Thursday, November 22, 2007

Malay Heritage Centre: Singapore

Kampong Gelam is the historic Muslim area in Singapore where the Malay Heritage Centre is situated. I spent a glorious afternoon walking around Kampong Gelam and visiting the Centre. This picture I took is of a traditional Bugis prahu (boat).

As I made my way through the afternoon a growling thunderstorm brought drama to the day. It gave me long moments to reflect about Malay culture and the place of South African Malays in the Malay Archipelago.

Kampong Gelam was a center of learning in the late 19th century. It is from these vibrant origins that Singapore, the city state, grew.

Just outside the compound of the Malay Heritage Centre is an impressive masjid (mosque). As the clouds grew more intense I started taking pictures of the drama unfolding.

It was one of the most impressive days in my southeast Asia travels of 2006/07.

These are some of my other pictures from that day:

This impressive structure is known as the Gedung Kuning, or the yellow mansion. It is said to have been built around 1860 and like just about everything in Singapore, it is in great repair.

The storm started to roll in touching me face and calling the ancestors.

I think.

As I kept staring skyward I wondered if God was home.

I came across this street, and being a Muslim, it evoked a special relevance. I walked down the street to the other end to see what happens at the end of Haji Lane.

So I was getting hungry after a day of introspection and beauty. I heard Eugene say on the radio this morning that he looks to find beauty in this world anger and oppression. I am weak in that department. The department that can find beauty even while my fists are clenched.

But in Kampong Gelam I found beauty. Muslims, Malays, rain, and memories of people I am yet to meet when that day draws the end.

And to celebrate the beauty I decided to eat a lot. So I started looking for food through the windows of restaurant fronts.

And then I came across this thanksgiving delicacy:

This then is Haji Lane. Notice it is a narrow one-way. There is meaning for those who have been. A post-awareness perhaps. A greater knowing. And a letting go.

Haji Malcolm X is seen praying here. A beautiful day of revolution. This is the time of Haj as I write, and my thoughts are about the revolution the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) relayed.



Dione said...

Beautiful pictures and a great story of your travels. We should all be that lucky:)
The Haji lane in interesting, it really shows Islamic heritage- that and the awesome architecture. This gives people a glimpse of how Islam evolved in Singapore, and as you describe the Malay influence.
Very impressive structures for sure! I was also intrigued by the signs being in mostly English for tourism.

Ridwan said...

Hey Dione. Thanks for reading my post and commnenting too.

Of late, it has been a dry time on the comments part of this blog.

So in Singapore and Malaysia most everybody speaks English and signs are often in the regional language and English.

But it does appear more prominent in tourist areas, subways, etc.

I really had a great time in Singapore and walked a lot. It may seem to be very small but there is a lot to see and do.

If you go spend three of four days at least.

If nothing else, sample the cuisine for two days ;0)

Peace to you.


budak said...

Just a nugget of info on Haji Lane..... the end of the lane used to be just by the sea before it was all reclaimed for new building developments. But I heard that in past times, that was where pilgrims to Mecca would gather to wait for their ship, hence the name 'Haji Lane'.

Ridwan said...

Budak thank you so kindly for this information.

It absolutely makes sense to me now.

Wow, I am really happy to know that Haji travelled from there.

I now know what happened at the end of Haji Lane!

Peace to you,