mercredi 26 juin 2013

INCREDIBLE MALAYSIA: HIGH LEVEL HOSPITALITY

AIR ASIA, whose CEO, Tony Fernandes, a Malaysian Indian, has done more for the integration of ASEAN countries than any SINGLE politician of the region, and now connecting both India as well as China to the ASEAN regions.
Now everyone can fly, their motif, is truly representative of this most democratization of all airlines, which has won STARTRAX airline awards five years in a row for the Best Budget Airline in the World.
The country that produced Tony Fernandes has also produced thousands of friendly Malaysians, not all of them as prodigious as Snr. Fernandes. But it is the every day person, that I, like most visitors to this country, encounter on arrival to this country.
Arrived by Air Asia from Bali, a short 2 hours and 30 minutes flight. Very quickly through the Immigration, to the busstand where the AeroBus was waiting to take the travellers directly to KL Sentral..a central point for all transportation for different parts of the city.
But I had arrived, alas, just past midnight and all forms of public transportations were closed and only taxis were available. I had arrived one hour after leaving LCCT at Kuala Lumpur Airport, was looking for directions to the taxi stand. it was then,
A Tamil Malaysian lady, approached me, incorporating the conversation without slacking her pace of walking and said: I will take you to the place to the get the Taxi. We had to go up one flight of stairs and then walk around the corner and viola.. the prepaid taxi counter was open. I had been warned about the taxi touts at KL sentral and was prepared for a little confrontation but the chubby Malay lady at the counter, asked me for my destination and issued me a receipt for a modest sum of money which had included the 50% surcharge on taxi hire after midnight. I thanked the kind Tamil lady for taking me to the right place, away from the touts at the bus arrival stand.
My taxi was just outside and the driver was a delightful Malay Malaysian by the name of Ismail. He proudly showed me his ID, now expired, from University of Malaya from which he had retired (office worker). He drives a taxi at his pleasure and leisure and is very happy with his new life . He was kind, soft spoken, exactly opposite to what I had been warned about Taxi Drivers at KL Sentral. This effusive friendliness at way past Midnight ..
We talked about many things, this pleasant Malaysian gave me him mobile phone number, in case he can be of help to me. He said, the pleasure of my job is that I get to meet people from all over the world. And he was genuinely interestes in hearing about the Malaysian Medical Students studying in Cuba!!
I wanted to give him a tip, which he said he was very reluctant to accept. I gave him one of my visiting cards, and felt good about having taken his taxi.

My good luck was not to end there. A young man, Vel by name, was manning the HHonours Desk at the Check in at the hotel. He was extraordinarily welcoming, asking me questions wanting to know how they can make my stay more comfortable. He upgraded me to a room in the 32nd floor, a free breakfast was organized at the resataurant (alas, I slept through the resto hours). Certainly, a welcome like that is soothing to a traveer.. and makes me eager to complete my  HH Gold obligations for the year 2013!
My good Malaysian Chinese friend had introduced me to a nice group of Malaysians in the previous years who had welcomed me warmly, but it is different when such friendliness comes from total strangers, in everyday encounters, then you begin to sway away from the cliches and understand the true nature of Malaysians.
The lunch was at a Banana Leaf restaurant, after Lunch I had even more inexplicable encounter.
An European man, appearing completely out of place in this heavily Tamil neighbourhood, in the couture of a devout Shiviite brahmin priest? approached me and asked me.. Are you from India? No. Bangladesh? No. Nepal? No. Sri Lanka? No. I wanted to engage him in a conversation, so I asked: Parlez vouz Francais? From his reply, I could see that he was not proficient in that gaullic tongue. What language do you speak? hoping that i will not offend him. Spanish, he answered.
This man, who had renounced all wordly pleasures had been once upon a time, probably in another lifetime for him, from Entre Rios in Argentina, now living in an Ashram in Karnataka. We talked, in the language common to us both, the tongue of Cervantes...Love and Peace, non attachment to the body, manifestations of God with spiritual mission among every day population.. we talked about a few things which he knew more than me, of course with participatory knowledge as well.. I was eager to absorb..
What do you think of Yoga? I asked him. Pranayama is good, he said, but Prana, the energy, people think it is everywhere. On a day like today, when the city is submerged in clamour and smoke and pollution, it would be difficult to find Prana. A place with clean air, such as we find in the Himalayas is the place for Prana to exist. Cleansing of your physical self is very important, he said with a smile.
I certainly hope I showed him the respect he deserves even though we tend to chide europeans dressed in oriental clothes trying to educate the orientals in their own philosophy. But oriental or occidental, understanding of the deep philosophy makes us overcome the hurdles our own thinking places in the way of our happiness. We want to be secure, so we begin to accumulate, we need time and then there is desire..so that mind has no doors open for new ideas, nor the time...
Many of the deep philosophy from the orient, resonates well with the American Indians, so I will quote from the Lakota, Fools Crow:
"We are called hollow bones for our people and for anyone else we can help, and we are not supposed to seek power for our personal use and honor."
-- Fools Crow, LAKOTA
I had written an earlier blog about Hollow Bone and the link is here:
http://medicoanthropologist.blogspot.be/search?q=hollow+bone
That very evening at a roadside restaurant in Gotong Raya, in Genting Highlands the experience of meeting a group of delightful International Malaysians was the crowning of this short 40 hour visit to Malaysia.. I was touched by the affection and love that was palpably present in that group while we devoured some of the nicest tasting curry that I had ever eaten! (the first photo shows Mutton Curry and Fish head Curry)