Archive for the ‘City life’ Category

Missing KL

Here I am in Sydney.

It has been more or less 3 months since I left Kuala Lumpur for the land Down Under. I love Sydney for the weather, the view, everything but as the rain falls outside and the room feels cool, my mind rushes to a tropical city after the rain. The smell of moisture that is unmistakably Kuala Lumpur’s.

I think I miss the city already. I can see the all so familiar places in my mind’s eyes. Sigh…

I suppose home will always have a place in my heart, wherever I am.

Leaving KL

After almost 4 years of calling Kuala Lumpur as home continuously, I’m again on the move. I’ll be boarding my plane on Thursday evening to Sydney, and I probably will not be returning for more or less a year later.

When I returned to KL from Ann Arbor, I had a kind of consternation about the city. Moving is always hard for me and I don’t really like it. While in Ann Arbor, I could safely say that I moved about 2 times a year. But that was just moving within the same city. Or rather, town with respect to Ann Arbor. Moving from a continent to another continent is another matter.

Although I call Kuala Lumpur as my home city, years being away turned my into a pessimist. It is too big, the environment is not so free, etc. In a sense, it was Malaysia, with its illberal culture. Being used to living in a society with deep respect for individual liberty, moving to a society like Malaysia’s, even in Kuala Lumpur being the most liberal of all places in the country, feels like sacrificing part of myself.

I’d like to think that I rebelled while I was in Kuala Lumpur. But I guess, I learned to love it. And I did have a great time in the city. Furthermore, its colonial architecture is something to marvel at.

I mellowed and learned to accept the reality of Kuala Lumpur. With that acceptance, I familiarize myself with the city, slowly discovering the city by going through its alleys. It took time. And it took me time to put Ann Arbor behind and focus on facing Kuala Lumpur.

Now, I have to do that all over again with Sydney.

I think, I will love Sydney. People have been saying that it is like San Francisco and I love San Francisco. It easily ranks a top city in my list due to its ambiance, its location, weather, services, people.

Still, I was in San Francisco as a visitor, not as a resident. My context in Sydney will be wildly different.

I’ll be boarding my plane on Thursday. Judging by my inactivity here, it is likely that this will be the last post written in Kuala Lumpur for a long time.

So, goodbye, for now. Goodbye KL.

Overheard in Kuala Lumpur

At the bottom of the Petronas Twin Towers, looking up…

Tourist: Err… it ain’t that tall…


Apparently, power went out between 03:00 to 04:00 today at my place. The whole neighborhood fell into darkness.

And it was a warm night. Oh, damn.

Small vehicle, big noise, big ego, small pocket

Some people in Kuala Lumpur have big, big ego. Far too big to match their pockets more often than not.

It is not too common to see small cars with less than amusing noisy exhaust. Broom, broom, broom it goes.

Not only that, they have the tendency to step on their gas pedal while at rest, just to show that their tiny pathetic cars can make big noise.

I have nothing against those with small cars. Indeed, small cars with their efficient consumption of fuel and more often than not, limited carbon emission, I like them. But motive for small cars differs between those with care for the environment and those with big ego and small income.

That difference can be seen when a small car is being pimped up, which usually include noisy exhaust.

Too hot, no, too wet, no, too cold, no… ogingo

The weather is crazy here.

It was hot like hell but the sky was clear and blue.

And later it was dark and wet, but felt so cool.

My brain is going out of control.

Why do they close Jalan Maarof

The police usually closes Jalan Maarof every morning during the weekday. Why? Traffic?

Conversation of a sucker

It was close to 1AM on a Sunday just outside Hotel Istana in the middle of Kuala Lumpur’s business district.

Cab driver: How much do you want to pay?

Sucker: 20? I mean, 15. 15?

Cab driver: How about 20?

Sucker: 15?

Cab driver: it’s past midnight.

Sucker: Okay.

Moodswings of KL

The city sometimes suffers from horrendous moodswings. Just last week, it rained incessantly to cause congestion everywhere. It was as if it came down with a vengeance after a long drought.

The last several however tells a very different story. The sun shone brightly unimpeded by cloud during the day, making traveling for any purpose a dreaded chore. At night, it is just impossible to sleep without something to artificially lower down the temperature.

But this moodswing is part of the fun living in KL.

When it is hot and the sky is blue, it is just a good day to go out there with a camera in hand, even if the heat starts to get to you. Except that, I frequently find myself trapped in my employment, having little time to do what I enjoy.

The downpour is a pain, especially when it happens during rush hour in the evening. All I want to do at the end of the day is have my dinner, hit the bed and nothing else.

Nevertheless, at the end of my working hour during a rainy day, I would drive through a stretch of road. It has clear view of the skyline of the city to the southeast. As much as I hate walking to the rain to get my car being all soak and wet, I must admit, watching low cloud floating around the Petronas Twin Towers with the light shooting through it is breathtaking.

I may complain about the moodswing but I dare say that will be exactly what I will miss when I leave this city behind for Sydney next year.

Freedom Film Fest 2008 and bygone summer

I was at the Central Market Annexe yesterday for the Freedom Film Fest. I was there to particular attend the premier of Pecah Lobang, a documentary on transsexuals in Malaysia which is directed by a friend, Poh Si Teng. Her work is one of three films which received a grant from the organizer of the Fest.

I played a very minor in the production of the documentary by doing some translation work. So, my name is listed somewhere in the credits at the end of the film. It was fun seeing your own name up in the screen.

I thought helping to translate the document was as easy as ABC but it was harder it seemed to be. The greatest debate I had in my head was whether I should should “he” or “she” when referring to the transsexuals. I neither want to offend them nor infuse my bias into the issue because Poh Si was vehemently neutral on the matter. And translating Malay to English and vice versa sometimes takes away the context of a conversation for the sake of clarity.

The most important thing about the film however is how it makes me to become more appreciative of the issues faced by the transsexuals in Malaysia. Many transsexuals are involved in the sex industry unwillingly because of the reluctance of the Malaysian society to properly recognize them as well as the discrimination which they face. Their inability to secure a decent job due to issue of recognition and discrimination is the factor which force them to go into the sex industry. And while trying to earn a living, they are being prosecuted.

A number of transsexuals were there are the screening. Since some of them were the subjects of Poh Si’s documentary, I recognize some of them. One of them is as beautiful as portrayed in the documentary. I would not have been able know she is a transsexual if I have not watched Pecah Lobang.

I figure I am not the only person unable to recognize transsexual based on look along. As far as I sympathize with the transsexual community, I do not plan to have a romantic relationship with a transsexual. Yet, the inability to recognize them pose a problem. For this reason alone, I think there is a strong reason for our society to officially recognize transsexual and stop discrimination and prosecuting them. With that, information on one’s gender will be more readily available and consequently, avoiding awkward moments.

There was a Q&A session after the screen and I thought I admire Poh Si’s dedication to neutrality.

Several members of the audience asked of her opinion on the issues but she steadfastly refused to share her opinion, lest that affects the message of the film.

After awhile, it was time to go home.

I really love going to the Annexe but there is something sad about leaving the Annexe in the middle of the night. The walk to the train station is always lonely and I thought I would prefer to be in the company of friends all night long instead.

Talking about that, the summer has been spectacular for me. I met a lot of new friends and had a lot of fun. I do not remember when was the last time I truly enjoyed going out to the city. It is too bad that the summer is coming to an end and friends are leaving for the United States again. To borrow a couple of sentences from a friend, the “summer’s coming to an end. Even the persistently sunny skies of Malaysia are darker and the streets cooler with the constant rain. All good things must come to an end eventually, as they always say and so we all move on.”

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