Posts Tagged ‘Kuala Lumpur’

I try not to be too superstitious. Been working on this for years.

Most are harmless enough, right? Maybe even a bit fun.

Not stepping on a crack in the sidewalk wouldn’t have actually prevented “Mother’s broken back.” But it might have made the boring walk down the street to Cabral’s corner market for a loaf of bread and a pack of Mom’s L&Ms a little less monotonous for a kid.

I remember when a bunch of us kids were passengers in Mrs. Gillett’s car. She was our neighbor but also our friends’ grandmother. That’s the real reason we were in the car. Anyway, when Mrs. Gillett came to the railroad tracks in the road she lifted her feet. Not for long. Maybe just a few seconds. Nope, she wasn’t doing it to strengthen her lower abs. She did it for good luck.

I still do it.

But I falter from time to time. Step on cracks all the time and my Mama is perfectly fine.

Recently, I was in a Delhi shop. Narrow as all get out. One of the employees had a ladder out in the middle of the floor. No way for me to go around it. So I waited. Waited some more. There was no way I was walking under that thing. No way.

Also have this other thing. I should always leave from the same door I entered. Not sure where that one came from but I am always aware of it.

But this is absolutely one superstition that should be left by the door.

Here is why.

In 2003 I was living in Dallas, Texas. On a February evening, many, many miles away in my home state of Rhode Island there was a terrible fire in a night club. It claimed the lives of one hundred men and women. And injured hundreds of others. Like horribly injured.

Young people were just having an evening out, listening to music and enjoying a respite from one of New England’s long winter nights. Like I did many a time. As you probably did.

Pyrotechnics (fireworks) which were meant to add a bit to the show ignited the foam that was used for sound insulation in the walls and ceiling. Within FIVE minutes the Station club in West Warwick was engulfed.

People could not see the exits due to the heavy smoke. There was also a massive crush as people tried to get out the main exit. The place where they entered at the beginning of the evening.

So there were different causes of death that night.

The following is a video, taken ten years ago, of my cousin John who was a firefighter in Warwick. It also features his bandmate (yes, singing firefighters) who was actually present at the Station when the fire began. The video is dated 2007 and John has recently retired as a Lieutenant. But the message in this clip is still as important today as it was then.

You do not need to leave from the same door you entered.

John is still in the band and after the tragic Station fire the group would post a floor plan of each venue on their website. He states how important it is to make note of an exit.

I also learned something yesterday that struck a similar chord.

A family that I knew in Kuala Lumpur was recently on a holiday in Yangon, Myanmar. Yes, the perks of living in Asia.

Seems that on October 19th they were asleep in their lovely, colonial era hotel only to be wakened around 3:00am by banging noises. Sounded like people yelling and pounding on doors. But the family couldn’t understand what they were saying. Maybe drunken revelry? Terrorism?

They tried the front desk. No one answering. Finally someone picked up and told them to evacuate immediately due to a fire in the hotel.

The two teen daughters left first and then the parents a few minutes later. The mom was sort of freaked about the separation but they were soon reunited and safe.

Police were shoving people aside and trying to evacuate but there was no clear communication, very disorganized and pitch black.

I want to just note here that this luxurious, teak and iconic hotel was considered a 5 Star property.¬† So it doesn’t really matter where you stay. The rules for your personal safety should always be the same. Regardless of the price tag. Or tag line.

Her advice?

“Don’t take for granted emergency exit information.”

She stressed the importance of staying together. Checking to see if there is a fire alarm and sprinkler in hotel room. Having a plan to meet up if separated. The importance of being close to your family and knowing where they are at all times.

This is the time of year when a plethora of seasonal activities will beckon. Many will welcome the opportunity for indoor, festive gatherings surrounded by loads of people. Seeing the Nutcracker, Christmas musicals, plays, concerts, sporting events and attending worship services.

Some will travel and spend time in hotels. Or pass through airports.

All happy as larks to be in places with closed doors keeping out the cold or staving off the heat.

Have fun but take note of exit signs immediately upon entering. Communicate a place to meet with family members if case you ever get separated. Don’t take for granted emergency exit information. Do your homework. And remember you do not need to leave from the same door you entered. Ever.

Wishing you and all of your families a safe holiday season. Hoping you employ these safety measures all year long. Some superstitions should absolutely be left at the door.

Update: My cousin, John, told me that he was actually supposed to be at the Station the evening of the fire. He did not attend because he didn’t want to be the “third wheel.” But a few folks thought he was there. Including his fire chief.

 

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

A friend used to joke, “I’m like marble. I don’t want to be taken for granite.”

So goofy.

It’s true though. No one wants to be taken for granted.

But most of us do take people and things for granted at times. We just don’t think about it on a daily basis. Until we don’t have them.

Last Spring, my neighborhood in Kuala Lumpur lost internet connection for the entire day. Thank Jesus for the fancy iPhones so everyone could whine about it in group chats.

Wait, don’t folks around the world lose water, electricity and more every single day? If they even ever had access to them at all.

Luckily, I was out running errands. So the internet outage didn’t totally destroy me. And I had my phone ūüôā

One of the errands was dropping off a carload of donations to a housing complex where many refugees live. It made me realize the clothes and household items we can sometimes take for granted.

That afternoon, I went with my then 12th grade daughter to school for her last day as president of a club she started three years ago.

This club allowed refugee students from a nearby volunteer run school to be bussed to her campus so they could play games, use the sports facilities, etc. It made be conscious of how something like a simple school campus can be taken for granted.

I was watching these lovely young girls and boys playing basketball and cheering for each other. Kids from Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Pakistan, Palestine, Syria, Iran and Afghanistan.

So many children displaced from so many countries around the world. Due to war and violence. A stark reminder that we can take our security for granted.

As my daughter was saying goodbye to her refugee friends they told her, “We will miss you.”

One young girl told her, “You’re so lucky you can go to college.”

Okay, wow. My daughter never really looked at it like that. It was taken for granted that there would be the opportunity for her to attend college.

Now this is totally human.¬†We don’t tend to think about these things-these absolute gifts-¬†all the time. Or think about the people-these absolute gifts in our lives-¬†all the time.¬†It’s really not sustainable to constantly be in a state of such focus.

But we should take more time to realize who and what we might be taking for granted. We absolutely should take more time to be mindful and appreciative of the gifts, comforts and blessings bestowed upon us. Communicate love and gratefulness.

We do plenty of things without giving them a single thought like…….

Hopping into the hot shower. Snuggling under the warm blanket with spouse, kid or pet. Turning on the tap and expectantly hold a glass under it. Waking up feeling fit and energetic. Flicking on the light. Cracking open the fridge. Pursing our lips for the perfunctory kiss at the front door. Saying the rote “I love you.” Opening the wallet. Closing the car door with the habitual thank you response.

Until we no longer have or we are faced with no longer having…..

Hot water. The warm cover over our bodies. The spouse, kid or pet no longer there. The surety that water will flow into the glass. Good health. The person at the front door. Electricity. The loved one on the other end of the telephone line. Money. The beloved parent in the car dropping you off one more time.

I wish all of you who are celebrating Thanksgiving a wonderful visit with family and friends. Enjoy and appreciate this special day. A perfect time to remember that the gifts, comforts and blessings in our lives should be like marble and not taken for granted.

To those who are not celebrating the holiday I wish you the same. A day of giving thanks.

One last thing. I’m very thankful for you all.

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

I am visiting Kuala Lumpur for a few days and really enjoying seeing the many delightful friends I’ve made over the last five years.

Staying in a nice, clean hotel. Staff has been great. No complaints.

Until.

Yesterday, I was finishing up something when the guy came to clean the room. When I made my way out of the room he had just finished making up the bed.

I came back a bit later and he was gone. Noticed a stain on the bed cover. Looked like someone spilled coffee. And the mark obviously didn’t come out in the wash. Certainly knew it wasn’t me since the only thing I drank in the room was water.

Besides, it was a new cover. He had taken mine off and put the “fresh” one on the bed.

Left to meet a friend for coffee and when I returned the fellow who cleans the room was back. Making up the bed again.

I said, “Oh, you’re back.”

He replied that he was changing the bed cover because of the stain. Or something like that.

What I wanted to discuss-but didn’t want to lose him in conversation-is why on earth he kept the stained cover on the neatly made bed? Once he discovered the stain why not take it off and go find an unstained one? ¬†

Weird.

This morning I hopped out of the shower and grabbed a neatly folded towel. It felt strange. I then took a good look at it. It had holes in it. Torn and worn.

towel

Weird.

I’m not blaming the cleaning guy (stain boy) who restocks the towel shelf in the bathroom. Because it was probably already folded in the laundry when it got to his cart.

Here’s my question.

Who folded it and thought it passed muster?

We’ve all folded a towel, right? And we all know that no matter how you fold a towel chances are pretty good that you would notice if it was torn nearly in half. No?

I’m not making a fuss. I thought both incidents were sort of funny in an odd way.

I will give my feedback to the hotel.¬†But I’m still really curious.

 

 

Read Full Post »

Many of us are already starting to feel sluggish from the many social events and holiday parties.

Here in Kuala Lumpur there is always something happening on the expat scene. It’s a lively and active social life. I’d say it’s because most of us don’t have our families around us so friends and neighbors sort of become substitute family members. Who tend to congregate with astonishing frequency and celebrate everything. Also a lot of us have extra time freed up for us which we wouldn’t have back home.

Since the second week of November I have attended numerous social events. Not all involved drinking (most) but all involved food.

There was a farewell brunch for a neighbor who was moving to Scotland. Then a 50th birthday party. Followed by book club later in the evening. Next night there was another 50th birthday bash. Different person. And then my monthly cultural club lunch. Had to beg off another monthly lunch gathering due to a conflict.

Then there was a lovely Thanksgiving dinner celebration with neighbors. Jazz night. Lunches with small groups of friends. Canadian Association coffee -and mimosas if one were so inclined. Christmas party with PTA. Holiday party next evening in the neighborhood. Book Club again. Couldn’t make my monthly culture club lunch this time. Unable to commit to an upcoming cookie exchange. Another goodbye gathering for neighbors moving to the U.S. took place last night.

I have one more event tomorrow. A Christmas luncheon with the Canadian and American Associations.

Then I am officially throwing in the towel.

It has totally been a blast. But quite exhausting. I’m feeling a bit sluggish. Need to recharge the batteries.

Here’s a recipe for those of you who have had enough already and want to get ahead of the game. And not wait until that pesky new year resolution ritual rolls around in January. Flush the toxins, suppress the appetite and possibly flatten the belly.

Flat Belly Water

Pour six cups of filtered water in a pitcher. Add one tablespoon of grated ginger. One sliced cucumber. One sliced lemon. Half cup of mint leaves. Let sit overnight in fridge.

Drink the next day.

I meant drink the water. LOL

Wishing you all loads of energy as you embrace the holiday season.

 

 

Read Full Post »

I was watching a program a few days ago. It’s called “The Fall” and it is set in Belfast. I think it’s fab.

In one scene, the head of the police investigation said, “Always look up at a crime scene.”

I thought that was interesting because I always look up-crime scene or not. In admiration of the architecture on a soaring skyscraper. Or the clouds in the sky. Or the moon. So many reasons to look up.

I’ve even told my kids, “Don’t forget to look up!”

Here in Kuala Lumpur I am constantly looking up at the astonishing number of buildings being erected.

I usually follow with, “Where are they going to find all these people to live and work in these buildings?? Especially in this economy.”

And when I’m driving in the city, where there are loads of construction sites near popular malls and restaurants, I look up and think, “Uh oh! I hope that crane/machine doesn’t come too close to me!”

Last week a young woman was sitting in her car during typical rush hour traffic on a city street called Jalan Raja Chulan.  Near the Pavilion Mall. Not moving because of the usual congestion. She was coming from her office.

Maybe she would go home and vent to her family about the traffic. Like we all might.

But she was not afforded that opportunity. Because a part of a crane (the hook) fell on her car and killed her instantly. She was twenty three years old. The hook weighed almost a ton. She never had a chance.

Apparently the crane operator fled the scene. He could be one of the many foreign workers from Bangladesh, Indonesia, etc. Nothing would get built in this city without them. Maybe he ran because he was undocumented. I really don’t know.

Who knows?

What I do know is that this tragedy should never have happened. I really do hope that there will be a full and real investigation that takes place. That someone takes responsibility for the death of this young woman who was just beginning her life.

There are plenty of “Safety” signs all over the city. But safety procedures actually have to be in place and adhered to in order to be effective. Workers must be skilled.

There are currently six hundred construction sites. That’s worrisome.

Because even if you look up there might not be a darn thing you can do about it.

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

I love dawn. Yes, the dawn of a new day. Who doesn’t?

But also the liquid dish soap. With a capital D.

I rarely find it in Kuala Lumpur and get a huge thrill when I do.

I do not just use it for dirty dishes. I also use it for my dirty laundry.  To treat grease stains before washing.

My mom’s friend Phyllis knew someone in the laundry business who passed along that wonderful tidbit. So, it’s been a laundry supply staple of ours for years and years.

Was at an East Side hair salon last week.

My daughter asked the stylist how to remove hair color.

The reply?

Dawn.

A few days before that we had plumbing issues at Mom’s house. Guys came in and took care of the problem. But we got to talking and I was asking one of them different questions.

One was about sluggish bathroom sinks and tubs. I told him I’ve always had problems because of my daughters’ hair.

He said,”It’s not hair that blocks drains.”

What??????

Continuing, “Everyone thinks that. But it’s actually soap scum that blocks everyone’s drains. Then hair and other stuff gets stuck¬†on the built up scum.”

I told him that I use Drano to clear it. Although I never really thought that Drano or Liquid Plumber was probably the best thing for the environment. It’s not cheap either.

He said, “Look, you never have to use Drano again.”

Asked me to get some Dawn. Poured some down the drain. Not much at all. Maybe a quarter of a cup. Then he flushed with hot water from the tap. Only for a few minutes.

It worked! I was quite impressed.

Apparently Dawn is the miracle soap and can be used for many things.

Google away.

You’re welcome.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

This weekend I was at the mall shopping for a prom dress.

Not for me. I am fifty one years old. Been a long time since I had a need for shopping OR a prom dress. The last prom I attended was in a dress borrowed from my friend Linda McCoart. 1980s.

Received a call from a friend. Asking if I had heard of a couple-parents from our school-having an accident in a popular tourist area outside of Kuala Lumpur.

My heart dropped but I said that I hadn’t heard a thing.

She said, “It was a couple from Pakistan and I saw you (and your husband) talking to them at the International Fest at school.”

Everyone knows my memory stinks. And everyone knows I talk to everybody.

I said, “I don’t remember.”

She said, “They both work at your husband’s company.”

Oh gosh.

She told me the name of the woman. It didn’t ring any bells. I asked if she knew the name of the husband. She didn’t.

Because she really didn’t know this couple. But she is also Pakistani.

I went home and checked the directory at the school by putting in the woman’s first name. Then when I found her surname I typed that in and got all people with that last name.

And it was someone I knew. The guy had taken over my husband’s team when my husband left for a new position in India.

I remembered the last time I was with him-partying at a rooftop bar overlooking the city.

I texted a friend who works at my husband’s company asking if anyone in the office had an accident.

He confirmed what/who I thought. It’s a small community.

I told him how I came upon the information.

He said that the Pakistani network is very strong. When he went to help the wife Friday night the global Pakistani network was in full force on her phone.

He also said,”I guess like many of the national groups.”

I called my friend. She didn’t answer.

She called back in a bit. Said she was on the phone with the wife. And was going to the hospital that evening to be with her.

This is what happened.

Family goes away for the weekend. Dad, Mom and two little ones. They stop at a waterfall on the way to the tea plantations. Dad slips and falls, quite a drop, and takes blow to the head. Thought he was dead. Locals rescue him from drowning. Although the fall into the water probably saved him from death. Wife takes husband to hospital a half hour away.

He has a head injury, broken ribs and arm. From what I am told he should be okay and is now recovering in a hospital here in Kuala Lumpur.

Thank God he will recover.

I was amazed (not really) at the response of a community looking out for their own.

Honestly. It is really hard when these things occur.

When you are in your hometown family and friends will flock to your (or your family’s) side.

When you are hundreds of miles away who do you have?

You have your community.

I know if something happened to me I would have the support of my friends who hail from Canada, Scotland, England, Ireland, Denmark, Trinidad, Lebanon, New Zealand, Australia etc.

But I also know that my American friends would be pushing, rallying and rapping at the door. And Americans who I might not even know.

That is what makes living away from home just a little bit easier.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »