Anak Mami..huhuhuhu


Written on 11/09/2004 02:34:00 am by sikapitan

It’s Tuesday morning, and tomorrow I’ll be on my way back to Penang for the Raya celebration. I’ve never been much of a traveler, preferring the sanctity of the Kuala Lumpur and all its endless superficial attractions like shopping malls and interconnecting highways. I used to enjoy going back to my hometown, but as I get older, I felt that I’ve outgrown the place. Perhaps it is part of the generation cycle that we all go through. The migration to Kuala Lumpur in the late 70’s and early 80’s by our parents led to a whole generation of “Balik Kampung” people. That’s why Kuala Lumpur is so empty during the holidays. We are actually 2nd generation migrants to KL, in that we are born here but we are inextricably linked to where our grandparents reside. Slowly, our grandparents pass away, and our family members drift apart, starting their own cycle. I’ve friends who are already in this stage, where their family celebrates their Raya here and THEIR parents would be replacing the role of grandparents. We will see this trend continue in the next decade, where more and more people would not be “Balik Kampung”.

It is a pity really because although I do feel apprehensive every time I have to go back, once I’m there, it isn’t so bad. In fact, there have been years when I truly felt sad coming back here to Kuala Lumpur. I fear the day when no one goes back for Hari Raya, perhaps sending out greetings and asking for forgiveness online (don’t freak me out). It is something that every kid must go through, the Balik Kampung routine. It helps build character. There’s nothing more challenging than staying entertain during a four hour journey, and that’s with a smooth running highway. I still remember the days before PLUS, and it took hours to get to Penang. But even though we only rode a simple Proton Saga, I find the sights truly amazing, creatively filling up the surroundings with imaginary soldiers and tanks, entertaining myself with play-acting as policeman/fireman/soldier/pilot/Robocop/Suria Perkasa Hitam. Now, my little brother, with his color Gameboy and plush seats can’t go half-an-hour without complaining being bored. We used to take our time, dropping by on relatives along the way in Ipoh, or stopping for “Kuih Pau” at Slim River. Now, we only stop to pee and complain that the journey’s too long. How times have change.

When you reach there, even the air smells differently (well, it could be the seawater:P). Even though Penang is an urban city, it is NOTHING like KL. Yes, you have the jams, but the people inside the cars around you look different. There are not many pretentious young posers in their nippy little sports car or Datin’s in their CLK’s thinking they look like Joan Collins when in fact they have a body like Collin Powell. There’s plenty of posh cars, make no mistake, but it doesn’t have that air KLites bring about them. The famous dining establishments there do not require you to wear shirts or ties. In fact, the servers are more usually seen in dothis and singlets. But somehow, you don’t really mind even though back here if you see the Chef not wearing a cap you immediately think that it is a dirty establishment. We let our guards down; we no longer have to care. I can walk around in whatever shirt I want, oversized or not, branded or not, and people wouldn’t care. In fact, the single most pleasurable thing about going back to Penang is the utter lack of care for others, in a non-bad way of course. You think “I wouldn’t see this person ever again so who cares if I sneeze”.

And what’s Balik Kampung without the relatives? They cause me endless confusion. I like to categorize. For example, I don’t like wannabe gangsters. It’s easy. I can generalize. But with relatives, they’re cannot file them under any description. I absolutely dread meeting them, but I really enjoy conversing with them, exchanging banter with the sophisticated ones, teasing the simpler ones. I don’t like to go out with them, for they’re really really ‘Kecoh’ as a group, but they provide me with endless humorous anecdotes. But what I like most about them is the fact that they’ll always be there. You might not like them, you can hate them, and not talk to them for years, but they’ll always be connected to you. Friends come and go, and as the years go by I’ll promise you you’ll have lesser time to hang out with your mates and as they get their own little family you’ll eventually drift apart. But family will be there. When you’re down with cancer, family will be there. When you don’t have money, your cousin will lend you some. At least in my family they would.

I do leave Penang usually heavy-hearted, but as I get pass that final toll plaza, all thoughts about Nasi Kandar, duit raya, weird relatives, funny moments, ‘semayang raya’ all goes out of the window. There’s something je ne sais quoi about KL that makes me really happy to be staying here. While my father keeps on dreaming of a quite house with orchards in some far-away land, I’m quite comfortable in this concrete jungle. The only gripe I have is jams, but then that’s a story for another day, no?

This is my last entry till after Raya. Hope you enjoy your holidays. Selamat Hari Raya dan Maaf Zahir Batin. Yea yea, I’ve forgiven all of you. Just kidding.

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