Monday, January 12, 2004

Train Blues and the Book Swap Meet

(sing to ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’, try!)

Honk honk blue train,
Did you any bull ,
Yes sir, yes sir, three coach-full,
All stuffed, hot and sweaty sir, because we were lame,
And man, were they MAD when they got out of the train!

Planned to be at the Book Swap Meet latest by 3.10 p.m. (Standard Malaysian Time la… 10 minutes late still kira on time what..) so I took the 3.26 2.26 (thanks Bistreo for pointing this out!) train yesterday since it takes an average of 36 minutes from my start station to KL Sentral. Wonder of wonders, at 3.01 p.m. (yes folks, a measly one minute from KL Sentral), the train suddenly went dead in its tracks. And I mean, dead. As in the engines dead, the air-conditioning dead, the lights dead.

At first everybody sat patiently, expecting the thing to kick back up in 5 minutes or so. But after almost half an hour, when all we’ve heard were an announcement saying ”Tuan-tuan dan puan-puan, komuter ini sedang mengalami kerosakan teknikal, KTM Komuter memohon maaf atas segala kesulitan yang dialami” (Ladies and gentlemen, the train is experiencing technical failure, KTM Komuter is sorry for your inconvenience) and a few half-hearted sounds of an engine trying to get into gear - then it began to get stiflingly hot and really stuffy. The complaints started to compound by the minute e.g. ”Oii.. very hot la.. open la the windows” “Aiya… like this can die you know” “Eh, if two days trapped inside here how?” “I told you to get a proper driving license don’t want, got terbang one aaa, now that’s why engine cannot start” “Cannot breathe la, oxygen all gone man” “All smell also can detect now”.

Despite the racket (people were even banging on the windows by the fortieth minute), there were only the same couple of engine sounds (trying to start but cannot); all windows stayed shut. Only at 3.55 p.m. did the train slowly came back to life and proceeded to the station (but still no lights or air-conditioning), one minute later, walla, fresh air!!

As I sat during the ordeal (thankfully I got a seat), I prayed that the Book Swap party wouldn’t have thought that I’m not coming and moved elsewhere. To kill the boredom, I started on one of the books that I brought and even managed to go halfway through a Stephen King novella. Arriving at the venue one-hour late, I scanned Starbucks and yes, there they were, easily-recognized with books piled three-high on the table. Went straight to them, and confusion abound when I said “Hi, I’m Ted” which was greeted with “Huh… YOU are Ted? I thought Ted’s a guy” “Did somebody mention a he or a she just now?” “She did state on her blog la she’s female”.

Introductions over, and so I met Aliya, Grace, Chooki and Khalil (the only you-know-what among us roses) for the first time. Among the topics we yakked about (in no particular order) were Peking duck and duck rice (sounds yummy, Grace, I must go try it some day), the gay theme in LOTR (true or not?), guy-guy conduct (boy, did Khalil cringe when asked whether he’s ever touchy-touchy with his guy pals – NO he absolutely doesn’t), linguistic thesis topics (I never knew there's research on how the sound of words came about, Chooki!), volunteer vs. part-time (Aliya got RM5/hr during her volunteering stint), local theatre productions and other things under the sun. Oh, and about books and writing, of course!

Went home happy with new books to read on hand and (as Chooki aptly put it) faces to put on the blogs.

P.S. The train ride home was smooth as silk.

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