At a Muddy Confluence
Standing on a corner watching Malaysia pass by

from : the shadow of the Maybank building, outside a 7-11, Kuala Lumpur.

Humidity? - 100%. Darkness? - falling. Blood alcohol levels? - rising. It is another day in KL, sitting with a beer waiting out the rain in a city that lives up to the meaning of it's name 'muddy confluence,' in more ways than one.

Founded just 100 years ago on the site of a rich tin deposit, Kuala Lumpur is a young and vibrant city that has not let the economic crisis of 1997 dampened its exuberance and has left hulking concrete skeletons of unfinished hotels and shopping centers mouldering in the tropical air. There was no money to go forwards or backwards with these projects and so they stand empty where I can gloat with that special shadenfreude I save for developers. Despite this though, KL has a more impressive array of architectural feats than I can remember enjoying anywhere else. Hong Kong has them all too close together, Beijing and Bangkok too far apart. KL has it's skyscrapers just right. Before the The impressive skyscrapers, sleek skytrain and bright moorish colonial buildings speak less of muddy than what is going on around me right now.

There are just two seasons in the city, dry and hot or wet and hotter, and we have arrived for the latter. Today, right on time as it has been each of our four days here, the storm hit suddenly and filled the streets with the chocolate milk of overflowing storm drains. The grate in front of the eavewhere we were pinned down regurgitated the deluge so powefully the grate was lifted onto the sidewalk along with various flotsam and two very wet, very dead rats.A tourist took out his camera and photographed them, oblivious to a cockroach climbing his leg seeking higher ground. I was mesmerised until he looked down, spotted it, and went into a conniptions

'Muddy confluence' could also refer to the typical cross section of KL's citizenry trapped here outside the 7-11 (open 24 'jam') a mish mash of Indians, Chinese, tourists and even the occassional Malay.


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