8.24pm - Curiouser And Curiouser

Trip Start Jan 07, 2010
Trip End Dec 13, 2010

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Flag of Malaysia  , Wilayah Persekutuan,
Saturday, April 3, 2010

Saturday 3 April, 8.24pm, 5 Elements Hotel

Alright. I caved. I am now officially sick, and the lack of sleep I was getting from my roommate's snoring was leading me to spend a little bit too much time staring at kitchen knives, so I decided that for my health and her safety, it would be best if I excused myself to different accommodation for the last couple of nights of my stay. Last night I slept properly. It was fantastic. All is now right with the world.

So I’ve been having fun with strangers again here in KL. As usual, it’s my fellow travellers that are the oddballs, not the natives (they just want your money, it’s a fairly straightforward deal). First, there was Kane. Kane was from Sierra Leone, and in Malaysia on business. He was at great pains to point out how much money he had, and what a catch he was. I find a healthy amount of suspicion towards anyone who’s a little too friendly tends to cut down on the muggings, so I was a bit standoffish at first. But as he, and I quote, "wants a white English woman very much", my standoffishness was nothing. If anything, it served only to spur him on – he claimed he had never failed in his life and he loved a challenge. Perhaps my coyness reassured him that I wasn’t a whore, I don’t know. I considered inventing a husband to explain why I didn’t want to his hotel with him, but my ring was on the wrong finger and I couldn’t be bothered trying to subtly switch it, so after a couple of drinks I feigned exhaustion and he walked me back to the hostel. After lots of insisting on his part that I let him take me out the following night, I gave him my number, figuring I could deal with it later, and then when he proceeded to call me over and over again all night long, thoroughly alarming me with both his over-eager attentions and his complete lack of respect for the noble institution of sleep, I turned the phone off and crossed my fingers I wouldn’t run into him again. I think it’s for the best – he was very perturbed when I said I didn’t follow any particular religion, and did not seem to appreciate it when I expounded on my secular views. It didn’t stop him later proposing marriage, of course, but then, that’s true of any conversation.

The following evening, I was quietly reading and eating my chicken rice in the café downstairs from the hostel when the eReader made another new friend. People bloody love that thing, you know – not once has someone failed to comment on it every time I read from it in public. I’m going to put a sticker on the back, I think, because the conversation is always the same:

“It’s called an eReader/yes, it is.” (depending on whether the opener is “What’s that?” or “Is that one of those electronic book things?” I usually follow this with a small demo by holding it up to them and turning a couple of pages.)
“About 200 books, give or take.”
“Just this and a wire.”
“Yes, through USB.”
“Yes, you can buy them online and download them onto the reader.”
“Yes, it’s very handy, mainly because it’s so light.”
“About $250.” (depending on if they’re rude enough to ask)

I’ve had a few others, such as “Can you change the print size?” from an silver-haired woman in an airport queue, “Where did you get it?” from a waiter in a restaurant in Alice Springs (sadly I had to inform him they hadn’t been released in Oz yet – he looked quite gutted), and from one enterprising fellow sitting next to me on the MRT in Singapore, “What formats does it hold?”. He was quite dorkily excited when I said that it would display PDFs. Of course, I was no less dorkily intrigued by an article on the iPad that hinted at EPUB compatibility, so I can’t really talk. (To digress even further, I must say, I’m excited for iPad 2.0 – as soon as it’s got a camera and they’ve tackled the multitasking issue that’s annoying so many pundits, I could definitely be talked into one. Judging by the fact that I had another, albeit far more minor, shampoo invasion in my bag on my last plane journey, I will no doubt have destroyed my eReader by the time they release the next model, so I’ll be in need of something to replace it.)

Anyway. Back to my chicken rice and Alice In Wonderland. I was sipping my Tiger and ignoring the world at large because I was painting the roses red, when suddenly an Aussie voice broke in: “You’re making me hungry!”

I looked up to see a middle aged guy sitting at the next table slurping his own beer and nodding at my food. I smiled politely and said something about how I was sure his food would be along soon, then returned to my book. But he was not to be politely dismissed, not when the eReader was in sight. No, instead my new friend insisted on asking the eReader Questions above, and without pausing for breath segued neatly into the Traveller’s Questions (where are you from, where are you going, where have you been, why are you here, where are you staying, and what did you do today – they are the equivalent of “And what do you do?” when you’re on the road, and some people toss them out before they’ve even introduced themselves). Normally I’m cool with the Questions, having asked and answered them many times, but I was tired and would have been in bed already if I hadn’t been starving. I wasn’t in the mood for small talk. But it turned out this guy was from just south of Adelaide, so I gamely switched my smile on and spoke lovingly of my favourite Aussie city for a few minutes.

Eventually I lapsed back into silence, however, and wondered if that might be it for now. Apparently not. Having run out of interesting things to say, he then began to give me his views on the Asian people. Oddly, for a man voluntarily in Malaysia, they were largely uncomplimentary. I am rarely in the mood for casual racism as it is, but this evening I was particularly unreceptive to it. Having learnt a long time ago that hotly debating any fascism results usually results in said fascist dismissing me as being irrational (occasionally throwing in the “Are you on your period or something?” line), these days I tend to shut down and go for the cold stare and monosyllabic answers until they crack on that they’ve lost me. Handily, this was basically what I wanted to do anyway due to the aforementioned sleepiness, so it was win-win. Victories for tolerance are all the sweeter when you get an early night out of them.
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Jane on

I awoke at 1am to the ping of my emails arriving on this phone so lazily glanced to see if there was anything interesting. There was/is but yours is the one I opened and read. So happy to read about your oddball fellow travellers and your conversations (and proposals). Too tired to respond so I shan't tonight 'cept to say it's great to read your sentences again, my fellow geek.

suzloua on

I am torn between loving your love, and being concerned that you're sacrificing sleep for me. Nothing is worth sacrificing sleep for. Nothing.

dini123 on

I do not want him for a son-in-law, do not give your number to anyone that I would not want for a son-in-law, do not let shampoo get near the newbie eReader. Why does it look pink in the picture, I thought it was black. love mummy. x

suzloua on

It looks pink because it is pink. Was it not supposed to be pink?

Lou on

I have no need or wish for a crazy e-reader - I am sure you know my view on such contraptions, but I do want a Dara book!!!! I did not know this existed. Is it any good? Is it simply magical? Is it written in a way which makes you imagine his voice when you read the words? I love it when books do that,

The majority of African men hit on you and come on WAY too strong, this is a fact I learnt at university, where I was hit on/proposed to and generally not left alone by several of my lovely African friends (less friends, more drink buying ego boosts) and also a TV show which tried to examine how men from different cultures dated in different ways, it was a great show, and the guy from Nigeria did propose, and yes, he had a girlfriend or wife back home it turned out.
Which leads me the to the reason for this horrendous generalisation...

WHY did you not give your fake number? Mine is 07903455256. I can recite it as easily as if it was my own (made easier by only changing one digit of my actual number. Make one up, learn it, give it out with confidence. Then your sleep will never be disturbed again. Silly lady!

Jane on

Yes Susan, give him your fake number (a combination of my sister's number and my own number, in my case) but with a smile and a direct look in the eye. Marriage proposals are fun. And each region/country in the world has a different way of presenting them! By the way, in response to one of your recent blogs, the iPad is looking nicer and nicer. But I want Version 2 as well. Let 'em work out all the kinks before I get hold of it. Can't wait for the next blog entry.

jane on

Also, I fell fast asleep after taking a read of your blog. So just be impressed by my love, not my lack of sleep. :-)

suzloua on

Louby: eReaders are not bad things. eReaders are good. I wish I'd known you didn't know about the Dara book though, because I would have bought it for you for Christmas. It is most excellent. You would love it. Very funny. And yes, you can totally imagine his voice.

You both worry me with the ease your fake number trips off your tongues. I don't have a fake number. I should obviously get one. But either way, it wouldn't have helped me in this situation - he said give me your number and I'll ring you so you've got mine. If my phone didn't ring, I think he might have been suspicious. It's cool, I'm like an Olympic level call screener, that's why I have individual ringtones for people - I don't even have to get up to know if I want to answer it or not.

Lou on

Oh dear. Amateur. "My battery died earlier, could you text me so that when I plug it back in I will get your message?"
Or switch it to airplane mode so you have no signal? Or say, I am sorry, but I leave tomorrow so will not be able to see you again

Do I need to send you on a course on how to avoid creepy men? Honestly, I could give it. I can book a conference suite and get some biscuits. Do some diagrams on a flip chart.


suzloua on

This is like the time when I was crying and you stopped me dead in my tracks by lying so instantly and expertly that my upset was totally displaced by my open mouthed admiration. The flight mode thing is GOOD!

The "I leave tomorrow" thing puts me in danger of "Well, we better make this night count then". And is not as much fun as "I can't do this. I'M IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE ELSE!"

Melly on

Then you must go to him!

suzloua on


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