Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My Holiday in Penang: A Sneak Peek

Enough has been written about Malaysia. Penang in particular. The beauty, the history, the food, the culture...the usual. Considering that I have cobwebs to clean, sandwiches to make and toilet rolls to buy (not necessarily in that order), let’s keep this short...shall we?

OK, so I was in Penang about a month back. ‘Twas F-U-N. Parasailing in particular. How I defied gravity, don’t ask. There is a video to prove that I’m not bluffing. A video that has become my husband’s most treasured possession. Because nothing else gives him as much joy as a drink in one hand and the company of friends who will happily laugh with him as he watches his obese and clumsy wife run for the take-off.

Aside - Will be bluffing if I say that it’s not funny. Because it is. E-X-T-R-E-M-E-L-Y.

Anyhow, food eaten, drinks drunk, water sports attempted...we decided to go sight-seeing. That’s when Sheriff... Muhammad Sheriff...makes his grand entrance. Picked up from a tours company outside our hotel, Sheriff is your usual chatty, curious and energetic tourist guide/driver. To summarise him, I’d say: Bald, big belly, enthusiastic photographer who asked me to “pose” at the drop of a hat, and an immense eagerness to educate us about Penang, and learn as much about Australia as he could in the short time.

So this Sheriff took us around Penang. “There are two seasons in Penang”, he said. “The Arab season and the Relax season.” Apparently, Arabs are the cause of Penang’s thriving tourism...and they like to visit every year, at a certain time. Any other time is the “Relax” there isn’t much business.

With that, we reach our first destination, the Penang Butterfly Park. Interesting place. Held some caterpillars and touched a few butterflies. In the middle of the walk, Sheriff points to this pair of butterflies, which were hanging from a single leaf. “Madam, look! They are ‘hanging out’ together”. And with that he laughed his big-belly hollow laugh. We laughed too...more at his mirth than at his pun.

Our last destination was a bird park on the other side of the island (sparing you the details of what we did that whole day). To go there, we needed to take a giant ferry...the kinds that transport cars and even trucks. Our car (with us in it) drove into the ferry...and it confused the hell outta me. Suddenly I grew all philosophical and imagined how we would appear to God (or whoever lives in the clouds). What was our exact location, really? Earth>Continent>Country>City>Suburb>Ferry>Car ?
I had never been inside two vehicles at once.

Anyway, Sheriff continued with his “tourist guide” duties. Pointing to a bridge on the other side of the ocean, he said “You want accident, you take ferry. You want suicide, you go to bridge.” Now why he thought I’d want accident or suicide on my vacation, is beyond me.

Anyhow, bidding adieu to our friendly (and sometimes creepy) tour guide, we took a flight to Kuala Lumpur. From there, we were to take a flight to our next destination: Kolkata.

And just when I was preparing to nod off, my fellow passengers decided to put up an impromptu show. If your journey to India comprises more than one leg...and if your last leg happens to be from City A to Kolkata...doesn’t matter what City A is, you are bound to be entertained. Because the flight would be full of Parle-G-eating, nose-picking, 75-decibal-speaking, seatbelt-sign-disobeying, flight attendant-harassing, aisle-blocking, toilet-clogging, more-food-demanding Bongs. They filled in their “arrival cards” with the seriousness of a board exam. Discussing the options to tick off, copying answers and consulting whether it would be illegal not to declare a half-empty pickle bottle in their luggage.

And I thought the fun was yet to begin.

P.S. I know I promised to keep this short. But couldn’t figure out which Sheriffism to leave out. Apologies.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Confluence

You found love at that young age
And an engagement ring on the dresser
You realised what it is to be happy.
And it changed your life forever.

You found yourself touring the world
Hills, oceans or was it the plains?
One moment you were with the Pharaohs
But in a blink, you were in Spain.

You found yourself in his arms,
And in the embrace, you’ll hit a chord.
You found he understood you
Even when you didn’t say a word.

You found a baby in your belly
And you closed your eyes in prayer.
You found it was a little girl
Who brought all the joy in your share.

You found you were a family
Growing stronger in love each day
Together, the three of you,
Could keep life’s storms at bay.

You found he woke up at night,
And couldn’t sleep very well.
Was it stress? A secret love affair?
Something was wrong... was all you could tell.

You found yourself at the Chemos
The love of your life was in pain.
You found yourself wiping his tears.
And swallowing your vain.

You found yourself at his death bed.
Dying to join him in death.
But holding onto his little girl,
You had to live...
Amidst the tears you shed.

Dedicated to my friend, whose name means “Confluence”. Praying that she finds all the strength she needs.