Lessons from the cubicle...


Written on 12/10/2005 04:11:00 pm by sikapitan

The Malaysian public toilets are not only famed for its repugnant stench and visual aids on what constitutes shit and puke but also for its art. Art you say? Yes, art. No public toilet worthy of the term “public toilet” can escape from Malaysia’s very own Andy Warhols and Picassos. These artistic expressions come in the form of neatly CARVED engraving or, for those on “art-lite” mode, permanent marker pens.

Interestingly, I realized that these “artists” seems to attack only public toilets which offer the most-necessary “water-pipe” service. I might have missed a few cubicles here and there, but generally the toilets in Megamall and KLCC seemed to have escaped the wrath of these “artists”. Both these malls do not offer “water-pipes”. Instead, we have to put up with the very-cumbersome and messy bidet experience. It’s so non-Malaysian (or rather non-Malay) that I think most people when presented with these sorts of toilet prefer to just keep the horses in the stable, if you catch my drift.

Could this be the reason why they’re relatively free from graffiti?

In my humble experience pissing and taking craps at public toilets, I’ve seen all sorts of messages left for all to see. Most common is the “If you want sex, call…” followed by the phone number of their ex-gf, ex-bf, ex-friend, enemy, or maybe sometimes, their own number. Heck, I seriously think only fools would take the bait and give any of thought to calling the numbers. But since we’ve got fools who put them up in the first place, I won’t be surprised if the offer for free sex is taken up.

Next is the “Mamat was here…” message, perhaps the most innocent of all. Mankind is preoccupied with stamping their territory, and “x was here” or sometimes “x wuz ere” is another form of planting a flag on a piece of land that you’ve visited. Just like Neil Armstrong planting the American flag on the moon. Maybe there’s a “Neil was here…” somewhere on the moon, who knows?

Last but not least is the political message, usually short and succinct, punctuated by plenty of exclamation marks. “UMNO SUX…”, “Dr. M kroni rasuah…”, “Hidup Anuar….” – at least these used to be quite popular. But in the days of Pak Lah, there’s less political dissatisfaction amongst the “artists”. Usually the political nature of the message will lead to the most serious form of “art” – racists’ remarks.

I took this photo at a cubicle in One Utama. It might touch on a few raw nerves, and most people will dismiss it simply as idiots calling each other idiots. But I always view such unique ‘non-mainstream’ expression of individuality as an indication of a deeper, underlying social problem. You just have to hang out with a bunch of kampung kids to see where this whole thing is headed. Heck, even amongst my friends, who have been fortunate enough to experience the whole Sekolah Kebangsaan spirit of multi-racialism will somehow carry with them a certain tendency to regard others by the color of their skin.

Which is weird really, because there has never been a time when Malay, Chinese and Indian youths share so much in common. We all listen to the same music from the West, shop at practically the same stores, like the same football team, go clubbing at Zouk…and most importantly we are as detached from our real culture (example, how many Malays here still wear the baju Melayu other than during Hari Raya?) that assimilation seems the most likely conclusion. Yet, this is not so.

Maybe it’s because of these unrealized similarities we subconsciously want to stay attached to our identity as a Malay, Chinese or Indian. Our folks (just look at the friends who came by my grandma’s house in Penang during Hari Raya – Chinese and Indians in a true spirit of Muhibbah) learned to celebrate the differences in culture. They understood and see the different colors on the social fabric. “The belief that the character and abilities of individuals are correlated with their race is not necessarily racism, since this can be asserted without implying an inequality in value…”quoted from Wikipedia. I guess this is true for the previous generation. They recognized the dissimilarities, which made it easier to see the similarities. Confusing eih?

Anyway, back to toilets. Did you guys know that in a recent Durex Sex Survey, public toilets have been named as the most preferred sexual location for Malaysians??? Ironic isn’t it when public toilet is also the first thing that cropped up most of my friends’ mind when asked, “What’s the dirtiest place you’ve ever been to?”…I guess it’s true what they say, sex is best when it’s dirty. I just didn’t realize that Malaysians take it oh-so-literally…

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