Drove home from work as usual today. As I was tired and couldn't be bothered to get my lazy ass out of the car for a proper meal, I stopped by a McDonalds Drive-thru and ordered a cheeseburger. Then I went home. Parked my car neatly as i could and turned off the engine.
Just as i got out from my utterly noisy sportscar a man walked by and gazed upon me with a smile. Not wanting to be disrespectful, I smiled back. Then he just stood there with a thermal cup in his right hand and a swimming goggles in the other hand, looking at me. he was tall, thin, white-haired. I'm guessing he is probably in his late 60's. Then he asked me the strangest question, "are you in the commandos?". "No" I answered. Confused, "why?" I asked. he pointed his finger to my trousers. I happen to be wearing a camo cargo pants today. I looked at him and i started laughing. "I just like the design, that's all." I said.
He then asked me " What do you do for a living?". "I'm an artist." I replied. "What kind of artist?" he asked while walking towards me. "I draw...and stuff." I answered briefly. He was somewhat suprised at my answer. At that brief moment, I really thought i was doing something illegal.
"I have always wanted to be an artist, to be able to draw and paint." he told me. He reached out his right hand and introduced himself as Mohammed. Surprised, I shook his hand and introduced myself too as "Dzulfeqar". Then we both eased.
He is Cdr. Mohd Bahar. He is a pensioner. Retired from the Royal Malaysian Navy. Just came out of the swimming pool after a hot day of golf. Currently running his own business supplying the armed forces with state-of-the-art systems and technologies, setting NATO as their sole benchmark. My father was in the Navy too, giving his service as a Weapons Engineering Officer (WEO). So things got off quite exciting per se.
What captured my attention was not his background in the military since 1960 or his 13 year old (and still counting) business which started since 1998. But it was because of his knowledge and appreciation towards art and the art history of the world. He even understands the process of an artist to produce a painting.
I was all ears.
He went on and on about all the places, galleries, museums and chapels he visited around the world. UK, Rome, Italy, France, you name it. Luckily, I was fortunate enough to visit all these beautiful historic places too when I was younger, so I could relate.
We talked about Michaelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Vincent Van Gogh.He hated Pablo Picasso. He never could understand Picasso's work. Then, the name, Adolf Hitler came up. I never knew that Hitler was an avid art collector. the topic changed and he started raving on about the histories of war and how it came to be. How Hitler lost his art collections in Berlin when the Red Army attacked in 1945.
I was truly amazed by his decent choices of words. We were talking in English. He told me how business in weapons and systems for the local armed forces are blooming with opportunities for our local talents and companies. He was exceptionally patriotic. The man loves his country with all his heart. I could see it in his eyes and his mild gestures. He said "We have talents all around us waiting to be discovered, to be appreciated.".
A word I seldom hear in the local art scene. Well, today, I heard it from an ex-navy. Who would have guessed? An ex-navy running a multi-million Ringgit company who loves art. I would love to hear it again sooner or later. Art is hard. Be it paintings, design, music, or acting.
Personally, I think the artists in Malaysia works too hard for something so little in return. An appreciation would be nice once in a while. We'll work harder to produce better products the next time around.
Apologies if i'm rambling, I'm just happy. :)