I’ve never seen street hawkers in Singapore, where I grew up. By the time I was old enough to actively think about my surroundings, they were gone, relocated to ubiquitous hawker centers found all over the island. Scenes like this never fail to make me think of home though. Not the sense of place, but situation. A communal meal with my family in Kuala Lumpur or Malacca, where we did eat on waysides, the fractures of our lives bound by ritual.
A devotee offers prayers at the Goddess of Mercy Temple in Georgetown. Built around 1800 by the Hokkien and Cantonese, it is Penang’s oldest temple and ‘home’ to 87 gods of the Taoist, Buddhist and Confucianist faiths. Penang, Malaysia.
Evening falls in Armenian Street. Penang, Malaysia.
Love is: utilitarian, service, sacrifice, shelter, feeding, unspoken, a gesture, a look, a debt, a prayer, a reason to continue. Providing shelter, that he might finish his meal while it rains. Penang, Malaysia.
Singapore and Malaysia have a history of mutual distrust. Nevertheless, being only a kilometre apart, the two nations have strong cultural and social ties, and a lot of Singaporeans have family in Malaysia. On a personal level, both my parents were Malaysian before leaving to find a better life in Singapore. I’ve spent a lot of time in Malaysia as a kid, but I’ve not experienced much of it. It was never different enough to pay too much attention to, and having family there made it even more home-like.