lundi 15 mai 2017


I had a delightful time in KL, a quiet one and with the staff at Hilton Double Tree spoiling me, and with a Facial by Anna at Guinot.
The bus ride to Malacca was a blur, the rumbling down the asphalt made oblivious by sleep. When I woke up from my slumber we were already approaching Malacca, and the bus ride is only something just over two hours.
(a very modern bus station in Kuala Lumpur, accessible by Metro)
Malacca Sentral Bus Station has been for me a metaphor of the failure of the Malaysian government to raise the level of living of the Malay people, but how they have managed to make these lovely people dependent and docile. After 50 years of Independence and positive discrimination on their behalf, they are still frying noodles and selling rubbish from China. They are doing jobs that require no effort, most of the time, deeply disengaged from the world around them by their smart phones.
My Uber driver was Nizam, a Military man, who was pleasant, engaging and nice to talk to. I just started with Uber, he confided and I did not speak any English and here I am speaking English, and I have had the opportunity to interact with multiple nationalities, the very same mind broadening experience denied to most Malays, while they are secluded away in their hijab and false sense of uniqueness.
I thought of the dignity of the Arab men in the Gulf countries, they walk with such pride and their women dressed like their grandmothers had dressed, living in tents in the harsh deserts before the Oil was discovered. The Malays in Malaysia are doing the kind of work the immigrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal are doing in those countries. In Malaysia, intelligent expats aid the intense and goal oriented Chinese (who are decreasing in numbers on a daily basis) to carry out the infrastructure of running the country while titled Malays fill the pages of the newspapers with their political pronouncements and meaningless campaigns in a country considered to be one of the most corrupt in Asia, keeping company with fellow countries such as Indonesia, Cambodia and Laos.
As Nizam the Uber driver personifies, Malay people are some of the sweetest people you wish to meet but they are caught up in the Malay Dilemma as Mahathir had defined many years ago.
The outcome is that a foreigner like me can have delightful time in Malaysia. I make the above remarks only as an anthropological observation but not an expression of my sentiment; I am very fond of Malaysia and visit here more often than most people visit their families!

(as friendly as always, LY welcomed me with coffee and cakes)
Arriving at Hotel Equatorial, I was warmly welcomed by the Front Desk manager who insisted that I have something to eat and drink and she sat with me while I had a cappuccino and a chicken pie. I had been given a very comfortable room and entrance into their Executive Club and the next two days turned out to be very relaxing and cleansing to me. A one-hour signature massage at their Spa only helped the matter even more so. Existentialist questions began to fade away, I slept when I wanted and however long I wanted, walked around the town a little but most of the time was ensconced in the hotel.

The breakfast was diverse, and well served and attended. There were many Malay families, looked as if they were on some sort of vacation. There were hardly any foreigners; the staff was ever so attentive.
In the Executive Lounge, the students who are doing their internship from their Hospitality Management courses were delightful to talk to, a Hindu from Bali, another from Mid Java, a local Chinese girl. In fact the staff at Hotel Equatorial is what you want Hotel staff to be: friendly attentive and leave you alone when you want solitude.

 I had also the pleasure of meeting Mr. D, who hails from the local Chetty community, one of the first established communities in Malacca, when the ruler was a Hindu Prince from Sumatra. The club offers a reasonable spread between 5 30 and 7 30 pm and after that one becomes too lethargic to go out to eat!
My good friends of many years, I and A, came and picked me up in time for dinner at an outdoor, popular Indian eatery where I tasted some tender lamb, Garlic Nan and spinach and a chicken curry. Mrs. I is always interested in discovering odd bits of history and this time she introduced me to a book (which I subsequently ordered from Amazon and it is already waiting for me in Miami) about the visit of Rabbi Yacob of Ancona who visited China long before Marco Polo and wrote about it. Rabbi Yacob had visited the Malabar Coast and had seen the thriving Jewish community of Quilon, which Marco Polo had also mentioned. Cochin was not in existence then, but Shingly was, as Cragnanore was then called. I always learn something from Mr. A, a prominent advocate, who corrected my western ideas of Chinese economic imperialism, in light of the Summit in Beijing about the New Silk Route of Commerce. 
Words of Prime Minister Xi reminded me of the words of the greatest Navigator Zheng He who had visited most of the countries involved in the New Silk Route and his method of negotiation in which, you submit to the superiority of the Chinese and in return China does not conquer you but assist you to prosper. Under the Ming Dynasty, China had chances to be an imperial power but they were quite content with the submission of their vassals only in words but not actually being subservient to the Chinese, who left after leaving gifts for their confessed inferiors, rather than conquering them.
Malacca is undergoing huge expansion, funded by money from China and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Chinese upgraded the airport so that there could be direct flights from China!

You would see descendants to rubber tappers who were brought over from Madras, still with their sweet innocent and unsophisticated look in their faces, dining at one of the many restaurants at the so called Little India (a tourist invention)

The lack of sophistication of an emerging nation is seen in its ignorance of information. To get information about buses to Singapore, a common occurrence in these parts turned out to be difficult. In the end, I resorted to the Internet and booked a ticket, paying 50% more for the privilege, and of course no one knew where and what and how to catch the bus, but in the end I was on board a bus bound for Singapore …