Sunday, November 07, 2004

Rivers of Mud and Humanity

Rivers of Mud and Humanity

Last Friday, during the heavy downpour in the city, I took refuge for a while at the Bangsar Village Mall. There at Starbucks, I sipped coffee and wrote in my journal, and also read a couple of pages from the book I brought with me.

It has been a long time since I had the chance to go out and read in a cafe; I've been spending the past couple of months working almost non-stop. Everytime I went outdoors, I had my notebook computer with me, roaming from one wireless hotspot to another, struggling to put in a decent amount of work each time.

But last Friday, I didn't even bring my computer because I'd finally completed my project report and I had scheduled a full day of social activities, meeting up with friends. Morning was spent in Klang, afternoon at the MidValley Mall and evening at the yuppie bars of Bangsar.

I was quite fortunate that I managed to avoid all the traffic jams and flash floods that day, despite having spent my entire day outdoors. Evening downpours in the Klang valley, accompanied by the usual flash floods, falling trees and landslides, can often turn the city into traffic chaos; last Friday, coupled with the people rushing home for buka puasa, it had all the ingredients of a perfect storm.

In many ways, I'm still getting used to life back in KL. For some reason, I always find KL a very stressful place, more than any other city that I've lived in. Over the last decade, I've seen KL transform into beautiful and modern city. KLCC with the Petronas Twin Towers is now the heart and icon of the new KL.

But my impression of KL has been formed during my childhood years. To me it will always be that dispassionate city, that cauldron of hope and despair which A. Shukur Harun describes so well in his short story Debu-Debu Kuala Lumpur.

And it is during those heavy evening downpours, like last Friday's, you'll see the real KL reveal itself again--when roads become rivers and all that mud and humanity intermingle--an inseparable mass, curiously locked in perpetual embrace and struggle.

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