After parking my car at what seemed like an old dilapidated block of flats, I made my way up to the home of Mrs Gabriel, bumping into a little girl on her pink tricycle, assumingly one of the neighbour’s daughters. Three landings and eighty three steps later, I rang the white electric doorbell. An entrance hallway visible from where I stood was dressed with an intricate bamboo fan the size of my old school blackboard and plants in miniature clay pots strategically placed to welcome any visitor to this, what I discovered later, secret haven.
When a petite lady popped her head out of the solid timber ‘safe’ like entrance, light immediately flooded the hallway. I heard Mrs. Gabriel’s voice shrill in the background inviting and welcoming my arrival. When the door opened wider, the attraction to step in became strong as an overwhelmingly sense of cosiness surrounded me. My favourite colour peach formed the base of the living room walls in its most subtle shade and the marble flooring was original in its muted off-white. It was what was in the space that formed the incredible cosiness and spelled out character to Mrs. Gabriel, like a carefully painted oil painting on an empty canvas. A mish-mash of paraphernalia and photographs framed on her living room TV cabinet let out that she was fond of travelling around
Asia. An intricate red Persian rug adorned the grand beige silk sofa area matched with a medium stained coffee table, topped with a glass bowl of coloured marbles and crystals in water and a green money-leaf plant. How quaint, to use marbles in water, and Mrs. Gabriel quickly highlighted that it was for luck. A sizeable modern black and white photograph of two lovers in an intimate pose stuck firmly on top of her sofa and opposite stood a tall orange vase with birds of paradise flowers. Three wooden colourful templates of flying birds just above the orange vase gave a sense of peace. The rest of the living room space had woven baskets in the form of mats and drink coasters; timber carvings, mostly of people in sensual postures; a mix of fresh and silk flowers at each corner of the room and a tall bonsai like tree which if observed closely, had little carved bird ornaments on its branches. I also discovered three miniature koala bears figurines on this indoor tree.
As I stepped out into the veranda, tea and scones were set on her white plastic balcony table. She said that when the rain got heavy, it was easy to wipe the wetness off plastic. On one grainy side of the wall were carefully set seashells that Mrs. Gabriel had used UHU glue to paste on. How creative, I thought. Her wall seemed like a DIY 3-D wallpaper that worked. Tiers of ornaments and green fingered plants dressed the bottom half of the sea-shelled wall. The bells of ringing chimes sang away as the wind blew into the veranda while we had our tea and across the balcony were trees with glimpses of the next apartment peeking through. A home-made cross stitch indicating love and hominess hung on the other end of the veranda wall with more paraphernalia from her Asian travels. Whilst Mrs. Gabriel complained about why one particular plant refused to flower, I realised how amazing it was that she had crafted out such a warm hole in the middle of the busy city of KL.
Her apartment was not one that could be identified as Victorian or antiquish or contemporary. It had a touch of everything put together just right to make it Mrs. Gabriel. She told me she loved cooking and having her grandchildren around. I could just imagine her family making themselves very comfortable in this home hidden away from the surroundings. One would never imagine to find such an interesting disposition when one arrives in a parking lot filled with cars, yet three floors up, the traffic sounds seem to wane away when you are led into a secret haven filled with such richness of fabric, texture, materials and things that only stimulates the curious mind.