Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Time to Stop and Stare

CC of wrote about people rushing by, quickly in their paces. CC writes from Auckland and her post reminds me of the time I was there in New Zealand.

On a visit to New Zealand some years back, I could not help but noticed that people were rushing to get home after office hours. I saw that in Auckland, in Christchurch and in Wellington. That hurried pace took me by surprise. It was only 5ish then. I remember a feeling of sadness coming over me. I felt like they were deserting the place, deserting me to fend for myself in the strange city. Good thing I was not alone then. Nevertheless, it was still a sad feeling.

Here in Kuala Lumpur, it is a different scenario. People may be rushing home but a lot are not in a hurry to do that. We have other agendas.

We go to dinner, we go shopping, meet up with friends and hang out somewhere, Starbucks or DOME maybe, or go to a concert, a movie or karaokeing or just end up at some mamak stall (roadside eatery) for a simple teh tarik and roti canai and watch an EPL (English Premier League) game. (Friends tell me it is more fun to watch a soccer game with lots of other people around.)

I am sure a visitor to this city of a million+ residents will never feel sad (nor bored) when dusk falls because Kuala Lumpur is always alive and bustling with people and activity, after office hours. One can find plenty to see and do for the night is forever young in Kuala Lumpur. Retail shopping only ends at 10pm, some 1030pm every day of the week.

Clubs and other entertainment places stay open until 2pm or thereabouts. Mamak stalls are open 24 hours so are ATMs in banks which accounts for many people doing their banking after hours - to beat the traffic jams and bank queues. Petrol is available 24 hours as well. Food is available 24 hours, everyday, 365 days of the year.

Kuala Lumpur may be a bustling city, but people here have been reputed to be helpful and friendly to visitors. The country plays host to thousands of visitors every year in summer, some staying for the entire duration.

No time to stop and stare? Come on! Give yourself a break. Let me leave you with this poem my English teacher loved to quote:

Time to Stop & Stare

What is this life if full of care

We have no time to stand and stare?

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep, or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this, if full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

William Henry Davies 1871 - 1940


  1. Anonymous4:30 PM

    It's a good thing that we don't have problems getting a bite 24 hours a day thanks to late-nite mamak stalls! Overseas, everything closes down by 5pm.

  2. And I am so thankful! Psst... I am an owl in a skirt. hehe...

  3. Anonymous9:51 PM

    I an early bird but sometimes I do stay up abit blogging and doodling with my photos :)

  4. Anonymous5:16 AM

    Maybe that sense of sadness was nostalgia? People here are pretty family oriented. For instance, the extended hours for shopping fall on Thursday and Friday night. Weekends for them is a time to spend with family and doing sports and activities outdoor, not shopping. On Christmas, almost everything are closed, because it's a time to be at home gather with family. Just a case of different lifestyle. :)

    While I enjoy the night there's forever young in the bustling KL, I must admit the quiet life here has to offer suits me better. That being said, I've met some of the most friendly people in both places.

  5. MBL, you know what they say about an early bird. Catches the worm. Good for you!

    CC, thanks for the extra info. Yes, different lifestyles and both with merits, no doubt, though I would pick KL life.