20 days is a long enough time to kill the excitement / enthusiasm of being in a new city / country. Slowly, but surely, the desire to explore, experiment, venture out, etc. is replaced by a stronger desire to get into a routine. Those travel guides are relegated to the bottom of the pile, those travel websites slowly tread down to the bottom of the dropdown list in IE (don't call me a loser; we don't have Firefox in office), and you are no longer interested in fiddling with cuisines. In the last year, I've tried enough cuisines to get sick of trying more cuisines. I tried Mexican cuisine, I loved fajita with chicken; I tried Japanese cuisine, I couldn't bear it; I tried Thai cuisine, I hated it; I tried Mediterranean cuisine (in Varanasi), I detested it; I tried Indonesian cuisine, I absolutely loathed it! More recently, I tried Taiwanese, and I http://thesaurus.reference.com/search?r=20&q=hate it. So what do I do for food these days? Well, lunch is in the mall in the twin towers. The eatery is called Bengal Cuisine, and feeds me Naan, Alu Gobby, Alu Begun (Baingan), Sola (Chhola), and Dal for a miserly price of INR 60! Dinner is generally in a large covered-from-the-top-but-open-from-all-sides restaurant whose Masala Doshai can give Saravana Bhavan a run for its money. Super doshai, with a super chutney and decent sambar- all for INR 34. For me, a good city is one where both the rich and the not-so-rich have enough choices to lead a comfortable life. Kuala Lumpur, by this coin, is an excellent city.
Anyone who ever visits Kuala Lumpur, simply must go to Chinatown once. The heart of Chinatown is two parallel streets, no more than 4 feet wide, and lined with shops selling exotic brands at eccentric rates. Rolex, Tag Hauer, Omega, Breitling watches for less than INR 600, Adidas and Nike gear at unimaginable discounts, and a variety of odds and ends at a fraction of the cost you would pay elsewhere. The street is so narrow that if a customer in one shop steps back, he might butt you into the facing shop. Richie and I roamed the streets for no less than 3 hours, and returned only when we were broke.
Last weekend, I went to this hilltop tourist destination called Genting Highland. It's just an hour's drive from the city, and the weather is a pleasant change from Kuala Lumpur's. Genting Highland is famous for its amusement park, and most of the rides really were amusing. It's the kind of place where a group of families can tikaao their children on merry-go-rounds and spread their carpet and open their hot cases and distribute paper plates and play frisbee. There were a few exciting rides that scared the shit out of me, but in general, the place was kiddish. By 6 in the evening, the entire place was shrouded in clouds and it became pretty chill. After a few more hours of dilly-dallying, losing two rounds of pool, and dining at Pizza Hut, we returned at 11.
After my trip to Batu Caves, and before my trip to Genting, I spent a boring evening in one of the most happening areas in town. Bukit Bintang is famous for its malls (3 of them, one purely for electronic goods, one where you can buy stuff at affordable rates, and one where you can't afford an empty glass of water). It is even more famous for its massage parlours scattered on both sides of the road; massage parlours that (I've heard) turn into brothels at night. But I was on this road neither to shop, nor to get felt up. I was there just to kill time and hunger. Wandering from lane to bylane to bybylane, I spotted a street lined with cheap-looking, delicious-looking roadside restaurants. There were so many restaurants, I was sure I would find something for my fussy palate. My stomach rumbled, and my wallet nodded in approval. The first restaurant I spotted was Dragon View, and dragon was the only animal they did not serve. The names of the restaurants on the street should've told me that these restaurants were anything but diverse-Sun Chui Yen, Sai Woo, Cu Cha, Shui Kee, Loong Kee, Lim Kee, Hup Kee, etc. I instantly got this crazy idea of getting mom here and opening a restaurant called Maa Kee.
Talking of Maa, I made a few interesting observations about the Malay language. Thank you is Terima Kasih. Now, if you ever said that in India, you’d have your brains blown out before you could reach ‘sih’. I found a few parallels between Hindi and Malay- Maaf, Yakin, Sabun, Khidmat, and Awam mean the same in both languages. There are few awkward parallels too- you is ‘anda’, water is ‘air’, door is ‘pintu’ and city is ‘bandar’. If Symonds ever drops in here, he’ll sue the entire damn city for racial abuse.
Anyway, the series of Kee restaurants had a variety of skinned animals on display that made the lane look like a fried zoo. I loitered around for some more time before spotting Restoran Srirekha. My tongue almost lolled down like a red carpet into the restaurant. The place was crowded- some Indians who, like me, would’ve fled the Kee-street; and some foreigners (locals?) who’d have their innards incensed with Andhra chilli and run back to Animal Planet.
All this talk of food is making me hungry. Time to run to Bengal Cuisine for my daily dose of dal-roti. I might be here for just another week, so my next post will be from the comfort of my room in Bangalore. Till then, happy reading and enjoy the IPL (sob sob L)