Kuala Lumpur is where Asia melts into a brilliant rhythm of people, sounds, cultures, cuisines, lifestyles, architectures, and incredible nature. The city itself is another bustling urban hub full of busy days and people getting through sweaty and sunny days to work and home. What’s not lost is the humane approach to life through all of the days. Everyone aims to be efficient and get work done but nobody pretends Armageddon has arrived if something wasn’t done. Rina explores her relationship with the cities she has lived in, in the weekly column. A Different Truths exclusive.
I’ve lived in a few cities around the world and travelled to several others – New York is busy and very urban, Paris is beautiful, Munich is efficient, London is a kaleidoscope of people and cultures, Singapore is precise and directed, New Delhi is incredibly beautiful chaos…. It is not a hippie and cultural like Bangkok, it is not fictionalised Dubai nor picturesque like Australia, it is modern in fine tone and above all it is real!
Kuala Lumpur (KL) is one of its kind and perhaps the only one of its kind.
It is where I fell in love with South East Asia and I truly consider Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta as emblematic of South East Asia more than any other nation. The travel into the city that houses the Petronas Towers is incredible – friendly staff on the national airlines through to friendly immigration and then through the high-speed trains to the centre of the city – it was dazzling and beyond what I visualised getting in and set the tone for another bustling metropolis I thought I’d be settling into.
That’s Truly Asia
Kuala Lumpur is where Asia melts into a brilliant rhythm of people, sounds, cultures, cuisines, lifestyles, architectures, and incredible nature. The city itself is another bustling urban hub full of busy days and people getting through sweaty and sunny days to work and home. What’s not lost is the humane approach to life through all of the days. Everyone aims to be efficient and get work done but nobody pretends Armageddon has arrived if something wasn’t done because, well, the sun still comes up the next day doesn’t it?
The majority population is – in my experience – not worried of the expatriates; perhaps because they know the city is a melting pot. They’re very friendly and love it when an expatriate can speak to them in some amateurish rendition of Bahasa Melayu – that is the surest form of respect for the Malays. Then you’ve got the Malaysian Chinese as they call people of ethnic Chinese descent – absolutely busy and the commercial nerve centre of the country. They’re every bit Malaysian but in their naturally busy way and aiming to outdo their previously good day with even better ones.
I’m an Indian and I saw Malaysian Indians by the hundreds – and it struck me that the Malaysian Indian population in Malaysia is very similar to the spread in India; this is a mind challenging mix of very successful people and the poorest aiming to get better.
Life in KL would never ever be complete without eating at the Mamak stalls (the street vendors). If a country needed a role model for healthy street side food that allowed people to eat for not much and yet eat good food, my recommendation is to look at KL. Mamak stalls dot every other street lane in the city and the country by large allowing people to eat at string budgets and therefore keep the cost of living low to some extent. Nasi something dishes, Teh something teas, Kopi something coffees are a must have. Never ever think of eating quickly in KL (never mind the meeting that’s nearly awaiting) – it is mandatory to enjoy food and rude to ask people to eat quickly.
It’s the country where I learned I(E)nglish with the Komputer, the Kommuter trains, the telefon, or when I had to hail a teksi (taxi). English spelled the way it is pronounced rendering the simplicity awe-inspiring or confusing in any way you may see it. The sounds and the music behind how the locals spoke their language and English is incredible; or even Mandarin for that matter. Of course, you’d never exclude saying lah at the end of a word or sentence – it destroys the joys of the emotion. You got that didn’t you lah?
No lah said straight is a response to your question; noooo lah is akin to saying “you’re nuts to be asking or thinking this”. The comparisons are a chapter in themselves and epic.
In sunny, warm, and sweaty days, there’s the phenomenon of rains, copious showers, and thunderstorms, every late afternoon. It is a sight to behold to have the dark clouds gather every afternoon and belt down blessing the city and create traffic jams that got people groaning; but that got me to think of my life in Abu Dhabi where rains were a magical phenomenon and I quickly got back to enjoying the rains with hot tehs and kopis!
Safety was always a concern though – children and women are affected on a regular basis; but the scary part is actually the fairly rampant snatch theft of belongings on busy roads, at traffic junctions; and even scarier is the tendency of some drugged individual stabbing a person to rob them or just stab them out of anger. Decapitations and violent crime is a problem that ails the city and the authorities were working overtime to fix this serious matter.
When You Leave a Beautiful Place, You Carry it With You
In a city of such charms and beauty – and in some ways similar to tendencies in some European countries — the locals are astonishingly relaxed and confident the government will take care of them irrespective of conditions. This is another facet the authorities were striving to change as a cultural mindset within their people.
Kuala Lumpur is not a city you’d live in to make oodles of money and have a frenetic career. It’s where you’d want to settle down to enjoy what the Earth has given us and of the beauty of working to live.
I hope you enjoy it too lah!
Photos from the Internet, sourced by the author
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