All images credit: Projek Dialog

If you’re a frequent user of the LRT Ampang or Kelana Jaya line, you might have noticed that the walls of the underground pedestrian tunnel in the Masjid Jamek station have been adorned with an eye-catching spread of poetry.

The mural is the product of Geraba(k)ata, a collaborative project by Projek Dialog, Think City () and Tiny Art Projects, supported by RapidKL. The team behind Geraba(k)ata consists of Fuad Rahmat and Zikri Rahman, with graphic design by Allie Hill and illustrations by Komeil Zarin.

Pssst! The last time Allie added colours the walls of the Masjid Jamek LRT, it was for “Doodle Malaysia’s Contenglah” 

According to the introductory message, the title ‘Geraba(k)ata’ is a play on the Bahasa Malaysia words ‘gerabak’ (train car or coach) and ‘kata’ (word), which implies the combination of “two key themes of the mural which is to insert poetry in the bustle of the midtown subway”.

The poems selected for the mural represent the diverse voices that inhabit our city, in celebration of the “aspirations and observations that are inspired by the fusion of humanities that come together to shape what we call Kuala Lumpur”.

“The idea [for Geraba(k)ata] came about when we were thinking about how we can encourage greater thinking about multiculturalism, living across differences and diversity in city spaces or places where one might think there would be no time or occasion to really think about just how multicultural KL is,” one of the collaborators, Fuad Rahmat from Projek Dialog, shares with us.

The team submitted an application for a grant from Think City to implement the idea and eventually decided on poetry as a medium to stimulate reflection on city life.

Because everybody is so busy, lost in the urban atmosphere – what could possibly occasion them to think about culture? So we thought: how about poetry?” Fuad adds.

The showcased poems vary in sentiment – some are light-hearted and hopeful, some are nostalgic or contemplative, yet they collectively express heartfelt renditions of the urban everyday.

They embody the pulse of KL by articulating the wonders, trials and tribulations of city life, as well as our often ambivalent relationship with the city and the idiosyncrasies that make KL unique.

Several of the poems on display include ‘Di Atas Padang Sejarah’ by national poet laureate A. Samad Said, ‘Still Brickfields’ by Malachi Edwin Vethamani, ‘Kuala Lumpur! Kuala Lumpur!’ by Fan Yew Teng and ‘Hujan di Kuala Lumpur’ by Zurinah Hassan.

The mural is furnished with a backdrop of vibrant colours and patterns, exuding a dynamic, lively vibe to drive your blues away any day.

The featured poetry excerpts are complemented by affable, casual caricatures of familiar, relatable KL-ites who populate and liven up the city landscape. They may even remind you of the kindly pak cik staying next door or the friendly mak cik manning the neighbourhood nasi lemak stall.

Have your attention drawn by the illustrations? Turns out they weren’t included in the team’s plans in the first place.

“Initially we just thought about using text without the cartoons, but the text might just fade or blend with other advertisements or it might just not be attention-worthy enough, so we thought: what could be something that might strike people’s attention? So we went with cartoons instead,” Fuad explains.

The written word alone may appear less compelling, especially when overwhelmed by the clamour of KL’s sights and sounds, but the team came up with a solution to make the poetry mural more visually appealing.

The Geraba(k)ata mural has been exhibited since early August and will remain till the end of September, so take a break on your daily commute at Masjid Jamek and enjoy some poetry! What are your thoughts on this project? Drop us a comment below or email us at editors@eksentrika.com