Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A matter of smell.

Kuala Lumpur has shown its true self. The estuary of mud. Exactly. The June 10 flood had the city soiled. Again?

Lat’s cartoon had me laughing out loud. An amphibian plane flying over Selangor Padang, the pilot announcing ‘we’ll be landing shortly, in DBKL.’ The Datuk Bandar, DID Director, Works Minister, and the Smart Tunnel Engineers, could not even smile I’m sure. Who would? Not after a photo of dejected Pak Lah graced the front page, so soon after a happy one of him gracing the headline a few days earlier.

In one tabloid, a photo of a KL-ite walks pass the muddy road, holding his breath. It must be stinking. The smell of drying mud is normally just ‘hapak’ but with the content of the overflowing river, some carcass incuded, it could be ‘busuk kohong’.

A KL friend, when I called, said there is mud everywhere, it’s good for ‘samak’ he said. It is like somebody wants to samak the whole city. Cruel thought I said. But the flood must have raised their blood pressure level several notches. He must be forgiven for thinking that way.

We have a superfluous way of describing smell. ‘Busuk’ – stinks I think. ‘Busuk kohong’ – stinks to high heaven.

On the lesser degree, there is ‘ko-uh’ to describe the stale air of a damp space. Like the damp carpet in some cheap hotel room. It too of a sweaty body. Not very unlike ‘hapok’ of the Bob Marley hairdo, or the unwashed jeans or ‘spender’ some would say.

But we too love the stinky stuff, the acrid smell of tempoyak, the pungent smell of belacan, or the hapak of ikan pekasam or the durian that had earned the status of ‘taste like heaven but smells like hell’. And then there were budu and cencalok.

The flood would not have happen the engineers say, had the smart tunnel be completed. Or had it not rain that much, the weather man say. The Smart Tunnel would have ensured a flood free city, so they all say. But it floods all the same.

The main work man said, ‘kalau kita tidak mahu banjir berlaku, kita perlu belanja tujuh ke sembilan billion lagi.’

Seven to nine big B? Someone rushes to the drawing board.

Someone else had the proposal ready. Already.

It smells fishy.


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