Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Weekend sojourn in Kuala Lumpur

What a weekend it has been for us. Weeks ago, we learnt that we had been offered two complimentary tickets to attend the Saturday Night Fever musical show that was touring East Asia and Australia. At first, we were supposed to attend the show on the fourth of September but our dates kept changing until we decided finally on the sixth of September.

We arrived at the KL Central station on Sunday at about 1.30p.m. and was soon whisked away by our daughter. One of our nephews was also with her, having arrived in Kuala Lumpur the day before and was joining us for lunch at the Yut Kee Restaurant.

Of course, on a Sunday afternoon, the place was packed and we had to wait some 15 to 20 minutes  for a table to be vacated. Needless to say, we chose their famed chicken chop for our meals. And how could we resist not ordering their French toast too?

After that meal, we dropped Nephew off at the University of Malaya before proceeding to the nearby Gerak Budaya bookstore in Jalan Bukit 11/2, Petaling. Just the day before, I was at the Gerak Budaya bookstore in Pitt Street, George Town, where I tried to buy the book Sex, Pork and Persecution by our infamous sex blogger, Alvin Tan, but was told by the Penang bookstore's proprietor, Ismail Gareth Richards, that he was not stocking it. "But it's been mentioned in some news stories that you do," I persisted. "No, we don't," Richards replied, "we are not that liberal."

So having been rebuffed by him, I thought, what the heck, since I was going to be in Kuala Lumpur anyway on Sunday, I'll have my daughter bring me to the Petaling Jaya Gerak Budaya bookstore. Turned out that these two book stores, though sharing the same name, were not related. It was just that the two bosses knew one another. "No, we don't have the book," the lady in charge of the store informed me, "We used to have a few copies several months ago but we didn't order more after our stock ran out." Oh, darn, as far as I'm concerned, that's the end of my search for this book. I am sure no other mainstream bookstores would carry this title.

Dinner was at a restaurant in Pudu that sold curry fish head. It's reputedly one of the more well-known curry fish head restaurants in the city. And for good reason too. We had to wait for a table again. Seemed to be quite the norm nowadays in the big cities, George Town included.

Anyway, we were seated within 15 minutes and our food arrived in a hot earthern pot. Steaming hot but little sign of any fish head. I had to stir the pieces of fish head up from the bottom where they were obviously hiding from us. We were a bit relieved to find them big chunky pieces.

We dived in, scooping the fish meat and bones and the pieces of chopped vegetables onto our plates of rice. It was satisfaction till the last drop.

But I've got this to say: the curry, though delicious, was a bit too rich for me. Too much coconut milk (santan) had gone into the curry. It made the dish nice, I admit it, but this particular fish head curry is not something that I would try all too regularly. If you have a cholesterol problem, please make doubly sure that this dish doesn't have dire consequences for your diet. Luckily I have none but my wife's cholesterol level is a bit on the higher side,

Dinner over, we left for the Istana Budaya for the main reason why my wife and I travelled to Kuala Lumpur on Sunday: to watch the stage adaptation of Saturday Night Fever.

We did not know it then, but the Sunday night's performance had been pre-booked by The Star Publications as a celebration of their anniversary. So there I was, walking in to find my old friend from the newspaper industry, Wong Chun Wai, now the CEO of the newspaper group, welcoming all their guests. I looked around, trying to find some other people I knew but no, they were all unfamiliar face. Oh, wait a minute....there's David Yeoh, the chief of the Penang news desk. He's here too. But apart from him, so sorry, nobody else that I recognised out-right.

We were shown to our seats at the back of the hall. Both good and bad. Bad because I had not brought my proper spectacles down to Kuala Lumpur and hence, the performers looked rather fuzzy to me. Good because we could take in everything, all the action, without having to turn our heads left and right. My camera was with me but I couldn't bring it out. The usherers were sitting right at my back and everyone in the audience had been warned that photography and mobile phone usage were strictly forbidden. I did see them pointing their laser beams at people in the audience who brought out their mobile phones to use. Therefore, sorry, I was unable to take any photographs especially when the usherers were practically breathing down my neck. But at least, we were still able to go back with these pictures from the lobby:

And finally, a cut-out of Tony Merano, played by the Broadway stage actor Brandon Rubendall. I think only three of four of the performers were Americans. The rest were Filipinos, but they gave very good accounts of themselves.

I was asked how close was this musical to the original film? I would say that the story line was quite close. They had the dancing down to pat, while the props, including the backdrops, were simple yet effectively used. Even the dialogue seemed faithful to the original, I think, because I've no means of comparison and can only guess. Anyway, here's a link to the full cast of this musical.

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