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Thursday, July 31, 2003

Hate to break it to ya

Forgive me but there's another hiatus coming on. Tanjung Budaya is out for a cultural embassy to Thailand this year, and we're set to perform shows all around Bangkok. We'll be off tonight by bus. Ten days. Tell you about it later. Bye.

| 7/31/2003 07:38:00 PM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site! KL

What's different in Kuala Lumpur:

- First and foremost. This time around, I absolutely hated coming to KL. It's not entirely a case of homesickness as was first postulated; I'm here to do the thing that I right now most despise in the world: studying for a degree. (Fine, a degree would be super — it's the studying that I'm sooooo in love with.)

- I'm now a wiser, more pragmatic university student. I no longer walk the walk of a bumbling idiot, but of a senior: a seasoned scholar, with unseen battle scars. I'm no longer sticking to the Degree Planner, but picking out courses according to my own decisive selection. And for once, I almost know exactly what I'm doing. And oh — as a wiser, more pragmatic university student, I'm carrying an umbrella around campus. No KL monsoon is gonna stand in my way. I'm so proud of myself.

- After the initial minor West Malaysia culture shock of last year — that West-folk are more racist and stereotyping, inward and outwardly, than I could ever be prepared for — I find myself more relaxed and placid about the typically grim mindset of the people this time around. Maybe it's only because I'm living among university students (supposed cream of the national crop) in the city of KL (heart of a heterogenous society), that makes it come quite easily. But as I got to know people more, I am reminded that not all Malays here are like this, and not all Chinese here are like that, et cetera... and began to debunk my own stereotyping suspicions about West Malaysians. I am after all a Sino-Kadazan — East Malaysians are generally laid-back and more adept at living in a multiracial environment.

- Because this is a more sullen return to KL, I'm so desperately hanging out more with S; he and I being the only two from our gang currently studying here in the City of Mud. Private college. Pure Kadazan, but speaks Chinese so much better than I can; so he hangs out with his Chinese mates and blends in quite well. He seems to take on the (stereotypical, mind you) Chinese Mindset — even his Semenanjung Malay heavily employs the Chinese accent, and he has a certain many stigmas against Malays and Indians. Of course, since I'm now more placid about these kinds of things, to me that's a dismissible failing that comes with any multiracial society.

Whenever we can, us two will hang out together on a weekend, for very similar reasons. Like myself, S is suffering from second-year dread. And he misses friends back home. And he doesn't always click with his circle of friends any better than I with mine. And, unlike our respective circles, we both agree that Mid Valley's MPH Bookstore is a fantastic place to chill. Other than that and a bit, we are actually two very different people, with contrasting tastes in music and clothes. No, S, I don't call it fashion, dammit, I call it clothes.

- Friends are generally saying that I look more buff now (and with slightly chubbier cheeks, even). I also have a little spring in my step, and I have these bicep fixations, like discovering how comfortable it actually feels to rest my head on one while sleeping. It's hard to explain the buffness simply by telling that I eat really well once I'm back home. My body is lean, un-overweight-able (it's a metabolism thing), and naturally athletic; skinny in the worst of times.

Yes I'm athletic in the literal sense; I knew I was pleasantly gifted since school — a pretty good runner and swimmer... but being a true nerd, I just couldn't be bothered with sports. Frankly, I don't get sports. Team sports, most of all. I did try of course (dumbass scheme to meld with the popular jocks), but hardy muscles never could make up for lagging motor coordination and deficient knowledge of rules and technique. Fuck em all. And no, I've never been even remotely fascinated with any of the Guy-Thing-Triplet either: football, F1 racing, pro wrestling. (Oh I know there are lots of girls who are into these traditionally guy things. Whatever.) To those who have been fooled all this time, sorry but there ya go.

With all that blabbering, I must ask anyone picturing a product-of-a-gym photogenic stud to chuck that image out and replace it with a ordinarily healthy guy who is just filling out his clothes a little more nicely than last year.

- Though the fact that I'm in Tanjung Budaya still remains, the difference is that as a senior, I am to teach dance. In this new perspective, watching the junior newbies clumsily copy what moves we show them, looking for the gem-studded signs of potential, I realized what having a talent for dancing is really about: kinesthetic intelligence, the acuity to feel movement and position of the limbs and body — it's that motor coordination that all sportspeople as well as dancers strive to hone. I realize I have sufficiently plently.

- The biggest surprise happened. DiGi called me up and told me I won something in the X-Men 2 SMS Contest that went on a few months ago. A trip to Tioman Island and some X-Men 2 merchandise. Never thought I'd actually get anything, having detected formidable competition as I checked my weekly rank over the duration of the contest (rearrange letters to form X-Men character names as fast as you can. The better you know the lore, the more you can solve). I backed out too soon! Well, this already really cool though.

- Okay, this one's actually about KL. Petaling Street — KL's Chinatown; where this world and the underworld meet, a consequence of some bizzare dimensional rift — is now a blatantly different place. It seems somewhat more dandy, organized, pretty; a suddenly safe and viable tourist hangout. They have sunroofs. They seem to have these (official?) hawker stalls designed with ethnic Chinatown flair. And clearly above the street's entrance is a huge banner that, to me, says: "ANOTHER CLEAN-UP JOB PROUDLY BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE MUNICIPAL COUNCIL."

It's obvious what has happened. As part of the recent nationwide porn-and-piracy raids, they annexed the hub of sales itself. Petaling Street was already famous — now it's also neat. And that banner is their flag triumphantly pierced upon conquered territory.

This is terrible news for the penny-pinching population. And the population that does not appreciate a scissor-happy national film censorship board. How else can we get to see great, mature films that are banned from our shores, such as Malena and American History X? How else can we sample the vogue but awful-waste-of-money films such as How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days and Embun? How else can we see films that we want to see again and again, as well as capture screenshots to make desktop wallpapers, such as movies from the X-Men, The Matrix and Charlie's Angels franchises? (Uh.. I don't have a DVD player yet.) How else can we allay ourselves from paying for the typically overpriced goods from music stores? Cheap pirated CDs were one of the few things I looked forward to coming back to KL! *sulk*

- The engineering faculty has opened a computer lab for online use during office hours. Meanwhile, the main campus library has just completed its third-floor renovation, where a new computer room is now available. Easy. Constant. Free. Internet access. Am very, very pleased.

- Let me tell you about my new roommate. He decorates his side of the room with scented candles and seashells and oh my goodness gracious me, he's got about half a dozen little vials of different aromatherapy oils. Essence of lavender — what the fuck? He's got face creams, face mask, foot cream, another half a dozen or so bottles of cologne. I think he plucks his eyebrows and shaves his legs. And he listens to the likes of *gasp* Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and *gasp* LFO.

And I thought I was weird. I salute him for beating me to it, and most importantly, for not giving a fuck about what other people think. I tip my hat to you, Simon! At least having a high maintainance roomie ensures that half the room would be spotless. He's straight, by the way. I think.

Can't wait to get my PC back, so I can blast whatever Marilyn Manson MP3s I might happen to have, which would be so much easier to sleep to. Oh please hurry so it'll be his turn to get to know his roommate.

| 7/31/2003 07:27:00 PM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

From KK...

My travel bug must be faulty, because I packed, flew and landed in KL this time around with a feeling of pure dread. Never thought I'd miss my hometown this bad. Am convinced it's more to do with missing my friends.

The bulk of the clique are studying in UMS, Kota Kinabalu, including best buddy Chris. Ray, who studies in Johore, plans to transfer to UMS this year, because — oh I dunno — he's tired of his current university's restrictive, almost arpatheid West Malaysian ways? He hates it there, which says a lot from a happy-go-lucky guy.

Skimming back through the three-month break:

- Manukan Island revisited, with the old gang this time. Boy I love the sea. Was serendipity to find that not only is Jay a sea freak too, but also seems more aquainted and adjusted than I. (he's studying Marine Biology, by the way. Bliss.) I followed him to a coral reef cluster on a side of the island I hadn't been to before. He frequently dived down with his snorkel for closeups with the seabed fauna. Couldn't dare try that trick, so I remained observing (albeit a little covetously) from the subsurface. Sure I'm a decent swimmer, and I know how to hold my breath in order to keep the ocean outside of me, but I'm not yet confident about pulling an equipped snorkel away from air. I still regard the sea as dangerous as it is beautiful. Damn I'm so paranoid about sea urchins. Maybe on my next visit. Third time's a charm.

- Mom, without warning, brought home two puppies. Beginning of a long story.

- Oldest younger brother has gone off to Kursk State Medical University. Heard from friends studying there that Russians are not the friendliest people in the world. The cold people and cold weather there at least keep me from being envious of my brother for travelling farther than I have. I've asked friends there to do what they can to look out for him, but I know it's hardly a practical request. The first time Arthur called home, he told me that vodka there is cheap. Oh. Sounds like maybe he won't get bored there afer all, which was what I've smugly warned him about Russia before he left.

- Chris' birthday. It was a great chance to find the gang loitering (or preparing party food) in his house. Ray, Jay, Aaron, Andy, Lai, Vero, Jo, and others were there. S (rhymes with "ass") couldn't come because I think he had to babysit some brats. Chua couldn't because he was out of town. Masil couldn't because we didn't know where he was and his phones seemed to be dead. Ray and I gave Chris a pinewood bookshelf. The most interesting — though unoriginal — present was from a band of his UMS friends, who gave a gift-wrapped box containing: a mug, men's underwear and condoms. Lame, but always good for laughs/blushes. Happy birthday, buddy.

- Obligatory movie outings. Saw Cradle 2 The Grave, Dreamcatcher, X2, The Matrix Reloaded, Anger Management.

- It was one of my original goals to get my driving license during the break, which I frankly... have no real motivation to obtain. My instructor is Cousin Gary; he's helping me all the way with the paperwork and stuff. I failed the law test once, and then passed. Couldn't do the practical test in time before I return to KL, so I'm putting it off until next year. Blah blah blah.

- The guys took me to visit UMS. Holy shit it's gorgeous. I'm not really impressed with the fact that it's the youngest and largest university in the country... It's got a beach, man!

| 7/31/2003 07:27:00 PM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!

I'm still here

My PC isn't back yet from whatever repair bay it's collecting dust in, but I'll break this long hiatus anyhow, because I thought it'd be nearly irresponsible not to.

(Note to self: Between your CPU unit and a bag of other stuff, never EVER choose to put the former in the plane cargo, no matter how much cheaper that sinister check-in girl tells you it'd be. You kiasu cheapskate sucker, that was the lowest point of your life this year.)

Dang! Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne is out already.

Something I can't yet forget happened a couple of weeks ago. Some guy, a junior living in my block, went and knocked on everyone's door, asking for a Warcraft III CD. Everyone's door. Quick guess: he had the new Frozen Throne expansion CD, but not the original Warcraft III. Can't install the former without the latter first.

I understand his desperation. Blizzard's Warcraft III is by far the most spanking gorgeous real-time strategy game ever. And everyone knows that when Blizzard releases an expansion pack, if you already have the original you DO NOT miss it!

I am a cripple without my computer. Quote me.

That notwithstanding, I've made myself resourceful enough get back on the blogmill. What follows will be generous dossiers of all those missing weeks. One moment please.

| 7/31/2003 07:08:00 PM Reading blogs at work? Click to escape to a suitable site!