Sunday, 2 March 2014

KL Train Blues

Originally written for Toastmasters Humourous Speech Contest.

So, anyone here ever rode public transport in our fair city of Kuala Lumpur? Specifically the trains? If you have, then I don't need to tell you the unimaginable pain and anguish that is involved in the process. The story I'm about to tell you is 100% true, except for the parts that I shamelessly made up.

It was 6 o'clock in the evening and I was just let go from class after a bit of delay, heading my way down to the KTM. I think some of you may know what's coming. 6 o'clock. KTM. Not a good sign. And it isn't. You see, the two trains that were supposed to arrive earlier had been delayed, meaning that the station platform I'm heading for was packed with people. Even with the crowd, I manage to get myself a seat to sit on. So with my comfy chair, all sat down, I took out my Game Boy, turned it on and started to kill hookers with bazookas; when suddenly out of the corner of my eye I saw a large African man approaching me.

"Are you a Muslim?", he said with a deep loud voice.

"I'm sorry, what?"

"Are you a Muslim?"

Now, when a 6 foot tall African man with the physique of Arnold Schwarzenegger ask you whether you're a Muslim, there's only one thing you could say. "Eep...".

"Are you a Muslim?"

Not knowing what to say, I answered the only way I could. "Yes?"

"Ah, good to meet you. Finally, I meet a Muslim. It's so hard to find another fellow Muslim in this country". Right, hard to find a Muslim in a Muslim-majority country. The man started to tell his life story, where he's from, where he's studying. And I'm just sitting there wondering why this guy is telling me all this. Needing an escape, I did the only rational and semi polite thing I could do.

"Very interesting. Hold on, I got a call coming in. Hi. Hello? Hi mom. I'm sorry but I have to take this call."

"Oh, ok, I will find someone else to chat. Nice talking to you. You, you there. Are you a Muslim?"

"Great talking to you to". That was weird. Lucky for me, the conversation was long enough that the train came as soon as he left. Unfortunately, that only reminds us of the first problem. The train was delayed twice and this not only applies to my station but the station before and the one before that. So what we get here is a train that is packed like a sardine can full of people from delayed train stations. And they are not happy.

After a lot of pushing to get into the can, I manage to secure myself a spot between two people. And I also have the honor of being able to smell the scent of office workers, what being underneath their armpits. And I had to endure this for nearly half an hour. 

People were coming in and out of the train, more in than out unfortunately. When suddenly, at the next station, with more people getting out, miracle of miracles, like mana from heaven, a seat was made available! As soon as I saw the opportunity, I jumped towards the seat and finally, I got to relax a bit and have a brief reprieve from smelling some random office workers' body odor. So I whip out my Game Boy and started to play a few rounds when suddenly...

"Attention passengers. The train has experience technical difficulties. Please disembark at the next station. Apologies for any inconvenience."

Aw, you have got to be kidding me. So me and the other passengers got off, waited for the next train to arrive, saw that it was also packed, I pushed in, get stuck between two people and get to smell that delectable odor again. Rinse, lather, repeat. I miss that seat.

It was another thirty minutes before we finally reached KL Central. I got out, able to stretch and breathe in the relatively fresh air and "Are you an Muslim?" What?

"Oh, hello there. Nice to meet you again"

"I'm sorry, we have?"

"Yeah, like four or five stations ago?"

"Oh, alright. Nice meeting you again. I will meet someone else new then. Enjoy. Hey, you! You! Are you a Muslim."

Well that was weird. Again. Anyway, I didn't have time to dwell on it as I had to catch the next train. This time it was the LRT so with it's fixed schedule, automated driving and multiple carriages, it wasn't as crowded as the KTM, but that's relatively speaking.

So I went in, again, relatively easy but still packed enough that odor de office was still smellable. I was standing but it wasn't so much a problem until this German looking couple walked into the carriage. One of the, the man, looked green and a bit sick that I worried that he was going to...BLERGGGG...Me and my stupid thoughts. And he blew chunks near where I was so I had to endure the permeating smelly of the vomit until I get off this thing. I certainly wasn't going to move away with this many people here.

Again, finally, I arrived at my home station. Fresh air, ample space. What's not to love? Out of that carriage, away from the smells and crampiness of the trains. I got out my phone to call my mom for pickup when..."Are you a Muslim?". And that's when I realize, I really need my own car.

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