Here you won't find the pages of a pedantic journal, praises to fantastic places or accounts of memorable encounters. This is a collection of stories, thoughts, images, and most of all odd stuff, even though to someone else it might actually look ordinary. To discern its bizarre side, in fact, special filters are needed: cynicism, fussiness, stubbornness, isolation, impudence, nosiness and nerdiness. All flaws that, in different measure, this semi-nomadic being has got embedded in his genes.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Homage to the pedestrian/1 - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Photo by sinkdd (CC)
I join the crowd that is waiting for the green light at the pedestrian crossing. Bukit Bintang is a busy area. Cars, motorbikes and people of various nationalities are competing for those precious square meters.
It's time for the vehicles coming from our right to cross the junction. When they finally stop, the ones in front of us start to move forward, turn right and drive past us (in Malaysia, a former British colony, they drive on the left hand side). Shortly it should be our turn, I look at the vaguely anxious expressions of the people who crowd around me. I turn to face the junction again. What happened? The cars coming from our right are advancing again! Maybe our turn started and ended while I was absentmindedly looking around. Weird, nobody else has crossed the road either.
During the next cycle I focus and carefully follow the sequence of the green light turns. The cars coming from our right stop now, alright, the ones coming from in front of us start to move forward, as expected, red light for them now, they stop, a little suspense and...they fooled us again! Damned cheaters, just because you think we're the weakest? We'll see...
Together with two young Arabs and a Caucasian man, I lead the counter-attack, a couple of girls scream but finally everybody is walking behind us. We advance along the zebra crossing with careful but resolute steps. The red man look at us from the top of his road perch, haughty and glittering. We defy his authority and disobey his order with the pride of someone who has had to endure injustices for years and finally rose up, has already set off and now can only keep going with inexorable madness. Lots of vehicles arrive very near us, but there's many of us, determined and irritated. They stop to let us cross, no one honks, nobody complains with grimaces or puffing.
We made it, we got to the opposite sidewalk. The formation disperse, the braves exchange knowing looks. Today's battle is won, but this war is tough, dirty and still long. Many will have to interrupt their advance, forced to withdraw and take shelter in the trenches of their starting sidewalk. Others will fall, run over by cars or by the invectives of those who drive and don't recognize their right to cross. We shall remember them, we shall respect their fervor and courage, we shall honor their sacrifice by fighting to the end to reach the other shore, the longed-for-sidewalk. And we will fight again, always, everywhere.
Other battles lay in wait for us, but today we can enjoy the glory for our conquest: the well deserved landing to the other side of the road. Our barricade. Our front.