Thursday, March 25, 2004

Back in Suburbia

Back in Suburbia

I used to jog quite frequently when I was working in Singapore at the Bishan Park. In Jakarta, I workout at the hotel gym ocassionally, though not often enough. But since coming back to KL, I have not found the time nor the inclination to exercise.

I am also walking a lot less nowadays. In Jakarta, I would normally ask the taxi driver to drop me at Jalan Thamrin and from there I'd take a short cut through my favourite Sarinah Mall and take a leisurely stroll along busy Jalan Wahid Hasyim (ocassionally stopping to say hi to my favourite beggars) on my way back to my hotel. It always felt nice to soak in the atmosphere of the evening--the bustle of buses and bajajs, the smoky aroma of hawkers selling gorengan and satay and the ever-present pengamins, persistently pestering the street diners.

Sometimes I think I do more mingling with the Jakarta street crowd than a lot of my more well-to-do Indonesian friends. They can't go anywhere without their cars (and drivers). When I first arrived in Jakarta, a lot of them advised me to get a car. But having lived without one in Singapore for four years, I was determined not to pick up this "bad habit". After a while, I discovered that I could easily survive in Jakarta by just taking taxis, bajajs and ojeks (motorcycle taxis). It was a lot more fun interesting. I didn't go all the way to Jakarta to become another middleclass yuppie with a flashy car.

Now that I'm back in KL, I am back to my old habit of driving my car everywhere. I suppose you cannot avoid it here. In Jakarta, I lived in the middle of the city; here I live in one of those monotonously dull Malaysian middleclass suburbs populated by Proton Wiras and potted plants. The only "life" that I see here is the clumsy garbage truck that rumbles by every other morning making a noisy commotion, spilling litter and slime everywhere.

I suppose that's life in the suburbs. I'll probably look forward to doing some grocery shopping at the local hypermart this weekend, and join the trolley-jam at the checkout counter. From the flyers that they stuff in my mailbox everyday, it looks like their toilet rolls are pretty cheap. Better grab a few dozen.

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