Friday, May 17, 2013

Meanwhile At KLCC

^Hello, you overgrown salt and pepper shakers. Nice to see you again today.

^ Giant tropical leaves never fail to fascinate me. 

^ Lines on lines on lines, with a splash of oranges and yellows.

^ The roof above the main common area inside KLCC where I watched many a trade show and quietly sipped my Cokes.

^ The wooden floors at Kinokuniya Book Store, where I browsed away many an enjoyable and cool hour.

^These urban canyons are picturesque and geometrically pleasing even though they are not the real KL. 

^ Pretty view of KLCC park from the bookstore windows. 

^ Me, hiding in the flowers. desperately seeking shade.

So while my friend Xeera was at work for the day, I left her office building and headed about five LRT stops to the east, to Kuala Lumpur City Centre, to kill some time.

KLCC is a big, upscale shopping mall and outdoor complex at the base of the Petronas Towers. It's not, in my opinion, the most interesting, beautiful, or visit-worthy place in the city. But it is easy to find, foreigner-friendly, and full of features, like restrooms and air conditioning, that make it comfortable for a long stay. So when I'm traveling around the city alone and looking for a place to spend a few hours, I usually head to KLCC. I feel safe and at ease when I'm hanging out there.

No wonder I feel so safe. Indoors and out, the KLCC grounds are vigilantly monitored by either police or security guards - maybe a combination of both. On this particular day, I was reprimanded by these officials not once but twice for a pair of serious offenses.

First, I sat on a public bench with my feet off the floor. No, my shoes were not up on the bench, dirtying the stone surface. Nor was I hogging the space or exposing my leg in an immodest way. I had simply scooted myself back a few inches on the wide seat, so I could prop my bag on my legs as a makeshift desk for writing my postcards. But as I quickly learned from a polite but stern officer, scooting back is not allowed. He motioned for me to put both of my feet on the floor, and I obeyed in mute disbelief.

Before I had a chance to recover from my shock, the man sitting next to me was also chastised. His offense? He was seated sideways on the bench, with one knee resting on the stone, while playing a game of cards with his adorable children. Sorry, mister. Both feet on the floor. I don't know if the lawman also had a problem with the family card game, but the father immediately put away the cards, much to his children's dismay. Mine too.

^ The offending knee.

Hoping to return to a lighter spirit, I decided to go out to KLCC park for a walk. The sunshine was dazzlingly bright and the humidity as wearing as ever, so when I found myself walking by the swimming area, I was sorely tempted to take off my sandals and dip my toes into that lovely water.

^Mmmm so temptingly blue.

I proceeded cautiously. Noting the two officers seated under a nearby tree with open styrofoam containers on their laps, I decided to watch and wait before wading in.

Within a minute or two, a man came splashing merrily through one of the ponds, carrying his shoes and looking mighty refreshed. The security forces didn't even glance up. Considering that to be a green light, I tore off my sandals and plunged straight into that cool water.

^ The offending toes...all ten of them.

It was heavenly. I wandered around the series of pools, step stones and watery walkways, enjoying the playful and well-designed space. Engrossed in this way for at least ten minutes, I came abruptly back to reality at the sound of several short, shrill bursts of a police whistle. I glanced up, expecting to see some boys running among the toddlers, or someone about to drop an empty juice box in the pool.

But no. The whistle blower was looking at me! With a gesture, it was indicated to me that the water was for children only, and I was not welcome to wade.

As my brain struggled to comprehend why I was allowed to walk in the water for so long before being scolded, I saw something that explained everything. As the whistle-blower turned away from me and headed back to her shady bench, I noticed the other officer at a trash basket, throwing away the two styrofoam food containers. Not about to let their mid-morning snack be interrupted by an overheated mat salleh, the officers ignored me while they enjoyed their food. Then, when the meal was over, they whistled me away from the scene of my crime and restored order to their corner of the park.

As for me, I decided to go to a movie, where I could hopefully keep myself out if trouble. You better believe that I kept both of my feet on the floor.

^ I watched a Malaysian film, Dua Kalimah, that was spoken in Bahasa Melayu and featured no subtitles. Totally figured out the plot though I'll admit it was a tad predictable. 

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

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