Tag Archives: city

Searching for that ‘mom and pop store’ experience



Searching for that ‘mom and pop store’ experience
By Zan Azlee

When I walk around the Kuala Lumpur city centre, the experience I get is something that although can sometimes be exciting, yet leaves me empty somehow.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot and I think it has to do with the fact that every single store, restaurant, cafe and establishment is a generic and impersonal franchise or chain. I don’t have conversations with people and I don’t interact. Sure, we interact with the sales people over the cashier counter if we make any transactions, but that’s about it.

I remember the days when I was growing up in the small cowboy town of Johor Bahru. It seemed like my parents knew everyone at every single place they went to. The local barber knew my father by name and they would chat about things while our hair was cut (and no matter how I described it to him, my hair never turned out to be like MacGyver’s!). And if we went out for breakfast on Sunday mornings, we knew the guy who owned the roti prata (roti canai for the rest of Malaysia) stall as my father and him were like old friends.

It was the same with my mother. The family clinic we went to had an old doctor that had been her family doctor for decades even before I was born. The guy who sold fruits in a push cart near the main post office was apparently a family friend and was my uncle’s old classmate back in secondary school.

Now back to the big city of Kuala Lumpur. As I have mentioned, all the shops and eating places have become so impersonal as most are chains and franchises. Although on the surface, it looks like it does well for the economy and it creates jobs, in the long term, it might not bring such an advantage to the development of the society. [Click to read the full article at KopitiamEkonomi.Com]

How to make roads safer? Make them less safe!



How to make roads safer? Make them less safe!
By Zan Azlee

I’ve been to Amsterdam several times and I love the city because it has traditional European charm with cobblestone roads and also modern infrastructure (and they have good coffee shops too!). Walking around the city in the central area near the central station is exciting and fun with many small shops, fresco cafes, public squares and markets everywhere. Another thing that struck me is the excitement isn’t just because of being in a new place or because there are so many things to see. Just walking itself is exciting.

Most of the streets in Amsterdam have no signs, curbs, lines, or anything at all. And with it all being cobblestone, you can’t even distinguish where the street ends and the sidewalk begins. So when you’re walking, you wouldn’t actually know where to walk. Cars would be driving by and bicycles cruising along. The only vehicle that has dedicated space are the barges on the canals.

The feeling that you get when walking in a situation like that is really a feeling of fear. You walk as if there is constant danger of getting hit by a car or a bicycle. You do not feel safe at all. [Click to read the full article at KopitiamEkonomi.Com]

Public parks: A way to reduce crime?



Public parks: A way to reduce crime?
By Zan Azlee

One of the main gripes of many Malaysians, especially those who live in the cities like Kuala Lumpur, is the crime rate and how dangerous it is because of petty crime.

What if the solution to the crime problem is just a simple one? So simple that it could make you kick yourself because it doesn’t even cost that much.

Frances Kuo a researcher and assistant professor who studies urban planning and environmental design did a series of experiments in the Chicago area.

She observed different public housing projects that had either a natural park-like surrounding or a more concrete-like environment and documented the incidents relating to crime and violence. [Click to read the full article at KopitiamEkonomi.Com]

Google’s top 2012 searches… that led to my website!


2012 according to Google
By Zan Azlee

DEC 28 ― The year is coming to an end and it is time to look back and reflect upon the momentous events of the passing year. I thought it would be a good idea to look back at 2012’s top ten searches on Google… and that led to my website, Fatbidin.com!

10. Ridhuan Tee Abdullah

Number ten could be one that has given me the most pleasure this year. I disagree with everything this academician, TV host and writer ― whose real name is Tee Chuan Seng ― says. We had a brief heated exchange in our respective columns (his is in Sinar Harian), from which I emerged victorious.

9. Kabul

Being the gloriously brave war journalist and adrenaline junkie that I am, I went to Afghanistan to shoot a documentary. After a decade of war and after the Taliban, it’s quite a surprise that the country is still getting media coverage.

8. Bersih 3.0

This has to be one of the lowest points of the year. I witnessed things that I don’t ever want to witness in Malaysia again. The police were brutally attacking demonstrators and even journalists like a bunch of street thugs ― after they removed their nametags, of course. But the spirit of Malaysians that gathered, now that was a high point.

[Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

We’re better off than Syria, Egypt and Libya… so shut up?

A Malaysian Spring? Not!
By Zan Azlee

JUNE 1 — It’s annoying to me when I meet people who say that we should be thankful to be living in a country like Malaysia and that there are so many countries worse off than us.

“Look at Somalia. They’re all hungry there.”

“Do you want us to be like Syria where people are being killed?”

“Thank god we aren’t Palestine!”

“The poor in India live a terrible life!”

“Look at the poor Iraqis and Afghans!”

“At least we’re not in a situation like the Malays in Southern Thailand!”

I don’t deny that Malaysia isn’t a bad country and I do have a very decent quality of life. I have work and can provide for my family. My family and I are very happy and there is no doubt it is because we’re living in Malaysia, and I am definitely thankful for that. But that does not mean we do not need to improve. And to improve, we need to have a benchmark. [Click to read to the read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]