Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Durian Dilemma

Now I have received some complaints that my blog doesn't live up to its name. Although I say Malaysia, is like a durian , I only show the thorny side of Malaysia, and I never show the succulent goodness that hides within. Well, alright, to satisfy your cravings, here is an account of the goodness I witnessed while I was on the commute in the good ol' LRT.

So here I was, standing at the Pasar Seni station, looking down. Over the horizon there is Masjid Jamek, and the whir of cars zooming past on the road. The buses and their attendants shouting out. A beggar down at the elevator ( he is always there), who is an old man with a polystyrene cup, hands outstretched to plead with the next person who passes the elevator. Does this sound a bit depressing? There was a graffiti drawing of the RTM logo and a somewhat distorted Mahathir at the power station below. Ok, definitely depressing.

ANYWAY... So there I was at the Pasar Seni station, when the train came. Everybody stood up, and rushed towards the entrance. People who drive all the time complain about the yellow box, at least they will never have to feel the terror of being pushed past  the yellow line by rushing commuters just as the train is hurtling towards you. Today, I staying far behind the flood of passengers to avoid Bernoulli's Principle in action ( ya know, fast velocity train, creates low pressure. you get sucked in= Final Destination?). AND I found something that shocked me. THEY WERE LINING UP. $#@~*!!!! At long last, after years of complaining, there they were, commuters at rush hour, lining up in an orderly, civilized manner. Then I heard one of the group speak.He spoke Chinese, but in an accent that made it sound more like what you would get if mom and dad were having a pots and pans fight. Mainland Chinese.

As I filed in, and took my usual place to stand ( the head/ tail of the train where you can have a front view). I was pretty upset, my hopes being dashed by a bunch of PRCs. I noticed there was a man, this elderly Malay chap with songkok and his tongkat, holding on for dear life to the metal pole as the train accelerated. He seemed rather frail. There were lots of young people who were sitting around him. I saw one young student ( he was in school uniform) glance at the old man, then at his tongkat, and when the man caught him looking, the student stood up..... then adjusted his shirt and sat back down. Terrible.

When I turned back, the old man was sitting across the student. Someone had given up their seat! Joy! A kind samaritan at last! I looked at him, and he was speaking to these two young men. His eyes said it all: Thank you. Curious to see what they looked like, I tilted my body left ( very nearly lost balance as the train turned) and saw their faces. They had rather dark skin, though did not look to be Indian or Malay. And once again, they opened their mouths and destroyed me. They were BURMESE!

At this point, I was wishing that somehow at the precise moment these Chinese tourists and Burmese workers chose to open their mouths I would suddenly be struck with some form of rare epilepsy triggered by the onset of contact with foreigners, so that I could keep telling myself Malaysians are such kind, orderly, civilized people. Yes, I know there are kind Malaysians, I know quite a few of them myself. But why does the majority behave like this? The pushing, the refusal to give the man a seat even after ten minutes of seeing him stand and suffer? And in the end, it is the foreigners who behave better in our own country, and treat the poor fellow better. It is them, the Burmese who come from such impoverished backgrounds, who have the heart to give.

So there you have it, the succulent goodness in Malaysia. Except that it's in Malaysia, but not from Malaysia. Ah well. Imported Burmese durian anyone?

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