I always try to re-visit Narrel's place at Bon Ton, to get inspired and refresh my intention. It never fails to rejuvenate my long-held 'quantum wave function' (wish) to turn Tanah Tok Timah at Balik Pulau into a creative and sustainable hub for many forms of Malay culture and heritage, rooted in Islamic spiritual heritage.
Bon Ton, of course, is a post-modern cultural text - Malay houses in a typical serene kampung(village) setting equipped with modern facilities. The occupants are mostly non-Malay international (perhaps rich) tourists, enjoying the romanticism of lazy kampung ambiance. There is an adjacent bar and swimming pool to remind us that this place is about 'getting high' and 'getting real' simultaneously.
As usual, the spiritual dimension of a 'Malay house' and a 'Malay kampung' has been 'deconstructed' and 'creatively re-interpreted' to accommodate the imperatives of global capitalism. The lingering physical residues of what is taken as traditional 'cultural forms' and 'heritage' are there, but perhaps not in mind and emotion. Same story with Penang, or maybe everywhere in some other urban centers in Malaysia.
I brought a friend from Fukuoka, Japan, Noriko (who is doing her Phd research here in Malaysia) to read the 'text' with me.
Yet, one can also argue, that, beyond all the layers upon layers of the physical dimension of local culture and heritage, one can still experience some sense of peacefulness, serenity and calmness. Perhaps, that is the universal spirit of the cosmos that may unveil itself even in the most odd mismatch of post-modern cultural collage.