Thursday, July 31, 2014

this is a psa

Hi, if you haven't already been redirected, Elephant City has moved to a new domain (finally!): 


See you there! :D 

Friday, July 25, 2014

it's not the end yet

As I write this I am ready to go home. I have a laptop perched on my lap, crowded around a small table in Starbucks with Karu probably writing code on his laptop (I can only guess) and Zitian trying to make a rabbit out of beads. It's been a long time since I have been comfortable enough to write, let alone write a blogpost in such a public space. I'm not sure I'll ever go back to being as comfortable with writing as I was back in my early teens, when writing was sometimes literally my sustenance. But there's no better time to start that journey than now (exactly because there's no time sooner than now).

It's been a year since I moved to Sunway to pursue pre-tertiary education. And while the programme itself isn't exactly stellar (one of my favourite pasttimes is regretting not taking the risk to do IB and instead cowardly doing A-Levels because it was familiar), the journey has been amazing. I was placed in a very fortunate class; I say fortunate because these classmates of mine have turned out to be some of the most amazing people I've ever met. In the first days of class, I singled out classmates I'd found to be particularly interesting or intelligent, and hoped we could be friends. A year later, I am so proud to call them some of my closest friends. I am still constantly in disbelief over this pleasant turn of events.

In the course of a year I've had the honour of experiencing some of the most bizzare and epic, and just plainly lovely lovely lovely moments of my short life so far. These moments are both achievements and serendipity that I'd never been able to imagine previously. Just to list a few: going out with the whole class because we simply enjoy the company of each other, going out with a stranger, driving in the highways of KL at night, and of course, photoshoot journeys. Each of them is probably worth a story in its own, for which I am so grateful to have had the opportunity of being involved in firsthand. It's a little upsetting to think that soon we'll be recalling, or even telling these stories instead of living them.

Since borrowing my cousin's car for three weeks, I've been increasingly aware of the surreal quality of my time here in completing this programme. I dare say it's not at all unlike a really long holiday. Where else would such incredible things happen in besides a holiday? It's probably because I am all too aware of the ephemeral quality of our times together, no matter how infinite they seemed at the moment. I'm reminded each time we pack our bags during breaks to go home that our lives are only intersecting for the briefest of moments, and this intersection is ending soon. Wishfully speaking, it would be really great if time could glitch and we could stay 19 for a while longer, lamenting studies and being confused about the future together. But I know that with each bus ride for home, the end of this chapter dawns closer and closer. And with that, we move on.

Monday, July 21, 2014

that one time i went to KL alone

Since obtaining a car temporarily (and I cannot stress enough that it is ONLY TEMPORARY because news seem to have spread around about my current status), I have been feeling a lot more like myself, partly because I feel a lot calmer at the thought of having a car at my discretion, ready for me to leave the hostel anytime I like, and also partly because I finally have the freedom to entertain every single whim of mine.

I'm the most self-serving person I know.

Anyway, it's been fun bringing my friends out, but I decided that it was time for me to do my thing alone. I've never driven out alone in KL before, because of the many horror stories I've heard regarding women who get kidnapped in parking basements, break-window robberies, flat-tyre scams and the such. But despite all that I felt that I needed to go out alone to finally live the freedom I've always associated with having a car. I needed to prove that the freedom is indeed tangible. 

When my craving for pisang goreng wasn't able to be satiated in the past week after driving to several locations, I decided to drive to the one place I knew definitely would sell pisang goreng: KL Sentral. The search for these deep-fried banana goodness would eventually become the theme of my journey, and humorously, or otherwise, banana fritters would become the symbol of my freedom. 

On Saturday morning I woke up with a purpose. Equipped with metal knuckles in my pocket and distrusting eyes, I set off for the Federal Highway.

It felt pretty amazing driving on the sparse highway. It always feels amazing, but being alone it felt differently so. I parked my car at Pavillion because I felt a lot safer there (also my cousin works there so if I felt threatened I thought I could ask him to walk me to the car). Then I got out of Pavillion and walked to the monorail station to get to KL Sentral.


Ironically, I now realize, the walk to the monorail station, and public transport, probably proved to be more unsafe than parking my car in unfamiliar basements. Either way, I survived the ride from Raja Chulan to Tun Sambanthan. Irritatingly I had to get off one station earlier because this teenage dude who was with his friend kept staring openly at me. I felt pretty freaked out and walked out of the monorail station so quickly you'd have thought I was being chased.

The pisang goreng wasn't too far away, but it was still closed. I went into the coffee shop and ordered a bowl of Peter's pork noodles (apparently it got rave reviews). And it was pretty good! I finished everything: soup and all. I looked outside and saw that the pisang goreng stall was already opened.

Pisang goreng has never been more meaningful. Being right in front of the pisang goreng stall felt like everything in my life before has amounted to this: testing the waters of freedom and entertaining myself driving all the way to the city to grab a couple of banana fritters. I'M NOT EVEN EXAGGERATING WHEN I SAY THAT WHEN I STOOD THERE, I FELT THE INTENSE FREEDOM OF BEING IN FULL CONTROL MY OWN DESTINY. I FELT LIKE EATING BANANA FRITTERS, SO I GOT MY OWN ASS OVER HERE, AND NOW HERE I AM, ABOUT TO BUY SOME FRITTERS. I CAN DO ANYTHING AFTER THIS.

The moment I held this in my hands felt very pivotal.

With my banana fritters in hand, I walked to NU Sentral as a new person. I found some pedestals which also functioned as my seat where I gleefully and buoyantly ate a banana fritter while people watching. I kept the other fritter and checked out my new favourite shop, MONKI. Nothing I fancied was on sale though.


KL Sentral now officially has three of my favourite things:
1. Banana fritters
2. Pork noodles

 When I was tired of KL Sentral I decided to head over to Kinokuniya. To get to Kinokuniya I had to go to KLCC, which was just a few stations away from KL Sentral. But the crowd in KL Sentral annoyed me so I left the LRT Station and walked back to the monorail station where I came from. To my dismay I hadn't studied the routes properly so I found out too late that there was no monorail stop at KLCC. Too lazy to walk back to KL Sentral and tolerate the crowd, I took a monorail to the nearest stop possible. While it was physically as close to KLCC as I could get on the monorail, I still had to walk one kilometre in the sun (I walked using Google Maps as my guide). I don't think the walk was any more comfortable than squeezing into crowded LRT trains, so I'd probably do the latter next time.

Upon arriving in Kinokuniya I realize I actually have nothing I wanted to buy. I walked through the aisles and then left to go shopping. After awhile I got bored because I couldn't afford anything, so I walked back to Pavillion using the interconnected walkway between KLCC and Pavillion. Normally I would keep my ears open for potential threats, but I felt pretty safe on the walkway (probably because there were so many other clueless tourists around) so I blasted my favourite electronic music on my wireless headphones and walked through the crowds feeling awesomesauce.

I reached Pavillion and found out that my cousin hadn't turned up to work that day. I definitely should have called beforehand because parking proved to be cry-laughingly expensive.

Tonight I realize I am never going to be able to write about my feelings on this blog again.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Zitian & the Highway

DSC_0141 DSC_0079
DSC_0082 DSC_0032

I finally got to shoot Zitian on Tuesday. I've always wanted to but have always been held back by mobility constraints which really sucks because it means relying on friends for transport or worse, public transport. It's so much easier to do a shoot when I have a car because I have full control over where and when to go.

Back in March I did a couple shoot for Gerald and his then girlfriend in Empire Shopping Gallery. We didn't manage to shoot in the location I wanted because of time constraints, and also because upon closer inspection, said location was physically unsafe. In the end we shot here and there, resulting in a tangential shoot that was completely different from what I imagined. When we drove away I saw this huge abandoned patch of grassland right in the middle of the highway. Ironically we left the shoot at the best time possible when the evening light was diffused and lovely, and if I had it my way I would have stopped the car and shot right there and then, but alas I was only a passenger so I only looked with longing.

I sealed up that place at the back of my mind as a to-shoot spot. When deciding to shoot Zitian I immediately thought of that place. On Tuesday with only a vague recollection of where the grassland was, we set off just before the evening light in search of that vast pseudo-hill.

While we did manage to find the place, the location quickly became the most precarious place I have ever shot in. While there was picturesque tall grass everywhere there was also a pack of stray dogs watching us intently as we trekked through the grassland to find the shade. There was a huge (I think metre-long) drain separating the flatland bordering the highway from the pseudo-hill. The dogs were on the inner side of the drain while the outer side faced the highway. Fearing snatch-thieves I decided that we should cross the drain and risk the stray dogs.

We started shooting once we got to the other side of the drain, and I was really glad to have chosen the dogs as the lesser evil. Through our meagre hour-long shoot, all sorts of harassment were thrown at us from the highway. Once we started shooting a single motorcycle stopped by the side of the drain and shouted at us, then promptly left. As I was too distracted shooting and keeping mosquitoes at bay, I could only hear screams and whooping from the motorists. However when we were taking five, I looked at the highway and saw that THE WHOLE HIGHWAY HAD SLOWED DOWN as cars lagged behind with drivers peering at us, couples gesturing to each other about the curiosity of us and motorcyclists whooping and catcalling away. I was so grateful for the metre-long drain to separate us from them.

We left as soon as I got some of the shots I wanted. I would have loved to stay longer and continued shooting (Zitian was so amazing I really couldn't resist) but I felt increasingly the threat of stray dogs, mosquitoes and primeval motorists as the evening became darker. I didn't realize how scared I was until we were all in the car and we breathed a collective sigh of relief.



Today in the middle of a Chemistry lesson my teacher called out my name and asked if I was on a 'photography assignment' yesterday. Apparently she was driving on that highway when we were shooting.


Model: Chin Zi Tian
Assistant: Michelle

Sunday, July 13, 2014

nicest kind of friday

Recently the wife of a cousin gave birth to a baby and it was cause for happiness for me because it meant that she wasn't going to be able to use her car for awhile. Which meant that recently I acquired a car temporarily.

Also, recently I had a very bad craving for pudding that started last Sunday after viewing Michelle's pictures of the creme caramel she had in Ipoh. Me and Karu looked all over school for pudding but found none. Using the car to its full advantage, I drove us out in search of pudding in Tong Shui shops but couldn't find any. Eventually Taliza bought three boxes of creme caramel mix and a raspberry jelly mix and a mango pudding mix.

On Friday we packed our luggages, camera, lighting equipment and a katana into my tiny car. It was so crammed Karu, Taliza and Michelle probably didn't have much space to sit in. Even so I thought it was still a very pleasant long drive to Mont Kiara where we were to do a photoshoot. When the shoot was over we drove to Damansara to find Taliza's mum who brought us to dinner in an Italian restaurant. By then the fatique of the long day had set in and Karu looked so stoned before his pasta that we were quite worried (also amused) about him.

After an art lesson with Taliza's mum, Karu left; he unfortunately missed out on our midnight pudding-making session despite having craved pudding for almost a week like me. Despite being really tired we managed to whip up a whole refrigerator-tier's worth of mango pudding, raspberry jelly and creme caramel. Then we passed out on the bed.

The next day we were supposed to do another photoshoot in FRIM, but we couldn't manage to find the right outfit. We ate pudding and stayed in Taliza's room instead. I had more time to admire her shower.

DSC_0044 DSC_0048 DSC_0067 DSC_0092 DSC_0085 DSC_0102 DSC_0105 DSC_0129 DSC_0190

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

isolation by beauty

DSC_0120 DSC_0143 DSC_0165 DSC_0131

Threw flowers everywhere, put afternoon playlists on maximum volume, and got the self-timer going. My favourite kind of chillout.