This is a photograph-free post. I’m getting quite tired of visuals.
Especially when they are connected to commercial ventures.
Either way, this is wordy. I’m sure you’re alright with that.
It’s been a strange couple of days.
Today, Henley (the black Merc) stalled. The petrol gauge said I had a little less than half a tank left.
Actuality : running on empty. My luck : I stalled near a bus stop. The car is insured.
Experience : getting towed by a very cool truck.
Scary bit : having to inch my way off it (the big truck – and there was traffic and asphalt) once I’d manoevered hefty Henley on it.
Relief : Henley starting after putting petrol in there. No need for workshops and more metaphorical grease on my hands.
PJ State and Old Town
I had harvested two torch ginger buds yesterday morning. After my morning shake, I picked up a friend. Well, by friend I mean Jeya, a middle-aged lady who treats me like her daughter – met her while having breakfast, and well, I chat to elderly people. They’re much nicer than young people, don’t you know? Jeya is the sort of lady one has tea with, during which one asks after her plants. She happily received the torch ginger buds, saying, “I don’t use these, but my friend does, she makes lots of soups.”
I thought to myself, Jeya must know PJ State and Old Town better than I, sheltered girl. You see, I had three gritty errands to run. I refused internally to go to the shopping malls. I wanted to partake in the fix-it-all nature of the older parts of PJ. I needed to get my shoes stitched up, my leather bag’s zip fixed (Old Town) and I needed to check out a printing shop that would actually do an old school good job and not burn a hole in my pocket (PJ State).
Jeya and I ventured into a part of PJ I had blissfully steered clear of. Old shops. Old businesses. Old everything. The cobbler in front of the post office, chain smoker, peeling lips, said he’d hand stitch my slingbacks. The bag, he said, best you go to the bag-lady at the back. Through an alleyway. A sundry shop where I used my half-past six Tamil to ask for 555 books (a post in itself, really). I discussed the merits of the old design v new design with the old uncle:
“Dulu punya tada tebal. Boleh masuk poket, senang mau bawak. Ini baru punya design manyak keras, tada syok la.”
The bag lady, peeling fingers, hoarse voice, tiny body said : “Ah, this one I charge you 25.”
At which point I withered, wrung my hands, and mumbled something suitably worried-sounding. She said 20. She said she’d replace the zip head, but that wouldn’t work, she’d just stitch it up nice and neat. She said 18. I paid 10. I’d pay the other 8 when I came back for bag. Which is battered and worn but that’s just the way you roll when you have a bag like that. Jeya said, “I come this side every week also to go market. I can pick up for you, sayang.”
I nodded amiably as we ambled back to the car, past this old Mandarin book store. What else could I do but admire the handmade little bookshelves outside, and the leather wrapped compartments. While writing this now, I wonder if I could find me a proper carpenter who would make me a little shelf for my books. “Will it smell of lacquer? And will I see the grooves in the wood? Will it pretend to be old for me?”
On the way back to the car (and the cobbler), Jaya and I had tea and rojak. Not the best that I’d ever had, but I heard a story about a girl who stole a lot of Jaya’s money because she was a good Christian and took her in. I didn’t really understand every bit of it, because Jaya lapses into Tamil beyond my understanding sometimes. But the spirit in which it was told allowed me to sort of scold Jaya for not worrying about herself first.
My slingbacks are firmly stitched now. It looks like ants took over my shoes and decided to fortify them with their own brand of dark magic. I feel very much upgraded. And as though I have the secret of ants on my side. Their hard work creeps up my legs and informs my gait and I feel industrious. Cobblers, real cobblers, are important.
Back to yesterday – After making 3 different rotations around this and that corner of State, I finally pass by the printers (recommended to me by Captain Pete). By some miracle, there is a space for me to wedge Henley into, right in front of a parking meter, but not a proper space. 10 minutes can’t harm me, can it? Not when there is nowhere to put Henley.
Jeya and I walk up to the printing shop, where Cheryl looks plenty busy. But I mention Captain Pete, and all is well. An email address later, I’m traipsing off to illegally-parked Henley.
So I’ve been to pasar malams before. Mostly a long time ago, but once or twice in Taman Megah. But on Tuesday night, in Taman Melawati, there was so much more. There were vegetables and fish and meat and dried stuff, and fried stuff, and fruit and ohmyword it was so lush.
I’ve been missing out. As much as I love PJ, I think Tuesday nights at Taman Melawati are a thing I’d go there for.
I suppose this is a big deal because since last Thursday at the Swedish Food event of glory, I’ve ventured outside my triangle of Section 17 – Bandar Utama – Damansara Jaya.
Yeay me. And yeay Henley, who has been on E230-style adventures with me. Bless.
I’m glad I told you all this. Why is it easier to go back to England/Wales and walk everywhere all by myself than go to new places in the Klang Valley? Nearest police station. Parking. Triple checking for suspect looking motorcycles. Snatch theft. Windows being smashed in. Being stared at by the staff of each mamak/Indian makan shop you pass.
We are so small and insignificant in the grander scheme of things.
Guess we’ll all just have to be brave, women of Klang Valley.
Go get ’em, harimaus.
- Malaysia Cops launch major crackdown (tmediapro.wordpress.com)