Friday, December 14, 2007

Love till the building collapses?

Patterns For sometime now I had wanted to check out the Pekeliling flats before it was demolished. One of the oldest lowcost flats in the country, the rectangle blocks were once home 2,500 residents for 40-odd years. Built in 1967, the homes are really small with 1 kitchen, 1 bathroom, 1 room and a small living area.

People are still living in one block while another has been demolished. 3 of the blocks are now empty.

Shattered Despite that and its decaying fa├žade, the flats remained home to many of the lower income groups in KL – the city of opportunity. Most families and bachelors arriving from the outskirts of KL and villagers in the other states often headed there as it gave them the opportunity to seek their dreams at the lowest cost possible. Comfort was probably the furthest from their minds as there were dreams and responsibilities to fulfill.

Destitute Though supposedly inhabited, the flats are now home to illegal immigrants and drug addicts hence it is not same to go there alone – I REPEAT do NOT go there alone.

Tartered window After months of talking about the place, we suddenly found ourselves in front of the flats by chance and we decided to check the place out. We ended up going there twice as the first time we were unceremoniously ushered out by the leering so called caretaker of the place. He was more like a drug addict to me, despite the tales he spun to us.

Memories Anyway the first time we were there we managed to climb the first three floors and check out the rooms. Its interesting how the remains left behind by the former occupants told stories of the home.

Whats left Dried mango leaves signaled the home of hindus while red banners with gold characters marked a Chinese home. We even found versus of the quran in some houses.

I’m attracted by old houses coz they tell a million stories yet you can only guess them as no one’s around to tell you the truth. So this little details feed your imagination on what might have been, who they were and how they lived. We found around 10 pairs of different sized children’s shoes and we wondered how a family of 7 could live in that pigeon hole.

Love lasts This must have been love paradise coz we found the words sprayed on the building in a few spots. Love till the building collapses? Lol

Watching Get out! Blue eyes

The place is filled with somehow healthy looking stray cats, so we were pretty shocked to find the skull of a kitten in one of the homes. Poor thing must have gotten lost and starved to death. Meowwwwwww

Reality An interesting part of the place is – it is surprisingly cold despite the afternoon sun that had been scorching us just minutes before. Touch the walls and you’ll be surprised at how cold they are. Water and electricity had been cut from the place for a very long time. Even interesting was the fact that only that one particular block was amazingly cold as when we visited the other 2 places, it had been pretty hot as expected. fascinating eh?

CHilds play We began hearing sounds as we neared the 4th floor and out of nowhere Mr Caretaker arrives with a sheepish grin. Why do they all have sheepish grins? It definitely doesn’t erase what we know they’re thinking off!

Upturned So Siva the caretaker asks us what we’re doing there despite seeing camera’s in our hands. Oh let me rephrase that he asked me and only me, though there were 2 other guys standing with me. Anyway he proceeds to introduce himself and tell us he’s in charge of the place and we weren’t supposed to be there (that we knew) coz they have found few cases. I asked him what kind of cases and he grins and leers at me (rolls eye).

Another day He continues to ask me irrelevant questions. Where are you from? Kl. Where in kl? Brickfields? Where in Brickfields? Whats your name? I tell him its Anita – both my friends don’t flinch a bit and act coolly as if it was my name.

Abandoned Anyway he tells us if we want a tour he could arrange it for us. So we headed down with him tailing us and asking us all this stupid information. Oh he didn’t bother asking the guys anything or answering their questions.

Having been unofficially kicked out of the place we headed home promising to come back with a bigger group so we could climb right up to the 17th floor and hit the roof.

Perspective Interestingly the photos we had taken piqued the group and before we know it we were heading there the very next week. This time 10 of us decided we would climb right up to the roof no matter what.

in a row Multiple 3s

We arrived to the sounds of a band playing. As we got closer we realized the DBKL (KL municipal) drill team whose hq was just next door were practicing against the backdrop of Pekeliling flats. They looked amazing against the rectangles of the flats. Attention! Left right left .... After shooting them for sometime, we headed to one of the blocks we hadn’t explored the other day. Intriguingly it seemed cleaner and less of a character than the other one. To our disappointment the stairways leading to the floors had been grilled up.

Suddenly out of nowhere 2 immigrants walked into the building and started watching us intently. Seeing none of us bothered about them they began climbing the grill to get into the upper floors. So now we know how they got up.

Whats left We walked back to the other flat and slowly made our way up. The lift shafts had been removed so all you see is empty shafts that disappear into darkness. So we climbed all 18th floors to the roof stopping once in a while to photograph some of the rooms.

Care to join me? Kl Kl A seat on top of the world

The view from the roof was breathtaking. We could see all parts of the city from there and as you can see we had a seat at the top of the world! ;p

From the 17th floor Me and another friend couldn’t stop our curiosity and decided to peek down. Despite the hotness of the roof, we slept on the roof right at the edge and looked down. We need another word for scary, coz we both were pretty freaked out.

On top of the world One of our friends volunteered to jump for us and woohoo I loved the shot.

On our way down we encountered 2 intriguing situations. as we were making out way down this huge half naked man wearing a black pants and some black string around his neck walks out from one of the rooms and grins at us. All of quickly turn away and walked towards the next stairs and when we reached down we peaked up to see him but he was no longer standing there.

At the edge

We looked at each other, didn’t say a thing and continued walking down. The other incident was everytime we passed infront of the empty lift shafts we’d head noises. I thought I was imagining things but the 3rd time we heard my friend turns to me and goes

“you heard that right?”

FramedOh yes interesting stuff. By the way a pack of dogs live on the 15th floor – don’t ask me why or how but they do.

Despite the breeze, it was a terribly hot day. By the time we got down all of us were pretty tired and dehydrated from the heat but it was all worth it.


mrbherng said...

Any idea when will the place to brought down?

VJ said...

excellent...theme, story and picture

simontalks said...

great post and pics.

i wrote a piece on the flats some time back...


Jeevan said...

wow... It was nice sharing your experience at this old flats and what u write was interesting dear.

I like all the top floor pictures, esp. your friend's stunt.

visithra said...

jeevan : indeed ;)

on an old comments answering spree ;p

phatichar said...