“Growing up, we could make up two cricket teams with the young guys around here. Not anymore.”
Trevor Chen sits with his brother Stephen inside Sei Vui Club in Tiretti Bazaar, Kolkata’s old Chinatown. They’re waiting for the rest of their group to show up. They used to play gully cricket outside, Trevor says, when they had more friends. But now they’re down to just the handful of them, in their thirties and forties. “Almost all bachelors,” one of their friends would say later.
So it’s boys’ night some evenings after work, and tonight, in a hall upstairs decorated with portraits of Gandhi and Sun Yat-sen, they’ll be playing ping-pong. That, they have enough manpower for.
Since the Troubles ended, loyalist and republican paramilitaries once at war with one another have sat in the same room to share their experiences. They’ve met with victims in the name of truth and reconciliation. They’ve given talks to students and led wide-eyed tourists on Troubles-themed tours—something of a cottage industry here—as ambassadors of peace of a kind, so that what happened will not happen again.
But all the talking, Donnelly says, hasn’t always been productive. “Sometimes, people are revisiting old anger, and you think, Do we keep having the same conversation over and over?”
Perhaps it's as 27-year-old Cristian Navarro, the youngest of Oasys’ showmen, said, “Me siento mas realizado aqui"—I feel more realized here. He would rather be playing a romantic hero at Oasys than work as a ranch hand or compete in equestrian competitions, even if the sheriffs always win and he's always shot dead.
There was no hurried pow-wow before they opened the show, no talk of what story would be performed, no ironing out of logistics. Instead, we lounged on the verandah of Abang Man's house eating keropok while discussing the virtues and foibles of the characters in the Ramayanic universe. The troupe members knew their repertoire so well they were ready to perform at a moment’s notice. The genius of a master puppeteer is his ability to improvise, to pick a story based on the audience and the mood of the troupe. No two performances—even of the same story—are ever the same.
The last wave of boats was pushing southwards before the coming of the monsoon. Thousands of stateless Rohingya Muslims, fleeing from ethnic and religious persecution in Myanmar’s Buddhist-majority Rakhine State or untenable living conditions across the border in Bangladesh's refugee camps, were making their way across the Andaman Sea on rickety wooden boats in hope of safe refuge in Malaysia. Among them this sailing season was Muhammadul Hasson, 17 years old and still just a boy despite the life experiences that have already conspired to make him less so.
On Arturo Prat, the main street, a weathered banner hangs from a gutted old house. “Pisagua debe ser puerto”, it reads. Pisagua should be a port. But there is just one dock, and you can count the number of boats bobbing in the bay. I wondered if the dream still lived.
The Temuans of Damansara Perdana (Malaysia.my)
Claire Newcastle Brown: What I’ve Learned (Esquire Malaysia)
The Science and Sentiment of Division (Esquire Malaysia)
Pygmies in Peril (Esquire Malaysia)
In the Last Room (Esquire Malaysia)
Former Leprosy Patients Search for
Children They Were Forced to Give Up (The Malaysian Insider)
In Ipoh, a Secret Loyalty for Pakatan Among the Chinese (The Malaysian Insider)
Court dispatches from London on the Batang Kali Massacre (The Malaysian Insider)
ARTS & Culture
16 Baris is a Youtube Cypher Show
That's Reviving Malaysian Hip-hop (Vice Indonesia)
Neil Strauss: What I’ve Learned (Esquire Malaysia)
Rock Out with Chris Sharma (Esquire Malaysia)
Interview with Miguel Syjuco (Esquire Malaysia)
Interview with Shih-Li Kow (Esquire Malaysia)
Profile: Craig Fong (Esquire Malaysia)
Profile: Tan Twan Eng (Esquire Malaysia)
For Some People, Sex is a Total Turn-off (The Straits Times, Singapore)
Neighbourhood Guide: Damansara Heights, Kuala Lumpur (Silverkris, Singapore Airlines)
City Guide: Kuala Lumpur (Silverkris.com, Singapore Airlines)
Neighbourhood Guide: Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur (Smile, Cebu Pacific Air)
Unseen Tours, Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia.my)