Friday, May 23, 2008

Thank You For Being My Friend

Fireflies flickering in the trees; wooden oars moving gently through quiet waters. It's nine in the evening, and the moon is a large orange balloon. We're singing Christmas carols. And then we're silent. There is a breathless hush in the air; a sort of magical knowing.

We know there are fairies in the trees. John saw one. Joseph, being of a more scientific turn of mind, wondered what made the fireflies flicker and whether it is part of their mating ritual.

My friend Addy said it was. She said the females flicker 3 times faster than the male. Hmmmm....

We're the only ones here. It's late and the rest have gone home. Or gone on. Or maybe there were not many here to begin with. It's a Thursday night and it's not a holiday and besides, as Joseph points out, this place is not very well-advertised. The "kelip-kelip" in Kampung Kuantan in Kuala Selangor.

I've been here once before. That was with the sibs and Simon. Using Lonely Planet as our guide (disgraceful konon Malaysians, except for Simon) we tried to find our way to the fireflies, but ended up going miles in the wrong direction on unlighted estate roads. I think I broke out in a cold sweat. I know Jackie snuck some goreng pisang into the car and was eating them quietly because she didn't want to share.

Anyways, having been there once, I thought I could find it again. John (Calica, of Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me fame) and his friend Joseph (otherwise known as Harold and Kumar) were game for an adventure.

So we drove into the night. Getting out of the KL traffic snarl took about an hour. Then we hit the North-South Expressway. After a very short time on that, we turned off at the Sungei Buloh exit.

Now, here's where things get tricky. The directions I got off the Net told me told me I had to go in the general direction of Sg Buloh/Kuala Selangor. I did. But the drive seemed interminable. I gazed at the little clock in the car in some consternation. What if we arrived, after this long, long drive and it was closed?

Despite this growing concern, we chatted lightheartedly about this, that and the other. John is the first of my blogging buddies to land up here. Or at least the first one that I actually got to meet. My friend Vijay is a friend of a blogging buddy, so he's like a blogging buddy, once removed, if you know what I'm saying.

I was feeling better that morning after all the emotional squalls of recent days and wondering why I was feeling this way. My Facebook status update said: "Jennifer is feeling happy for no reason in particular."

Then I received a phone call:

"Hello is that Jenn Jacobs? This is John."

The voice was pleasantly accented. I didn't recognise it.


He told me who he was and it was like sunlight bursting through the clouds. Suddenly I knew why I was happy. John, being the modest self-effacing dude he is, asked if we could meet for breakfast the following day. Me, being none of the above, said why not tonight.

Of course, getting to the hotel proved a drama and a half. It decided to storm (after days of bone-dry weather) and KL at rush hour is never pleasant. Factor in a storm on top of that, and the traffic has to be seen to be believed. So, I ended up getting stuck in the famed KL traffic jam, inching forward everytime the traffic lights (and there were a lot of them), changed. Then, having misunderstood the directions the hotel guy gave me, I ended up going in the wrong direction.

I called the hotel again. This time another dude, a smarter, patienter dude, gave me step-by-step directions and I found myself outside the hotel. John and his friend Joseph were sitting inside. They saw me and came out smiling (despite the fact that I had kept them waiting more than an hour after the agreed time).

It was wonderful to finally meet him. (Hint, hint). The two boys were so nice and pleasant and easygoing that taking them around was a treat. They told me they wanted authentic Malay food and I racked my brains trying to figure out a decent place for Malay food. We usually have that at stalls.

Then my furrowed brow cleared. Of course! Rumahku! That was in PJ and now I needed to get out of Tengkat Tong Shin to find my way out. I don't know if the guys noticed but I made several false starts, getting lost in KL traffic, trying to get out. (But of course, I always get lost trying to get out of KL unless I am on Jalan Sultan Ismail itself).

Anyway we finally made it to Rumahku and they let me order - we had butter prawns, mutton porial (my favourite), asparagus belachan and mango kerabu chicken. John said the food was "flavourful" and both he and Joseph really enjoyed it. So did I. Hungry, we all dug in and made short work of the spread.

Then it was time for dessert. I told them we needed to go "mamaking" to get the authentic Malaysian experience. So we would have our teh tarek at a mamak in Bangsar rather than here at a restaurant (which was actually a converted bungalow) with a bathroom that was actually, well, a bathroom. We had cake and ice cream for dessert. It was pretty yummy. Joseph had to finish my chocolate cake because I am a wasteful child...and Jackie and Simon were not there to do the needful.

Anyways, we left Rumahku (literal translation, My House) to head for My Backyard. The guys were pretty easy going and didn't mind that showing them the sights, meant, the sights I always chattered on about in my blog. Mark wasn't there (no matter, I dragged them to Concorde the next day to meet him, although they didn't get to see him perform because apparently he had already finished his set) but they did get to see this band playing, where the lead singer was a pretty young Filipina. At least, I thought she was pretty. And so did one of her raving fans who seats himself right in front of the band (kinda where I sit when Mark is playing) and cheers wildly at every cheesy rendition. John told me the girl wouldn't be considered pretty by Philippine standards and I was surprised.

Anyways, we had our orange juice and two Tiger beers (at least I think the guys had Tiger beers, they may have had Guinness) and chatted over the music. Vijay David was there. He walked in with all nine earrings jingling and I pointed him out to John who has met him elsewhere in these pages. He ignored me. Or at least, I thought he ignored me. Actually, he didn't see me. When he did, he came over and planted a very bristly kiss on either cheek.

We left Backyard to go mamaking...Devi's Corner Bangsar (where else) because I thought the boys should have a Bangsar experience...well, at least Devi's if nothing else. We talked some more - there was just so much to catch up on and they told me they only had one more day in KL after which they were leaving for Singapore.

I mean to say what?

We had the traditional teh tarek and fended off beggars as well as people who tried to sell us Mont Blanc knock-offs. There was a minor drama - a bunch of teenagers showed up and started distributing Clear shampoo samples. They left us out. John and Joseph were cool about it. I felt the steam start to rise. They must have sensed it because they provided us with samples as well. Haha.

Anyways, after mamaking it was back to the hotel, where I parked the car and we chatted for a while. I asked them what they were going to do the next day, and they said, dunno, maybe shop. I asked what their plans were for the night, and they were I said, we should do something different. Hmmm. Different. What ah? That was when I came up with the brilliant plan to go see the fireflies.

The next morning, I had a meeting at the office. Having gotten into bed at one something and passed out at past two, I was very very sleepy. Hence, grumpy. But after going home and getting some shuteye, I was all nicely rested. I had to pick J&J up from KLCC.

(This is the part where I whisked them off to Concorde so they could meet Mark...Joseph said Mark had the folk singer vibe with his long hair and all). Then it was off to Kuala Selangor.

But I told you that part already.

The moon's a balloon.

Yeah, man.


john calica said...

That was quite an experience eh? Bloggers of the world, unite!

May God always bless you, my friend. You are a pure soul :)

Jenn said...

Hey John! Glad you're back in contact. I told my friend Mary about your visit and she said you sounded like a dream...