Having spent the most recent couple of years learning a lot about myself than I ever have, I have begun practicing the art of voluntary simplicity.
Back in 2004, I could get away with saying that I couldn’t afford it, and by now I have indeed saved enough to invest in a set of wheels.
But I have chosen not to, not because I am miserly.
One of the most rewarding aspects of public transport is the sensory ambush.
I have probably seen, heard, felt, smelled and tasted more of the city than the average car driver in KL. The alleys, the pathways, the street food, the sea of faces… they never cease to fascinate.
I look up into the sky and observe how tree branches compete for sun, how streetlamps flicker, how clouds form.
I sit in the bus and hear arguments, laughter, languages I have never heard before, conversations struck between strangers.
I watch a flurry of hands as deaf friends discuss a topic undoubtedly exciting. I listen intently to the life stories of cab drivers.
I teach toddlers on the train and the bus stop how to give high fives to the amusement of their mothers. I hold the hands of blind people as they cross the street in Brickfields, I feel the gentleness of their palms and the gratitude in their voice.
The smell of jasmine, exhaust fumes, incense, body odor, rain, sewage, keropok lekor, waft through my hair, besiege my nostrils, and hurl my floating state of mind back into the unique Malaysian madness I choose to make my presence in.
Eyes of passing strangers meet mine and enrich me with a sense of community.
There have been moments I have found myself less than appreciative of the flawed public transport system, but never for too long. A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling exhausted after a long humid day of work and extensive commuting around the city. I was making my way to my last appointment of the evening in Bukit Bintang, when I happened to pass by a group of street percussionists.
Their pounding rhythms compelled me to stay a couple of minutes. One of the drummers spotted me bouncing in the crowd, and pulled me into the centre of their circle. Turned out they were performing their last song. To the cheers of the crowd, I put down my bags and unleashed my inner monkey.
I met my friend sticky but revitalized. He asked, “What happened to you?” I laughed, and forgave myself for ever feeling ungrateful.
General consensus is that public transport in Malaysia is impractical and a waste of time. But with a new adventure that awaits the moment I step out of my house, with the things I have seen, heard, and been a part of, and the deep breaths I take when people ask me how my day was, perhaps being impractical and wasting time isn’t too much of a bad thing.
Davina’s profile spans over a decade as an actor, writer, events manager, dancer, host and voice-over artiste. She most recently performed in the new musical THE SECRET LIFE OF NORA (Enfiniti Vision Media). She will be appearing next in a new murder mystery play KLUE, DOH! (Terryandthecuz Productions) in December, and in English independent movie RELATIONSHIP STATUS, written and directed by Khairil M Bahar, to be released early 2012. In her free time, Davina pursues sustainable living, animal rights, photography, sports, and buses when she is hellbent on catching them before the lights go green. Follow her on Twitter:www.twitter.com/duuuhvina