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Rasa Chowrasta 萬山風情

“Hi Auntie Hoon.”

“Morning, morning, young lady, come out of the sun.” 

I ducked under the plastic tarp that formed a makeshift vegetable stall along bustling Chowrasta Road.  “I just need some coriander leaves.”

“No problem, no problem.”  Auntie Hoon picked out the freshest leaves and spun a rubber band around them.

“Oh, I made the Chinese watercress dish you told me about last week.  Thank you for the recipe.”

She smiled and put the coriander in a bag. 

I took my wallet out.  “How much is it?”

“Just take, no problem.”

“Are you sure?”

“It’s small, no problem.  No problem.”

“Thank you Auntie.”

Whether it’s the Indian uncle selling fish inside the meat market, or the 82 year old Chinese uncle serving coffee at “Kedai Kopi 7-Up” on the floor above, or the Chinese auntie selling bananas and mangoes on the street outside, or Auntie Hoon nearby throwing in free vegetables and cooking advice - every regular visitor to Chowrasta Market has their favorite.

Walking down quiet streets at night in George Town is a sad reminder of the dwindling population of residents in the inner-city.   But bumping shoulders, stepping on toes, and avoiding motorbikes in the morning along Kuala Kangsar Road are a reminder that George Town is still very much alive with thousands of people making the journey to the market every day.

Yes, most of the sellers are older, customers too, but there are younger faces in the crowd, who realize that big grocery stores may offer convenience, but not the sense of community, culture, history, and heart at Chowrasta Market.


One of those younger faces is Okui (her nickname in Hokkien).  A talented first year college student, who takes wonderful, lively photos.

Photos that truly capture life in Penang.

She shared some of her work with us in the “River Meets Light” post, and we liked it so much that we invited her to join the Capturing Penang team to contribute photos on a regular basis. 

Welcome Okui!

Okui’s portrait shots shared here are part of the “Rasa Chowrasta” exhibition, which aims to depict the daily activities of the market.  It is clear from these images that the organisers chose her not just for her technical skills with a camera, but for her gift to tell a story with one.

The photos have been blown up into poster size and suspended above each respective stall at the Chowrasta meat market.  The on-site exhibition runs through April 18. 

4 comments:

Christina Schweighofer said...

Such great pictures. I love the laughs and laugh with the men.

kylee said...

The bookstores on the top floor of Chowrasta market was one of my favourite places in Georgetown.Wonder if it is still there...Been away for so many years, but the heart still somehow lingers back in Penang :D

Reese said...

Thanks Kylee,

I noticed you already found the post about the shop that sells used books at Chowrasta Market, but for anyone else interested, here is the link:

http://capturingpenang.blogspot.com/2010/03/drowning-in-books.html

kylee said...

The bookstores on the top floor of Chowrasta market was one of my favourite places in Georgetown.Wonder if it is still there...Been away for so many years, but the heart still somehow lingers back in Penang :D