There we were, a little lost somewhere in the old Ipoh town. The initial intention was to check out a place call Plan B. But we had to park the car some blocks away, and for some reasons, just couldn't get our bearing right to get to the cafe (...must be the rain, definitely, the rain).
So, as we walked aimlessly trying to figure out where we were, I saw these advertisements. Sights like this is not something one see much on the streets of Malaysia these days. And if you love old buildings and their designs (like me) - you can understand my interest in the poles!
Can you read the writings on the left pole? Don't worry if you can't read the Jawi script - on the right pole is the Rumi or romanized version of the advertisement.
Okay, let me see if I can explain a little bit of the writings to you.
Jawi refers to the Arabic alphabets that has been used to write Bahasa Malaysia (or back then, Bahasa Melayu) since the pre-colonial era (possibly dating back to as far as 1303). In those days, education for the Malays was mostly focused in Islamic religious studies, and, hence, the prevalent usage of Jawi as the writing system.
This Jawi pole says - "Kain palikat cap siput, tanggung tiada luntur". Basically, it's promoting a particular Sarong brand (specifically, the Siput/Seashell brand), and its tagline is that the sarong's color won't fade or run.
It's kind of amusing to see pelikat/sarong spelled Pulicat, and siput/seashell spelled Sipoth. I don't know why they are spelled this way. But apparently this particular brand of sarong comes from India - so maybe there is a juxtaposition and influence of Malay, Indian, and English pronunciation and spelling in this texts.
Now that is just the thing to love about Malaysia. In every step I take, I am always reminded of the multiplural society of Malaysia that we are - and all the similarities that bind the differences.
The sarong referred here is what we locals call kain pelikat - the checkered patterned fabric sewn in tubular shape, worn by men in place of their pants (or sometimes together - with the sarong's length folded in half). Men wear the sarong by wrapping and folding the top of the fabric around the waist. In Malaysia, men generally wear sarong as house wear. And for some, as part of the attire in religious ceremonies.
On this pole, the same content is now written in Rumi (what we Malaysians call the Latin Alphabets used today to write Bahasa Malaysia). I found this pole no less charming with its Malay/English text written in pretty much archaic spelling - an indication of how long the shop has been in operation.