Soup Kitchen for Marginalized, Homeless Community in Kuala Lumpur

Homelessness and marginalization affects many countries, especially when development and urbanization grows unchecked by the government and ignored by society. Malaysia likes to highlight its modern cities and dramatic shift from an agriculture-based nation to a sophisticated civilization. Yet behind the scenes, and often blatantly staring at your face, poverty and hardship grows in Kuala Lumpur, a self-declared city of successes. On May 3 in KL, I observed a group of young volunteers, mobilized by Dapur Jalanan, providing free food and drinks to about 80…

Kuala Lumpur: Homelessness, Revisited

Homelessness is not a new societal dilemma in Kuala Lumpur. In fact, homelessness affect even beyond the urban and rural poor. Often communities struggle with high cost of living, poor mental health, societal stigmatization and unemployment. Malaysia, with its 30-odd million people, is blessed with natural resources, surrounded by non-threatening neighbours, a wealth of knowledge left behind by her colonial masters. Malaysia, my country, has moved largely away from an agricultural nation, into the sophisticated, modern country that it is now, with Kuala Lumpur as its…

As if people cared about the urban poor

The homeless and urban poor in Kuala Lumpur are an invisible community. They roam about the city, hidden by the shadows, or trying to earn the daily wage in the filthy back lanes from some odd job that most working class Malaysians won’t want to get their hands dirty. Whether the poor are locals or foreigners, it matters not to Malaysian society, the Institution does not seem to see nor positively react to the presence of the untouchables. They are rendered invisible from societal prejudice,…

On a suffocating day like this, what I need is…

I don’t mind the heat, but I dislike the intense humidity. Almost a choking sensation in this part of the world. I saw the van, a while-coloured vehicle under the shade and partially surrounded by sad-looking trees. The man who operated the mobile food stall was selling cendol, a local delicacy suitable for a damning humid day. Cendol, made from crushed ice, is served with a bit of this and a bit of that, but always with a generous serving of ‘gula melaka’ « a…

Limited space in a low-cost housing

Low cost housing in Kuala Lumpur. They do exist with a catch. The lack of space. Kuala Lumpur is small, if you compare it with Jakarta or Bangkok, with a small, but growing, population of urban poor. These apartments are small some with only two bedrooms, with two families living in painfully cramped quarters. ZashnainAn avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations of Malaysia to the…

I found myself staring at the notorious cement-jungle city

After a long absence from some parts of Kuala Lumpur, I made an eager visit. For a couple of night, despite the horrible pollution, I found myself staring at the notorious cement-jungle city. Public transportation in the city is too expensive, especially the taxi AND if you’re a tourist. However besides the train/LRT – which is somewhat affordable – I would recommend walking. But don’t expect the ever-growing city to be kind to your feet. ZashnainAn avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from…

Cutthroats on the roads, taxi drivers looking for $$$

It is a heavy burden nowadays to find a decent taxi driver who won’t charge you heaven and earth for a 15-minute ride through the normal rush hour in Kuala Lumpur – weekday or weekend. On second thoughts I should not use the word “decent” when referring to the notorious Malaysian taxi drivers. Quite an idiotic bunch, greedy pirates on wheels racing through busy streets, looking for an unfortunate prey who’s desperate enough to pay insane prices to get home or rushing to the office…

Feet taking me to a slightly cheerful part of Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur. There’s a rising phenomenon for tourists and locals alike to visit the commercial centre of the city, mainly to submerge in the shopping mania. I don’t fully understand why people would want to shop in this part of town, with the high prices and irritating traffic clogging the roads. Unless of course one is looking at an opportunity to rub shoulders with the ultra elite of Malaysian society. You can find small pockets of traditional homes and privacy around KL, one of which…

Amazing Thailand in Malaysia

Two boys taking a break Legs feeling tired, but eagerly waiting for the LRT to arrive. LRT is the cheapest mode of transport (though limited access) around some parts of Kuala Lumpur. Can’t trust the taxi drivers who are infamously known for not using the meter and taking their customers around the city » basically a murderous rip-off. Two boys, as tired as me, chatting on the floor. I noticed that Thailand extensively promotes their “Amazing Thailand” in Malaysia ~ something I find quite amusing.…

Travelling to Masjid Jamek. A different light.

Travelling across Malaysia’s capital – Kuala Lumpur. Invigorating walk. An old mosque, Masjid Jamek, stood unsteadily near a river, surrounded by buildings and the annoying honks of the never-ending traffic. A handful of street vendors selling fruits and cooling drinks, partly hiding in the shades away from the blistering sun. And my travels take me further…       ZashnainAn avid blogger, twitterer and photojournalist, Zashnain Zainal suffers from an incurable addiction to social work, helping marginalised communities since 1989. Nowadays he travels from the plantations…