Friday, July 22, 2011

The Irony of High Living

I think I've done my fair share of observing people enjoying a high standard of livingand living in luxury, sometimes taking a small bite of it myself. Very small just to have a little taste even if it blew a big hole in my little pocket. That included dinner in Paris, breakfast in Stockholm, high tea in the Netherland etc. That was long ago when still thick in the contest of life.

Now is the time to watch more than compete. After touring the high spots for culinary excitement in the country, enjoying a plate of rojak or mee curry, nasi lemak bungkus, or roti canai and teh tarik at a small corner eatery, suits my tastebud more than the buffet and ala carte routine at the Curve, Pavlion or even the KL Tower. Afterall I can only eat so much if I don't want to experience a bloated or stuffy feeling in my middle. Eno helps sosmetimes when that happens.

But what do you know? I often see some familiar faces at the little corner eateries too. Faces that used to feature in luxurious hotels and restaurants. Rather shriveled in spite of the rich and high class food they used to nimble or gobble. They won't recognize me though behind my large dark glasses. country hat and nondescript clothing bought from Jalan Masjid India. Hey they feel great in the sweltering heat. Oh yes. Some of the familiar faces have blown up - fluffy and red. I think they are worse off than the shriveled ones medically speaking. What remains as a reminder of their high status and living standards are the impeccable clothes, rolex watch and belly shoes ( or is it Salvatore Ferrafamo?}. They don't bother me anymore since i found my Bata shoes and Petaling Street timepiece served my purpose just as well.

Most satisfying is when I see some of the familiar bourgeois faces of old joining the common man-in-the-street for prayers at the mosques and madrasahs. I like to watch their lips when the Imam and the Makmum in general are reciting some familiar prayers, more so the less familiar ones. Are their lips moving in tendem with the others showing that they knew the prayers by heart or are they just moving their lips to pretend that they are also reciting the particular verse from the al-Quran or the doa.
I must confess that I was doing just that when I was still pretending to be in their group of buddies.

Now that I am retired ( old is a relative term nowadays for even a young man can die tomorrow), I can at least say that I don't have to pretend anymore. Neither in my clothes, food, drinks nor in fulfilling the injunctions of Allah. If I can fulfill what needed to be done I do it if not I strive to practice or learn how to fulfil it. It's never too late to learn and the funny thing is that the more you try to commit the prayers and the doas to memory the more you forget. Oh how I admire the Imams who rattle the prayers like teenagers singing Michael Jackson's songs. Why didn't I start memorizing the important prayers and doas when I was a young man? It wouldn't have taken too much of my time or memory space. I really don't know how many mega or gigabite of memory space is left noggin though I know the human brains contain more memory space than hundreds of mainframes put together.

Hey. it's good to move around now in all kinds of places to watch out for the old bourgeois faces turned humble and pensive with age. When I watched them it makes me feel young again just like when I watched the young people enjoying life and sometimes making a fool of themselves. Don't be angry men! I did that too when I was young and everyone pof us is entitled to fool around when we are young. The question is when do we stop doing so and start to accept the fooling around of the world as a way of life in the new world ( even if it's old to you). I enjoy learning more than competing in life, now. How about you?


Al-Manar said...

Do you really and truly feel what you have written? Maybe I feel the same in a lesser way as I never was in the limelight. I look around when I go to KL to watch , to hear what goes on there and I tell myself how lucky I am living in a quiet part of the world, having no Tan Sris and Tuns around.

This evening I spent one-and-a-half hours with 28 form one children from Darul Akhyar. The poor little girl I wrote about was there. She smiled at me and at the end of the class she came to me," Pakcik saya tak tahu nak buat ini,". Oh yes, I have given her reasons to start studying. And that makes me very very happy, very satisfied with the life I am experiencing today. Then at ten it rained. I packed them in my car and made three trips to send them back in the rain - making a total of six trips to fetch them and send them back. I was back in my house at 10.30 to find my wife asleep. I said my prayers and have been sitting here going through the blog sphere.

People may thing I am crazy doing all these. Indeed, I am at peace with myself. My days at Lake Clubs, RSGC and all are over. My golf set is rusting away. But I still keep a small cup just big enough to hold one golf ball, to remind me of my great golfing moment, a hole-in-one!

I am rattling this well past mid-night. Your lovely posting has set me in the mood to express myself following what I have read of your thought.

Thank you akhi for expressing the very feeling I am experiencing. Perhaps we will meet one day.

norzah said...

I have always felt that i can write because i articulate what comes from my heart - not just from my thoughts. In other words i write what i truly feel, Akhi Pakcik Hassan, and i say it the way i feel it, nothing more nothing less.

Since retring from the civil service, i've not attended a single function held by the so-called PTD association for i know that at such functions you are seated among your colleagues with the same rank or status. I always felt more comfortable and at home among the clerks, drivers and office boys for i love to listen to their stories - not about golf and the high-brow functions. I played golf for a while to walk around the green with my bosses.

Yes, Akhi, i never felt comfortable in jacket and ties. A plain open-neck and untucked shirt had been my favorite dress, barong style. My kampung upbringing always make me feel out-of-place at any formal function especially dinner in coat and tie or the monkey suit.

Sorry to rattle on but i truly enjoy life as a common man, working out in the kampung clearing the compound of the old house in which i was brought up. And when i meet up with some old friends who used to grace the top of the social ladder, i feel guilty for not enjoying their enthusiastic recall of the grand old days.

Yes, i truly hope we will meet up some day to tallk about durian and coconut trees under which we grew. salam.

kaykuala said...

Akhi Norzah,
You can say it again. The rat race is over. A leisurely pace is in the offing ( which many crave for but couldn't for some reasons) In fact suddenly it dawned on us 'oldies'... oops!, that it is a luxury to be able to sit in one corner somewhere and observe( with a note-book at hand may be) We need to readily jot down little ideas or otherwise in a split second the memory fails to connect. I get lots of ideas just sitting on a bench at the supermarts while the good wifey is busy piling the groceries inside.
And of course we needn't be dressed like we're painting the town red. So that explains the plain T-shirt and sandals that we don on ourselves!


P/S Been back for quite a while now (for both blogs)

Sabrina Taufek said...

Norzah,salam ;-) You are humble and I am humbled reading your visual thoughts. Humbling is a life-long process that one succumbs to with speed, delayed, sudden and most pitifully not at all. Humbling is like coming home from a long, long walk of life and seeing all round you in simplicity. That crooked picture frame suddenly looks perfect after all. Looks like retirees love your column and count me in too! I just love my time now. Regards to your missus and daughter. P.s. Fuad Yunus is somewhere around town and will agree and disagree :)

norzah said...

Akhi Kaykuala, tq for the endorsement of the 'back to a simple life' philosophy- In the rush of sophisticated living, to sit and stare seems a luxury. Thank Allah for allowing me to enjoy that luxury in good health and to continuously seek to understand and appreciate His wisdom and glory.
When i appreciate the fact that i am but a speck of dust floating around in this overwhelming universe waiting for the time to settle down and be buried in the sand of time, i feel great in my nothingness.

norzah said...

Tq Sabrina for your attribute to humbleness and simplicity, the most precious treasure that i find in life. Humbleness taught me not to be jealous of the wealth and luxury that some people seem to be enjoying with pride, not to worry if i have nothing to be proud of and not to hold any regret over what Allah has bestowed or kept away from me for my own good. For He knows best what is good or bad for His creation. And simpilicity taught me me not to be concerned with all the complications and sophistications of life for the most enjoyable things in life are simple and sometimes even appear silly. Salam and selamat berpuasa.