38. The Natural Modernity

@Genting Highlands, Pahang, Malaysia.

Being at Genting was like being at the top of a new world; Titiwangsa Mountains of the Tenasserim Range as it is called; a resort on the mountain peak it was; not just any common resort, but a combination of many things which would make it impossible to make a clear understanding of what it really was; ambiguities were so many and a situation of paradox in bulk could not be created due to a presence of uneven science and it’s ridiculous products in the mind in such a way that it blurred the vision to an extent which would be abominable beyond the measure of the strong, foul odour of a skunk which comes to you more through cartoons and comics than anything else. Located just one or two hours from the city of Kuala Lumpur, this is where the nature meets modernity in such a way as to make nature less important; it is not the best thing as it would have been better if it happened the other way around, but as we have seen in the movie Avatar and proved in another thousand movies of Hollywood, nature is always seemingly weak in front of the horriblly evil scientific creations of those devilish scientists who always find a way to exploit the beauty of mother nature. Still, the nature will have it’s revenge and this place hasn’t really lost it’s natural beauty that much, as there will be enough for any tourist.

The nature scene is of best view and is made to the most use by the human creation which exists more for the tourist use than for simple travel; there is the journey by a cable car called Genting Skyway which, during it’s inception and it’s initial working days used to be the world’s fastest ropeway transport and South East Asia’s longest gondola lift. To be frank, the journey was quite wonderful and filled with natural beauty from the roads too, as the travel consisted of a luxury bus, a van and then this ropeway until it finally reached the top of the hills. It was undoubtedly a beautiful scene from the top of those green mountains, sometimes getting close enough to the land on some open spaces, well enough to see the ground, but otherwise most of the time at that height good enough to get a fantastic aerial view; taking of photographs of the land from an elevated position so much above the ground, has never been better. Some views make you feel that you can just climb on a rocket or a missile on it’s way to a nuclear impact, just to take some photos free of charge. There are always some wonderful moments before total obliteration, which can be used to take those photos and upload them instantly using the wireless internet thus making some of the world’s best photographs which would live on for the future generations to see.

As it is, this Genting Skyway which was opened in 1997 is the reason or the introduction to nature and it’s greenery which could have easily been considered inferior to the attractions at the top as a result of a comparison initiated by the people of the new scientific world. The system designed by Leitner Ropeways, part of the Leitner Group of Italian origin, never ceased giving the feeling of safety, which would have been easily possible considering the height and length of the cables as well as the number of enclosed cabins attached to it. Crashing into the natural beauty of the rainforest of the region wasn’t going to be like crashing into some wonderful forest in the middle of some awesome planet, and therefore some fear would have been sanity, but considering the ways in which one can die, there is no right option and there is no exact moment of good and appropriate fear and it’s amount is also not to be easily calculated. Travelling in the world’s fastest mono cable car system and the longest cable car in Malaysia and South East Asia was more than just a privilege at that time, but it was still not something to clear the fear; the options of reaching Earth faster than ever from a height which is beyond the usual standard as well as that of being caught in the middle of the longest cable car system were going to nothing less than scary, but one can always be glad that there have been so many other people around along with many more who already travelled safely.

As the trail of nature was left behind in the cable car, it was a new world inside; at a time when the first shopping mall was not started in Cochin, not anywhere near Kerala. It was not the time of escalators, as the moving staircases were new before the visit to Singapore and Malaysia; it was the time when shopping for different things were done in various places after going through many difficulties; one building was never enough. At that time of slower, but more clear shopping which was more of shop visits, there was this place at Genting which came up with that new level of shopping in the beginning of the first decade of the twenty first century, which should be considered too old a journey considering the speed at which time travels now and the way in which inventions get obsolete and the world changes, can be considered something which is plain ridiculous and impossible to catch up even for a little old generations. But all of these will surely come to that day on which the Earth will stand still, not just like in the Keanu Reeves’ movie or it’s original and not because of that machine of ‘Mutant Chronicles’, but due to reaching a point which will bring the Judgement Day which will have an identity other than the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie; the end would be more complicated than what is to be explained by a robot or a hybrid.

There was a casino which I couldn’t explore and restaurants in which I couldn’t eat, except for that one place from where I could try my luck with some variety of Fried Rice which had a strange name attached to the beginning of the dish name, but it was still good enough to enjoy the taste. There was Panggung Wayang Cineplex where the movie ‘Fantastic Four’ was running. There was also ‘The Island’ as well as a Chinese movie as far as I can remember. Even as I didn’t go in and watch any of them, there were photos taken in front of it, but none of them came out that good even as the movie poster looked fine. There were also models of world’d famous structures including the Big Ben, Petronas Towers, Eiffel Tower and more. There were so many theme park divisions around and water looked the more prominent among them. There was the ‘Snow World’ which caught my attention first, and ‘Ripley’s Believe It or Not’ was quite the strange thing which increased the paranormal activity of my brain which was further accelerated by a few people dressed in wonderful costumes reminding me of an early Halloween. The ‘Archery Range’ was to make me a Robin Hood which I had to decline even if I had a hood on my dress, as I knew it was just going to be out of my reach, and there would have been no place around which I wouldn’t hit, other than the blood target which would laught at me when I would go on to write a poetry about it.

Overall, the trip had less time with mother nature than what is expected of a journey to some highlands where it is quite cold enough and kind of windy. It didn’t have both of those climatic factors though. The human constructions covered the nature with the support of the materialistic tourists who visited the place, and a small minority who thought otherwise might be what is keeping the green side alive. The idea of creating this hill resort might be something which was quite a long procedure in many brains starting from 1964, but it is still changing for sure. I would love to wonder if it will remain the same if I visit the place again in a few years, or may be even right now it would be different; as time moves faster than the imaginary capacity of man which is limited. The thinking procedure of humans would take a break, but as time moves on, there is no catching up unless supported by that vision all the time which is another impossible thing right from the root of it. The Genting Highlands would change and so will Malaysia, but my wish would be to find a better situation of paradox that I could use without ambiguity or remorse which would limit my imagination to the steel and concrete world of ultimate human restriction which is similar to a building of four walls with a leaking roof, or a cage to be exact. Magneto would live in that with joy as long as it is not plastic; no human being should, though.

Diving out —>



17. Petronas Twins Alive

@Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory, Malaysia.

I was in a train. It was a chair car and it was a good wagon. We were travelling from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur in that train in a journey which lasted about six and half hours. It was quite a good journey as we could see some rural areas, that of Malaysia. It was not anything which we didn’t see in India, but we had to see them all; most of the different sides of these lands. The railway station of Kuala Lumpur was quite stylish and someone was standing and waiting for us with a board on which our name was written. We stayed at the Grand Continental Hotel there and this name came to my mind later during my stay at another hotel in Sri Lanka with a similar name. This was a big hotel and we were glad to get a room at one of the top floors. It was a wonderful view from there and other big buildings could be seen; even the Petronas Twin Towers. Most of the buildings did look too small in comparison to where we were staying though. It was nice to keep looking out through that window when sitting idle in that hotel room. It was another world, not Singapore and not India; something mixed and this mixture became more clear as we travelled through the capital city.

Being at Kuala Lumpur was somewhat like being in Singapore, but with less cleanliness and more mosques, some big ones around. The transportation was also a little problem compared to the neighbouring city-state. But it was more like India out there, with a significant presence of Tamil speakers; there were places where we could make people understand by speaking Malayalam for which they replied in Tamil, rather than using English both ways. This was just one of those occasions when the similarity between Malayalam and Tamil helped me. Being at the most populous city in Malaysia, there was the crowd and also being the capital city, there was the business all around. Due to presence of Indian population, there was lots of Indian food available and having Ghee Roast and Masala Dosa was never easier and it was less costly too, compared to Singapore. It was of almost the same price as in Kerala and even tea had the Indian flavour. I also had my interest in Milk shakes there and they were quite good and similar to what I had back home. My experience with Malaysian food was limited to those morning buffets in the hotel, as I stayed away from eating something strange for me and getting sick at the wrong time. Being sick away from home is always bad, especially when on a conducted tour abroad.

The biggest attraction of Kuala Lumpur and may be the whole nation could be the Petronas Twin Towers. They were the tallest buildings in the world for sometime until surpassed by Taipei 101, and they are still the tallest twin buildings of the world. With the Kuala Lumpur communication Tower, it dominates the skyline of the city and is the most important landmark; these towers were first noticed by me in the Sean Connery & Catherine Zeta Jones movie ‘Entrapment’ and from that moment I hoped this would one day come in front of my eyes and there they were, ready to be in my camera. But considering the standard of my camera at that time, it was difficult to get the best shot of it and I could only get an ineresting shot from some long distance away as it failed to fit into the old Kodak thing of the time. If I had my Sony camera at that time, that would have been helpful, but what is done is done and that time was not that of digital cameras, to be clear. The best of the Petronas Towers was not to be near a good shot of it with the currently available digital cameras or even the mid-range mobile cameras. But it was the beginning of ‘this camera is not enough’ theory and it eventually lead to the replacement of that miserable thing with something better.

The visit to Kuala Lumpur was just after watching the Tamil movie ‘Anniyan’ and I was surprised to see the posters of the movie in Malaysia too. The locations of the movie also came to my eyes with the twin towers themselves as well as the Kuala Lumpur International Airport which looked better in that movie, but is still not an inferior structure in any way. It was different, unlike any airport I had seen before that and it was special. I do wonder why they chose an airport for shooting; especially a busy one like this, as it could have caused a lot of difficulty for both sides. The National Museum of Malaysia gives us an overview of Malaysian history, culture and lifestyle. It was the first thing in their conducted tour list. There is also the palace and the official residence of the Malaysian King, the Istana Negara, where we take photos from the outside. The National Monument of Malaysia also called Tugu Negara, a sculpture commemorating those who died in Malaysia’s freedom struggle is also situated at the same city. These along with a random chocolate factory seemed to be the major destinations for the tour programs of Kuala Lumpur and some shopping and wandering around the city was added to it by us later.

This host to the 1998 Commonwealth Games and the Formula One World Championship doesn’t really need a certificate from me to prove it’s ability. This is clearly one of the most preferred destinations of tourists from India and is sometimes combined with Singapore or Thailand to form an effective tour package. Kuala Lumpur, as the city that it is, dominates the area. It is the city which we have seen in too many movies and this place became kind of a big favourite for Malayalam movie industry as I have been reminded of this place for so many times through these movies. Petronas Towers has to be the most seen skyscrapers of the world through Malayalam and Hindi movies. There was no Indian among us in that bus we travelled; it had Bangladeshis and Pakistanis; that was kind of strange for me, but that didn’t change a thing. Everyone looked the same and it was just like any other journey; everyone took snaps and looked around like the tourists that we all were. It was about a few people in a bus and their common destination.

For me, Malaysia was what came with that journey to Singapore which was the direct result of the rejection of the visiting visa to United States. None of these were planned and they all came in a hurry. There was no special plans for any of these and therefore following the fixed program was the major aim. There was not much of a secondary objective other than what came to us in the form of the need for an extra bag to carry what we bought and the need for food. Just like Singapore, Kuala Lumpur was also a beginning; it taught lessons which might have been lost at that time, but would later come back to me with full power. It was kind of a prequel to my future journeys; it was what came as a preparation for mind; it let me know what to expect and a few years later, when another big trip came, I was better prepared and now with all of those done and over, I am ready for more. I saw this city and I captured in my camera most of it. The next time, if there is any, I will not just go there, I will feel it; I will know what the place is about and sense whatever is going on; this is the change which has come upon me; this is what the separation from materialism can bring to you; this will be how I will face the next challenge abroad.

Diving out —>