Monday, May 16, 2005

On the way to/from work

Petrol price has gone up again. Despite what Alicia Keys says in Karma, what goes up must come down, I don’t think it is applicable on petrol prices. And so, Yamtuan says, take the commuter to go to work. Being the taat wife that I am, snicker snicker, I agree without making a fuss. I actually enjoy train rides (Disclaimer: not that I don’t enjoy car rides with him).

I get to meet many interesting characters on train, and i get to eavesdrop on interesting conversations too (sorry people).

On the way to office a few days ago, at Subang Jaya station, I saw the platform where I was supposed to wait for my train was closed. A fresh-faced girl was looking at me tercangak-cangak. I approached her.
‘that side is closed? How ah?’ I asked. She seemed like a girl fresh from school. Hair tied in one neat ponytail, colourful tee and sneakers. Youngish alright.
if you want to go to either directions, you wait at this platform.’ She said with a smile.
thanks’ and she continued her neck exercise, you know, stretch to left, see, no train, stretch to right, look see, no train, stare ahead. And I did the same.
Not many minutes later, a harassed looking lady arrived. She too wanted to go to the other platform. Upon seeing the red plastic ‘CSI’ tape barring the way, she approached the same fresh-faced girl.
They exchanged conversations in Chinese. Smiles were exchanged too. Both looked at me and gave me a knowing nod.
I have been waiting for half an hour’ the girl offered.
oh, there’s the train. Thank God we did not have to wait as long as you.’ The elderly lady said.
More smiles were exchanged and all three of us got in the train.

The elderly lady sat next to me. Her name was Jane.
what is that for?’ she pointed to the red coleman case that I carried. It is such an ice-breaker, conversation item.
oh, it is for later. I will be transporting breastmilk for my baby. I have ice packs in here.’ I explained. If a man asked, I usually would say that I have organ transplants in it. Some days it would be kidney, some days it would the heart or brain even.
good! Good! Breast milk is always the best milk.’ And that started our conversation on children.
during pregnancy, every waking hour you spent praying to God that your baby would be good looking and intelligent. You dose yourself with good nutrients, brain food and you read the encyclopedia and play the Mozart to your growing fetus. When the baby was born, you read to him the quantum physics everyday. Before the child could even speak, you teach him how to rhyme words and write drama scripts. When one day you point a flower to your kid, ‘flower’, you say. He answers back, ‘orchid la’, you go and call the press, ‘I have a genius in my house’. You get my drift?’ she asked and I nodded my head. Interesting lady.
now the kid is bigger and he wants to bungee jump. You are horrified and a big NO comes out. And this intelligent kid of yours starts to answer back. He has 1001 arguments why the activity should be allowed, why it is safe, why a kid his age should be encouraged to explore and experiment. He has the internet and many books to quote from. You will find yourself wishing that you are as smart and as quick witted. You see their logic but mother’s logic still screams NO. And you wonder why you ever wished him to be that smart. And damn the internet. And you can’t argue back because you only have one reason (as opposed to his 1001), yours is just ‘because I am your mother and I say you can’t’.
‘more often than not, I don’t argue with my children. I just keep quiet, unless I have a very very strong point.’ She said.
Okay… I am a mother of two. My kids are still small. When my two-year-old Dot insists that green is blue, I get proud, oohhh, she has opinion, how smart (or maybe she is colour blind just like the father). Maybe one day I will go through the lady’s experience. But for now, let me enjoy my Dot. She still thinks I am God. Enough about parenting.
‘what do you do, Jane?’
‘I am a lawyer. My firm is right there at ***.’A lawyer was made speechless in arguing with her offspring. Alamak…. How would I fare! Sure worse than her. Hmmm.. it is time to burn all books in the house, and Dot shall have no access to the internet.

On the way back home yesterday, a group of Indian youths were chatting away.
‘my name is pure Tamil.’ One girl proudly announced.
‘yessa? My name is pure Sanskrit.’ Her male friend replied
‘mine is pure Sanskrit but it is pronounced in a pure Tamil way so most Samis cant tell the difference.’ Another friend piped in.
And they went on and on about whose name was pure Tamil and whose was pure Sanskrit and the meanings of each.

I remembered asking one ustazah the meaning of my name.
She scoffed at me, ‘nama awak nama orang kafir. Tak ada makna apa-apa dalam Arab’.. hmm, what a load of ****. And not a very nice thing to say to a 14-year old too. Something that I remembered until today.

Today on the way to work, I sat beside a very beautiful lady. I guessed her age to be in early 40s. Covered in jubah and black gloves, her beauty did not get covered.
'what is that you carrying? Bawak bekal to work?' my coleman worked like a charm.
We chatted. She spoke fairly good English too. She told me that she was in her mid 60s (omigawd… no way, I swear she doesn’t look her age!). She did Chemical Engineering at UM, worked for a few years, fell in love, got married, had 6 children, quit her job to be a full-time mom, husband died when children were all very small, never remarried.
where are the children now?’ I asked
the eldest is a medical doctor in UK, one is teaching law in UIA, etc etc’ success story of a single mom. I almost cried. Inspiring.
how did you do it?’ I must know.
we survived on arwah’s savings, his insurance money and by being very careful with spending it. And lots of solat and doa’ she said.
call me Hajah Mim (Mim is her initial in jawi). Here I give you my phone number, do you email?’ she asked. Impressive. Of course I do, and will we email each other, of course I know I will (her youthful secret i want i want). Another interesting point to note here is that her name is the same as mine, one kafir name, no meaning in Arab (hah!).
The train stopped at my station. I salam her tanda hormat and before I left, she said, ‘jangan lupa solat. Penting tu.’ Yes ma'am.

I just love the train.

NotaKaki: I have introduced a friend to blogs. He said he is now 'hooked'. Does that make him a bloghooker?


Blogger Kak Teh said...

OOD, i love train rides too but i also enjoy chatting to cabbies.many interesting stories, kan? and in the morning , kalau tak baca buku, i watch commuters and play mind games - hehe

11:35 PM  
Blogger AuntyN said...

Nice story OOD. Think we are all ramah people will end up having a conversation on train, cab or buses.

1:39 AM  
Blogger Susan Abraham said...

Perhaps more of a more blog-addict than a blog-hooker...though of course, the latter sounds more intriguing. he-he!
Anyway, first time I'm dropping in.
*best wishes*

5:16 AM  
Blogger hana_kirana said...

I love to travel by train as well. Di samping mempraktiskan apa yang dibaca dari buku, "Body Language" by Allan and Barbara Pease. hehe...

Anyway, nice story. I learnt something today. Thanx.

9:20 AM  
Blogger OOD said...

kak teh & hana,
my new game; trying to telepathy them. i try willing them to do something; like scratch their armpits. So far, no success but i will keep on trying.

next time u are in komuter and u see in the coach many people scratching their armpits mindlessly, look for me. i will be the one with the red coleman siren.

Hi Susan Abraham,
YOU are a writer!! Yey!
I have been to your site quite regularly really. All are writers there so, i am always on 'Read-Only' mode. Hope to see your book out real soon!

8:01 PM  
Blogger Buburkacang said...

Bloghooker, hmm... interesting, very interesting. Might have to remind myself to use that word in my next posting...hehehe... Anyway, i've always enjoyed your story-telling shenanigans since, well, since i found your blog (or rather someone told me about it...).

2:41 AM  
Blogger AuntieYan. said...

OOD, first time masuk sini Auntie dah 'terjatuh cinta'!..kena datang selalu nampak gayanya.:)

1:12 AM  

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