Thursday, 3 January 2013

Technical Note - Photo Retouch

Portrait editing is a desirous skill. There are many software that can do this. However, a good simple software I'm learning tonight is the Retouch Pilot.

It can do a lot of things automatically and I think even a novice can learn this skill. The tools are powerful in this program. I have never seen anything like this software. Download it and install tonight while it is still free.

Available tools - erase scratch marks, tear edges, white uneven bkgr, patch
Auto run demo modules
Cleaning up scratch marks on portrait
Editing portrait
Fill in white space in bkgr

Removing scratch/tear/fold marks from photo
Removing telephone wires from photo

The Burghers

I first came across this word from a birth certificate belonging to my mother when my father gave the document to me at my uncle Pak Din's house in KL. For the first time too I saw her mother's name and nationality. My grandmother's nationality was written as "Ceylon Burgher". Not knowing what "Burgher" meant, I asked my dad whether she was a burger seller! He said it was a non Malay group. Not understanding what it meant, I asked him why he gave me the document along with other birth and death certificates. He said to keep them. I asked him "For what?" He didn't reply but went to read the newspaper in the living-room.

24 years on, I only have an electronic copy of my mother's birth certificate. I don't know where the original hardcopy is. I must have either misplaced or thrown out the other documents. They were really old documents and I didn't know what to do with them. I last saw the documents stacked among my old books and photo albums. I don't have them anymore. But the word "Burgher" haunts me as I never knew these people.

I remember asking a colleague in physiology, Assoc Prof Roland Sirisinghe, and he told me who these people were. I was still blank. He then gave me 2 book titles to read that would help me. I couldn't get hold of the books he mentioned as the libraries didn't have them.

When 2 Sri Lankan lady lecturers came to my department to see me, I had the opportunity to talk to them and I asked them what they knew of the Burghers. According to their accounts, Burghers were Dutch and Ceylon mix, and they held a high profile in the country. I asked them why but I never understood what they had explained to me.

I then searched the Internet about Malay cricket in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), and I came across a tiny old document that had something about the Burghers. I also read the Wikipedia write-up about the Burghers. Now I know a bit about them. I may have written another post about them somewhere else.

Who are the Burghers?

When the Dutch East India Company came to Ceylon, the white Dutch males married to the Ceylonese local ladies. The offspring is a Burgher. It so turns out that the Burgher takes on the European frame (with big bodies) and they also have fair to tan complexion. Eye colour-wise, they have blue, green or brown irises.

Burgher names are either Dutch (original) or Portuguese (to evade being persecuted by the British) when the British took over Ceylon. As to race, the Burghers have German or Jewish names.

In Malaysia, the Burghers are on the west coast, mainly in Seremban and KL. In Khoo Salma Nasution's book More than Merchants (pages 28-30), they were also in Penang. From names in Facebook, I guess there are also Burghers in Singapore and Australia today.

What happened to the Burghers?

Over time, and with outmarriages of the first Burgher offspring, the Burgher community has blended into the major communities. Today, they look just like me and you, and it is hard to tell a Burgher just from looks alone. One really has to dig for the family tree and family history, and then come to a conclusion as to what type of Burgher a person is.

The only interest I have in Burghers is when we look at heart disease among the founder generation in early Malaya and Malaysia today. Despite being held high in society where they originated, the Burghers suffer from 2 things, heart disease and blood disorders (high viscosity). Mental retardation is a feature in some families. I don't know why this is so and have never researched it.

I don't know the size of today's Burgher community in Malaysia and elsewhere. Even if they can be found, they would be a mixed breed and either resembling Indians or Malays. They are usually mistakenly lumped as Orang Serani or some other Indian or Malay mix. Burghers usually marry Burghers and the offspring looks Indian or in between. I don't think the Burgher features were sustained in mixed marriages which are a commonplace today. Today's Burgher would be about 10th generation or so. The language used at home is English. The food consumed is mainly Indian or Malay, some Chinese, and often continental, depending on local influences. Lifespan-wise, they live to about early 70s and death is due to heart disease.

This is my late mother's family in 1953. The Burghers are in dresses and the Malays are wearing kain sarong. The boy is Danish-Chinese mix and not a Burgher.


I first heard of this word as Mendaling or Mendeleng. Later I heard it as Mandailing from a surveyor, Assoc Prof Sr Azlan Raofuddin at HBP (Housing, Building and Planning) in USM, Penang. His mother is a Mandailing lady.

What is Mandailing?

How are they different or similar?

Penang's Treasure Trove

Today I discovered 2 more interesting websites about Penang. They are Areca Books and Visions of Penang Archive (Wade Collection). The Wade Collection contains many picture postcards (ppc) of Penang Harbour and its vicinity. That area was and is still picturesque. The photographer was A. Kaulfuss, the same man who photographed Jack Fenner in most of Insun's stories in her Facebook. Jack Fenner was Insun's grandfather if I'm not mistaken. I wonder where I can contact A Kaulfuss or his company if that is still operating today. Insun is connected to me in a parallel family tree strand and the 2 strands wind up at the top to the first man who arrived from Sumatra and opened Penang at Kampong Batu Uban. That great man who opened Penang was Nakhoda Nan Intan. What does "Nan Intan" mean? I think it means he had dark skin.  Insun is in the Datuk Jenaton group which also contains the name Yusof bin Ishak among its family members. Ring a bell? Yes, he was the first President of Singapore. What's even more exciting is, the last Sultan of Singapore, Sultan Hussein, was buried in Malacca. The Ming sailors visited our ports many times over and at one point even brought their princess for the Sultan of Malacca. A Muslim, the Ming Emperor ate halal food which his queen cooked. Did the Sultan of Malacca marry the Ming princess? Did she really exist? Where is her tomb? Where is his tomb? A lot of Ming records were destroyed. What if I tell you that Coco has some answers and that Coco and I share the same Ming ancestors? Now we have a great story going! I will need a lot of help from international institutions to get this story right and do to all the link-ups so we can have a book. It will take another 10 years to research properly and write my story and another 2 years to publish. Coco said we should write. I will be 66 by the time the story gets published. Coco will be 105. That's lifelong research.