So I was walking around on my own exploring and of course overheating, so this modern cool looking 'coffee shop' seemed like a good idea. It wasn't air-conditioned but the ceiling fans were welcomingly cooling. I sat down in one of the comfortable leather chairs and ordered a coffee. Around me it was very quiet with just a few scattered people deep into their laptops and books and a solitary very elderly lady sitting in the window, watching the world go past. Turns out the coffee shop was not a coffee shop at all but a Buddhist library... I did wonder why I was told to remove my shoes upon entering.
I asked one of the attendants (they weren't waitresses it turns out despite them promptly responding to my snapping fingers) if they knew the old lady in the window. Yes, they do it seems, and I'm told she's the mother of another woman, sitting not far to me. I strike up a conversation and discover the old lady has lived her whole life here in Penang and is ninety-seven. I gently ask if I can take the elderly ladies picture and, assuring her it was nothing commercial, she readily agreed to ask her mother permission The old lady was perhaps a little bemused but happily agreed to allow me take a couple of snaps, the results of which are above. The portrait I've removed as blogger has decided to adjust the contrast to how it feels it should be! Here is a link to where it's displayed properly.
Her daughter turned out to be a polite but rather fierce Chinese matron who worked as a volunteer in my supposed coffee shop. She proceeded to inform me of her strong political views as to China and the world as well as her mother's life story and it was with no little difficulty that some time later that I, a stumbling stupid tourist, eventually escaped back into the heat of the day more knowledgable than he was.