Archive for July, 2010

22
Jul
10

My kindle for a turtle!

I saw fishies! Big fishies, small fishies, round fishies and thin fishies. Them fishies were swimming in the water. Not flapping around on dry land on the tables of fish vendors who hack off their noses when they’re still alive (trauma). No. These were fishies swimming in the DEEP BLUE SEA.

Cute little mosk

It all started when once upon a time I was living in a lovely, idillic, romantic, smog ridden, garbage ridden, stinky city. The water over there was your lover, your master and your executioner. You wanted it badly. To bathe, drink and kiss. But every touch could be fatal. Sending you to the toilet for weeks. And it would come at you from all sides. From the shower head or the monsoon rain; it might attack you on holy days as the payload of balloons from above, or creep up from the iron cups in restaurants. One developed coping strategies. Spitting in the shower at the rate of 10 times a minute. Putting my daily Bagmati river swim sessions to a halt. The water also had the habit of hiding itself and sulking in a corner. For weeks you wouldn’t see it. With consequences I won’t divulge, lest I shock the more sensitive amongst you.

As time drifted by in that land-locked place, I escaped into fantasy. I gazed for hours at the National Geographic pin-ups depicting creatures of the Cetacea family. I started reading up on them on Wikipedia and in other media.

Do you know the garden-variety Hippo is the closest land-dwelling relative of the dolphin? And do you know whales partly get around the evolutionary hobble of the muscles that naturally are tied to speech are controlled by parts of the brain that you don’t have voluntary control over by means of having developed a controlled way of breathing so the poor creatures don’t drown under water?

I moved away from there now. For months I have lived here in the water-mass poor capitol of Malaysia. Lush tropical islands just out of reach. As my time was drawing to a close, I still had not been able to dip my head into salvation. Until my boss forced me to take a dive. He stopped very short of taking my fingers and pressing them on keys to make Air Asia queries on the inturwebs. But harsh words were thrown around the table.

Arrangements were made and eventually us geeks set out for NATURE. As opposed to COMPUTURE. We all said goodbye to our loved ones. Mouse-pads were stroked, promises of early return were whispered, tears streamed on short-circuiting keyboards. Into the heart-land of Islam we went; to Kota Bharu (Bandaraya Islam (The Islamic City)). And from there to Perhentian. It was all jolly fun, this NATURE. Palm trees abounded, as did cute little country-side mosks. Abounding that is. Tons of them. With their cute little mosky turrets. Cute little girls waved us along in their cute little headscarves. We were bound for TURTLES! Islamic turtles! Turtles Ahoy!

Zelda anyone?

After we got all settled in the crappiest crammiest hut on the island, we went out to do some serious sunbathing. Which was wildly contested by our pinky-white nerd-flesh. It crawled away from the nourishing cancer sun, distrusting this new sensation with a vehement hate. “Yes one of us is from Transylvania.” “No, correlation does not imply causation.” “No you can’t have our autograph.” “We have never even seen those movies.” Not to speak of the unprocessed silicon we were supposed to lay on. The mortal enemy of our processed silicon brained friends. Not to speak of the salty water threatening us from all sides. We were very much out of our element amongst all of these strange new elements.

But a light flickered in my heart: DEEP BLUE OCEAN. And it devoured all other sentiments with a flick of it’s little pinky. As soon as the realization kicked in (me, water, submerge, now) my legs started thrashing about madly, until I found my lungs full of water. I sucked up all the sea to lay bare the fish within. There were preciously little of them. Sand beach. No good. Once again those legs started thrashing, until they were tired from going there and fro.

This was no matter for legs. It was a matter for head. Booked a snorkel-ride for the next day, and plunged in at the designated spot. Three, two, one, paradise! Legs thrashing around wildly. I was treading through heaven. Sharks, Nemo-direction-fish underneath. Hold breath, try to get their attention. Which way is the gulf-stream? Hold that thought, need some air.

Actually looks a bit drab for a tropical island, doesn't it.

I went THROUGH heaven. I was not IN heaven. This would not do at all. Booked a diving course. Now there’s a way to get lost! Up, down? Dunno, don’t care! Deeper is what we want. Lil’ Nemo’s all over the place. Them lil’ translucant clownfish try to bite you to scare you away from their anemone home in real-time. Much cuter than in the movie. Lil’ cleaner shrimps wash your hand at the cleaning-station, and say goodbye with a bow. It’s a very provincial place down there.

The deeper I go the higher I get. Doing bomb-dives by blowing out air. Inhaling on time so as not to become shish-kebabbed on the sea-porcupines below. Must go deeper, deeper into the blue. A quick glance at the silvery stuff bobbing above my head. I can still see it. Boring la! Hand on nose. Pop ears. Go down further. Hunting for peace.

A hand touches my shoulder. Fumbles on a tube. The bottom falls away beneath me. The hand lifts me up without moving. It’s all wrong. Back in the boat now, grinning from ear to ear. My incessant incoherent babbling falls on deaf mans ears. Weird people. Back at the diving-club: “What was in the tank? Oxygen my dear. You know, the stuff you breathe on land.”

Hi! My name is Ties, and I’m an addict.

No turtles though. Boo!

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10
Jul
10

A crack in paradise

Let this be a somewhat more lucid translation of my previous post.

Cracks, paradise. It's all right there.

Because it is kinda a weird here in Kuala Lumpur. Weird because it’s so normal. Time and space seem to have been stuffed in a big gelatin pudding. When you stick your finger in, things bobble a bit, but if you leave the pudding alone, everything is just kinda suspended in midair.

And I’m not just talking fuzzy-metaphysical here. Simply put: there is no time! The Mac Donald’s-ses haven’t changed since the middle ages. The temperature is always exactly level. Leaves don’t fall from the trees. The worldwide economy slump doesn’t affect this place. Things here are exactly the same as when I first arrived. It really seems like I have been whisked away to some alternate reality that has not moved on from the eighties. But with iPads on sale before launch date.

Hot pants and headscarves

Also this country seems to be of nobody. The Malays will say Chinese call the shots. The Chinese will say the Malays call the shots. And the Indians are never asked. Not that I see many Malays or Indians in my building. In my apartment building it’s mostly Middle-Eastern immigrants.

No cracks. And paradise is white of course.

In the malls the Chinese girls in hot pants cross path with the headscarved Malays a gazillion times a day. And the all-out burka isn’t an uncommon sight. They might disapprove of each-other but they don’t bash each-others face in. They’re used to the view. But I was shocked! Because there are also not-normal things here. There are LOTS of schmoozing couples that display their open affection in the air-conditioned complexes. It strikes me as horribly obscene after having assimilated the right way after two years. Not good-old Nepali values at all. Get your hands off her shoulder boy! And get that dirty grin off your face. I’ll call her brother. I will!

And I was all for declaring Malaysia nice and with it (so that would be my values system) but then I read three women have recently been caned for fucking around. Under Sharia law mind. Not under law law. First time in Malaysia (for this kind of flogging that is). Another almost got a good caning for drinking beer. ‘Oh, come on, it’s just a bit of ass whooping,’ you say. She is a Muslim. She knew what she was getting into. She must have wanted some caning. But I dunno. I’m not so very much for caning.

Getting things done

As for my personal situation, I’m still doubting if Malaysia perhaps isn’t the waiting room for heaven. Not because of the caning of course. But because it’s got this stilted feel to it. I especially suspect this when I go from our work-apartment to my sleep-apartment two stairs below. The stairway is so white and long, and it would explain why there are so many nationalities here. This isn’t Europe or Asia. This is some generic form of capitalism. The Platonic ideal, but almost, because it still moves a little when you push the gelatin around.

Perhaps I am just supposed to recoup myself in this limbo. Is that the grand plan? What should I make of me in this last days of Asia? I feel like a caged puppy trampling with anticipation to be let loose upon the upperty shores of Europe. And I’m in for a good brain-reshaping, to go with the utter reshaping of my conditions. Match them up a bit. Do some purification. But how? Who? I would like to go into the Lord, but I think he doesn’t exist. Buddha seemed like a nice guy, but he is a bit too gloomy for my tastes. Sixties self-help books? I’m ok, you’re ok. So passé.

This is the point where I will let you in on my darkest secret. I am strangely attracted to this book called ‘Getting things done’. Like a moth to an laptop screen. It teaches you ‘how to be maximally efficient and relaxed, whenever you want or need to be’. It’s got sentences like ‘Clarify new divisional management structure’ and ‘Implement new investment strategy’. Not exactly sentences that make you want to keep on reading the book. Or keep it in one piece. But then in between the lines it wants you to dump all your responsibilities in lists. And then let them rule you.

So it feels like religion, and it’s even got scripture. But it’s like you’re in on the joke. You write your own commandments and then you let go and believe. And your heart fills up with relief and acceptance. I once tried something home-grown in this area, but I was weak. Not ok. It seems like I need help from above. Getting Things Done.

Yea, so that book has been lingering untouched on my night-stand for a few weeks now. I’ll glance at it for a while, but then turn back to the ceiling. Waiting for lolcats to fall down. Or muppets, as was my childhood recurring nightmare. In any case I’m not getting getting things done done. And I don’t know how to end this post.

Maybe there is nothing to be done anymore. Maybe I should just let go. Let the TL-light guide me upwards. Slowly… lift my hands from the keyboard.