23 Oct 2015: Two tales of a city

cityeye-1Two tales of a city.
Some people create a story,
Elsewhere, someone else is profiicient in story telling, and another is good at story writing,
The city of George Town is definitely a good start, and we hope that some day, you and me, through story telling and story writing, can rediscover the city that belongs to us.

Can stories change lives, affect events and make differences? Yes it can, according to some, especially when the stories are told with a specific purpose. Combined with personal experiences from the past and present, stories can help people rediscover, understand and appreciate themselves and their surroundings.

What is it that makes George Town tick and where is the city heading towards? Tapping into a variety of sources, the two Chinese books featured this week—City Eye on George Townand George Town: Our Stories—attempt to answer these two rhetorical questions by transporting readers to familiar surroundings and re-connecting them to things often taken for granted—people, voices, heritage buildings, streets, culture, sounds, arts and food. On a more basic level, both books can also be regarded as a tribute to a much-loved place—an affection which transcends boundaries, cultures and races.

Using a series of illustrations and narratives, both books weave impressions of continuity between the past and present. Stories from the past will remain unheard if no efforts are made to record them for posterity. Likewise, the voices of the younger generation are equally pertinent, because they represent the present and point the way towards the future of George Town.

George-Town-Our-StoriesOur Stories is an anthology of 42 short stories written by various personalities in Penang, detailing their recollections and thoughts of the historic city. Each story takes the reader to various points in time, either down memory lane or discovering “new stories” of old “Pho Tay” (downtown). The book was edited by Mr. Toh Teong Chuan, a native Penangite and lecturer in the Chinese Studies Faculty of UTAR. He is also a newspaper columnist and writes about folk culture regularly.

Similarly, City Eye is a compilation culled from five issues of Penang City Eye, a trimonthly community paper featuring the culture and lifestyle of George Town, primarily Bishop Street, Armenian Street, Muntri Street and King Street. The articles cover traditional and contemporary religious and musical festivals; observations of a multicultural society; street art and performances; street foodie stories; heritage buildings and the Weld Quay Clan Jetties.

These two books, compact and reasonably priced, are produced by young writers and designers who are part of a small but growing community involved in documenting the intangible heritage of George Town.