Monday, November 19, 2007

kampung story of the day

In this kampung where I am, a stranger would easily mistaken it for a warped time zone. There is a sense of lawlessness, yet it isn't quite so. Hardly anybody ever wears a helmet when riding their motorbikes. It isn't because they want to break the law - it is probably because they couldn't be bothered to. And speaking of which, it isn't an uncommon sight to see 12 year old kids ferrying their younger siblings on these kapchais that dwarf their small frame.

For many of my city friends, what we perceive to be simple common sense is viewed by the kampung folk as trivial matters that do not need to be fussed about. Child safety seats for cars? You gotta be kidding me..

In the middle of my (new) housing area, there is a playground. It's a modern concept, isn't it? Most new housing areas in the Klang Valley employ such a community bonding area. The kids play there in the evenings and the parents socialise with one another while keeping an eye on the brats. But this is where the "first world infrastructure, third world mentality" really shows.

I was taught at a very young age, as I am sure most of you were, that roads are for cars and we should never play in the middle of the road. But in this kampung, along with the numerous other kampungs in this part of the world, it seems a ridiculous notion but parents actually allow their kids to play on the road, and won't even bat an eyelid when a car approaches. It's their road, see. You are trespassing with your car, so you have to watch where you are going - not the kid.

Let me sidetrack for a moment, but you know all those frequent cases of people getting run over by trains while trying to cross the railway tracks? I am of the opinion that these people aren't stupid, but more of the fact that they are ridiculously ignorant towards the dangers of a speeding train. As silly and unthinkable it may sound to you, I reckon that these people really do not know the dangers, or think that tragedy will never befall them.

Two days ago, I nearly ran over a kid. This, despite me coasting at a mere 10km/h. I have ingrained it into my brain that the minute I enter the housing area, the foot goes off the gas pedal, ready to slam my brakes when required while keeping my eyes trained for a random brat that is oblivious to the danger of a passing car. Anyway, the said kid was standing by the side of the road when I approached. I saw him standing there, fixed to a spot staring somewhere else, so I decided that it was alright to pass him. Just as I was driving past, he started to dash across the road while his eyes were still focusing on something else. I slammed my brakes and blared my horn.

The commotion turned the heads of a few adults in the playground - none of whom bothered to tell him to get off the road or teach him to watch himself. I don't know where the parents were but an evil guess would be that they were at a brain transplant.

There was another kid a few months ago who spilled an entire bucket of Lego blocks on the road and proceeded to squat smack in the middle of the road and pick them up one at a time. His mother was standing by the side of the road, patiently waiting for him to finish while the idiot in the car (me) had to wait a full 3 minutes before I could proceed along the road.

Or how about the time when two kids were playing in the playground while their mothers were on the swings? One of them had a toy machine gun - the type that gave out an irritating rat-a-tat-tat sound along with blinking red LEDs when fired upon. Upon seeing my car from a distance, he ran into the middle of the road thinking he was Rambo and shot at my car. Literally. It was incredulous. I couldn't believe my eyes. It's not everyday a 5 year old kid can render me speechless.

These stories always get me thinking.

In the bigger picture, the government talks about nation building. The opposition can talk about fair elections and what-not. Yes, the big picture is important, but has anybody stopped to give thought about the smaller puzzles that you need to solve first? But how the hell do you build a nation where people don't care enough for their lives to wear a motorcycle helmet? How do you expect the kampung folks to make a decision in an election (fair or otherwise) when they lack the ability to judge the threat of a passing vehicle towards their own child's safety?

I don't really know how to explain it. Stupid is not the word. A lack of common sense is not the term. Ignorance or 'tidak apa' is more like it. And if you have a bunch of people who are tidak apa towards their own lives and the lives of their children, there really isn't much else you can do to help them.


hahahhah.. the moment I read your third paragraph I KNEW you were gonna bring up the Lego story.. =D

I actually thought the machine gun story was more...ridiculous.

maybe they're "tak apa" because they were always given the "tak apa" attitude as well. it can't all be "just inborn".

good point vincent, and i for one agree with you. although the big picture is important, we must take the time to consider the individuals as well, and what can be done for them.

however, i do know of one blogger who disagrees with you, and he is the "highway to nowhere" supporter, vincent.

if i recall correctly, he didn't give a rat's ass about improving the lives of the kampung folk in a more immediate and direct manner. instead, he echoed the voice of our works minister, and said "build! build! build!".

i wonder what that dude will have to say now.


So that's why they keep getting run over by trains!

Gosh, u must be pissed as hell this weekend because of another rally and roads have to be closed.
Can't go for facial, shopping, do lunch -- you must be livid!


Actually, asshole, today I was working. It is not unusual for certain areas of Malaysia that people work on Sundays you know.

That said, coming back from my meeting I was caught in another roadblock.

Never mind the shopping. Should I have stayed at home and not gone to work instead?


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