Tuesday, July 14, 2009

perils of Hicksville, part 1

They say time flies.

I suppose they are right, but they obviously have never been in solitary confinement before so who are they to say?

It's been three years now since I have been shipped off on an adventure of a lifetime to this far and strange land. Well, actually it's been 3 years and 1 month, but as I have been having so much fun, that milestone didn't really dawn on me until a couple of days ago.

And to celebrate these 3 lovely and wonderful years, I have decided to compile a travel guide for your benefit, just in case you find yourself in this part of the world for work or pleasure. And urbanite friend of mine recently found herself in this parts and experienced a huge culture shock. Yes, you urbanites should really learn that the world doesn't exactly revolve around you.

My day begins daily around 7 am, when the alarm clock on my phone goes off. IF it has the opportunity to go off. You see, it is not because I have a faulty alarm clock, or a faulty phone but quite frequently, I am awaken by roosters, copulating frogs and once, a stray cow. As you would imagine in a kampung environment, there is a lot of greenery around. In fact, there is a great big green lung just in front of my front gate.

Technically, I believe, it belongs to the government. It might belong to some rich bloke, but since it is sitting there doing nothing, the ever industrious kampung folk claim it as theirs. 3 doors away from my house, a bloke runs a kedai runcit from his house. He sells eggs. And he rears the bloody chickens for that purpose.

So every now and then, as you would expect of a rooster - the bastard would crow at sunrise, thus waking me up long before my alarm clock was set to go off. Even worse, that particular rooster has a faulty internal body clock and has been known to start crowing his balls off at 4 am. I have often contemplated of running the bastard over as he crosses the road (the chicken crosses the road to get to the reban ayam, if you were wondering) but my childhood was scarred by horror stories of the kampung mob going amok with their machetes when an urbanite ran over their chicken.

Also, in that patch of kebun, some other industrious folk have turned it into a kandang lembu. Every evening, the cowboys (or more accurately, motorbikemen) would guide them back to the kandang after a full day of grazing in the fields. Occasionally, those slackers would forget one cow, or miss out and that cow will try to find its way home. But being cow-brained and all, it will fail, and long after the cowboys have gone home, the cow would wander up and down the street moo-ing its way into the long, starry night.

That is not to mention the thriving ecosystem that is the kebun, filled with all sorts of annoying creatures. The flavour of the month really depends on the time of the year it is. End of the year is the time chicadas go into mating hyperdrive and they creak all throughout the night. I can tell you that the frogs' mating season has just ended a couple of months ago. And roughly about anytime now I can expect those annoying 'flying ants' that are so attracted to bright lights that I cannot leave my front door open while watching tv, less my whole house be swarmed by these flying pests.

But I digress...

As I was saying, IF I was lucky enough to get a nice uninterrupted sleep till 7 am, and if I am lucky enough not to have been stung by a vile creature while I was sleeping, I then have to drag myself to the toilet where I must be careful that in my half awake stupor I do not accidentally fall into the toilet - because where else in this modern world would you find a hole-in-the ground toilet installed in a 4 year old house?

When I step out of the house to get to work, as I open my gate, my own bad experience has taught me to keep my eyes wide open for shit on the road. Cat shit, cow shit, chicken shit - they all smell the same. Plus my colleagues (and the cleaners) do not appreciate it if you step on it and then walk into the office, leaving a brown trail of destruction everywhere I go. Of course, all my excuse of morning sinus masking my sense of smell fall on deaf ears as their either mock me or silently curse my stupidity.

So, after skillfully dodging the poo on the road, I then get into the car and drive to work. Where you urbanites are lucky that only have to put up with traffic jams (traffic jams are a constant, you know what to expect) and Mat Rempits (they may be a menace, but most of the time they know what they are doing - you have to if you plan on going at 150kmph on your kapchai and live to tell the tale).

In Hicksville, however, you have to put up with crazy kampung folk who aren't really in a rush to get anywhere and cruise on the main road at a jaw dropping 30km/h. In all my years here, I have learnt not to judge a driver by the car he drives, because in this Hicktown, someone driving a spanking new Honda CRV is just as likely to road hog as the next guy driving a 30 year old rusted Dutson. And overtaking a slow car is usually a strict no-no, least you be mowed down by a 10 tonne truck coming down the other side of the road.

After succesfully navigating through all that, I then come across (the first of many) a 12 year old kid on a motorbike, ferry his 8 year old brother to school. Both without helmets. Riding on the wrong side of the road, coming right at you against the flow of traffic. This is the worst when you are coming out from a T-junction trying to turn left and you only think to look right, because hey, that's where the traffic is SUPPOSED to come from. But little did you know that the two little stupid buggers are on the road shoulder coming straight at you.

Human reflex tells you to dodge the stupid fuckers, just because they are kids, even if it means plowing yourself into the next lane where oncoming traffic might just kill you. However, human reflex is slightly more lenient when it comes to animals. Most people would instinctively choose to run over a goat or a chicken or a cat if they had to. This explains the daily carnage I witness on the way to work. In fact, I have been exposed to so many mangled carcasses, I can identify the dead animal from afar. It is a useful skill to have - the ability to differentiate between a mangled up dog and a flattened goat.

So, getting past the pesky kids, easy going old men and sacrificial roadkills, I turn into the industrial area to get to my workplace. Just before the workplace, there is a nice long stretch of road which really is any Mat Rempit's heaven on Earth. However, JKR has a tendency to meddle around with the road for no apparent reason. Occasionally you will find a nice big hole in the middle of the road which you must dodge. The latest project of theirs was to dig out the tar, creating mini trench about 4 inches deep all the way across the road, for reasons only Einstein could dream of speculating. A colleague of mine (who I suspect was trying to be a Mat Rempit on 4 wheels) hit the trench, burst two tyres and wrecked the rims.

Such are the perils one must face in Hicksville, all for the simple task of waking up and going to work......and you haven't heard what happens at night AFTER work...