It’s hard to say what I really feel about living in KL.

Most days I feel miserable making the trip to and fro work on the LRT. The walk to the station is all of 2 minutes, but I’m usually drenched in sweat by the time I get there. The path to the station is gravelly and uneven; those who walk it mostly carry worn-out, angry faces. There are no working fans at the station; the station itself is battered with neglect and time, despite being newly-renovated. It is always a sorry journey, and I always feel overwhelmingly happy to arrive at work.

The other day I took a leisurely noon stroll to Chow Kit, where my housemates and I never venture despite it being so near owing to all the horror stories we have heard about the seedy things that happen there. No wonder that place has a reputation – the shophouses look like they never left the 60s.

But despite it all, there are days when KL’s disorderly, nearly chaotic charm shines through.

Sometimes it is heartwarming. KL is not known for good service, hell no. But that makes that occasional sincere thank you or you’re welcome you get from the cashier, or the cleaning lady, all the more meaningful. That makes you all the more grateful when the supermarket assistant comes and passes you one of those fruit plastic bags because you’ve been standing there trying to peel the bag open to no avail, looking like a fool.

Other days it is downright ridiculous. One look at KL’s haphazard highways snaking and weaving all over the place, and you cannot help but give in to a resigned laugh.

Sometimes it is poignant. Today on the LRT I saw a tiny little boy, perhaps no more than 3 years old. He was dressed in old, dirty clothes – his arms and legs were skinny and gangly, and his head slightly too big. You know all too well that he probably doesn’t eat very much. Yet underneath the grime on his once brightly-coloured T-shirt was a picture of four figures dancing, and in cheerful lettering, were the words ‘Windy Time’. The picture was so incongruous with the scene, so incompatible with his sunken angry face, and his father’s weary eyes, that it made me suddenly want to cry. Among all the places I’ve lived in, KL is the only place I’ve witnessed such a blatant disparity of wealth in a single vehicle of public transport.

KL is far from perfect; there is much work to be done. Sometimes I feel like I want to be part of that change, sometimes I don’t. And I have come to realise that this conflicted feeling resonates very strongly with how I handle many other things in life – I tend to get impatient with imperfection, and get tempted to run away and start from a clean slate, every single time. Bad blog post draft – ctrl A, delete.  Rocky moments in a relationship with another human being – ignore person, pretend I can move on and live without that person anyway.

So maybe there will be something to learn from this. And in the end, from my future position as a better, stronger, more tolerant person, I will, as always, look back see how foolish I was to have been miserable in the first place.

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