Picking on the right hemisphere | Selangor Times
Issue 118


Picking on the right hemisphere
Writer: Sharyn Shufiyan
Published: Fri, 29 Jul 2011

I’m the worst early riser, ever. But on that particular Saturday, I was actually looking forward to it. The plan was for us to gather in front of SK Sentul Utama. Walking up to the school, I could see the field marshals wearing cute tentacles on their heads, checking in other enthusiasts and assigning them into groups.

People chattered all around me, excited for the big move, and the busy marshals were running back and forth, calling out to each other trying to prepare for the procession. The sun was beginning to burn and sweat trickled down my spine. I had my cap on and was dressed for the occasion. I was ready to do some heavy lifting.

A bright yellow-and-blue kampung house stood patiently as people swarmed around it. The first group positioned themselves around the wooden house, and it wobbled ominously as they hoisted it. Cheers boomed into the bright blue sky.

Accompanied by a band squad, the Mr Potato mascot and his little people led the angkat-rumah procession to the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre, where the house would find its spot for Urbanscapes, the creative arts festival that city folks look forward to fill their Saturday once a year.

That was Urbanscapes 2010. Four hundred people (or so it was reported, we were too occupied lifting the bloody house to be counting!) carried the wooden structure for a kilometre or so. Passers-by ogled and awed at the sight. Some even came to join the parade.

But it’s a shame when something wacky and deviant is not encouraged because of corporate influences. And I think a large part of why our creativity is diluted and “safe” is because of the lack of independence from external forces.

It’s a pity that Urbanscapes turned out to be just another outdoor event. Klang Valley’s urban culture is still so young and growing that we can learn from other established creative arts festivals. We often shy away from experimental methods that we get too comfortable with cookie-cutter interpretations of what creativity is. We could’ve learned from, say, Overture: South Bank Centre, a work by UK’s The Light Surgeons, or turn to light shows or projector exhibitions other than the typical concert at night.

Or bring back Starlight cinema showcasing the works of local filmmakers.

Even the stage setup was boring. I’d love to have seen someone de-construct the typical performance stage and build a platform in the middle of a pool a la Katy Perry’s press conferences (I’m sure some people would have appreciated a dip under the scorching sun), or create a flower bed where people could bring their own colourful umbrellas and prop them up to create a tapestry of colours. It would have been  a nice setting for crooning musicians, I think, bringing the performer closer to the audience; that they sing to you, not for you.

The great thing about being a young culture is that we’ve got examples to learn from to create something better. It’s all about deconstructing the norm and creating the new. We can and should be wacky and let our imaginations run wild because we have so many talented people that we’re not maximising the talent pool to think outside the box and create something phenomenal.

Carrying a wooden house through downtown Kuala Lumpur was of epic proportions. It felt inclusive and the spirit of togetherness was just amazing. I wasn’t just one of the goers appreciating art and performances; I had contributed to a performance. Last year meant so much more.

To be fair, Urbanscapes fares substantially against other outdoor events that we have, and I would keep going and supporting initiatives that feature local talents. But I hope that in time, we will continue to grow artistically and creatively, pushing the boundaries and the conventional each time.


 Selangor Times



Also by Sharyn Shufiyan:

It’s all in the lyrics

WHEN you listen to a song, what is it about that song that would hold your attention for four minutes? 

Syncretism of cultural beliefs

WHEN different groups of people exist in the same environment, integration often takes place. 


The end of the world?

Will love or faith prevail?

WILL love or faith prevail? That is the premise of “Nadirah”, a play written by Alfian Sa’at and directed by Jo Kukathas staged recently at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre.

Pluralism is not a bad thing!

Last month, my partner and I checked out our friends’ ongoing community arts project, Have a Holy-Day! in Brickfields. Like first class busybodies, we hung around for about an hour or so and snapped some pictures as proof that we were there.

Response to the Responses of Suara Cicit Tunku Abdul Rahman

Sharyn Shufiyan takes a detour from talking about current affairs to talking about her current affair. 

The imaginary boundary

Work takes me to Sabah and Sarawak quite often lately, home to two of the longest rivers in Malaysia. 

The universality of fasting

It’s that time of the year again when Muslims test their patience, refrain from worldly desires, and increase their piety.

Displaced by development

Naked or nude?

What is the difference between being naked and being nude? Do they both mean the same thing, to be without clothes, to let it “all hang loose”?

Branding Politics

Raving about Rave

Rave isn’t really my scene but I will enjoy a good night out anytime.

A Thai in our midst

"It was way back in 1956, at a time when the then Malaya was on the verge of gaining independence that the idea of building a sizable Buddhist temple close to the federal capital of Kuala Lumpur was first conceived. The temple was also to reflect the status of Buddhism as one of the major religions in the country, and also serve as a symbol of the long standing close relationship that existed between Thailand and Malaya.”

Reaching new heights

Walking into the concourse of Batu Caves, one is greeted by majestic structures of Hindu deities, temples and swarms of pigeons flapping just inches above your head. Macaques blend into the landscape amongst worshippers and tourists, making their way up the 272 steps to the Temple Cave.

Please flush after use

November 19th was World Toilet Day! What better way to celebrate World Toilet Day than to address our toilet habits?

Aren’t we all dirty minded?

Taking shelter from the rain, I walked into a Chinese coffee shop occupied by uncles playing mahjong. In small towns like Kuang, an outsider stands out like a sore thumb. At one point while I was on the phone, the uncles stopped playing and stared at me. “They thought you are a police,” said Uncle Chong, who came to sit next to me.

A play of lights

As we turned the corner, bright lights greeted us from a distance. With the dark of the night in the background, shades of red, blue, green and white burst into view. We were entering a neon forest.

Leaving and arriving: The non-place

A Caucasian couple with a toddler on tow walked out of the arrival hall. As the parents’ attention was focused on a row of men holding up name placards, the toddler, lying face down, dragged himself along the marble floor, as if licking it, then got up and mischievously scurried away.

Making use of the great outdoors

When I first heard of Broga, I thought it was in Spain or Latin America. It didn’t sound local to my ear. Located on the border of Selangor and Negeri Sembilan, it is believed that Broga earned its name from Buragas, a mystical beast that lives in the forest.











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