Fix Me

Coldplay hit the nail right in the head for me. That song, Fix You – will always be one that reminds me of KL. Replace the person in the song to an inanimate being in the form of a city lying in between a valley, north of where my parents are from. A city my fellow countrymen adore for its shopping extravaganza, a city some of us affectionately code-named the holy city with a small ‘H’ and a city I will forever cherish for the freedom and growth I went through a few years ago. It was also there that God chose to time when I will eventually meet my DH, when I am at my peak and literally free-falling from a mountain high above, the winds sashaying above me. And so falling in love seems like bliss magnified ten times over.

I was very excited at the prospect of visiting KL after almost 2 years of not stepping foot there after my marriage almost 2 years ago. The plan was to have my friend AA drive 3 of us, all giggly squealing girls in her very hot Proton (you can read hot in every way you want 😉 and stay at a studio apartment me and my KL cousin bought 2 years ago at Damansara. I had the iPod Mini packed with 1000 songs and even included requests from AA and GA of their own favourites. (at this point, I would like to request DH to stop smirking abt the fact that HE can pack more than that in HIS iPod Gedegak. Cis, kita tak heran ok!)

Somewhere between Sungei Besi and Puchong, I had the idea of swopping the Singapore-registered Proton with a Wilayah-registered Honda my cousin owned – and that was a good decision. Reason – kalau bawak kereta Mesia in KL I can do many stunts without being honked – including making illegal U-turns and at one time in 2003, going against traffic for a thrilling 1 min! Woohooo!

And so our adventure begins . It started the moment my cousin unlocked the door of the studio and I realised how nice the apartment really is. She had carefully chosen a nice ensemble of dark brown and beige for the kitchen cabinet, and put up resorty bamboo blinds at the windows. But that is all there is to the apt – my mission there is buy furniture and do up the place further. So AA was quick to command :Ok, put down all your bags and lets inflate the air-beds NOW!” – betul-betul macam the volunteer policewoman that she is. She was good at it though, while I watched – heee.

The days that followed were full of shopping trips for AA and GA, and me meeting up with old KL kakis. I had one 1.5 hr session with Sherry in Ceylon Bar on a Monday night – which ended up with Sherry talking so fast trying to fill me in on what I missed about her life for the past 2 years. Sherry is a former schoolmate, a Singaporean who had made good in KL and now about to open her second spa in Starhill. We were not the sort of friends who were pally in school, but found our ngam later when we both chose KL to explore. If you see me and her, you will be confused – she was dressed in her normal super low-cut top, with her long flowing red-highlighted hair and Davidoff ciggy in hand. She marched out of her Volvo SUV with such poise that it made the monster vehicle looked like a toy-car.

I was in my black pants, black top and dark blue tudung. The only thing I had clsoe enough to a Davidoff ciggy is my very old Nokia handphone, and I was marching out of a white Honda VTi. By that, I mean taking a solid 30 seconds to get my fat ass out of the car seat, before stretching my back as if I had just driven for 12 hours. So un-glam. Kesian Uja. Hahaha. The moment we hugged at the roadside I could feel the stares of disbelief from the boys who valet-parked our cars – “WHAT is this akak pakai tudung doing with that very hot mama ?!”. I treasure how we respect each other’s lifepaths, and how we slide on commonalities of making it on our own without riding on someone else’s name. This is one woman with drive, and for that I salute her.

I met with H and The Two Sisters too for coffee at Dome and some bonding session later. They were like my siblings when I was in KL. I wish we had more time, but we didn’t. We caught up on old jokes and present adult problems we have to face, and we still give honest feedback on what we think should be done. I miss them, especially The Two Sisters who always insist I sleep at their place when I get too lonely in Cyberjaya.

On one of the days, I drove all the way to Shah Alam at night to meet up with MH and her family. I risked getting lost, but with her specific directions, I was confident I would be ok. Another kaki from TUDM – LS and her husband came over too – so it was a merry hari-raya-like gathering. Me and the two husbands present talked about an old passion – cars. Old for me, still current for them.

I paid homage to Cyberjaya and Putrajaya, and took awesome pictures of the place. We bumped into a filming session where the actors and extras were all dressed in winter clothes, on the steps of one of the Putrajaya buildings. The sky was dark and it was slightly windy- and with the European-like treatment of most Putrajaya buildings – it made the scene believable I suppose.

I felt like a free bird in KL. I realise that it was the wide space, the edgeless greens, the energy of the people and the long winding highways that made the place so close to my heart. It was my last time-in-space before tying the knot with DH. It gave me the space to drive with or without speed, an activity I so absolutely love . It gave me the space to be a Malay and feel at home, while being a globe-trotter at the same time. It gave me the space to get lost on the roads, and then find my way home again.

With me migrating to Canada next year, I will be experiencing the same kind of space but in a different realm. It will be with DH, and he, being the very man I married him for – had always been respectful of my bohemian side. I love him for loving this side of me – someone who is always freefalling and loving every minute of it.

I now know what KL is all about for me. It was the culmination of my last moments of singlehood, in a package so irresistable it is so hard to forget. With this trip, and my impending move next year, I now have my fix.

What is yours?

When you try your best but you don’t succeed
When you get what you want but not what you need
When you feel so tired but you can’t sleep
Stuck in reverse

When the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can’t replace
When you love someone but it goes to waste could it be worse?
Lights will guide you home and ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you

Chris Martin, ColdplayFix You

Am I Malay enough?

MelayuI attended an all-Malay event after a looong time yesterday. By that, I mean an event which is not a wedding, and definitely without trying hard to reconcile Western traditions and Malay customs (read: cutting a wedding cake or cutting a cake made of pulut kuning).
While at the event, I suddenly had this strange voice urging me to soak up every sight and sound around because I know I will miss this when I finally move to an ang moh country next year. I had an innate real fear of missing a Malay environment and all the meriah-ness that comes with it.

Since I hopped into the intrepid blog-world, I have been reading blogs of various young Malay Singaporeans, most of them professionals and many of them leading very enriched lives. Thanks to the new policy of allowing Singaporeans to sign their lives away with 10-year car loans, many of these young Malays are driving brand new cars too. When you meet them on the streets they will speak to you in English, and then say sorry quickly with “Sorry, my Malay not very good lah,” without batting an eyelid. You can almost sense a billowing smoke of pride when they say that. These are young energies in their 20s.

The more ‘elderly’ adults have it in a different fashion. The successful 30-somethings, often with kids in tow attending pre-school, complete with ballet classes and violin tuition to boot – will illustrate the strange detachment of being Malay in a more measured manner. If you are lucky, you will get the “Sorry, my Malay not very good lah,” statements, but being wiser adults – they say that sparingly as they realise saying it only shows how they are still grappling with their own identity and the fact that they still crave for nasi goreng on a Sunday morning, does not make them err..any less Malay or any more Western.

Today, I switched on Prime Time morning on Channel News Asia and frowned for a good 1 minute, when I heard the hosts refer to the ‘Asians’ as Japanese, Korean and Chinese. So where do you place the millions of Malays from the Malay Archipelago – are they Asian migrants instead? I flipped through yesterday’s Sunday Times (yes I am one of those who read ST the day AFTER on weekends) and saw a full page interview with a professor who insists that the Asian-language media will grow and grow – and by Asian he meant the Chinese and Indians. Err…orang Melayu tak ada media-massa ke?

It is baffling, but it is a sorry state when we as Malays, feel embarassed about our own self and then blame others for our own displacement. Are we about to be displaced? If we are not careful, my non-scholarly thinking say we will be. And this, mind you, is coming from a non-academic WITHOUT conducting research studies. I shudder to think what proper statistics will reveal.

I have heard too many Malays, women especially who said -“Aiya, that guy is so Mat. So Malay!” Gosh, that’s like taking an egg out of the fridge and then slap it against your own forehead. What does that mean – “So Malay?!”. I am determined that my kids will be as Malay as they will be, regardless if they grow up in the Canadian backyard or againts the Singapore/Malaysia backdrop. They can be as Minah and Mat as they want to be – albeit I know they might be a bit confused when Ibu and Abah will feed them salmon and sambal belachan for dinner. I had a Eurasian friend who said she is waiting for me to raise my Canuck-Mats (the Vancouver Canucks is the city’s famed ice-hockey team).

The only thing I have to keep in check is to make sure that DH doesn’t go overzealous with showing them P Ramlee movies, as he has done to himself – only to have him insists he will walk around Geylang in kain pelekat and singlet putih. Aiyayayaya…minta ampun!!

I hope I am Malay enough to carry through my Malay heritage regardless where we will be. And will never ever be apologetic for being Malay.