TIAA #50: “Christmas Eve in Kuala Lumpur”

Tosin’s Images & Anecdotes (TIAA) is my self-assigned photography challenge of 2022. The immediate objective is to select one image from my inventory (a cityscape, landscape, portrait, oddity, etc.) each week and write something about it. This “something” could be the story behind the photo, a triggered memory in relation to the photo, or simply a reaction or reflection based on the subject matter featured. The long-term objective is to encourage myself to add more content to “La Vue Atypique”, which celebrates its first decade in publication this year.

Suria KLCC Shopping Centre / Kuala Lumpur / December 24, 2013

What can I say about the photograph above?

It was captured during one of the most exotic and memorable travel adventures in my lifetime. Back in 2013, I had spent most of the year preparing for an international trip that would take me to Australia — specifically Sydney and Melbourne. Sydney was a personal lifetime destination since childhood. However, since I was going to make the journey “Down Under”, I figured I would add Melbourne as well. Both cities would be welcome additions to my growing portfolio of cityscapes.

However, as the year progressed, my insufferable geography nerd senses began to tingle. I had originally planned to donate one week to Sydney and one week to Melbourne. (Although, most who knew about my plans stated I should have spent three weeks in the South Pacific. In retrospect, I agree with this observation, given the distance of travel from North America. One might as well stay there as long as one can afford before returning). To make a long story short, I decided to reserve one week for Australia (exclusively Sydney) and another week for two other countries nearby — Singapore and Malaysia.

It was a most excellent decision because I *loved* this tripartite travel arrangement much more than I could have predicted.

Malaysia is predominantly a Muslim nation but, like many countries, many parts of its populace observe different faiths, including Christianity. I saw mosques as well as churches all over Kuala Lumpur. Many residential and commercial buildings in different neighborhoods were decorated with holiday lights and visual spectacles. Alas, the biggest spectacle to me — because it was so unexpected during my exploration — was walking into one of the city’s largest and most popular shopping centers and feasting my eyes on this week’s penultimate image for the TIAA photo project.

The Petronas Towers / Kuala Lumpur / December 2013

On Christmas Eve nine years ago, I had entered the colossal Suria KLCC Shopping Centre, connected to the iconic twins of the Petronas Towers. I was merely curious to see what was inside. When I beheld the multiple levels of stores and boutiques, I was perplexed. I don’t visit many shopping malls in the States at all, so part of me believed I shouldn’t have been so surprised. Nevertheless, what added to my blissful stupefaction was all the Christmas decorations and music. It was very beautiful and very campy, but so brilliantly designed. Of course, that was from the ground floor looking up. With my camera in tow, when I saw people walking along all levels of the mall, I knew what I had to do!

I proceeded to the elevator, which you can see in the photograph. (It resembles a human spine to some degree). I ascended to the highest floor (the sixth floor), attached my wide angle lens to my camera…et voilà! Seeing all the people enjoying themselves and truly reveling in the holiday mood made this part of my travels so much fun. I think, on the ground floor, there was a Christmas play or musical taking place on a fully decorated platform or stage (which you can see in the center of the photograph).

This was how I spent part of Christmas Eve, and it was spectacular. I’m so glad I got to visit Kuala Lumpur and spend roughly three to four days with the Malaysian people. I got to practice the several Malay phrases that I had learned and was really taken in by how friendly and kind they were. I didn’t have to spend time wondering if my physical appearance or skin color was reason to be cautious or nervous, or necessary to practice nonstop vigilance as I must do in the States. It was a pleasure to let my guard down just a few degrees because the people saw me and treated me the same way I saw and treated them — as human beings.

Wishing you all a wonderful, safe, peaceful, and enjoyable holiday season, regardless of faith, creed, ethnicity, and everything else we use to categorize (or separate) ourselves. May your season be as happy and merry as the atmosphere at Suria KLCC.

Leaving you with a photography video that I created earlier this month featuring the holiday season in Seattle. Enjoy!

51 articles down for the TIAA challenge. ☝🏾ONLY ONE REMAINS! ☝🏾

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