He was a lone musician playing clarinet on the bridge that spanned the Sarawak.
The acoustics in the semi-enclosed area, covered by a white tarp, amplified the woodwind instrument. It wasn’t a guitar but a fucking clarinet. I’d be looking out for an oboe next time.
I casually walked up to the cap on the ground. It was empty and the one Ringgit note would go flying on the breath of the cool breeze. It was the tropics but the weather had a balmy feel to it.
I went up to the Malay player, long hair, obviously an artist and handed him the note.
‘Be careful,’ he says, ‘it’s illegal to pay buskers on the bridge.’
He meant it was illegal to busk on the bridge.
He took the money nevertheless after I prepared a stealthy exchange.
So I shook his hand while handing over the cash.
It was all deliciously cloak and dagger.
I returned back after visiting James Booke’s castle. And I gave him another handshake.
‘Enough for a Tee Tarik,’ I said, enjoying this cat and mouse game against the roaming security who knew exactly what was going on. They turned a convenient blind eye.
The music was magical, the tunes rolling off and continuing on the air currents of the river.
He deserved the eighty cents my currency, every fucking cent of it.
I”m not sure what James Brooke would think of the state of affairs, but I was told he was a big fan of Jane Austin movies, and I’m sure he was also moved by the reed music of the clarinet.
I looked over towards the castle. If his ghost wasn’t looking back, I’m sure he’d be touched by the gesture. His love was a Malaysian man which only added speculation to his sexual preferences. And even to this day, the hot Malay muscitians are still serenading the spirit of the white rajah of Sarawak.
‘At least you buskers are better than the ones in Pontiniak,’ I said, adding as an aside, ‘they get very irate if you don’t tip them, they have very expensive drug habits to feed.’
I’m wondering if the musicians are serenading the older Western women who are walking the streets and drooling in droves.
I did see a big pair of tits walk past me outside the old courthouse, built around 1883 and spacious and ideal for the tropics, said a plaque. But for the life of me, I just couldn’t peg the ethnic group of those perfect set of tits. The pair could have been Chinese or Iban. As far as ethnic watching goes, I’m still a novice.
I still needed to test if the streets were safe.
So I mosey up to a security guard who was talking to a fellow Malay on the promenade.
‘It’s safe, lah,’ said the guy without the teeth. Apparently, they only employ security guards with teeth.
And one thing let to another.
He liked Najib.
And one thing led to another.
‘It’s the Chinese backing Mahathir.’
I raised my eyebrows. I didn’t mind Najib. Anyone one who could do conjuring tricks like he did, was okay in my books. I had read Don’t Get Caught, so I knew the score.
The toothless guy continued.
‘It’s the Chinese who want to rule Malaysia.’
They would if Mahathir got into power. He’d have to at least produce a willing puppet for them.
And it won’t be Anwar Ibrahim, it will be his son, says the toothless sage.
‘Look at Singapore,’ he continues, ‘you can’t smoke in public.’
Ahh, now I could see his logic. It would be a dastardly deal if Malaysia ever went that way.
Even some of the Chinese Malaysian would stomp their feet in the Singapura of Malaysia.
April or May is the election date. We are all waiting, with baited breath.
Najib seems in control.
‘Mahatir, who is he?’ asked my friend.
A former PM who ruled for decades.
He’s really hoping Najib wins.
He’s my papa when I’m in town, I say.
My friend loved asking the questions.
‘He gave me three months on my visa, how can I argue with that?’
Now it’s back to my Sawarak Laksa.
What is it, I asked the tall and very cute Chinese lady who is wearing a T-Shirt that says: ’ I AM WHERE ARE YOU.’ I still couldn’t figure out it’s meaning.
‘It’s Laksa Laksa.’
She could have been a supermodel on any fashion runway in any metropolitan city of the world. And she knew it.
Laksa Sarawak, I got it, I told her. Man did I feel stupid, just.
But it’s a framing shot that gets my attention. There are features framed on the shop from papers like The Singapore Straites.
I spot the old man in the framed feature. He is hanging around inside.
So you are the famous man, I say.
Five minutes later, he’s still showing me photos, clippings, DVDs.
And old Chinese man walks past the shop to ask the famous man for some cash. He’s carrying a heavy bag on his back and is stooped over.
The famous framer sends the old bum on his way.
I suppose you don’t get famous by handing out charity to unwanted guests from the street.
I noticed another framed photo of the famous man next to Najib.
Oh, it’s papa, papa.
His son realized I had outstayed my welcome and wished me the best of luck with a guiding arm out the door.
It was obvious that his father was on the other side of senility and I had been exploiting it.
I got some nice selfies with him, though.
The old lady is still slumped on a chair at the noodle shop. She’s not moving anytime soon.
Wait, she gets up in a sitting position. She is tired. I really know how she feels.
I’m only a five-minute walk from my hotel. But I’m still in shock about that story on ‘cut-throat’ ally. Don’t doubt for a moment that it didn’t happen.
Now the old lady is throwing out abuses.
It might be time for me to leave here soon. She’s unhinged. I’m in good company.
She’s chain-smoking and has a notepad with scribbles in it. It’s never too late to express yourself, artistically, is it?
I noticed she’s smoking the tax-free cigarettes. God bless her soul. Who likes paying cigarette taxes, I certainly don’t.
You don’t see many foreign tourists smoking local and illegal cigarettes. When they see you with a pack, say ERA, the brand with full flavor, they tend to you give you a nod of approval.
In some ways, I’ve made it.
Even the old Chinese lady mutters something in Hokkien. Perhaps she was saying that I’ve made it too. One can only live in hope.
Opposite me is a Chinese temple. Dam, I forgot my camera. But that shouldn’t stop me from exploring, should it?
I rely too much on that camera and never post the pictures, let alone edit them. I know hard work when I see it.
I was almost swept out of the Sarawak Lhaksa place. So I drifted over the road next to the temple to the QQ Smile bakery. The lady who served me a drink at the other place delivered the drinks from here. She was cute, Chinese, wearing a Batman T-shirt.
‘Are you batwomen,’ I asked, so went the banter.
I’ve just ordered a coffee, so wish me luck folk.
It’s a slow day and I’m lapping up the atmosphere before things really go off during the Chinese New Year. Firecrackers traditionally funk me out. It’s always the big explosion after the small ones that I worry about most.
‘You big sissy,’ said Bat Woman. She was speaking three Chinese dialects to her friend, Hokkien, Hakka and Fochou. I didn’t follow a word of it.
I’m gonna hang out here more often.
‘No you’re not,’ says Batwoman, ‘ we are closed for seven days and open on two three.’ She meant the 23rd. I was falling for her Chinese ways big time.
‘Dirty old man alert,’ she said as I left. She then pressed the Dirty Old Man button. The siren wailed the lights flashed. I thought she was starting off the Chinese New early.
‘We love dirty old men,’ she says, ‘usually they are the biggest spenders.’
So it was a send-off of sorts. I was flattered.
I”m still here, daydreaming.
I ordered another coffee.
I’m still annoying Aki. She’s being very obliging. Normally I get thumbs down and a fuck you from most of the Chinese. Not this sweet one, she’s even smiling at me.
And the talent walking past here is just unbelievable. Tits galore and tight skirt, mostly dressed in tight shorts, just like Aki, is another reason why I’m not running back to my room for an old man’s nap.
Man, they are killers. Trying to wake up after an hour siesta takes me hours. Better I drink more coffee and enjoy the sights of Borneo.
Aki is wearing a tight pair of denim shorts, a Batman t-shirt and has an amazing grasp of English and knowledge on Asian cuisine, she’s proving to be the most delightful company.