Gritty and Gratifying

Sometimes it’s good to change things up, whether it’s a work schedule, ice cream flavour, dermatologist and what you do on a Sunday. For me what’s important is to flip the scenery, especially if you’re in a place that is so redundant. Sure, routine can be comforting, but when you’re looking for adventure and have an itch to explore, comfort is the last thing you want to feel. I mean that icky skin crawling, gut melting sensation claws at me when I’m in that state of mind. I can’t describe it too well, but I think you know what I’m talking about. It’s strong enough to make you scream, leap out of wherever you are and run till your legs fall off…

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So in order to subvert such an extreme and irrational chemical/ emotional reaction within me, I went to a place called ‘Kembangan’, which is towards the south. It’s an area that doesn’t receive many visitors, since it’s so suburban, filled with construction yards and tiny timber or metal factories. This is precisely why I went there. I went location scouting with my partner, for a short film that we wrote (titled ‘Balu Hitam’) and wanted to get a garage for a fight scene. We caught a trail that led us through the backyards of really cool, mansion-like link houses and landed up here…

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It was a cul de sac of training warehouses , for construction workers to learn about and practice the rules of safety. It was perfect, with hooks and bars inside, but later on proved to be quite an expensive venue to rent for a single day of shooting. We walked on.

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It was amazing to find street upon street of these yards and factories, where people were welding god-knows-what and making a whole lot of great sounds. After living in India for 3 years, I guess a part of me misses that constant background score of things crashing, collapsing, getting knocked into places and fusing together with other materials. It felt like home, strangely enough and I let the noise bathe me.

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The place was so different to the rest of the country, it made me feel as if I was looking into a time capsule; this is how the country must have been in the past without the high rises… This is what it might have looked like without the regulations and economic advancement.

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The best factory of them all, was the long forgotten ‘Umbrella Factory’, which looked really shady. This was the perfect set for the lead gangster in our film, since it seemed like a legit front for some thing else…illegal. The lady inside thought we were fooling her when we approached her about renting it for a shoot. The fact that a bunch of foreigners came to that part of town to make a movie must have seemed ridiculous to her. I don’t blame her…well not too much at least.

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The trip came to an end, and it got me constantly looking for places or things that seemed edgy and different, yet often ignored by people here. What enriches a city is the little signs of decay which make it seem like a well- lived in place that has aged and allowed parts of itself to turn ugly, exposing certain layers which prove that there’s more than what meets the eye.

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