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 Anything not modern is oldfashioned, out-of-date,antiquated.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?