Friday, April 9, 2010

How modern is Modern?

Everyone talks about being modern nowadays. Anything not modern is oldfashioned, out-of-date,antiquated. A new modern building is made of steel, glasses,and a lot of shiny and shimmering materials that dazzle the eyes. Yet, some modern homes use a lot of the old fashioned, ever-precious wood. Modern cooking uses electric stove, oven and cookers but the old-fashioned charcoal-broiled stake is still the yummiest of them all. Some old style dresses are coming back into fashion, the same with shoes, ties, handbags, eyeglasses, you name it.

Talking about food, we went to a modern, high-class restuarant at the Curve the other day to celebrate a birthday. Everything was modern and classy, down to the way of calling the waiter to take our orders. No whistling, waving or finger hooking. Just turn over and display a tin plate colored red with the restaurant's signature call written on it. The waiter or waitress came in a jiffy as if out of the blue. Someone turned and displayed the red plate many times just for the fun of it, making some small order each time, of course, so as not to disappoint the waiter.
The food was wonderful and everyone enjoyed himself or herself to the max. Suddenly I realized that some food was served in a "kuali" or the old fying pan that grandma used,bright and clean of course, not black and grimy. And the souce bottles were neatly kept in an old-fashioned "beladi", "timber" or pail. Again nice and clean but still a pail. Put those on the dinner table when serving your guests at home and you can imagine what kind of reaction you will get. Especially if the old folks are having lunch or dinner with you.

Don't believe? See pic.

Fast forward and I find myself at a water festival in Langkawi mounted by the Ministry of Tourism and the State authorities certainly. It is being held at Pantai Chenang ( we argued whether the word originated from "senang" or "tenang" and we (wife and me) stayed at a modern seaside resort. What do you know? The resort looks like anything in Hawaii or Bali with high-class restaurants and eateries together with all the other atractions that is expected of a seaside resort. The room we were give was fine but...no soap, no cups saucer and spoon ( yes, an electric kettle is provided), no complementary bottled drink, coffee or tea satchels, sugar and coffee mate (yes, a small fridge is provided). I couldn't make myself a cup of coffee or tea since I didn't bring any cup of coffee or tea bags, I mean satchels.

The festival got on to a roaring start. But at the centre of everything was the old-fashioned stage where, as a boy in days gone by, I used to see the ronggeng being performed (see pic)


The singing and the dancing were of course new, the tune and the melody were all modern. But the cheering from the crowd, the wolf-calls and the endearing remarks belted out to the artists (and artistes) were a reflection of what old me and my friends used to do. The fun they had is the fun that we used to savour many many years ago.

So, how modern is modern eh?

10 comments:

abdulhalimshah said...

Sdr Norzah,
That reminds me of the term " Joget Modern " during the days of BB Park at what is now BB Plaza along Bukit Bintang Road. Was there a " Joget Antique" before that? I am not so sure, perhaps it existed before I was born. So it is a relative term. What is modern today shall be obsolete in future, by common usage of the term. But when I was in form 1 in KGV, I remembered using a history book referring to "Old Europe" and " Modern Europe". So going back to the " Baldi" which was served to you, it just shows that what is considered "Old" can have a new meaning when presented in a "Modern" setting. Confucius said that one must know the definition and meaning of each word in any situation before we use it. It was the late Yunus Maaris who was then my linguistics lecturer who taught us the phrase " Context of Situation" which refers to usage of the word in a particular situation may carry a different meaning. So an innocent word might mean a vulgar thing when spoken even in our own country.
It must have been quite a hilarious experience at the Curve. Next time ask the waiter whether you can take home the baldi for souvenir!

rambomadonna said...

I instantly knew it must be the Bubba Gump Restaurant. I did a review of it in my blog in 2008. Even took the Forrest Gump quiz with Syu. The concept of the restaurant is from the Forrest Gump movie. Talking abt modern, now I sometimes felt ketinggalan gadgetwise.Especially now I have staff and colleagues who 10 yrs junior huhuhu.It was really great meeting u at Pantai Chenang Norzah!

siyoyop said...

Hahaha...kalau dirumah org tua 'marah' serve sambal belacan dlm lesung, "dah takde mangkuk kecil ke katanya?", tp bila buffet kat hotel, sambal belacan dihidang dlm lesung, apa kes? Takkan tak de mangkuk nak isi dgn sambal belacan tu? Hehehe...It's all about presentation mummy.

norzah said...

That modern is only relative and contextual as you pointed out, Bro Halim, is certainly most appropriate.
Old things sometimes reemerge as something new and fanciful especially in terms of fashion. Some other things, however, never gets old or antiquated. People love them before and love them as much, if not more, now....Back to the baldi and kuali, can't imagine what mother-in-laws will say if their menantus serve them food in those age-old utensils. As for the joget modern, the older version was joget lambak and serampang laut, hehehe.

norzah said...

Who is that girl in the hot-air baloon with a red, red shirt, who is that girl with a black berry and a real good sport, ya, she's rambomadonna the girl I met at pantai cenang, bual dengan dia hati susah boleh jadi senang.
Hey, the pseudo-poem just flowed out from my noggin as soon as I log in after reaching home. I knew you'd have gone to Forest Gump already and I'm going to check back on what you wrote about it. Sayang, di Langkawi cuma makan mee dan kuey teow goreng, hehehe.

norzah said...

Betul, siyoyop, it's all about presentation and the ambience. Kalau di hotel 5 bintang dia org beri kita makan dlm tempurung pun agaknya. kita puji sebagai original. Cakap pasal sambal belacan dlm lesung batu atau kayu, semalam i nampak lesung tumbuk sambal sebesar tempayan dan antannya sebesar baseball batdi sebuah kledai makan 5 bintang. Patutlah sambalnya begitu pedas rasa nak tanggal tengkorak bila memakannya. I terus sedut teh ais limau satu gelas panjang untuk mententeramkan lidah yg terbakar, hohohoi....

abdulhalimshah said...

Sdr Norzah,
When I was staying at Holiday Villa in Pantai Cenang in November 2009 and rented a car to go about the places I wanted, I had no problem to find eating places which served the normal dishes, especially in Pantai Cenang.
Unfortunately Langkawi is not the same ever since Tun Dr.Mahathir stepped down as PM. The days when Langkawi was given top priority in development allocations is a thing of the past. A visit to Laman Padi could make one cry as the one-time showpiece about the importance of padi farming in the rice-bowl of the Peninsula is crumbling due to neglect or lack of funds for its maintenance. Even the roads at certain stretches are not properly maintained. Perhaps if nothing is done, it will lose its shine and revert to its backwater position like it first started before becoming a duty free island.

norzah said...

Betullah bro, banyak jalan dan tempat yang terbiar. Sedang baik pulih pun takde priority atau urgency. Tempat makan memang banyak tapi saja nak cari yang ganjil macam Wan Thai. Pulutnya dimakan dengan mangga dan santan cukup spesel tapi sambal belacannya kalau dimakan, berasaaaap. Yang sangat kurang di tempat-tempat resort kita ialah tong buah sampah. Ker5ana jarang-jarng provided janganlah marah jika org buang sampah merata-rata. Even kat KL tempat buang sampah tepi jalan boleh dikira degn sebelah tangan.

kaykuala said...

Sdr Norzah,
Talking about pulut taken with mango and santan, my loving wife insists that pulut be taken with durian (those from Kedah will attest to this)When we buy durians, she will not mind waiting for the pulut to be cooked. I normally will take my durian direct from the fruit (I've no patience to wait for the pulut)

Sadly though, nowadays,it is a guarded and painful exercise. More often my head goes spinning if taken one too many(depends on the hypertension situation)

norzah said...

True enough, kaykuala, pulut taken with durian with santan and sugar added to the durian, can become a very dangerous food for those with hypertension. The combination if raken more than a spoonful or two can lend you in the hospital. Because pulut with manggo is ok, I assume it is the durian that's the more potent culprit. I still go for the durian but only in moderation, taken just by itself. After taking the edible part of the durian, put some water in the groove of the cover and drink from it. The elders say that that can stop the durian from becoming too heaty. How? I never asked but so far it seemed to work.