Sunday, October 09, 2011

Taking the midnight train

It was one of those I-am-going-to-spend-some-time-with-me moments. Having had a Starbucks mushroom struddel and creme brulee macchiato with a window view I took to exploring this town at midnight.

Satok market was still bustling as I turned the corner from Keretapi. I was tempted to stop by to look for dabai but it never stops at one. If I had pulled over, my stomach would certainly have returned home carrying memories of kuih lapis, lekor, ayam panggang, deep fried gizzard, bishop's nose and liver, apam balik, satay, kuih batik AND dabai if I could find any. Crispy fish and lush chips with tangy onion dripping wrapped in a paper bag in the middle of winter would be the London equivalent.

Heading across the Satok bridge I remember that there used to be a pedestrian bridge running parallel to the tarred road but no longer. There also used to be an arena where a round of tibow awaited those game enough to try but these days we hear more of Rempit than Rentap.

As I drove through Petra Jaya I wondered if the old trees that lined the road, providing shade in the day and fancy at night, made even more romantic by lit up spotlights of orange and white and green would soon disappear as their Airport Road counterparts did under the axe and tractor. What are we willing to risk losing in the name of progress? What dare we hold on to in order to step forward?

Passing by the State library I remember the night when Wizard of Oz played on an outdoor screen under the stars; 1Sarawak sitting on a carpet of mozaic with vendors selling burgers and buttered sweetcorn on the side. I remember being grateful that the essence of community is still alive.

Perhaps it is down to poor memory but I don't recall seeing KL roads lit up with emblems the way Kuching does it. Bulbs of red, green and yellow line the streets taking forms of hibiscuses, Iban shields, a hunter with a blowpipe, Diwali lamps, crescents, stars and ketupats. Should more trees be mown to make way for infrastructure, the varying images hanging just under the streetlamp's orange glow is a definite poignant way to acknowledge that just as trees grew where posts now stand, our community was not created by policy or mandate but is natural and alive, vibrant and growing.

It was definitely good to know that at midnight mamak shops near the Indian mosque in town were still open as was Open Air by Electra house. No talk of sio bee being too close to the nasi lemak there! The busy view across river from Gambier Street littered with shimmery bunga manggar around the Astana also told me that the nasi kerabu lady was still going strong. I have not quite been able to find pizza that I like as much as Tom's minced beef pizza which used to be by the playground at Waterfront. Pizza has not quite been the same experience since they closed down/moved. Down Abell Road both Raja Ayam and Shore were piping hot for business. A growl from below told me I hadn't had roti boom (yes "boom!") with chicken and cheese in a while.

The road home was otherwise uneventful although it is no secret that if Kuching roads carry on the way they do, we would have a smoother journey travelling by buffalo, horse or ostrich. I suppose you could say it was a good night.

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