We’ve been living in KL for almost two years now, but I will be the first to admit that we haven’t always taken advantage of the wealth of cultural activities available to us. One of the things we love about Malaysia is that it is so diverse, with Indian, Chinese and Malay cultural heritage all together in one place. We certainly enjoy the food every chance we get, but we haven’t done a very good job of making it out to local concerts and galleries. I’m not sure why, but I think the malls, TV, and excellent restaurants may have something to do with it…
Thankfully, we finally got our act together and went to a fabulous Indian classical music concert at the KL Town Hall (or DBKL) this past weekend (thanks to Robert for inviting us!). We have seen sitar players before, Ravi Shankar even came to UConn while we were going to school there, so we had some idea of what to expect. I love the different instruments and the way the sound flows together and then apart. It’s amazing how different western classical music is. I especially enjoyed this particular concert because they also had a vocalist for some of the pieces.
What was really interesting to me was the way the musicians seemed to almost be playing by themselves. They were quite obviously playing together, but they seemed to be almost lost in their own worlds. Occassionally they would look at each other and come back to the group. It was very interesting to watch.
We were also especially fascinated with the tabla player. The myriad of different sounds he could make with those little drums was just amazing. We loved the way he tuned his drums with a little hammer-looking-thing between (or sometimes in the middle of) songs. It looked kind of like the thing that the doctor knocks on your knee with, to test your reflexes. But the best part was his expressions. Apparantly the tabla player was from the Indian High Commission, but the others were all from Malaysia. Therefore, apparantly, he was the de-facto leader of the group. He would tell them how to tune their instruments, have them raise and lower the amp volume, and occassionally shake his head in frustration (at what, I don’t know). All in all, he was pretty funny.
One of the most wonderful things about living in the tropics is always being the coldest when you are inside. As soon as you step outside of any building (all heavily airconditioned), you feel that warm, tropical breeze envelop you. There is something special about being outside, late at night, wearing only a T-shirt and shorts and feeling totally comfortable.
As we left the concert we had a beautiful view of KL lit up for the holiday season. All in front of the DBKL were trees filled with chirping birds and fairy lights dangling. Through the lights you can see the Menara KL tower all lit up (as usual). Such a contrast of the Christmassy and the exotic.
Just down the street is Merdeka Square and the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, also lit up for the holiday season. We very rarely go down to that area at night, since there is not much to do, so it was a special treat to see the buildings all aglow.