Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Thoughts Over Teh Tarik

I have been back in KL since Saturday night but have not had the opportunity to blog so far. The all-day, late night sessions since Sunday at the office preparing for a tender proposal have been sucking up all my time.

Today I managed to take a two hour break from this dreary proposal marathon. It was around 6pm and the city was winding down: people commuting home, executives making a bee-line to their favourite teh-tarik haunts and working girls window shopping at the malls.

It was interesting loitering around the KLCC area. I had a chance to observe my fellow Malaysians from a "fresh" perspective. Having been working and living overseas for more than five years, I feel a bit like an outsider everytime I come back to KL. I am constantly surprised at how multi-racial the Malaysian crowd is. And I cringe everytime I hear "Manglish" being spoken so blatantly. At the same time I am taken in by the prosperity of the population, the optimism of the people and the sheer diversity of talent that's present in the Malaysian society.

In Jakarta, I have been used to streets swarmed with the working class toiling day and night to make ends meet. Life is a constant struggle. Here in KL, life is more of keeping up with the Joneses (or the Wongs, Rashids or Ratnams). And the Petronas Twin Towers soar above the skyline like a symbolic portal to a brighter future.

And there at the new 24-hour Lotus restaurant (a gentrified mamak stall in essense), I observed the crowd of young executives attacking their roti canais and nasi lemak with gusto as I slowly nursed my favourite glass of teh tarik.