Monday, March 18, 2013

I Am Not Making This Up

Okay, here is a pretty funny story from my day.

It starts out simply enough. A friend of mine here in KL offered to have a traditional Malay outfit, called baju kurung, made for me by her tailor. I was thrilled to accept her offer, so in mid-afternoon, I left my host's home, admired the view after locking up the door, and walked down the street to meet my friend.

We caught a cab. As soon as we climbed in, the cab driver seemed shocked, and began talking excitedly to my friend. She laughed and explained to me that the cab driver had seen me walking down the street and wondered what the heck a white woman was doing in this neighborhood. Just a few moments later, he was rather shocked to find me climbing into his cab.

But that's not the funny part.

We jumped on a light rail train and rode into the heart of the city. I followed blindly as my friend marched me through countless market stalls, along busy streets, and across chaotic intersections that stunned me like the proverbial deer in the headlights.

Note to self: When crossing a street in Malaysia, where cars drive on the opposite side of the road, you still have to look both ways for oncoming traffic. But you don't look first right and then's the other way round!! So confusing.

The fabric that I chose for my baju kurung was named "Gangnam Style." But that's not the funny part either.

We made it to the fabric shop, picked out some fabric, and I put up with a lot of giggles when the clerk suggested that my outfit would require 4.5 meters of cloth, rather than the typical 4. I'm a extra-tall American, you know.

A male manager at the store came hustling over to greet me, and after establishing that I was indeed from the USA, he proceeded to gush over our president: "Obama! Obama!"

I used my ever-increasing skills in constructing very simple and slow English sentences to ascertain just what he admired so much about the leader of the free world. "Indonesia! Jakarta!"

Oh, right. Obama spent a good part of his childhood living in Indonesia. I boldly took a leap of faith and asked, "Are you from Indonesia?" Jackpot.

But that wasn't the funny part either.

In due time, we arrived at the tailor, ordered my outfit, stopped for tea and mee goreng (fried noodles), bought some goodies at a bakery, and went back home, laughing all the way.

Here is where I sat, eating my mee goreng and watching the rain fall in the fountain.

Nope. Not the funny part either.

The funny part is that when we were just arriving in KL and disembarking from the train, I glanced over at the Malay man who was exiting from our same car, and in a wave of crashing incredulity, realized that I knew him!!

Yes. In a train station in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 9300 miles and half a planet from my home, I am randomly bumping into people I know.

After a quick round of introductions, my friends were as shocked as I was. But within seconds, they took up a spirited conversation in Malay, and left me straggling along behind them, still trying to collect my wits after this mind-blowing coincidence. Thank goodness I thought to snap a photo, or I would be telling myself right now that it was all just a very crazy and random dream.

And that is my funny story for the day. I hope you enjoyed it.

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To find all the stories of my amazing adventures in southeast Asia, go here:

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