Monday, December 02, 2013

Lembah Bujang ruins

These are half-baked thoughts, or more accurately, barely gelled together in the mixing bowl.

It stemmed from the news that the ruins in Lembah Bujang, which is written in our school history books, has been destroyed by a housing developer… and that the authorities couldn’t care less.

This struck me as hugely ironic.

All the calls to claim our identity and to protect our culture against contamination rings hollow when you don’t even try to understand and preserve what and how Malaysia came to be. Instead, they seek to follow the short-term materialistic goals, and THEN complain why Malaysians don’t have national pride.

Because we have a very thin and vague idea of what our ‘budaya’ is. What is it? What makes Malaysia “Malaysia”? When our identity seems to be rolling along what our colonial masters (all but in name) has set forth. The narrow idea of what Malaysia is – unconsciously ingrained and accepted.

Our neighbouring countries, with the exception of Singapore, has an identity … but when questioned about my Malaysia, I’m stumped. What sets us apart? Yummy food? The division of three races? What's there to see? Er, perhaps, you could go to Indonesia instead...?

In neglecting the preservation of historical sites (even the old part of KL), we are effectively taking another piece away from our identity as a nation. Bricks, cement and shiny greedy eyes for potential durian runtuh over the heart of a country. On a bigger scale, it isolates us from the rich interwoven history that is the Malay Archipelago, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam.

The irony is that, in denying/neglecting our roots, we’re instead driven to adopt Eurocentric outlooks, and even those who oppose that vehemently, are sometimes merely REACTING to it, rather than having a more solid ground. (So it becomes that, whatever they do, we must do the opposite, rawr!)

Solid ground? Where? You can’t have a solid fertile ground to grow on if what we have of Malaysian history is a narrow interpretation and a lack to desire to preserve historical places. What could we get from haphazardly reconstructed jigsaw pieces that only inform us of a ‘white-washed’ version of how Malaysia came to be? It’s not about kowtowing to them, but acknowledging our roots and learning from it. Hell, we would probably take pride from it.

It took me 4 years out of school to learn how wonderfully deep my own country’s history is, via Farish A Noor’s “What Your Teacher Didn’t Tell You” , as well as the profound effect that colonizers has on us, via  Syed Hussein Al-Attas’ “The Myth of the Lazy Native” . After reading those books, I had an immensely strong desire to buy a truckload and chuck them into schools.

I honestly think that by not being aware and well educated about our past, it will bear bad fruits in the future. Not that it isn’t happening already…


(on a personal note: After recently visiting the Cambodian temples and the My Son temple in Vietnam, I wanted to check out Malaysia’s own, recalling that we do have that too, albeit to a smaller scale. Further fueling my interest in how borders and cultures were historically fluid was Farish A Noor’s show ‘Across the Borders’, that is currently airing. So when the news of this gross neglect came, it was just.... unbelievable.)

Friday, November 08, 2013

The lingering residues of travel

Something feels strange.

Three weeks flitted by since I got back from a month of wanderlust - I'm again on my turf; cloaked in the comfort of home, an ease of communication, and yet... there is something I couldn't shake off my shoulders.

I assumed that I was coming home to familiarity... only to enter my room and the opposite greets me.

      The strangeness in my room revealed itself to be: a wardrobe is full with clothes, as well as the drawers, which are nearly to its brim. There are some still loitering on my bed, and on the clothes hanger. Nothing unusual; it is exactly as I've left them. But being away for a while, I looked it with new eyes, and I found myself inwardly exclaiming: Why do I have so many clothes? My backpack became free from my shoulders and dropped to the floor. In it, there were three T-shirts, two pants, one set of 'sleep' wear and some undergarments - my only clothes for a month.

What I felt I saw x3 (source: fijitimes.com)
They say it takes 28 days to form a habit, and it has. It felt almost obscene to have so many clothes. Even as I typed this, I feel an unease in my stomach. I did think of giving away a majority of my clothes but there's a nagging thought of... what if I need this later? I am suffocated by them, and yet I can't let them go. Sigh.

And gosh, to have so many clothes, it's a massive doorway luring you to laziness. My laundry basket could pile up for nearly two weeks, and it's fine because I'd still have something to wear. But while I traveled, it meant that every two or three days, it's laundry time. Sure, after a long day, I'd rather chill or talk to my hostel mates than to hand-wash my shirts, but the thought of smelling like a giant walking armpit is a greaaaat motivation to get to it. Sounds like a hassle, doesn't it? But surprisingly, it became something small to look forward to. A little joy to claim whenever my clothes are thoroughly dried before our next move, or getting a chance to wash like the locals do (which I did in Kampong Cham; hauling cool water out of the well and into a large metal basin).

I realised I loved how 'light' I felt throughout the trip. As if my possessions had weighed me down in an invisible way, and I didn't realise it because it was a gradual weight loss. Until it came back in full glory, that it.

I would love a minimalistic life like that. Life is still good with so little.

     The second strangeness is that I'm on my bum most of the time. Pretty sure that it is a common affliction. Walk 3km in a foreign country and it's nothing; my friend and I would look at the map and be like, "Oh, it's a little less than 3km. Let's walk there." Here, the first reaction will be like, "Whuattt, are you cray cray?" I mean, hell, even the guy at my neighbourhood guardhouse offered me his bike once he heard I was walking to the mini market, which is 800 metres away.

Okay, to be fair, sometimes it's not the distance that Malaysians worry about. The first reactions of Malaysians if you tell them you're walking would be:

"Don't la, dangerous wei. Summore you're a girl...."

"Har? Wanna die ar??? Nowadays you don't only get robbed, they might slash or stab you also!! Dun siao, go drive your car. Ehh eehhhhh, car also be careful you know! There's this new tactic--- "

*cough*

Prrof: This street art hits a relevant note to us
(source: mob.com.my & Ernest Zacharevic)
 But in general, we're just lazier in our own country. When PY and me went to Bangkok, we joined some British folks and they were sweating like pigs. Eventually they saw that we, the South East Asians, were too, which is funny, because, "Hey... aren't you guys supposed to be used to this?" The thing is we're not used to the heat like them either. Better off, but still not used to it, because back home, we stay in air-conditioned rooms, offices and malls. We have the convenience of personal transport and personal chauffeur (*cough* parents).

Granted, partially the reason that we walk more in foreign places is because we rather not deal with the tuk-tuks or because we didn't want the hassle of a language barrier or spending the mental energy trying to figure out if he's legit. And the bit on saving money too. But most of all, we don't feel the distance because everything is still new.

I do wish KL is a little more safer. It's not a hotbed of crime, but we have to be aware. I love walking; there's something about, well, being on the ground as opposed to being encased in metal and glass. Like how motorcycles allows you to be closer to life than a car ever would. A sort of sensory pleasure to it.

Coming home, I tried keeping the walking momentum going, via a nearly 5km roundtrip to the pet shop. I relied on my pants' awesome deep pockets, and wore no bag.


     The third strangeness was subtle. The night as my friend and I parted ways, he mentioned that it felt weird not having me around. I'm a little slow with feelings, so the absence didn't hit me at first.

... Until today when I was hesitating to go to an event alone. By norm, with or without people, I'd just go for it if I wanted to. So, I was startled by this. Like, shit, I'm needing people now?? What's the deal? But there has been a void when I went out recently... like something should be there, but isn't. There's no person watching my back, and no one for me to look out for. Like, I have a Concern and No Damned Idea Where To Put It.

Even though we've been mostly quiet, his presence still slipped in under. We traversed across more than nine towns in two countries together, which meant a lot of shared experience; lugging our bags from place to place, deciding where to stay or eat, walked/cycled/bike a shitload of kilometres with, suffered diarrhea around the same time (HAHA) etc. The only time we had a good break from each other's face was the one day I asked him if he was interested in museums and he was like, D: ... so I suggested that we go our separate ways and I had fun chasing after a public bus (and gone to two museums! Wheee.). But seriously, talk about hardcore hang-out, wei.

Plus another fact is... I've gone a little dependent on him, because I knew he'd have my back, in case I slipped. It's a relief to not be the sole person deciding, because in case of things going wrong, I'm cool with playing the angelic forgiving travel buddy (unless it ends in my death wtf, but you'll have my mom to deal with then, so good luck )

So yes. While my solo days are far from over, I veer towards having company now.

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I haven't shaken this new skin off yet. For now I have my awesome sandal tan on my feet to remind me of our explorations and exposure to the sun.
Half Chinese, half Exotic
The tans are deliciously still there. I wonder if the strangeness will go away, as this tan will eventually do.

Oddly, I hope this feeling of strangeness will stay.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Falls and losses

After giving me way more slack without warning on my first lead's drop, he asks me, "So how do you feel? Exhilarated? Scary?" 

Still shaken, "How do I feel? Like punching you in the face -___-"

All in good cheer though.. I need to fall more anyway, so fear won't paralyse me.

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Was talking to my friend about losses. Of people dear to us. Thoughts to write down before I forget it: 

I thought about how deaths affect people, and how it sometimes make life hollow and pointless. Perhaps I wasn't that close to my friend to be utterly devastated to not see, but she shouldn't be the reason for that state of life. When I think about her, her genuine alert soul with an amazing heart always look back at me...She would want the people who cared for her to be happy, and if they weren't on the account of her, I could already hear her saying, "Oh, you're being silly..." with that firm and gentle voice.

My heart always soften when I think of her. Of how grateful I am for what she has given me, even if she knows it or not. How she opens my heart to my own self, and a reminder that someone, bigger than us all, have plans for us. We just have to listen more carefully. Always be aware and awake and alert. 

Oh, why do good people die young? She was so wise, and she could do a lot more goodness on Earth, Then I think, well, you know, maybe... just maybe, precisely because they are so good. They don't have to reach a higher point. But for the rest of us alive, we still do. The time we have is in order that we would grow and improve. That's how I see it anyway.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

"Virtual...!!!"

Random shit that crossed my mind, but didn't have the guts to play through it.

On FB, a friend is a little sad. Someone replied, "Virtual hugs!" And I wanted to type, "Virtual sex!" (Because it's not gonna happen in real life anyway)

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Today my much older cousin questioned me about my other half. I told him, "Tarak." Then, "Don't worry... I'll have a lot of dogs! Look, got Plan B geh <3 <3."

Later on, my mom told me he thinks I'm bluffing. Good to know he thinks that ada orang suka I. *sad face*

Now where's that doggie catalogue...

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... and acquired taste, huh? Macam cincaluk.

Monday, January 28, 2013

arghhhh

Push me back when I push you. Argue with me. Tell me I'm wrong and tell me why. Don't descend to lowball name calling and cheap shots. Don't be silent critic. Make me question. Show me another point of view. Force me to see out of my perspective. Discuss with me and sort our thoughts out. Call me out if I'm being a bully or too forceful or silly or illogical. Rid yourself from the fear of disagreements that may cause offense.

I am not a fragile person. Unpolished I may be, but only because it is tough to know a person willing enough to stand up for their views. Some views I hold is flawed - with it, it is accompanied by a willingness to correct them. Ego may prevent me from understanding, so this I will guard against.

C'mon now. Push me back, because I can take it.

It's ridiculous how much I hunger for that again.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

To that traveler I met in Japan

"The thing about coincidence is that when you imagine the umpteen trillions of coincidences that can happen at any given moment, the fact is, that in practice, coincidences almost never do occur. Coincidences are actually so rare that when they do occur they are, in fact memorable. This suggests to me that the universe is designed to ward off coincidence whenever possible—the universe hates coincidence—I don't know why—it just seems to be true.

So when a coincidence happens, that coincidence had to work awfully hard to escape the system. There's a message there. What is it? Look. Look harder.

Mathematicians perhaps have a theorem for this, and if they do, it might, by default be a theorem for something larger than what they think it is."

Douglas Coupland


Sunday, January 20, 2013

History and names

We learn from stories of the past; how humans f-ed up and only years and centuries later we figured out what and why things happen, giving names to them (this makes me think of the Quranic story of how humankind are able to give names to things, unlike the angels). We're standing on the shoulders of giants and atop the mountains of mistakes that granted us our reality and thoughts now.

A part of me feels struck at the fact that I too, am living in what will be history and what will be analysed.

I wonder what will they say of us. And how we would contribute in the future.

Monday, January 07, 2013

"Hai, sou desu"

Random convo with the hobbit. He knows French and I know Japanese (though he knows a splatter of Japanese and I know how to say, "Voulez vous coucher avec moi" courtesy of Lady Marmalade wtf). Funny if you know some Japanese.

LC: 
anata ga sugoku baka!!!!!!!!!
me:  watashi wa... sugoku kirei :P
LC:  ermmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. anata wa sugoku kirei???
me:  haiiiii. bijin desuuuu
LC:  how do i say vomit in japanese
me:  "hai sou desu."
LC:  u think i'm stupid!
me:  HAHAHHAHA im laughing my butt off here
LC:  ya u try to bluff mE!!!


Sunday, January 06, 2013

Wonder

On the walk back to the car after Aaron and Peggy's wedding, we noticed that there were a lot of stars that night.

And I saw Orion for the first time.


Saturday, January 05, 2013

Familiar stranger

An old and familiar scent is a quaint experience; all within a fraction of a second, it becomes the magical carpet that knocks me off my feet, and, and quickly, very quickly, with wind whooshing past my ear and my hair holding onto its roots, it transports me high over a fog-covered landscape where its air is electric with fondness, memories and emotions. How strong they are, as my mind's eyes survey the memories below - even for those where fog has descended over and the details are none or scarce. Nevertheless, it is accosted by an immense feeling of that moment when you first smelt it. Frozen in time memories dethawed.

I'm in my mid-twenties this year and at that moment, in the building where I work... I'm suddenly 6 again, missing my working parents so I sleep on their bed. Or 9, at the thrill of moving into a newly renovated house; residue smells from the construction work still lingered. Or most of the time, it is merely the feeling of self, at different ages, that forgets the details. 

Somehow, by the absence of details, the effect felt stronger, although more fleeting. I guess because that conscious 'feeling of self' is the sole darting light in the dark, and it is fleeting because you barely have a memory to anchor it to.

We are our own, most real, reality. David Foster Wallace says it best in his speech, This is Water. I don't know why this came to mind... sometimes in my head, little brain cells race in underground passages and destroy the line between one topic and another. But I wish they'd tell me how they get there :/. Back to topic, I guess I am struck (and a little startled) at meeting and feeling who I was, say, ten years ago. 

I'm fascinated by these familiar strangers. 

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Started on a book yesterday, got hooked on it, and have been waiting for the day to end to resume reading. Plus, I'd have the weekend ahead! Alas, I left it in the office as the rain lashed the outside and my fake Birkenstocks splashed in the water as I hurried to my climbing kaki's car.  But my gloom is erased because I remembered I have an ereader, and that copy could be  attained. Ahh, something to accompany me while waiting for my car to return from the mechanic tomorrow.