Sundays with Professor Dr. Azis Arifin, an Antique Collector

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“I have been selling antiques here for more than two years…”
From Colombia to Canada, UK to Switzerland, Ariffin hunts antique shops and buys things he thinks his customers will like. He only got into selling antiques because a stall holder once asked him to look after the stall while he went to the washroom; “Il iked the interaction with customers,” he remembers, “it was fun!”

“I have more than 800 bells from all over the world….”
Bells are very popular, and he has sold around 600 in his two years of selling. He has bells of all shapes and sizes, from ship’s bells from Penang to chimes from China; monks’ bells from Tibet toornate carved bells from India. His favourite was a big bell carved with London 1889, but “a customer liked it so much I sold it.”

“I travel all over the world to attend conferences, and wherever I go, I pick up antiques…”
His day job is as a lecturer at a local university and he specialises in oil and fats. He is something of an industry leader, and lecturers all over the world as well as publishing papers on his findings.He was the man who discovered how to extract the oil from the tiny seedsi nside dragon fruit; “it’s great for your skin,” he says, smiling.

“I love to see peoples’ curiosity, to see them smile when they hear the stories behind the things I sell…”
He may be 65, but he likes being busy, and was pulled out of retirement to join the university. “The things you do keep you young”.

“I love being a lecturer…”
He also thinks it’s important that he is active with his antique business because it allows him to inspire his students to be ready for the world of industry. One day he hopes to own and run his own shop.

“My children live abroad so I use them to bring back interesting pieces from other countries…”
One of his sons lives in Japan, another is studying Fine Art in Australia, while his daughter is an interior designer and has recently returned from university in the UK. If customers have requests, he gets his children to bring things back when they come to KL to visit.

“I love adventure…”
In his youth, Ariffin used to run marathons and play golf, but now he enjoys travelling and the interest of seeing new places.“I am off to Colombia in September,” he tells me. He is also writing a book in his spare moments; “it’s called Why You Are What You Are. It’s a science book, about the psychology of people. Sometimes I meet people at the flea market and it sparks some inspiration.”
Professor Dr. Azis Ariffin has his stall on the second floor of Amcorp Mall, Petaling Jaya every Sunday from 9am until 6pm. He has an amazing array of bells, but also sells various other antiques ranging from knives to keychains, hip flasks to candle stick holders and belt buckles.You can spot him by the black beret he wears, and he is always happy to talk!

Source: The Expat September 2012

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