It was one of those weekend mornings. For some reason I woke up really early to get my day started, anticipating tons of work to be done before the weekdays commence (yes, I have an odd habit to get most of my stuff sorted out over the weekends instead of doing them on weekdays). I found myself hungry, and headed to Bangsar early in the morning for some breakfast to kick start my day. It was a familiar territory, since I used to go there a lot, and I made my way to the corner coffee shop for a plate of good ol’ wantan mee. Eating in KL can be expensive, and for most parts, boring. I was just craving for something cheap and close to home.
But the real reason was, I just wanted to experience something different yet familiar. I just wanted to go outside and experience life for what it is.
The coffee shop was packed, and I had to do what most Malaysians would do – share a table with someone else. I scanned around the outside tables as I wanted to enjoy the fresh morning breeze – and spotted an Indian couple seated on a relatively large table with lots of space to spare. I politely approached them and asked if the seat was taken, to which they cheerfully responded by letting me invade their romantic morning kopitiam experience.
It wasn’t until the drinks uncle came to take our orders that the ice was broken. We shifted our focus from ordering drinks to getting to know one another. The couple lives in Cyberjaya, and make their way to KL every weekend morning to drop their children for some cultural classes. I told them their children were very lucky, and of course, they agreed with me without much hesitation. I think it’s part of the package of being parents – it made me recall the times my folks would make their way to bring me for tuition, piano, and any ‘sport-of-the-year’ classes.
My plate of wantan mee arrived, and my new breakfast buddies started to analyze the difference between my noodles and their kolo mee. Apparently it was their first time trying the famous dish from Sarawak. They said mine looked more appetizing, but I told them that they were at the right place for a decent plate of kolo mee. In fact, the Sarawak laksa was quite famous too. Our conversation then adjourned to the topic of food, something us Malaysians can still be proud of – and as expected, they asked me where they could find the best char koay teow in Penang when they found out where I was from.
Our drinks finally arrived, albeit a bit late, and I offered to pay for them since I had small change. The sum of all three glasses could barely amount to the price of a cup of Starbucks, I reasoned. The sun decided to join in on our conversation as we could feel the gentle heat against the back of our necks, but we carried on talking anyway – and this time it was about the current state of the oil & gas industry (turns out the husband is from one of the oil & gas consulting companies as well). It was nice to talk to someone outside of work who actually understands what’s going on, other than those who make their own assumptions and blame every oil & gas engineer for the current petrol prices.
And just like every symphony, there has to be a final movement, something that is generally upbeat and happy for a nice finish. We exchanged some funny stories of sharing tables with other strangers, with those unpleasant ones being the funniest, and expressed our gratitude that we found each other that morning. It’s unfortunate that I have forgotten their names (I’m never good with names), but who they are and the brief moment we shared was more meaningful than the empty conversations with some people I encounter frequently.
A lot has been happening in our country, often times making me upset and feeling helpless. Sometimes I worry that if I start writing about what I think with regards to the current level of idiocy within the government, I would never stop. But little moments like these gives me something positive to talk and think about. It gives me a glimpse of what our country should be, and can be like. There are plenty of good people out there, and there’s plenty of good within us. We just need to share that with people around us, instead of mere empty rants and pointless spamming on social media. I know we have our opinions, but opinions can only go so far if not put into action.
The good and change we want to see begins with us. Believe it or not, it stems from the little things we do everyday – just like how hawkers unite a community with good food – we can also do our part by returning to the grassroots and reliving what being a Malaysian is all about. Recognize our rights as a citizen – we are more powerful than the current system has made us to believe. Our voice, our action and most importantly, our kindness – for and to Malaysians of all gender, race and religion – are things that bullies will never be able to defeat, and they will do all they can to ensure you’ll never come to that realization. But even light escapes the narrowest cracks from the palms of oppression.
Looking back, my RM5 wantan mee and RM2 kopi peng was well worth waking up for.