May 2019


When we reached Chew Jetty , it was the time to wait for sunset. Infact it was the perfect time to be there. We were a bit tired from our day long excursion and sitting there on wood planks platform quietly seemed to be the best way to sum up the day. Water extended to the limit of my vision. Ships were anchored far away. Boats from shore were making rounds to and from like bridges on move, from shore to waters. Other tourists were there. some resting with their legs hanging from the plank seats, others lying down on their backs with eyes on the sky above. Of course few were busy clicking selfies while others focused their  cameras to capture the landscape around. Yes, activities were there yet it was not getting on the nerves and it was calming, that kind of special moment when you feel assured with the presence of the fellow beings around you, yet you let yourself loose to wander beyond, beyond those waters, beyond the sky, somewhere in distant horizon where waters and sky appeared to embrace each other.

Jetties in Penang are small wooden villages built on stilt by pioneer Chinese immigrants. These are known as clan jetties, each jetty representing a particular clan. we came to know that there were about seven jetties initially, however we visited only two of these. Tan jetty and Chew Jetty. These water villages were set up almost a century ago by the chinese immigrants , who were compelled to leave their motherland for various reasons like famine, poverty and other politically unsettling events. Now with the passage of time they are well settled  over here. They work as ferry operators transporting people and goods from shore to ships anchored in waters. Some of them have even joined in the main stream jobs on land while others have started their own small businesses.

Tan jetty had a kind of abandoned look on the time we visited. the houses were only on one side of the wooden way and doors were closed. We could not find any one outside. But at the end of this some what curved path was one colourful hut where some youngsters were having fun and view from that point was awesome.

Path of Tan Jetty that leads to that colourful hut at the end.

 

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And the hut itself.

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On the other hand Chew jetty was bustling with inhabitants, tourists and activities. It bore an alive, festive look. At the very entrance of Chew jetty is this bright colourful temple.

 

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I don’t know whether this one is a permanent feature or not but when we visited Chew jetty this colourful stage was set up in front of the temple. May be some show was about to begin.

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Almost every house in chew jetty has opened up it’s own business. There are small food stalls , shops selling souvenirs, books, even beauty products.

 

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This colourful boat kept in open space on jetty added brightness to surrounding. The inhabitants of jetty have done their bit to make jetty more attractive to tourists and then preserving cultural symbols always give feeling of remaining attached to roots.

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colours add power to soul, the belief that rainbow blossoms when both rain and sun meet.

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This one is a house on another jetty, clicked from Chew jetty. Man not only survives in all kind of circumstances, he is capable of creating his own little heavenly spaces.

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And the great mesmerizing expanse. How so ever high and mighty steps might man take, he still is a pygmy when faced with The Master himself.

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This was the moment I talked about in the beginning of the post………….the horizons slowly spreading within…..

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By the time we walked back through the wooden pathway, the temples lights were lit. The noises of bustling day activities were slowly drowning. Heart was full of gratitude and calmness slowly settled down.

 

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These flags fluttered slowly under the evening sky. I don’t know what exactly the significance of these flags is but to me at that moment these felt like the verses sung in praise of the one and  the only …………… sky showered it’s grace.

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The ethnic migrant communities of Penang add to it’s charm, be it Indians at Mariamman temples or the Chinese at the jetties. Displacement is an integral part of human history but then they can grow their roots wherever they find suitable climate and embracing earth. Ultimately we all belong to only one clan—– the human.

All pics by Sunder Iyer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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These are the pictures of Mariamman temple at queen street, central George town, Penang. As the pictures of external facade and the inner campus of temple show, it is beautiful, colourful and adorned with lovely sculptures of various Hindu Gods and Goddesses. The temple is built in South Indian Dravidian style with an impressive Gopuram. The Gopuram is adorned with intricately carved, brightly coloured images of various forms of Goddess, holy birds. On the top of Gopuram are five kalasham.

The interior of temple too is highly ornate with artistic sculptures. Images of Ashta Laxmi adorn the eight pillars inside temples. On one wall of temple are Nataraja and Sivakami in dancing posture representing cosmic dance. On another wall nine sculptures of nine Shakti forms of Goddess can be seen.  Abode of Nav grahas also is inside temple. The over all aura of temple is peaceful, calming and full of positive vibrations.

We reached the temple on the day of Chithra Pournami It was a special day. Chitraparuvam is celebrated on the Tamil month of Chithrai, which normally falls during months of April/May. In Mariamman temple this festival is celebrated by taking out the chariot procession of Lord Subramaniamswamy. Since early 1970 this festival is celebrated for three days. The procession starts from Mariamman temple , passing through many streets and roads it reaches the waterfall Arulmigu Sri Ganesha temple. here chariot stops and deity Subramaniamswamy is carried atop hill to Arulmigu Sri Balathadayuthapani temple. After many religious ceremonies on third day deity is carried down, placed on the chariot and the procession walks back to Mariamman temple. When we reached the temple the chariot was in front of the main door of the temple. A group of people dressed in similar attires were busy in various preparations. These were people of temple committee. Idol of Subramaniamswamy was still inside the temple and was covered from all sides. It was not yet for public and priests were busy perhaps in adorning the deity and performing certain religious rituals.

We were lucky and blessed that the evening aarti started while we were inside temple premises. The musician took their place on the floor of verandah and the melodious harmony of mridangam and nadswaram not only filled the spaces but floated in our souls too. Priest performed the elaborate ritual of evening aarti starting from the sanctum to every devsthanam inside the premises.

Besides Chithra Pournami various other festivals such as Navratri, Thaipusam, Mahashivratri too are celebrated here with grand, elaborate rituals and functions continuing for days altogether. Besides these annual festivals, other monthly and daily poojas  like that of Poornima and Rahu kalam too are conducted.

Indians mostly from south of India came here hundreds of years ago mainly as port workers. They carried their faith with themselves. Gradually the community flourished. Traders, businessmen and in service sector too they moved forward . Presently the ‘ little India’ area of Penang gives you a feel of being in any southern  part of India. From sambhar, rice, curd, pickles , rasam on banana leaves to filter coffee in steel tumblers one can enjoy all the tastes and flavours.

Though we could not visit other Hindu temples in Penang but we visited some chinese temples there. I will talk about these in my next posts.

All the pics by Sunder Iyer

 

 

 

Besides Armenian Street, George town, some wall art specimens are in Hinn bus depot too, armed with this little piece of information we reached  the site of Hinn bus depot. The building, outside which was written Hinn Bus depot, was closed. We could not see any sign of entrance or gate and were thinking perhaps we have not properly read and the place had closed down it’s shutter. But then suddenly we saw this old model car embedded in the ground and started clicking photo, thinking that at least we got something unique there. Strolling down suddenly I saw this big open space  which was nothing like a formal gate but looked like there must have been a gate there at some time. This led me to big old hall where on one side antique items of various kinds were displayed and two young girls were working on the laptop. On the other side two young boys sat behind a large old table . I excitedly called others inside and after that we were face to face with the real personality of present day Hinn Bus depot.

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What does it’s expression say to you? I think it’s a bit puzzled, donning it’s new Avatara yet happy that it has not been thrown out rather preserved and cared. We all want that. Don’t we?

 

Hin Bus Depot site is located outside the main UNESCO heritage area of George town but it is equally interesting place exuding the local character of Penang. The building was erected as long back as 1947. It is in an art -decor style and was  a centralised repair, maintenance and storage site for Hin Bus Company.  Once  the Blue buses of Hin Bus Company were a popular transport for locals , who commuted by public transports. However between 1999-2004 bus companies here started closing down due to heavy losses. Hin Bus company too faced similar fate but fortunately the premises is  reinvented and Hin Bus Depo was established in 2014.

The place started  off as an exhibition space and an outdoor stage  but it evolved to represent the art nurturing , promoting traits of Penang. Now exhibitions, theaters, plays, music gigs, festivals, fashion events, are held and  dilapidated walls of the historical building display astonishing art pieces by local and international artists.

  We came to know that on Sundays a pop up market selling coffee, cakes etc happens here. I felt that it was good that we entered there on a quiet afternoon on a week day. We had the place almost entirely to ourselves.

 

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All these antique items, so diverse and different were not only for display, these were to be sold. I was a bit intrigued, who would buy these and to what use these could be put. May be somewhere in some kind of museum. Whatever might be the outcome , it was heartening to see youngsters devoting their time and efforts to preserve their heritage, the old way of life, scribbling some text of history in their own way.

crossing this hall we strolled to a big open ground dotted with green patches, trees, plants , portions of dilapidated structures . Here was this big platform. It was covered with sheets . This space is perhaps used as stage for performances etc. Rows of coloured chairs were stacked at one side of this platform. Two three benches were placed at another side. Pedestal fans were placed near these benches. I saw passers by entering from another end of the compound on their way to somewhere else stopping by to rest on the benches. Each of them put on the fan while they sat and put it off while leaving. What an admirable civic sense and responsible attitude towards public properties. A place survive and flourish when the inhabitants foster that feeling of belonging towards it. They own their share of responsibility and feel a pride towards it’s uniqueness. Two young girls , may be in their early twenties were sitting on chairs on one corner, talking, discussing and throwing soap bubble in the air. Some how their placid, calm way made me smile. In today’s time when everywhere youngsters lives are defined by a fast pace the girls were enjoying the forming and floating of soap bubbles. They definitely must have been carrying their own share of worries, problems and stress too but stopping by once in a while and enjoying little pleasures of life is a reassuring, soothing .

The walls in the compound displayed various paintings, some small ones and some covering almost entire length and breadth of wall.

 

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I liked this lady in sitting posture and placing of that chair to complete it. This usage of real objects with the wall paintings is the unique feature of Penang street art. Such a simple way of drawing but so expressive. Admirable indeed. some pieces of wrought iron too are found in the campus.

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The little door has become so significant by the painting of lady in this posture and the entire frame says so much. one is free to make one’s own interpretations.

 

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And this one— perhaps conveying the message of wild like conservation, maintaining our ecological balance etc.IMG_8125nw (1)

a view of a portion of the compound.

malaysia_18 (2)w (1)”creativity is thinking new things..” and presenting the old in new way warms up the heart.

 

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Two young girls relaxing

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The cool corner and a perfect relaxing seat

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The restaurant in the compound.

 

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This sculpture piece is a powerful commentary on our present day way of life.

This sprawling open space with a shabby chic look, awesome paintings on the walls, sculptures scattered over the lawns, cool shady tree, a well furnished restaurant, shady green trees, creepers and plants, turned out to be a perfect place to dwell upon the art pieces, appreciate the creativity in a calm, relaxed way.

All the pics by Sunder Iyer

 

 

After street art, our next stop was Penang Perankan Mansion.

Penang perankan mansion too is located in George town. The mansion is a museum offering the glimpses of wealthy, opulent life style of Perankan and their many customs and traditions.  Glimpses... oh no, what you encounter there is a dazzling show of affluence- furniture, crockery, attires, jewelry, decorative pieces, antique items and what not and besides these, is the magnificent architecture.

Perankans, to whom does the term refer to. Frankly speaking before visiting this mansion I had no inkling of even the existence of this community. The perankans was a unique and prominent community of Chinese migrants from their homeland to Straits Settlements of which Penang is a part. They married local Malay women, adopted their traditions and customs too and when these territories became British colonies , Perankans imbibed some of their life style also. So perankans came to be a unique blend of Chinese, local Malays and European ways of life style.  Their extravagant life- style carved out of the amalgamation of different cultures and customs is an extraordinarily rich legacy of the region. The head of the family was termed Baba[ man] and the lady of the house was called Nonya.

This mansion was originally built by  Chung Keng Quee, popularly known as Captain China., a very prominent local personality. He was a wealthy businessman, invested into various kinds of industries and businesses. He was also very influential politically, had amicable relations with British during their regime and later on came to be known as a great charitable personality. He donated lavishly for local causes and to various institutions too.

This mansion was built in 1894 and was used as a regular family home. eventually passed on through the generations. However it was in disarray for some time in the mid. Then in 2000 it was purchased by a wealthy antique collector, who restored it to it’s former glory and then it was opened to public in 2004 as a tourist destination.

It is not possible to capture in words the charismatic personality of the mansion in all it’s glory . However I will try to touch few aspects, yes , only glimpses of the rich heritages can be shown here. It is to be seen to encompass the enormity and depth.

 

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The entrance itself appeared to be an unique example of blend of the three cultures, the Victorian style balcony, windows, sparkling golden and red colour paint of Chinese origin while two bright coloured cycle rickshaws placed on either side of entrance resemble those beautiful rickshaws running on Penang streets even now.

 

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Crossing the gate we faced an open courtyard with covered verandahs on the four sides. Few benches were lying there and it felt good to enter the cool place after the scorching heat outside. Sitting on the bench there, when you start taking in the rich sight of beautiful carved doors, curved staircases and embellished balcony fences while the sky peeps down from the rectangular open court yard,[ though now the courtyard is covered with transparent sheets yet sky can be seen and felt] you feel like entering into some different era.  The heart fills with mixed feelings of anticipation of what lies beyond the courtyard.

 

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In the verandah on one side of courtyard was laid a big dining table. There were various wooden partitions and mirrors placed at different angles. Heard a guide telling a group of European tourists that the mirrors were placed in such a way that Baba sitting at the head of the table could watch all the entrance points of mansions reflected in the mirrors, all at the same time.

 

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The mansion is two storeyed building. Before climbing the stairs leading to first floor , one is required to take off one’s shoes. This floor has unbelievably beautiful collection of crockery, other porcelain wares, bed rooms , bride chambers, traditional attires on display, beautiful writing tables, dressing tables, an antique camera piece.

 

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The ceremonial marriage bed of the newly-weds all decked up in bright red colours with exotic , intricate carving. Each room has unique pieces of furniture and each one is ornately carved.

 

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One of the side doors of the mansion lead you to a small open space with a water fountain. On the wall behind fountain are some Chinese wall hangings and green plants are kept in this open space. I think running water fountains are considered very auspicious by Chinese. Few chairs were laid down there. It sure must have been a very cozy, private resting nook for may be Nonya and other ladies of the family.

After this fountain we entered the portion where halls after halls were glittering with gold. It felt like venturing into Some Midas land. Perankans opulent life style at it’s peak. from pins and anklets to purses, from rings, earnings to headgear, You imagine it  and it is there , glittering, resplendent . enjoy only a fraction here…

 

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head gears, hair pins….Nonya used to put more than hundred special kind of pins on her hair on wedding day .

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A side alley leads you to the family temple, private temple of captain China. It is said that the temple was used as entertainment area by Captain. the temple is definitely of quite different type. It has no deity. statue of captain is exposed in the temple and no deity is there. It is quite interesting.

 

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These scenes carved on the walls of temple tell stories

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The door of the temple opening towards main road

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We visited the temple at the end of our tour of museum. Sitting there I was thinking where has all the members , descendants must be at present. I read when Captain China left for his heavenly abode the roads of Penang turned into as if sea of people. His opulence, power, people around of him…. Ah! it all comes to an end. The wheel of time move on relentlessly sparing no one. Yet, history must be preserved. History is our inseparable part .

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Just prior to leaving the premises I rested on the inner side verandah of the ground floor, taking in it all .

Pics copyright- Sunder Iyer

#photography#travel#travelogue#malaysia#penang#pinangperankanmansion#museum

 

 

 

 

 

 

the museum is open for the visitors daily from 9.30 A.M. to 17P.M.

Admission fee for adults is 20 ringet per person, children below 12 are free.

guided tours are available.

 

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We landed at Penang at about 9.30 morning. As the check -in time of hotel was 2 P.M. we had already decided that after having light breakfast we would directly be going to explore the town.

In the flight my next seat neighbor was a lady in her business suit, a professor who was going to attend some professional workshop at Penang university. In fact I had noticed her in the airport too, as besides me she was the only lady there with a red bindi on her forehead. In the flight she was seated next to me and we fell into easy chatting exchanging pleasantries and other tit bits. She was from Sri Lanka but told me that she was born in India. The gentleman accompanying her, her colleague, belonged to Kumbhkonam and that gave us common grounds of communication. After a pleasant flight we were ready to enjoy the island in an upbeat mood.

We directed our Grab driver to drop us at Armanian street as we wanted to enjoy the street art of Penang first of all. We had read that penang street art is one of the major tourist attraction. The few pics we came across on net has already fueled our imagination and we were eager to see the wonderful initiative taken by Penang municipal corporation.

Georgetown in Penang has an impressive history, art and culture to boast of. In 2008 UNESCO declared it a world heritage site and this led to the vision of Penang state government and Penang Municipal council to give it a unique identity. Thus began the modern history of Penang Island. Murals, sculptures from iron, 3D paintings on the streets of Penang is now defining the character of the island.

State authorities invited Luthenian  artist Ernest Zachirevic to make alive the street walls of Penang with painting reflecting the daily life of the inhabitants of the place. Later on other renowned names joined in the project. Presently scattered all over the streets of Penang are many art works expressing various ideas, thoughts and art forms of different artists, known and unknown.There are paintings, 3D and 2D paintings using real articles with painted figures and are iron rod sculptures.

While roaming from street to street we also came across a covered gallery kind of place which was full of wall paintings and a poster there invited random people with any beautiful idea to come forward, share their ideas with concerned people and if accepted , to take the paints, colours from authority and create their own master pieces on the walls of Penang.

Though we tried to cover as much art displays as possible yet we know we could not cover it all.

Let me share few of the wonderful pieces with you.

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Random writings on the wall might not be termed as a great piece of art but they sure bring smiles to you.

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An Indian lady in saree with head covered in traditional Indian way — Indians are an important part of Malaysian history. She looked solemn, a tad sad too perhaps. I wanted to add smiles.

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yes, I am there and happy too. This entire wall full of vibrant flowers and that cat face in between– interesting , isn’t it ! this filled the area with light.

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cats as subject of street art are seen at a number of places, but why cats ? Don’t know the idea, thought behind that but came to know about another CAT- central area transit, the free shuttle but that runs through the streets of Penang. This bus service was launched in 2009. It seems in 2008 another CAT concept was introduced by Penang government, governance based on Competency, Accountability and Transparency.

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These street art pieces made by  wrought iron rods are also found in good number in Penang streets. This one too perhaps has a thought of preserving the earlier ways of life in the island. A man carrying some two vessels hung from a rod on his shoulder. I remember from my childhood the street hawkers in my home town here in India carrying two earthen pots on his shoulder in the similar fashion. They used to sell curd and buttermilk etc.

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This is another example of wrought iron caricatures and words explaining the thought behind it.  It definitely needs time to grasp the full meaning and reference behind each of these art pieces.

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This was a wall size painting of the face of girl/ woman. It was so alive, the sadness really palpable. Shhhhhhhh, don’t bare your pains to strangers……….

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What better way to hoodwink a watching eye than to hold a position above it…

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Trying to share the untold stories of longings, pains and the memories of those left behind.

Thoughtful street art is like good fiction. every graffiti has it’s own story and every individual interprets in his own way.

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Waiting for the one on the other side of the window..

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This is one among the most popular and famous art pieces- The boy riding the actual bike. Come on boy, drive on, you have to just drop me few blocks away. i am not going to hijack your bike.

There are many captures of the street art of Penang but I would talk about that in next piece.

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The quintessential cycle rickshaws of Penang. Each of these was decorated with vibrant colour flowers and added their own bit to make the streets attractive.

 

All the pictures@ Sunder Iyer

 

 

 

 

We landed at Penang at about 9.30 morning. As the check -in time of hotel was 2 P.M. we had already decided that after having light breakfast we would directly be going to explore the town.

In the flight my next seat neighbor was a lady in her business suit, a professor who was going to attend some professional workshop at Penang university. In fact I had noticed her in the airport too, as besides me she was the only lady there with a red bindi on her forehead. In the flight she was seated next to me and we fell into easy chatting exchanging pleasantries and other tit bits. She was from Sri Lanka but told me that she was born in India. The gentleman accompanying her, her colleague, belonged to Kumbhkonam and that gave us common grounds of communication. After a pleasant flight we were ready to enjoy the island in an upbeat mood.

We directed our Grab driver to drop us at Armanian street as we wanted to enjoy the street art of Penang first of all. We had read that penang street art is one of the major tourist attraction. The few pics we came across on net has already fueled our imagination and we were eager to see the wonderful initiative taken by Penang municipal corporation.

Georgetown in Penang has an impressive history, art and culture to boast of. In 2008 UNESCO declared it a world heritage site and this led to the vision of Penang state government and Penang Municipal council to give it a unique identity. Thus began the modern history of Penang Island. Murals, sculptures from iron, 3D paintings on the streets of Penang is now defining the character of the island.

State authorities invited Luthenian  artist Ernest Zachirevic to make alive the street walls of Penang with painting reflecting the daily life of the inhabitants of the place. Later on other renowned names joined in the project. Presently scattered all over the streets of Penang are many art works expressing various ideas, thoughts and art forms of different artists, known and unknown.There are paintings, 3D and 2D paintings using real articles with painted figures and are iron rod sculptures.

While roaming from street to street we also came across a covered gallery kind of place which was full of wall paintings and a poster there invited random people with any beautiful idea to come forward, share their ideas with concerned people and if accepted , to take the paints, colours from authority and create their own master pieces on the walls of Penang.

Though we tried to cover as much art displays as possible yet we know we could not cover it all.

Let me share few of the wonderful pieces with you.

 

malaysia_19w

Random writings on the wall might not be termed as a great piece of art but they sure bring smiles to you.   malaysia_16w

An Indian lady in saree with head covered in traditional Indian way — Indians are an important part of Malaysian history. She looked solemn, a tad sad too perhaps. I wanted to add smiles.malaysia_18w

yes, I am there and happy too. This entire wall full of vibrant flowers and that cat face in between– interesting , isn’t it ! this filled the area with light.

IMG_7448w

cats as subject of street art are seen at a number of places, but why cats ? Don’t know the idea, thought behind that but came to know about another CAT- central area transit, the free shuttle but that runs through the streets of Penang. This bus service was launched in 2009. It seems in 2008 another CAT concept was introduced by Penang government, governance based on Competency, Accountability and Transparency.

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quintessential rickshaws of Penang, each of them is beautifully decorated with bright coloured flowers. In the local language it is perhaps called becak, not sure whether I got it right or not.

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These street art pieces made by  wrought iron rods are also found in good number in Penang streets. This one too perhaps has a thought of preserving the earlier ways of life in the island. A man carrying some two vessels hung from a rod on his shoulder. I remember from my childhood the street hawkers in my home town here in India carrying two earthen pots on his shoulder in the similar fashion. They used to sell curd and buttermilk etc.

IMG_7536w

This is another example of wrought iron caricatures and words explaining the thought behind it.  It definitely needs time to grasp the full meaning and reference behind each of these art pieces.

IMG_7569w

This was a wall size painting of the face of girl/ woman. It was so alive, the sadness really palpable. Shhhhhhhh, don’t bare your pains to strangers……….

IMG_7573w

What better way to hoodwink a watching eye than to hold a position above it…IMG_7580w

Trying to share the untold stories of longings, pains and the memories of those left behind.

Thoughtful street art is like good fiction. every graffiti has it’s own story and every individual interprets in his own way.

 

IMG_7597w

Waiting for the one on the other side of the window..malaysia_15w

This is one among the most popular and famous art pieces- The boy riding the actual bike. Come on boy, drive on, you have to just drop me few blocks away. i am not going to hijack your bike.

There are many captures of the street art of Penang but I would talk about that in next piece.

All the pictures@ Sunder Iyer