Abandoning The Great Illusion

Abandoning The Great Illusion Arts, Blog, Malaysia, Philosophy, Poetry, Southeast Asia, Thailand, The Struggle
April 22, 2012

This is an anthology of posts originally
published on zashnain.com and moui.net

Temptation of another trip, another adventure

In 2009, I traveled to Bangalore and Mysore. Spent a week in the sprawling provincial capital, absorbed the sights and sounds of the elites and the poor. I traveled into the maze-like networks of back lanes and confusing alleys; my outreach led me to the slums. Then I spent time in Mysore, a dusty and hot city. The long journey from Bangalore to Mysore was bearable as I was on an adrenaline-rush.

I have tried to subdue this wader-lust, but with little success. Ah, I need to travel, and impatience is something I hesitate to fight. Thoughts wander randomly, and I am about to surrender to the sensation — I am already making mental notes of my next adventure.

Fact and Illusion: Essence of Activism is Divine

Someone told me that the essence of activism is divine, or beyond eternal. Such divinity that humans seek to feel is like a grand quest for many who desire to leave a meaningful mark upon the needy, the marginalised, the vulnerable, and the abused.

However this vision is merely a leap beyond activism. People are engaged in many Causes, yet how does one measure the sustainable changes and impact? Do you leave a mark of your own identity to justify what you seek?

The great illusion; we claim to work for the community however we merely chase after the need to immortalise ourselves, our persona, into the Cause.

The great fact; by abandoning the great illusion, we come to terms with ourselves through hardship and perseverance, and we embrace the reality that our immortality starts when others change their behaviors in response to our selfless acts.

The Storm and Mother Nature, Inevitable.

The walls seem to move, the stirring darkness energised with electricity; such pitiful place does little to prevent the Storm from being heard or felt. I can see the windows vibrate, and hear the intense pounding of the rain on the roof. Such is the fury of Mother Nature.

Malaysians have been experiencing radical changes to our weather. Predictable seasons no longer conform to their schedule of rain, heat and humidity. Savagery of the elements, not even our technology can predict Her movements. The Storm shows her pleasure to our rainforests, rivers and wildlife by showering much-needed rain. She shows no mercy to mankind, we are trapped in our complacency » our redundancy. We forget the bounty in this country, and take Her for granted.

I pull back the curtain, biting my lips, I seek not solitude away from the Storm. I have been eagerly waiting for Her arrival. She floods villages, cities and communities; She flattens entire neighbourhood with the overpowering wind. I do not escape the inevitable. I welcome the Storm into my life.

An uneasy night, filled with apprehension

Tonight, I feel uneasy.

Normally I would seek the support or occasional words of comfort from a friend, but it seems even my friend is at loss for words. The silence or the awkward minute of utter bewilderment is not something that I desire at this moment, though on better days I would welcome it with a sly grin. People have their moods, and sometimes I feel that I am caught in a lopsided and warped communication (or lack of it) loop ~ my own erratic mood does not help relieve the tension.

The nervous strain has been replaced by restlessness. My mind seems to explode with the confusion of inaction. Does not help when one is alone, unable to find a trustworthy listener or a non-judgmental friend. Almost everyone has an opinion nowadays, with the exception of my friend who is engrossed with other distractions.

I am not keen for a lecture or when people think they know the problems like their own. The fact is people tend to lean towards the norms, and what is expected in a civilized society. My predicament seems a contradiction to serenity, something that people would reward you with a lengthy look of disgust, and a long-winded rebuke. What can I say, people are preoccupied with their own lives and their own flock of carefree friends.

In the meantime, I will shelter from this emotional storm alone, even though I am dying to speak to someone.

My mortality, My consciousness

For the past one week, I have been thinking about my future, in a strikingly unconventional manner. My current income-less profession is at an end in my country, and I am almost on the verge of laying waste to my plans for local employment in social work. Many times I tell people that my profession is somewhat extinct, and social workers (cum natural-disaster relief workers) like myself are fossilized or in “the process” of being a pitiful relic ~ on a good day, this becomes a contemptuous, mocking joke for me.

Mortality is not a subjective concern for me. Inevitable that one day I will kick the bucket, though naturally I’m unsure of when and where. Don’t matter “how” as I have adapted, about two decades ago, a fatalistic approach towards Life. When I was young, I had a morbid fascination of death, I had thought it would be fitting for someone like me to die in some war-torn country or at least during my tour of duty in a famine-stricken hellhole. Nowadays, being a single parent to a teenager, I am cautious of my safety. Yet it does not stop me from thinking about it and whatever madness that snowballs in my overactive mind.

Thoughts and temptation of being on the road again

I recall a time when I was walking almost randomly, partly to sort my jumbled thoughts. I came across a group of tired-look young people. They seem unconcerned of their surroundings; the swarm of mosquitoes in the late evening did not deter their eager hands from wielding beer bottles to their lips.

I sat on the pavement, watching the night brew, and the street vendor selling hot sausages from his cart. Wasn’t the ideal night for street food, but I was happy at the absence of the crushing annoyance that came from the hectic corporate rat race. I was glad that my corner of Bangkok was relaxing.

I want that corner, I seek the chance to be on the road again ~ to feel the stirring adventure, away from a complacent society and to allow these old bones to smile.

A miserable slum by the dirty canal

You can find the slums at almost every corner of Bangkok, in between bustling shopping malls, behind the busy commercial district, a stone throw away from the zeon-filled hangouts of the elites and the ultra-rich. The poor can only afford housing based on their small income, many are fortunate compared to the homeless; although hardship is tough regardless. This small piece of the slum has a canal-view, regularly burdened by the noisy engine-propelled ferry that passes by every 10 minutes.

Despite the residents’ poor housing condition, they have access to electricity and water, which somewhat lessens their hardship. Thais are not the only community living in the slums. One can find a community of foreign migrant workers and refugees. A city settlement of the marginalised and disinherited.

Yet the most common challenge they face is the landlords; eager to have their land back for capitalist development, they force the residents out from their homes. Many landlords have resorted to arson, an effective way of eviction, which violate the rights of people but something that landlords do not care.

The Thought of Not Touching the Tree

The walk in Kuala Lumpur was not that bad, though the humidity was always a problem *grumble*

I passed by a dozen ugly-looking colorful trees, a complete mockery to Mother Nature. The trees are made from wire, plastic, steel, bulbs and an odd-assortment of man-made contraction.

Check out the sign board, not an encouraging thought ~ being electrocuted by a tree in Malaysia.

The reclamation and restoration of the Institution by young people

The irony. Young people and children are rarely involved in the decision-making that drives our world, our government, our society, our corporations. In many countries they are prohibited to be part of the solution to globalization. Ironic isn’t it. They will inherit the world that globalization creates.

Globalization is a monster, it seeks the endless consumption of the weak, the rapid decent of the poor, the unfortunate and the marginalized. If you are not part of the system, or the Institution, and unable to adapt due to the evolving caste machinery, then naturally young people and children are exploited.

Youths are able to bring about the doom of the negative effects of globalization. Many adults clearly still view young people as ineffective stakeholders to policy-making processes, despite the benefits of mobilizing them, especially young people from marginalized communities. The government mechanism needs to be “rehabilitated” and a critical review of all that makes the Power move. Young people are the best candidates to inspire the future, and most importantly –> the present.

A trip to a traditional market in Kuala Lumpur

Staggered through the dusty street, walking with a bowed head, avoiding the blinding sunlight as best as I could. The hot day proved to be another heatwave that is scorching Kuala Lumpur, oh hell, a punishment of some sort. It took me an hour to reach the market but a worth-while endeavor, even though I was drenched in sweat, from head to toe.

My travels taking me everywhere.

Feet Taking me to a slightly cheerful part of kuala lumpur

Kuala Lumpur. There’s a rising phenomenon for tourists and locals alike to visit the commercial centre of the city, mainly to submerge in the shopping mania. I don’t fully understand why people would want to shop in this part of town, with the high prices and irritating traffic clogging the roads. Unless of course one is looking at an opportunity to rub shoulders with the ultra elite of Malaysian society.

You can find small pockets of traditional homes and privacy around KL, one of which is located in Taman Maluri and another one in Pandan Jaya. Despite the abrupt modernisation of society, I found these parts to be relaxing. Affordable local spicy food, sunshine and people who seem friendlier than those living in the heart of the city. Here you don’t have to sink into delusions, the folks are simple, offering warm-hearted smiles.

Travelling to Masjid Jamek. A different light.

Traveling across Malaysia’s capital – Kuala Lumpur. Invigorating walk. An old mosque, Masjid Jamek, stood unsteadily near a river, surrounded by buildings and the annoying honks of the never-ending traffic. A handful of street vendors selling fruits and cooling drinks, partly hiding in the shades away from the blistering sun. And my travels take me further…

Amazing Thailand in Malaysia

Legs feeling tired, but eagerly waiting for the LRT to arrive. LRT is the cheapest mode of transport (though limited access) around some parts of Kuala Lumpur. Can’t trust the taxi drivers who are infamously known for not using the meter and taking their customers around the city » basically a murderous rip-off.

Two boys, as tired as me, chatting on the floor. I noticed that Thailand extensively promotes their “Amazing Thailand” in Malaysia ~ something I find quite amusing. More and more Malaysians make their yearly holidays of fun or family in Indonesia. The tourism in Siam has been severely affected by the post-flood of 2011, the global recession and the violent bombings in Bangkok and the South.

The LRT is near, I best focus on my journey, lest I miss the ride and end up sitting beside the boys, dreaming of Thailand.


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