth? Who is the woman who runs the hidden bakso soup stall in Kampung Baru? Can you make a living from hunting ghosts?"

The mission was undertaken with some urgency, as parts of the city, mostly the historic and rural holdouts underneath the towering spires of modernity, are being eclipsed by development.

"Every day, a new high-rise building would go up and a few more bricks of history would be lost," says Low. "As I write, well-loved kopitiams are replaced with hotels and public parks razed to make way for towers."

It's not just these enclaves that are disappearing, but also the people who are the life of these places – and the custodian of their histories.

"KL is a city obsessed with renewal," Low says. "We are rarely encouraged to look back. Yet, as more communities fight to keep a piece of their heritage alive, the past becomes ever more compelling. To live here is to live with a constant sense of loss.

"But this is the silver lining: with each change, people adapt. When I look at the articles in this book, the common thread is resilience. It’s the people who work in grey areas; the people who transform abandoned spaces; the people who reinvent the city by necessity."

Indeed, the stories of those featured in this book serves up a compelling smorgasbord of the kind of things that make up the character of KL - the Big Durian, if you will, that is home to the locals and those who have ventured here to find something better.

"It's the people who make the city tick," says Low. "But you have to spend time with them and listen to them. This book is a start, but it's simply a drop in a wide, muddy confluence."

Stories from the City: Rediscovering Kuala Lumpur is available at all good bookstores. And apologies for extracting so much from the intro written by Low. She's so quotable in this book.

I know I said I didn't want to do any more "previews" of the company's products, but something about this one compelled me to come out of retirement. Maybe I'll just choose what I want to feature - tengok anginlah.

Stories from the City
Rediscovering Kuala Lumpur - Selected Stories from POSKOD.MY

edited by Ling Low and Dhabitah Zainal
MPH Group Publishing (January 2015)
148 pages
ISBN: 978-967-415-339-7

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