Friday, December 10, 2010

Only in South East Asia - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Photo by Mugley (CC)
I'm walking along Jalan Alor, a semi-pedestrian street lined up with traditional restaurants. I look at the signs on my left, then my attention gets caught by a girl with a menu approaching me from my right when my foot slips on something: the object is slimy underneath and soft on top. It felt like walking on a rug that was resting on some engine oil. I take a quick glance at the ground. There only seems to be a spot of a slightly darker shade of gray than the one of the asphalt. I stoop and take a better look at it: it looks like some animal's fur. Then I notice two little star-shaped things, a long and thin protuberance, some chiaroscuro effects here and there...every doubt is dispelled by now: the thing I stepped on is the mashed body of a rat, disgusting.
The idea of walking into the house with the contaminated sole is upsetting me. A few meters ahead I come across a puddle, it's stagnant water from a recent storm: it's dirty, alright, but for a rat it might well be a posh Jacuzzi tub. I place my foot into it, I shake it a little and then I move on.
Some drops are falling from a balcony onto the sidewalk, forming a tiny stream between the slabs of cement: I don't know exactly what the nature and the source of the liquid are but I still use it to give the filthy rubber a second rinse. Then chance hands me the weapon for a coup de grâce. A restaurant has just been closed and the waiters are throwing buckets of soapy water on their section of the sidewalk. My trainer passes through the suds like a vehicle at the car wash.
With the tropical heat the synthetic material has dried up before I enter my building. 
South East Asia is dirty, no one can deny that, but in what other place the same elements of its untidiness also provide what you need to clean up?

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