Sunday, February 24, 2008

Man About World

"We are the Cartoon Heroes - Uh-Oh-Oh!
We are the ones who're gonna last forever,"

Cartoon Heroes (2000) by Aqua

That line gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. For some perplexing reason, I had this sudden, uncompromising desire to listen to bubblegum pop, especially those by Aqua.

How many of you have traveled regularly about your city using a public bus service? Public buses in Malacca are many things; they are slow, late, irregular, dirty, rickety, crowded, unsafe but most of all, they are quaint. There was always this unexplainable atmosphere of quaintness riding aboard those in my city. Possibly, after many thousands of circuits through my town's narrow streets, they have absorbed much of the city's soul - and everybody knows that the soul of Malacca is one that is ancient, somnolent and has gula melaka smeared all over it. In a way, those buses are Malacca, especially those green and white Town Buses that can be spotted on every street corner and junction. It's simply not possible to imagine the ol' hometown without them.

One of the more unique yet most common sights on a Town Bus is that of a backpacking tourist poring over a guidebook or staring absentmindedly out of the buses' window at the old precolonial townhouses leaning curiously over the streets like nosey old Nyonya women. The bus conductors of the Town Bus company usually have an adequate command of the English language and are helpful enough to these aliens. Or if not, one of the passengers would customarily come to the rescue. I myself, in my time, have helped several of them to explain to the conductor where they would like to go and told them where to get off when they were there.

I have had full conversations with a few. One of them was this plump, rosy-cheeked Dutch woman who told me that the Stadhuys (you know, that red building by the river) is pronounced Staad-hoose, not Stadhoo-ees. Then there was this excitable German guy who kept taking pictures at every single semi-interesting he saw, telling me their historical significance which he had (apparently) memorised by heart, and asking for me if he was right. I remember that my bits in our dialogue consisted largely of 'Yes' and 'If you say so'.

The most memorable encounter I've had on the Town Bus was probably that one time I met a Japanese woman in her early twenties who wore a bob and spoke English with some degree of fluency. She told me that she was in KL for some business conference and having a few extra days before she have to fly back to Tokyo, she decided to come down to Malacca to do a spot of sightseeing. 'Pleases' and 'thank yous' dotted her speech like little punctuations of ornamental courtesy, more out of grace than of formality. At our stop in front of the Mahkota Parade mall, she asked me ever so nicely to give her directions to the A Famosa fort gate. I gallantly offered to walk her there instead. What can I say? I'm a bloody knight at heart.

There at the foot of St Paul Hill, she enlisted the help of a passerby and insisted that I pose for a picture with her. After which, we said our farewells and to my surprise, she gave a full bow to me in gratitude. Yes, a full 90 degrees one - not one of those half-hearted nods the politer ones of us Malaysians give.

Right this moment, an eighteen years old likeness of me is lying in a photo album in somewhere in Tokyo. Boggles the mind, it does.

Now that we're on the subject of Malacca, remember this post where I was debating whether to spend my last hols in India or back home last year? Remember these pics?


Malacca Fuckit
Or Fuck It?

Well, I received an e-mail more than a week ago by a couple of blokes called Sim and Teo who flatteringly identified themselves as my 'fans', undeserving as I am. Attached to the e-mail were these photographs which they affectionately dubbed the 'Malacca... Or Fuck It. Night Version',



Considering that k0k bL0k is nothing more than a glorified online journal with hits lower than an angry, blindfolded dwarf's attempts at hitting your nads with a yoyo, receiving a fan mail is kind of a big deal, really. Thanks mates! Much appreciated. Also, thanks for reminding me that I actually do have some male readers out there. I was beginning to be worried that my blog had completely degenerated into some form of mushy chick lit.

And now, here's something of a more current nature to report,

The Great North Indian Backpacking Escapade's Master Plan. Pomp and grandiosity is my modus operandi.

It starts from Manipal, natch, and ends in Bangalore. One month, 14 cities. Bloody wicked, yes?

On a side note, Bangalore's official name is Bengaluru, an attempt the local government made to shed off the shadow of their colonial past. It sounded as if the officials merely took the old colonial name and made it sound Indian. Reminds me yesterday evening when I asked Nickson if it's possible to 'indianise' Pondicherry, a southern French settlement. His answer?

"Cherry too western d - have to change to Pondicurry." Now, every single time I see his face, I burst out in helpless laughter. Damn, I'm laughing right now too. Stupid, lame Nickson.

By the way, Pondicherry had been renamed. It's Puducherry now.

On another side note, the 'To bring' list in the Lonely Planet guidebook for India recommended oral contraceptives for lady travelers. Quite apparently, the risk of an Indian romance with an anonymous handsome stranger while traveling across the subcontinent is high enough to warrant that helpful bit of advice.

Can't go backpacking without one, no sirree.

I'm leaving in a few hours tomorrow to catch the 4 o clock train in the neighbouring town on Udupi. I will be seeing you guys on the other side of March - sooner, if the magical wonders of the Internet have permeated the northern Indian states.



Running headlong into cholera country,
k0k s3n w4i

Pondicurry XD

How come no one else finds it funny T_T?


sXydeViL said...

i know this sounds weird, but well if u read dis, so send my regards to udaipur, jalseimer and shimla. =)

it has been a very emotional morning. and happy holz!

gaL said...

Your bus ride experiences are so nice la. Tourists are always cute. LOL. My bus rides were full with other type of "international" ppl. . Nth to talk about. Ditto.

michelleg said...

ohhh i so know who ur sim n teo fan is.. lol.. =)

pinksterz said...

so jealous! one month of travelling T______T

eh more female readers are good. it means your blog are manly because it attracts the girls :P

(and why i no fan mail? hello???? anyone? haha)

re: ur profile:
eh i am so sure will have updates. nowadays wifi so easy to get la :p

kiss said...

ok, your finger looks great in the pic. Ha. thanks for the comment at i didn't know that medical students come across THOSE kindda words often! ((:

Anonymous said...

Cool! Trapaizing around India sounds like so much fun. No doubt you'll encounter really interesting things along the way. Looking forward to your next post.

Elaynne said...

Have fun in your travels! You will be back in Malacca for good after that yeah?

k0k s3n w4i said...

susu: SMS them only la xD Aiyo, why la so emo? you miss udaipur, jaisalmer and shimla so much mae?

gal: you're the only person who actually read the main bit of this post -.- *hugs and then weeps* maybe i just look like i wud understand english gua, cos i always have a novel in my hand when i take the bus.

michelleg: they so mysterious la. only thing i know was that sim was a senior of mine -.-

pinksterz: didn't you travel all through Egypt recently =.=? eh wrong la. girls wun read manly posts 1. they only baca post jiwang.
Wifi so? i not bringing laptop mer T_T

kiss: Thank you. No one have ever said such nice things about my finger before -.-

feliiiii: Oh hi! I know it's going to be interesting, but I'm pretty sure the posts about it will be as dull as ditchwater. no one likes travelogues (or so beve kept reminding me).

elaynne: if i didn't fail any subjects for my university exam, I shall be back by October :)

michelleg said...

no they are not.. i think. lol..