Saturday, June 27, 2009

Same same but different

A few days ago, I was sent to cover a court case appealing a ban on a book published by Malaysian feminist NGO Sisters in Islam. The case got postponed, and I didn’t even end up doing a story on it. But I did meet Brigitte, a law student from the States who’s doing an internship with SIS.

She invited me to a party last night. I went. It was at a very swanky condo and full of foreigners who were in KL to work or study.

In that sense, it was different from backpacking. In many other senses, it was deja vu all over again.

Everyone’s answer to the question “So how do you know these people?” was, “I don’t!” Seems that everyone got invited in a similar way: they met somebody who knew somebody throwing the party who said “Hey, you’re foreign too, let’s hang out.” This, of course, happens when you’re backpacking all the time: Insta-best friends are made for a day or a week, drinking ensues, and the memory lives on only on Facebook.

The United Nations of Drunks phenomenon was also a throwback. People there were from Tahiti, Thailand, Singapore, and Chicago. All we really had in common was that we were in Malaysia temporarily, and by extension had enough cash to do things like throw dinner parties at condos and go clubbing. Slightly different from backpacking, when the connection was that we had enough cash to buy a plane ticket to the other side of the world but not enough to stay in a hostel with an indoor toilet, but similar.

By the time we coordinated our collective attention spans for long enough to get out the door, it was 2:30. We pushed our way to the centre of the dance floor and danced like obnoxious lushes for approximately 15 minutes before the lights came on.

I had a serious flashback to The Heart of Darkness, a club in Phnom Penh frequented by gangsters and rich Khmers. It had a stage-like platform in the centre. Mega and I used to hop on and start line dancing. I’m still not sure how we learned to line dance, but we broke out the choreography as often as possible.

Dudes would hop on too and try to dance with us, but we’d refuse unless they let us teach them the line dance. Soon we’d have a gaggle of rich Khmer gangsters line dancing on a platform in the middle of Phnom Penh’s most notorious club.

I said Asia blog 2.0 would be more journalism and less gin buckets. It’s possible I lied.

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