The Grass Cutters

It’s All About Teamwork

The residential area I live in is blessed with a good spread of green lawns and trees, part of the vision of the then CEO of the developer who modeled the residential development project along a countryside living concept. It was one of the main factors which attracted us to the place although it was a little out of the way from the amenities back then; and twelve years on, the ‘green’ has matured but also shrunk appreciably due to further developments, but there is still much of it left …

The Unsung Heroes – A Picture Of Concentration

The copious amount of rainfall and sunshine throughout the year in the tropics promotes its luxuriant growth, which means frequent trimming is required to keep the lawns neat and tidy. Weekends is when I notice the grass cutters presence most in the neighbourhood, either from the distant sound of their loud whirring mowers or seeing them at work. It’s a tough and humdrum job in my opinion, trimming square foot upon square foot of green lawn over and over again, and returning two weeks later to the same spot to do it all over again.

Working The Slopes

With a brush cutter mounted to the back and protective wear (i.e. face mask, shades and apron) on to shield themselves from the baking hot sun and flying grass clippings/twigs/stones, it can get uncomfortably hot and sweaty. A thankless job, but someone got to do it, and in Kuala Lumpur, this work is mostly done by foreign workers from either Bangladesh or Indonesia, earning about USD300-400 per month. They are employed by contractors who are awarded contracts by the local authorities to care for specific areas. Each area is tended to once a fortnight, usually by a team of 5-7 workers and a work supervisor.

Eye On The Grass

Among The Trees

Time To Regroup For A Break

Took these photos last Saturday morning after sending my daughter to her tuition class. Rushed back home to grab my camera when I saw this team working at a ‘nice’ location and the morning sunlight was good. Something I have been wanting to photograph and post for a while now to recognise these unsung heroes contribution to our society. Hats off to the grass cutters!

No full face shots at the grass cutters request.

All photos: Fujifilm X-E2 with XF 55-200mm

Chinese Dumpling Festival (Duan Wu Jie)

Assortment Of Ingredients Which Goes Into Making Chinese Dumplings (Zhongs)

Today is Chinese Dumpling Festival (Duan Wu Jie) day. It was on June 13th 2013 that I wrote a short post on the origin of the Chinese Dumpling Festival and shared some photos, does not seem that long ago at first thought thinking about it, until I start recollecting and reminiscing on some of the events that transpired between then and now, it then sinks in, time flies. Frankly speaking, when I started, I did not expect to have the stamina to be blogging until now, but when I look back at the material or content which I have documented here, I am happy I have accomplished them and learned along the way, and that keeps me going. Anyway, enough of reminiscing … and back to the lovely dumplings ….

Fried Glutinous Rice

It was two years ago Agnes last made dumplings to celebrate the occasion, so when she went about making some over the weekend, I was only too happy to take some photos to document the activity. All in, she wrapped forty dumplings within a span of 4 hours with additional work the night before preparing the ingredients; so, now you know why people these days tend to buy dumplings, and not make them – it takes a whole lot of  time and effort to make.

Salted Egg Yolks

But by making them yourself, you have full control on the quality of the ingredients which goes into a dumpling, which affects the end result significantly – the taste. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for, the higher quality the ingredients are, the better the taste ; of course, with the caveat the cook knows how to work the ingredients.

Skinned Dried Chestnuts

Dumplings can be broadly categorised into two types, sweet or savoury. Agnes tend to make the savoury type as we prefer them more. Once all the ingredients are prepared and she is ready to go, all the ingredients will be laid and arranged on the work area (our dining table) accordingly for easy reach. She will start by taking a couple of bamboo leaves and fold them to form a pocket, partially fill the pocket with fried glutinous rice, add in the accompanying ingredients which consists of a whole salted egg yolk, some dried shrimps, a couple of small dried scallops, one or two skinned dried chestnuts, a mushroom, some skinned mung beans; then top it with additional fried glutinous rice to pack all the ingredients in, complete wrapping the leaves in a manner it forms a tight ‘pyramid’ which holds all the ingredients within with no visible leaks, and tie it with a length of straw strings.

Dried Shrimps

Dried Bamboo Leaves For Wrapping (Soaked Overnight In Water To Soften)

Packing And Wrapping The Dumpling

Bunch Of Freshly Wrapped Dumplings

Cooking The Dumplings

The Delicious End Result

Once done with the tedious and labour intensive wrapping task, the dumplings are bunched together and cooked for about 20-30 mins in a pot of boiling water. Then they are ready to be savoured :). After giving away some to family and friends, we still have enough left to enjoy for a few more days … mmm … nice.  Bravo, Agnes!  and Happy Chinese Dumpling Festival to all celebrants!

All photos: Fujifilm X-E2 with XF35mm

Hopes And Fears

Duo Busking Along A Busy Street In Downtown Shanghai While A Cyclist Nonchalantly Cycles Pass

These two lads were diligently setting up their gear on a pedestrian walkway next to the junction of Jiujiang Road and Xi Zang Middle Road, downtown Shanghai. It was coming up to 10pm, the roads still busy with traffic and most people making their way home after spending the evening out at the nearby attractions. It was already quite late and I couldn’t work out why they were only setting up shop and performing at such a late hour. One was setting up his drum kit while the other fine tuned his guitar and kicked off with a song while waiting for his buddy get his drum kit ready. These lads certainly spare no effort in getting their sound right, with a full drum kit and commendable sound system in tow to support their performance.

When the drummer was ready, surprise, surprise, they swapped instruments, and kicked off their second song. The guitarist/vocalist now sang a sentimental song, within three four verses into the song, I was impressed, he sounded great, and the drum and guitar arrangement just right, at least to my ears, anyway. I recorded part of their third and forth song that night, hoping to share them with you here, but alas, WP does not allow .wav file uploads with my basic WP subscription. The odd thing was, there wasn’t much of a crowd listening to them the time I was there, maybe their timing was bad or there is too much good talent in Shanghai; I felt sorry for them, they sounded good, and by the looks of it, made a great effort to put up a good show.  After the fourth song, I hesitantly took leave as I did not want to miss the train as it was getting late and I wasn’t sure when’s the last train service.

On the train ride ride, I reflected on the boys performance and wondered what hopes they harbour in their minds, motivating and spurring them on from one performance to the next, with the hope of making it big some day, tempered by fears of what if all their efforts and aspirations were only a dream in vain? From what I saw and heard that night, I certainly wish them the best of luck and every success in realizing their dreams. Godspeed.

Photo: Fujifilm X-E2 with XF 35mm