Saturday, June 20, 2009

The ultimate crackpot scheme begins

Oh, hi.

Long time no see. I try to keep myself on a minimum deadline of one post a week, but I've slacked the last couple. I have an excuse though: I've been preparing for the ultimate crackpot scheme. I have taken my blazer and left - the country. I'm in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, enjoying a tourist weekend before I start my internship with independent alternative online publication www.TheNutGraph.com and doing research for my radio doc.

I have to admit, my main emotion over the last week or so has not been excitement. It's been sheer panic. It quickly sunk in that I had committed to a gigantic project on the exact opposite side of the world involving the cooperation of people I had met solely on the internet, with extremely high pressure to succeed, and quite frankly, a limited knowledge of the country I was about to report on and zero knowledge of the official language.

This was not helped by a certain friend of mine pointing this out to me: "So wait a minute. You just sent out emails saying you were doing a documentary on an extremely controversial subject and people just showered you with job offers and places to stay? You HAVE been to Asia and know that you have to be careful what you get yourself into, right? You ARE sure these people are who they say they are, right?"

Cue spiral of paranoia.

All of which dissolved once I got out of the taxi and into my lovely new room in a garden view flat, which I share with a very nice married couple who are about to start a film production company. Who yes, offered me a sublet out of nowhere on the internet. The flat is filled with cats and books and music. I love it.

The moral of the story: Always depend on the kindness of strangers (My parents are having a heart attack right now as they read this. Hi, dad).

The flight was terrible. There were eight screaming babies in my part of the airplane on the flight to Hong Kong, and I sat in the middle seat by an ancient man who smelled funny and needed to be helped up every time I got up to use the bathroom. Also, the recycled air triggered my allergies (my assmar!) and everyone probably thought I had swine flu as I sneezed continuously. Also, I'd say about 15% of the people on the plane and in the Toronto airport were wearing swine flu masks. At least I'm not the only one indulging in a spiral of paranoia.

But Kuala Lumpur is great. I've got deja vu in the best possible way. Today I had a sugar cane juice, rode a monorail, and had weird garbage water fall on me like, five times. Asia, I love you.

The biggest deja vu trigger is the smell. I was trying to figure out what exactly that distinctive Asia smell is composed of. I settled on mosquito coils, cigarette smoke, motorbike exhaust, and miscellaneous rotting garbage piles. You know, the smell of progress.

Seriously though, KL is super interesting, amazingly multicultural, with a cool Muslim twist. I was tempted to buy a knock-off Coach logo tudong today (the Malaysian version of a hijab). Maybe some other time.

After this, I visit the rainforest in the middle of the city (you read that correctly), then head to the mall to attempt to buy an outlet converter for all my rechargeable electronices (if I can't find one I'm seriously screwed), then meet up with my roommate/landlord to go to an art show where I will apparently meet a lot of people I'll be working with at TNG.

Asia blog 2.0 begins. This time with less buckets of gin and more journalism.

1 comment:

Jillian said...

Claire as usual you are amazing. Good Luck!