The Adventures of Captain Karat

Someday I'm going to be a rapper.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Too Sensor-tive

It is important, as a guy, to take stock of where the hottest girls in your immediate vicinity are at all times. It is a basic function of the male radar. As I was in the process of buying halal and non-halal lunch for the homeys at the production house I'm currently working at, I spied a rather fetching Damansara Heights broad-shouldered slightly tanned honey sitting near the char kway teow stall, having a rather loud conversation about fetching her little brother from school and NOT being happy about it. Her boyfriend munched away on his fruit rojak demurely, listening to the diatribe. She was fun to look at, not listen to. I had the privilege to walk by her twice. She did not have a tattoo. Oh well.

On my way out, the carpark widened out near the autopay machine so El Stormo Guapo sidled up next to another SUV, leaving the road clear for people to exit. I am a conscientious driver... but just as I was about to come to a stop, a car honked at me.

Whoops.

I was blocking someone who was trying to reverse out. It was the hottie from the char kway teow stall. Helloooooo thereeeeee, actually more like No Problem M'aam. Within 2 seconds, I was in reverse and started to back up again as to let my obstructed honker out into the world.

HONKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK

I slammed on my brakes and checked my mirrors. Nothing on the left, on the right, nothing behind me. Just the obstructed car. So I started moving again.

HONKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK

What the bumbaclat was going on? I looked over to my impatient captive. With her hand poised on her steering wheel, she was definitely horny, and not shy about it. At that point, her boyfriend walked passed and started to get into her passenger seat. He had a look of death on his face, like as if I had just run over his fruit rojak and stole his earplugs that carried him all through lunch. He was checking out the bums of our cars, looking out for traded paint... alas, there was none. I took the opportunity to put my window down.

ME: Hi, is there a problem?

HER: WHY ARE YOU DRIVING SO CLOSE TO MY CAR????

ME: What?

HER: WHY ARE YOU DRIVING SO CLOSE TO MY CAR????

ME: Did I hit it???

HER: NO! BUT MY SENSORS ARE GOING OFF?



ME: That's because you are in reverse gear... and I didn't hit your car because I know what I am doing. I am more than a foot away from your car. Thank you.

HER: IS THAT TRUE REGGIE? IS HE MORE THAN A FOOT AWAY?

***SCENE****

Oh Reggie. I bet you didn't tell the truth. She was hot enough to lie for...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hey Bicycle, The Key To The Room In Your Heart Doesn't Work

I've been in Singapore two weeks now. Rehearsals has kicked up a gear and we are zooming towards performance. I'm being surprisingly disciplined with regards to the show; I'm yet to kick up any kind of tantrum, all my requests have been fair, and I'm being remarkably gracious towards my co-actors. By this I mean I'm not behaving like the closet diva that I can be when I'm acting. I guess I'm growing up, eh? Fuck it took me long enough. Blimey.

I need to tell you this story...

A large part of my decision to take up the offer to shelve my life as I know it for 2 months, take a 75% pay cut, relocate to Singapore and act in a student play was that I needed to shake up my life. My moorings were becoming super strong, my creativity was rusty, and I'm just not getting along with KL at the moment. It's not the city, it's entirely me, but the poor baby gets blamed for everything, including my lack of exercise, forward thinking, and just every negative thought I have in my body. I don't mean it KL, I don't. I'm sorry.

As I was planning my trip, I realised that with Singapore's (relative) adherence to traffic laws,a bicycle would be a great way to commute to the National University of SIngapore (NUS) in Clementi. SO a month before I left, I was in the market for a bicycle. I looked around various shops in the Klang Valley. Did I want a road bike [SUPLEX!]? Maybe a mountain bike [FROM THE TOP ROPE!]? Should I just fix Harein's mountain bike and be done with it [OOH CLOTHESLINE INTO DROPKICK!]? I wrestled with these thoughts for a while, then someone tweeted a link to "The Right Bike Store" in Batu Pahat which led to a series of e-mails with the owner about how to go about buying a bike from them etc. Really uncomplicated stuff, but again, I'm a wrestler. Finally, the legendary Farouk came to the rescue when he said I could borrow either one of his two bicycles for my entire trip, free of charge. LIFESAVER!

Great, so now I had a bicycle, but could also kiss my plan of taking the bus down to Singapore that weekend out of the window. We'd have to drive down, and because of the nature of the goods involved, we'd have to take my truck in all its rumbling, trundling, hard suspension glory. It doesn't go very fast, but it can hold a bicycle no problem. I slow-talked (emotionally blackmailed) Herukh into helping me drive down. The conversation roughly went like this:

****************************

H: I just drove down 2 weeks ago for Toshak.

K: Yeah, I know. So you'll drive down for one brother but you won't drive down for the other? Come on dude... AND I'm your older brother too.

H: Yeah but then I'm going to have to drive straight back the next day, and then 4 days later I have to drive down again when Sneh comes to town. Don't make me do it man.

K: Hey man, I really need your help. I need to take this bicycle with me. It's going to help me get so hot riding to rehearsal and back. Besides, I'm so bloody broke man.

H: Eh, don't lah.

K: Fine, I didn't think you'd help me anyway.

H: Ok fine I'll do it. You know I'll do it.

**************

We also completely forgot that it was the last Sunday of the Chinese New Year break and the highway was super-jammed. We were in bumper to bumper traffic from Melaka all the way down to Singapore. Took us almost 8 hours of driving before we reached Toshak's place in Little India. Then I had to lug the bike up to the 3rd floor, where I then remembered that one of the more important bike rules is having a bicycle lock. So we had to move the beds around and stored it in Toshak's room which is only slightly bigger than our bathroom back home (there is no need to play devil's advocate, so just accept that my bathroom isn't very big). Herukh the Valiant slept on the couch outside and the next day drove his lonesome back to KL. Toshak helped buy me a bicycle lock. The tires were flat. Great.

Anyway, the bike then went into suspended hibernation for the next 2 weeks because Toshak's place was only a temporary crash pad. I was waiting for Justin Chibai to sort out his apartment coz I was going to move in with him for the next 2 months. Besides, riding from Little India to Clementi is a little, er, far for a fat guy.

The next 2 weeks were pretty uneventful. I mean, they were plenty eventful. Herukh, Sneh, and Nikhil came down to party in Singapore with Toshak, Justin, and myself. They completely pagal-ed our lives. Way too much alcohol. My director had to pull my aside and tell me that I needed to get my shit together. I told him give me a couple of more days, my brother would go back to KL and then I'd be turning into an ascetic. Such prophetic words too, because Herukh and the gang went back to KL with a piece of my liver and things quietened down, also, I was now (and still am) officially broke. Certain entities in Malaysia and in Singapore seem to be unable to fulfill payment terms, and these delays are causing me much heartache, wallet-ache, and soon stomach ache because I've got cash for the next 3 days, and then I hope Justin's gonna feed me as well as house me... but as I was saying, the next 2 weeks were pretty uneventful.

Then Justin calls...

************
J: Eh cock!

K: What you want?

J: The apartment is ready, i'm staying there tonight. Move in tonight lah.

K: Ok cool. I need to make spare keys.

J: No need, I got two sets of keys... besides, it's some bullshit high tech key lah. I don't think can make duplicate. Just come lah. No need to make copies. You hold on to the second one.

K: Ok, I'll see you tonight, by the time I get there after rehearsal it'll be about midnight.

J: No problem, I'm a damn relaks guy lah.
**************

So after rehearsal, I take the double bus action back to Little India, pack all my shit, and I'm forced to take a midnight surcharge taxi to Justin's place. Ouch. When you are low on cash, all these little things hurt like hell. Now the real comedy begins. Justin starts showing me around his beautiful cute little 1BR swanky shag-pad in Holland Village (the Bangsar Baru of Singapore... complete with drunk 15 year old Mat Salleh/ International school brats). I ask him about the keys, and he laughs. He holds up a small round shaped plastic disc. He presses the button in the middle of this disc and the door beeps twice, and suddenly the knob catches the locking mechanism and you can twist the lock open, or closed. There is a smaller key on the keyring. He doesn't know what its for. It's not a manual override for the main door, because it doesn't have a keyhole at all. I'm studying the dynamics of the keys. We find out later that the disc is called a transponder. I don't like it. I don't like it one bit.

*********************
K: So how do you know it's out of battery?

J: I don't know

K: So what happens when it runs out of battery?

J: I don't know

K: Then how?

J: Chibai how I know?

K: This is your apartment you cock.I don't like this. I don't like this one bit. I'm an old fashioned guy. I like keys, you know?

J: There's no keyhole oso.

K: I know. I can see

I press the button on my transponder

K: Mine is not working

J: Let me try

K: Wah, you try it'll suddenly work lah. It's not fucking working.

J: It's not working.

K: Yeah I know it's not working. I think its the battery. Ok, nevermind, tomorrow after you leave I'll go and change the battery.

J: But how? If I leave, I lock the door behind me, and then you can't come out. If I leave it unlocked, you can't lock it later when you leave to buy the battery.

That's right, ladies and gents, you need the transponder to both lock and unlock the door. If the door doesn't beep, the knob just turns and turns and turns. The transponder engages the locking mechanism.


J: Actually, there is a spare battery in the owner's kit.

******************

So we go over to the owner's kit and fish out the spare battery. Things are looking up already. Then we start studying the transponders as to how to open them up, like chimpanzees using a computer. We finally get it open and change out the battery. It still doesn't work. Unsatisfied, we are curious as to whether its the battery that is weak or the transponder that is wrecked, so we open up the working on and switch out the battery as well. That's odd, the spare one still doesn't work. Now we are confused as to which battery was the flat one and which was the good one, and which transponder is the bum one, and which is the gateway to our happiness. What's not odd, what is entirely tragic, and extremely hilarious, is that now, neither transponder is working. No combination of transponder and battery is giving us the sweet sound of the double beeps of freedom. By now, it is about 1.30am... and we are locked in. In an apartment with no drinking water, no food, no gas, no tv, no dvd player, no internet, no nothing. Justin's got work at 7am. I've got rehearsal at 7pm. I'm not fussed, in fact I'm laughing. I think I jinxed him the same way I jinxed Zahir many years back on New Year's Eve when I said something along the lines of "It would be funny if the car broke down right now" and then it did and we had to walk from Ampang to Atmosphere, missed countdown, and got to the club sweating like a bad case of hyperhidrosis.

Justin isn't freaking out, but suddenly he's got an English accent and he's trying very hard to figure out how to get ourselves out of this lil' pickle...

*******************
J: Eh cock, check the user manual lah if there's anything on how to solve this problem.

K: There is a fucking user manual?

J: Yeah it's in there, I haven't read it.

K: Why are we messing around with the transponders to your front door before reading the user manual?

J: Can you just read it?


K: Ok, #1: The double-beep is the normal operating sound. It says if you hear any other kind of beep, then you should CONTACT MAINTENANCE IMMEDIATELY...

J: Ok next

K: #2: If the transponder is low on battery, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO REPLACE THE BATTERY ON YOUR OWN. CONTACT SERVICE CENTRE IMMEDIATELY...

We look at each other, smiling, because somehow, we know what's coming

K: #3:
DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES OPEN THE TRANSPONDER ON YOUR OWN. CONTACT SERVICE CENTRE IMMEDIATELY... Damn man, I wish we read the manual first before we tried to replace the battery.

J: Cock lah. Check if there's any numbers we can call.

K: Hey, there's a number for a 24 hour hotline..

Justin dials.

J: They are not available. They said they open at 7.

K: How is that 24 hours?

J: Fucked up lah. I hate this door.

*******************
Justin then spent the next 30 minutes sitting in front of the door, repeatedly trying out the transponders, diligently replacing the batteries over and over again, rubbing them, trying all kinds of kung fu on it. I just lay down and instagrammed him.

Locked In.

*******************
K: What if there was a fire right now? This apartment only has one exit.

J: Die lah, what else. All because we opened the transponders.

K: It was your idea.

J: You jinxed it.

K: Your cock lah.

J: I'm going to bed. I've left a bunch of messages (in his English accent) and I've spoken to the agent as well. We can only sort it out in the morning.
*******************

So we went to bed. Lucky there wasn't a fire. The next morning, Justin is up early and dressed. He's on the phone, English accent and all, from the moment he's away. Juggling calls between the technician from the door company, the agent, his bosses, his colleagues. It's all very amusing and very English. Finally the technician calls back and says he'll be at the house in 20 minutes. 20 minutes later we call him and he's still at the landline number that he called from, and says again that he'll be over in 20 minutes. 20 minutes later he calls from the road and says that he's stuck in traffic and he'll be there in 20 minutes. Justin is pacing back and forth in the apartment. I'm still laying down and instagramming the whole process. Documentation is important.

The technician arrives and Justin's forced to deal with him by shouting through the door and looking through they keyhole.

Still Locked In.

He asks for the transponders. Justin directs him to the side of the building so he can throw down the discs via the balcony. It's all one giant comedy right now. The technician has such a think Filipino accent that when he's shouting through the door, we can't understand what he's saying... but we did catch this part:

*******************
T: Hmmm... Did you open the transponders?

J: No, no we didn't. Not at all.

T: Well, someone opened these transponders.

J: I don't know man, one minute it was working, and then after that it wasn't.

T: Ok, but in the future, just make sure that no one opens the transponders. What's your override password?

J: What's that?

T: The master password to reset the system.

J: I don't know man, I just moved in yesterday.

T: If you don't know the master password, the only option is to call a locksmith. He'll have to drill through the lock and then we've gotta change the whole system then.

J: How much is that going to cost?

T: $625

J: Fuck that. Hold on a second.
*******************

Justin calls his real-estate agent. The conversation is surprisngly polite. Turns out the agent has to call the landlord in Canada to sort it out, but he manages to sort it out nonetheless. We've got the master password. We don't have to pay $625. Within seconds the door opens, and in comes Erwin. He's a blazing ball of Filipino energy. He's shocked that no one walked Justin through the intricacies of his company's intricate security system. We thank him, and he goes on his way. A great first night and beginning to our short time rooming together, and his tenancy in his new swanky shag-pad.
Freedom at last, Justin heads off to work, and I start my day.

Freedom!

Toshak was super gracious the entire time I was on his floor, but I was living out of a suitcase and there just wasn't enough space in his tiny HDB flat considering his bizarre middle-aged roommate had countered Toshak's houseguest with two of his own. Unlike me, they took up a massive amount of space in the flat. In the living room all the time, dirtying up the kitchen, everything. They were messy and irritating. I was happy to move out. Besides, this was always the plan. This is home for the next 6 weeks. I've since made a trip to Ikea and i have a cute little clothes rail with all my stuff hung out, and organized neatly. A Sri Lankan sarong, a gift from Ivy Josiah, covers my clothes, removing my boxers from public view. Which is pretty redundant coz I just hang out in my boxers the whole day anyway.

A rocky start, but now I can get my grand plans for Singapore in motion. First order of business? Get that bike from Toshak's place in Little India. First I grab a bus to Orchard and stop by the $2 shop and pick up a dustbin, a whole gaggle of hangers, and various other bits and bobs. I throw them into my duffel bag, sling it across my back and it sits comfortably and will do nicely for the adventure that lays ahead: Riding the bicycle from Little India over to Holland Village. I decide to walk from Plaza Singapura to Toshak's place because I want the warm-up. It is hot and I'm sweating like... I used hyperhidrosis earlier, but take my word that its a sweaty day. Humid. Sticky. Yummy.

When I get to Toshak's place, I realise the bike's tires are completely flat. I sigh, but its ok. I check gothere.sg (A BRILLIANT APP for navigating singapore by the way) and the nearest petrol station is 3km away on Bukit Timah road. Fine. No problem. The lock comes off, the bag slings onto my bag, I give Toshak a hug (and $50 because he's broke... but I'm broke too... oh well. He was awesome), lug the bike into the lift, and then onto the road and start walking it towards the petrol stations. Two strange things happen almost immediately. First, my relatively brand new SkullCandy headphones start to break-up and get all static-y. Something is severely wrong with them, and the wire has to be contorted into all kinds of funny shapes to keep the audio running. Secondly, the chain drops off the gear. Thank God I've worked with enough bicycles on shoot to know how to thread it onto the gear again and away we go. Still not riding it though, just pushing. I look down at the bike and I think about how it's done nothing for me in the last 3 weeks except make me carry it, push it, and transport it everywhere.

After a pricey 100plus at the petrol station to rehydrate, I fill up the air in the wheels, give it a test run, a few hops here and there. As I'm filling up and testing, a car pulls up and a very snooty looking aunty walks up to me and thrusts a letter into my hand. "SINGAPORE" she says and then gets back into her car. I am confused beyond confusion. The postage is unstamped. I turn around and behind me there is a mailbox. I guess she wants me to help her mail it. I dropped the letter into the slot. Aunty didn't even wait to see what I did with it, she was long gone by the time I put 2 and 2 together.

The bike was ready to go. Mom and Dad called right before I took off, they were taking off too, on their holiday to Langkawi sempena their anniversary. Chatted for a few minutes, they wished me on my way, and I was off.

I forgot what this feels like. The challenge of negotiating live traffic on a vehicle completely powered by yourself. Timing the bursts of pedaling, the wind through my "hair", the speed, the joy of locomotion, waiting at traffic lights, yelling at cars and their bullshit. It was great. I pushed hard for 20 minutes and before I knew it, I was at Farrer Road. Perfect. There was a bike shop up ahead and no matter how broke I was, there were a few things I needed to buy regardless. So I stopped in, picked up a front and back light, and also a mirror. I declined to buy a helmet (I know, I know) because it's not actually a LAW in Singapore and I figured I'd get one in a couple of days when I get paid (hopefully, maybe, please lah pay me already dammit). Forked out $65 in a mere 10 minutes. The dude outside checked my pressure, made some corrections, and gave me a thumbs up. The bike was ready to go. I was so fucking happy you have no idea.

I got back on my horse and rode off into the housing estate. Thanks to Google Maps now, I had already plotted a more scenic route through the backroads that would bring me right to our apartment complex. It would have been much faster to get back on the main roads, but I wanted the extra time on the bike, and negotiating the uphills and curvy windy roads would be fun, great for the fitness, and I needed as much practice as I could. I was so rusty. Zoooooooom. So. Fucking. Fun.

As I committed to the scenic route, I looked up and watched the storm clouds swirl overhead as I've seen happen on shoots after we tell the bomoh it's a wrap. I predicted rain within 15 minutes. I was about 6 to 10 minutes away from the apartment. I switched up through the gears and found the uphill selection, the bike seemed reluctant to commit to an incline-friendly ratio. Then I heard the familiar chin-chin-chin-CHING as the gear's teeth finally bit and then a most sickening sound.

It was the sound of metal shredding, not dissimilar to the sound of a car accident. The shearing of atoms that really wanted to stay together, but something has decided NO and will not accept anything else. The kind of sound where you know the dream is over. Like a hamstring popping on the final stretch of a marathon. The whole bike started to shudder, something was caught in the wheel. There was no resistance in the pedals. I heard the chain scraping the air. Without even looking down, I knew what had happened. The entire gear system had been ripped off the chassis of the bike and was now dangling, caught between the rear spokes. I was well committed into the scenic route by now, and not only was it scenic, it was long... and uphill... and apart from the last 30 minutes of riding, I was now pushing the bicycle. Again. Someone really needs to send that bike a memo. Talk about unclear on the concept, eh bicycle???

video

Then, the sound of thunder. The wet of rain. Great. As I pushed my way back to Justin's place, I called Farouk and explained the situation to him. He laughed in sympathy, but also mostly in thanks because now he had the perfect excuse to buy a new bike. *sigh*

As I squished forward in my wet shoes, the rain turned out to be a cooling relief from the heat of the day as well as all the anger boiling up in me as my recollection of the events leading up to this point cycled very pointedly through my head. The agonizing search for the bicycle, borrowing it from Farouk, emotionally blackmailing my brother, giving up my RM90 Odyssey bus ticket, the 8 hour drive to Singapore, the money that I didn't have that I spent on the lock and the reflective strips and the mirrors and the front light and the back light (those last purchases not more than 10 minutes before the accident), the guilt from not buying a helmet, the 5km from Orchard to Little India to Bukit Timah in mid-day sun, and now, stuck again pushing the bicycle uphill through the rain. It was so tragic I just started laughing to myself.

As I pushed on through, I realised that I was walking through a really upscale neighbourhood. There were some amazing houses. Some were ugly and made me laugh at them. The poor rich people with their money and ugly houses.

What My House Will Never Look Like

HA HA HA HA HA I laughed from the safe rain-filled confines of my broken bike and my iPhone 3gs (which by the way, almost impossible to buy accessories for it in Singapore because everyone here is OH so iPhone 4 where have you BEEN all of last seasonnnnn?). Then there were houses that made me if not want to work harder, then at least marry rich.

What My Car May One Day Lo... Nope. Never.

One small saving grace was that I could still use the bike to coast downhill, so every opportunity I got, I was on it, and glided through the wet. Silently. Without pedalling. Now the bike is sitting in the carpark downstairs. I'm not sure it's going to see the light of day again. Justin doesn't want it, I think, I'll ask him tomorrow. It's going to be way too expensive to fix. Ripping gears off the chassis? Maybe in Malaysia I'd have a fighting chance. In Singapore where a frikkin' Hazelnut Magnum costs $4? Until I get paid, everything is on hold (pay me lah please lah please lah). It's funny though, the bike was as much a cost saving exercise as anything, but with all the money I spent on gear and getting it down to Singapore in the first place, it's still exponentially cheaper to use the bus to get to rehearsal every day. All I need to do is top-up my bus pass every so often and not forget my umbrella. I already carry a spare pair of headphones, so I'm sorted there.

Here is a self-portrait of the artist as a dumbfuck, stuck in the rain, with a broken bike.

Portrait of the Artist as a Dumbfuck stuck in the rain with a broken bike

I guess it wasn't mean't to be, eh?



Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Time/Travelling


The last time I was on stage, as an actor, was in Dramalab's 2004 offering of Haresh Sharma's "Otak Tak Centre". Actually, Haresh's play is called "Off Centre" but we had made certain adaptations to the original literature and wanted to rebrand it for a more nusanta-ric gravitas. Anyone can call someone off centre, but it takes some real local knowledge to tell them WOI LU OTAK TAK CENTRE LAH NYAMAH

So it has been 7 years since I walked away from the Malaysian arts scene and reinvented myself as a filmmaker. By filmmaker I mean I work as a 1st AD shooting TV commercials (which means by filmmaker I mean that sell cigarettes to your children). I've also directed a short film, a mockumentary, and a few commercials of my own. I've worked with Oscar winners, BAFTA winners, and more sociopathic losers than I care to remember. I've slept with my models, sucked up to directors, driven very expensive cars, and had more helicopters in my life than I could ever have imagined. They also pay me very nicely. I don't wear a tie to work, I still don't even know how to tie one really. I mostly wear slippers and shorts. I get to use knives. Awesome.

I joined production for three reasons, two of them were the absolute wrong ones.

#1. I was in a pretty serious relationship at the time and my girlfriend kept breaking up with me for very arbitrary (to me) reasons. One of them was GET A REAL JOB (hey acting is a job ok). Production flitted past my consciousness. She eventually flitted out of my life.

#2. I distinctly recalled someone telling me how much directors get paid. Some of them upwards of RM20,000 per shoot day.

#3. I wanted to explore filmmaking and figured that advertising production would be a nice mix of business and art, a 50-50 split of creativity and being able to make my car payments. In retrospect, this is completely untrue. The ratio is more like 99% business, 1% art.

So yeah, you figure out which ones were the wrong reasons. Luckily, the stars were aligned and it has proven to be a career, rather than a pothole or detour on the path to job satisfaction. That being said, when you sell enough cigarettes to children, or fast food to fat people, or skin whitening products to dark Indian girls, the karma is going to build up like plaque on a homeless guys teeth. After 7 years of it, I know how to do my job and I'm proud to say I'm good at it, but I'm tired of being subjected to the inane arguments, the complete lack of logic, the abuses of power, and in some cases, the complete inhumanity of the advertising production, and the larger advertising industry. To call it completely inhumane is not hyperbole either, which is scary. In order to maintain a positive relationship with my skill set, I'm trying to branch out away from TVCs and do other stuff. Last year I shot a big Hollywood feature, this year there will be another feature hopefully... and a return to the theatre.

The nature of this project is quite interesting because in actual fact, it's a student play. So all my co-actors are around 21 years old, in this the year that I hit 30. Thus I am the OLD GUY in the room. It's also in Singapore, so I find myself temporarily relocated to the Lion City for the next 2 months. There are many exciting things about this because I think Singapore is a pretty vibrant place, even if the people who live here AND the people who spend all their time judging it never get a chance to experience it for what it is. Pre-Conceived Notions WIN. House hunting, or rather, room researching in Singapore has proven to be rather difficult because a majority of the classifieds that are going up all say pretty much the same thing:

"ALL RACES OK EXCEPT INDIAN"

which sucks because I am, jeng jeng jeng, Indian. I mean, I'm Malaysian, first and foremost. It's how I argue with these racist real estate agents, home owners, and anyone else who will listen. I'm not Indian. I'm Malaysian... but in multicultural Singapore (and Malaysia, lets be honest) race is how we understand anything about our fellow men and women. If we can't pigeonhole you, then we have to go out on a limb and actually invest trust and good faith in someone. Renting your room out to a smelly, drunk Indian who is going to cram a bunch of his smelly spice-eating friends into the broom closet wouldn't sit well with me as a landlord, considering you guys are all here illegally ANYWAY. Bastards.

Singapore is super green and I can't wait to go for some early morning runs here. I've always been a fan of the neat and tidyness, despite however many robots were killed in the process. I also like the usage of English in signage. As we drove over the Second Link there was a sign saying "BEWARE OF DROP DOWN BARRIER AND CATS CLAW" and it took me a good 45 seconds to extrapolate to the Nth degree what the hell that meant. I'm guessing cats claw is like that anti-tank stuff that pops out of the ground and rips your undercarriage out for being naughty naughty... but it always makes me wonder, how does Mr. Tong Wai Loon, bastion of the West Coast Heartlands, understand and process this kind of signage? I'm not sure he gets what a cat's claw is. I don't mean to put him down, but hey, what the hell IS it?

End of January and I've already started my travels for the year and I couldn't be happier. I could definitely be happier, but I couldn't be happier. The general plan for this year also includes London, Scotland, and lots and lots of Prague. Hopefully there will be others in there too, and the time for me to spend some time in KL before I have to disappear to Europe.

Filed under "Things That Make Me Go Hmmm" was getting on to the bus this morning. I rock up at the bus station and who but Joe Hasham, Faridah Merican, Gavin Yap are all on the same bus to Singapore. They are here to stage a play called "Someone to Watch Over Me". I found it quite apt that on my first morning, first day back to theatre, I run into a gaggle of theatre folk. Imagine how much happier I'd be if I said I was making a return to exotic dancing. Now THATS what I called a bus ride. Better topless dancers than KL theatre folk. No offense, guys.

Excuse the rambly, pointless post. It's mostly just a warmup to a hopefully more active blog for the next few months. All in all, it feels really exciting to be part of a creative process again that has nothing to do with the size of a logo or what color the chocolate milk needs to be (hint: brown). I have full faith in Huzir Sulaiman, the director, to fully kick my mental ass during rehearsals. If I focus and get this right, and by this I mean stay entirely in the moment, I think there is only a better koobz at the end of the tunnel. Normally I'd heap so much pressure on myself about OHMANKOOBZ REMEMBER TO *STAY* IN THE MOMENTTTTTT but even then, whatever this turns out to be, it will be what it has turned out to be.

My posts are a lot less fun when I'm not writing about being drunk, eh?

More details about the play to follow.... later on today or tomorrow that is.

Much Love,

K

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Worrying Trend

I've only ever been to Twilight Action Girl @ BarSonic once. Yes yes, I know. I KNOW.

LanSiBuk convinced me to tag along with him and Kim Jong Ill so I got them to pick me up and off we went to Zouk. We got there damn early lah, about 10pm. I don't think I've ever been to a club so early before. Actually I always say that when I go to clubs early. I've definitely been to clubs earlier before, but usually because of some kind of extenuating circumstance. I think its safe to say that it was the earliest I've ever been to a club without some kind of extenuating circumstance.

These two monkeys had been raving about TAG for so long, which is strange because they are actually kinda old, but they've found their 2nd wind of partying (my wind has passed baddaBING) and I'm happy for them. They were so excited to see the bartender, the bouncer, the DJ, the corner next to the speaker, and then when they were done saying hi to the rest of the furniture... it dawned on them that we were in a completely empty club at 10pm.

Bring on the mafakin'jugs of Long Island Ice Tea YO. This turns out to be the beverage de rigueur of the TAGalongs because it is lethal, cheap, and comes in a jug so you can poke a buncha straws in there, throw Hepatitis and other disease caution to the wind and drink as much of it as fast as you can so you can fuel the crazy dancing that you are about to do.

Now, as some of you may know, I'm actually a whinging whining princess and the older I'm getting I'm also getting a lot crankier. For example, when it comes to alcohol, i know EXACTLY what I want to drink. Back in the old days, I'd drink anything you served me, or if you asked me what I wanted, I'd be mixing liquors, beers, and mixers all through the night. This wanton disregard for certain well established schools of thought for long term binge drinking was never an issue till my liver started hurting one NYE a coupla years back and the sudden prevalence of face-tearing hangovers these days. So I know what I want to drink: Guinness and/or Whisky. Mixer will always either be Soda, Water, or increasingly, neat.

No thanks I don't want a sip of your vodka lime or do i plan on helping you finish your whisky coke. The thing about being picky with my alcohol has less to do with the alcohol than it has to do with the mixers. Let's say I've had 7 whisky cokes through the course of the night. My issue is less to do with having 7 whiskies (why not more, i want to know) but entirely with drinking 7 glasses of Coca-Cola. Do you know what that shit DOES to you? Fruit juices and soft drinks are so full of unnecessaryness that before you know it you can't tell your alcohol high from your sugar high and the hangover the next day is frikkin' legendary. I find that drinking Whisky+Water the whole night ensures hydration and simultaneous dehydration. It's the perfect drink really.

But the worrying trend in question is my sudden obsession with LEAVING parties or the club while I'm at the HEIGHT of my intoxication. I have yet to be able to control this, usually because it is a problem that occurs while my judgement is at its most impaired. The modus operandi is like this... I'll drink drank and before I get too drunk and start passing out in public or worse, I up and LEAVE. So far I've been good, I've managed to tell one person each time and then *POOF* I'm gone. Which leaves entire groups of people wondering where my awesomeness has absconded too, but also loved ones worrying that hey, that drunk asshole just left with his car keys. OH NO.

TAG was going full swing, we were dancing like maniacs, my white hat from David Wardrobe Stylist was a big hit and all was good. Ran into Doubl-EFF and he told me not to tell his girlfriend he was there. All the Freeform girls were there, doing their Freeform thing. If there's a clique that "rules" KL right now, it's those girls HOLLAAAA. Anyway. Dance drink dance drink then I decided "I'm leaving" and went up to LanSiBuk and told him. He was busy screaming into a speaker and I left Zouk.

CUT

Mid-Shot of Koobz walking up to Storm Rider at Frangipani, drink in hand, shouting at the top of his voice.

K: Oi Chinaman!

S: Tiu! Indian Keling!

K: Hahahaha laugh laugh catchup catchup

S: Catchup laugh Did you know your brother is next door? laugh catchup

K: Oh really? Fantastic, I need a ride home

and then I left Frangipani, crossed the street, and went over to Pinchoz. Lo and behold, Herukh and a buncha other cousins were there, drinking and having a good time. I walked up to my bros and told them that I needed a ride home but they were like "oh no man, we just got here, we are having such a damn good time, we aren't leaving soon, why don't you chill etc" but I was feeling so uncomfortable being so publicly drunk (weird right? me? uncomfortable? public drunkenness? i'm getting old) that I decided that I'll just grab and cab and be done with it.

I told my brothers I'd be back, went outside, negotiated the taxi driver down from daylight robbery to evening robbery in a dark side street (which means it was acceptable) and off I went home. Total time spent in Changkat Bukit Bintang... about 30 mins? 15 mins at Frangipani catching up with the Chinaman, and then 15 with my bros trying to get a ride home.

Not bad right? End of a good night, right? Did the right thing, took a cab, sorted myself out... RIGHT?

WRONGGGGGGGG.


*********************************************

The next dayyyyy, I wake up with a solid frikkin' hangover and I already know what's to blame. Bad mixer discipline from the night before. Then I get a phone call from StormRider and he's laughing at me. I paraphrase the conversation:

S: Do you know what you were doing last night?

K: Er, did I set my chest hair on fire again? I don't think so. I remember seeing you and then you told my bros were next door then we chatted for a while and I left.

S: No, you were so drunk you were just completely swearing at me over and over again and my friends were wondering what the hell was your problem. Then you started making fun of one of my friends and it was a girl and you were really rude to her, you were saying all kinds of nonsense to her lah. You were in Frangipani for about 45 minutes pissing everyone off.

K: oh shit! I'm sooo sorry man! I don't even remember that!

S: Yeah, you were really drunk man. You could barely stand up straight, but anyway, I explained to them that you aren't really like that and they thought you were just a drunk idiot.

K: I can live with that.

I try to shake my headache away but I realise that shaking ones head doesn't help the situation AT ALL. I wake up and go to the toilet and stop by Herukh's room when I'm done just to chat. He's in bed, but makes it a point of waking up to talk to me.

H: Do you know what you were doing last night?

K: When I came to see you? I didn't do anything what. I was there like 10 minutes.

H: 10 MINUTES!? Londu! 10 MINUTES! What damage you were doing! You were completely fucked!

K: No way man

H: First of all, you were in Pinchoz for like 45 minutes. Then Sheena (my BEAUTIFUL cousin) started talking to you and was asking you about how she could get into commercials and you told her that she was too short, and the industry was too racist and basically she doesn't have a face for TV really and she should just concentrate on being a lawyer.

K: *silence*

H: THEN, after I pulled you away from that situation, I told you that you were so drunk and misbehaving, so you responded by singing the ROCKY theme song and started running up the flight of 8 steps at the bar re-enacting the staircase scene from Rocky. You'd get to the top and then do 10 push ups, sing the song, shout "CAN A DRUNK PERSON DO THAT?" then run down and then do it all over again.

K: *silence*

H: So when you said "I want to go home by taxi" we were the most relieved and gladly let you go by your drunkself. By that point it didn't matter where you went.

K: Should I call Sheena and apologize?

H: Whatever, they all think you are some kind of weirdo from the start, so it doesn't matter. I said sorry for you last night anyway.

K: Shit

H: You were nuts. You are too funny when you get so fucked up. You have no idea what the hell you are doing.

********

Oh man. What the hell happened last night?

After my shower, I put on my jeans and started heading out the door to work when I checked my pockets to reveal:

1. A valet ticket for Lot 10
2. A receipt for a pack of cigarettes and some mints from Lot 10... time, 01.30am

WAIIIIITTTTTTAMINUTE. Then it dawned on me. I wasn't even DRIVING that night. How the hell did I get from Zouk to Frangipani (it is definitely not walking distance)? WHY in the WORLD do I have a valet ticket from Lot 10 (which is neither where Zouk OR Frangipani is... completely different place) and WHY do I have a receipt for a pack of smokes when I haven't smoked in ages?

According to Lan SiBuk i left Zouk slightly after midnight, which is correct, and according to Storm Rider I arrived in Frangipani slightly after 2.30am... What happened in those 2 hours? How did I end up at Lot 10? Who was I with? How was I getting around?

AND THATS what I'm worried about.

I go out. I get drunk. I leave without telling people. I lose a few hours in the night. Don't remember anything... and... and...

This is why I don't go out that much anymore. My alcohol tolerance has dropped, i've become a cheap date, but since I'm always dating myself and I earn so much more money, I keep plying myself with drinks with the knowledge that even if I'm unlucky the whole night and don't get anywhere with anyone, I can always take myself home and score with Koobz.

But if you saw me that night, hanging out at Lot 10 and/or Roots by myself looking completely dazed and confused... do let me know. Or better yet, don't ever tell me.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Subtle Cringe

I would say that I'm an expert on reading body language and subtle communication cues.

I wouldn't say its because I'm a communications major (I dropped out). I also wouldn't say its because I like looking at bodies (which I do... I majored in it, unofficially).

I would be hard pressed to say where this skill/curse came from but I will say that I'm constantly aware of it and my body language radar is always working, well serviced, and beeping like a smoke alarm on crack.

All that being said, I've become so aware of the subtle cringe that Indonesians experience when they end up in conversation with me.

A flash. A hint of shoulders being raised as a quicksilver reaction passes over their face. Like someone made them sniff smelling salts, garbage truck on a hot day flavor but the penalty for reacting was DEATH, so they switch back to their normal smiling selves.

They are reacting to Malaysia.

They are reacting to the bastardized version of their language that I'm trying to adapt and bastardize so I can make myself be understood more efficiently, basically cutting out the middle man who translates spoken English that lives in their head.

They are reacting to my accent. They are reacting to my LAH. They are reacting to how familiar I am to so many things about their culture yet completely unfamiliar to things that should just MAKE SENSE seeing that I understand so many other things WHY DON'T YOU JUST FUCKING GET THIS PART HUH?

They are reacting to stories of maid abuse. They are reacting to other Malaysian production folk who swing through Jakarta, swinging their cocks and pocketing as much money as they can, as cockily as they can. The swagger. The arrogance.

But mostly they react, process, and then put that past them, because hopefully I'm different. Hopefully I'm polite (I'm a walking school of mafakin' etiquette), and hopefully if they don't laugh or react too hard then by the time this asshole leaves he'll have some kind of working knowledge of how to converse in Bahasa Indonesia. They certainly try very hard to please, not offend, and just generally be thought of as being nice people. It works. I definitely think they are nice.

Honestly I think Bahasa Malaysia makes their ears bleed. They can't handle it. Everyone cringes. From taxi drivers to chicks I'm trying to pick up at Karaoke joints to PAs that I'm sending off on wild goose chases to look for the specific type of cable I'm missing. So I spent the whole morning being really self-conscious about trying not to sound like an idiot or make people sniff rubbish and it was really frustrating. I felt like some kind of stupid school kid who hadn't done his homework, or someone who shits themselves in class and just kinda sits there and hopes that the smell doesn't make anyone turn around because clearly moving will alert them to the brown stain and you know that any disturbance of the shit will make people smell it and turn around and THAT would be a problem.

The solution was, at lunch, to have a beer... and then call my producer and her PA on it.

Me: You guys cringe when i talk, do you realise?

Her: Noooo, why do you say that?

Me: You just did it :)

Her: hahahahahahahha. No comment

then we got to talking and the solution to this problem is to firstly work on my accent and my Bahasa Indonesia as quickly as I can but also to stop worrying about the cringing. It is inevitable, and has to do with historical and cultural differences, problems, and arguments that have nothing to do with me. Maybe they have everything to do with me, but someone's gotta point that out to me so I can realise it. WHAT DO I LOOK LIKE, SOME KIND OF MIND READER?

I've always wanted to say that line, while shouting at a woman... I'm yet to come across the perfect opportunity to let it rip. I hope I get to do so at some point in this life.

A completely unrelated thing about Jakarta though is that they build all the way up to the street. It is decidedly a very unfriendly place to be a pedestrian, and you can't really see what's going on in the shops or the houses because the walls are so high up and actually you are very close to them.

Then you get behind the wall, or you walk through the door, and the most amazing spaces lay behind them. Had lunch at a place called Payon in Kemang earlier and it was absolutely stunning. I'm lazy to describe why it was stunning without sounding like some kind of Indonesian travelogue but the architecture was very Javanese and there was an amphitheater in the garden where a drum circle were rehearsing and just groovin' and the rhythm was just RIGHT. First the soundtrack to the meal was the percussion, then the skies darkened and it began to rain heavily. The doomDOOmChakdoomChak was replaced with the sound of fat raindrops crashing down on the clay tiled roof as well as hitting the pond that snaked around the restaurant. Everyone ate in silence for a while and we just watched the rain and ate some crazyDelicious Javanese food.

I'm meeting an old friend tonight to tokkok singsong. I'm going to get homey to break it down for me and learn some key phrases so I can get my shwerve on without making people cringe. They are definitely going to cringe, but maybe it'll be so subtle that it'll escape my radar.

That's all I'm asking for, really :)

Some bad pics of Payon that doesn't do it any justice.



Sunday, February 14, 2010

Jakarta, Koobz... Koobz, Jakarta. Play nice.

A two hour flight delayed two hours means you take off when you were supposed to land and that all the time and anger and effort you spent rushing to the airport was in vain because you weren’t late… you were too early.

Everything about the flight was miserable to say the least. I wasn’t only proverbially stuck sitting in front of the proverbial crying infant, I was very literally stuck in front of said child. Loud uncontrolled wails with sharp kicks into the back of my chair with parents who decided that they were going to take the “leave the kid alone” approach. I don’t know why I didn’t say anything. I felt bad for the little girl actually. She was miserable.

The stewardesses were hot. I managed to flirt with one of them. The flight was bumpy with lots of turbulence. My mind was clouded with thoughts of the pressures I’m heaping on myself for this trip. Pressures related to how I’m going about selling myself while I sell my soul. How do I negotiate the two? Why am I still worried about negotiating the two when clearly my soul was sold ages ago?

As we descended into Jakarta, the clouds were thick and full of lightning and the plane was rockin’ like something that didn’t want you to come knockin’. They turned all the lights off and the EXIT signs came on… I’ve never seen that lighting scenario on a plane before. It was a little spooky. They even turned the floor strips on.

Then I looked out the window and saw a sea of fireworks exploding all over the city. There were at least 40 different sites, erupting into bright gunpowder circles. The ones closer to the sea were being reflected into the water.

Upon landing, Pak Rais was standing at the gate waiting for me. He took my passport, ushered me through the diplomatic lane, and my bag was waiting for me. Took me less than 15 minutes from the plane to the car.

It was quite the welcome.

Hello Jakarta.

This is going to be fun ☺

Saturday, September 26, 2009

so proud

today, instead of running, i ate a giant plate of nasi lemak and went to sleep.

amen

k