• Bob Taylor

Musings - Day 37

Day 37 – 1st February 2020

When I write this stuff down, the reflections of the last twenty four hours make it the happiest time of the day.

My Grandad told me something on the day I divulged to him that I intended to join the Merchant Navy. Both my mother and father were present at the time, but the words passed without tangible acknowledgement from anyone else in the room. There was no doubt my grandad knew that I’d both heard and understood them. I had seen the twinkle in his eyes on their delivery. I was sixteen and pretty much believed that one day I might rule the world. Oh how the realities of life teach you the kind of lessons that school never could.

He said, “The rain in Penang comes down quicker than a whores drawers.”

I can only vouch for part of that statement some fifty years later. I was eating chicken wings last night and got soaked! From nowhere, (well obviously the sky) the rain came down in a torrent, stopped, and then provided natures hair-dryer all in the space of two minutes. It steamed! At my grandfather’s funeral I found out from my dad that my grandad had never been out of the country. He served on a reserved occupation ticket during the war, and was scared of both air and sea travel! So where on earth did the Penang advice come from? Mates, probably.

Something for everyone here then!

Although I prefer this one below

Malaya was restructured as the Federation of Malaya in 1948 and achieved independence on 31 August 1957. Malaya united with North Borneo, Sarawak, and Singapore on 16 September 1963 to become Malaysia. In 1965, Singapore was expelled from the federation. At school and for many years after, this country remained Malaya, not remembering the first time I called it Malaysia, I recalled my grandads words. I dripped as I gathered my chicken wings and beer, running for the nearest cover, in case the deluge was repeated. It had been a fun day with no real incident, save the two mile walk in sweltering heat trying to find a laundry. I eventually employed the services of the Penang and district Laundry company on the Burma road. The roads here are called Jalans, so the address was Jalan Burma, that I eventually gave to the taxi driver bringing me home after an afternoon on the pop. The laundry had told me that they closed at seven thirty so I must return by seven to collect my clobber. I walked earlier from the washing establishment to Jalan Penang, a distance of about five hundred yards. But it was a full five hundred more by the time I met Mohan, his sister Anita and son Zapphir, at the Bar Kashmir that he owned. Mohan sat outside watching traffic as I sauntered over the road towards him. I wasn't particularly heading for his establishment at the time, but his beckoning opening gamut was totally accurate.

He said – and I quote verbatim – “You look like you need a beer son.”

It was at that very moment, I knew that I had met a kindred spirit and the afternoon had said hello properly. Boy did we put the world to rights. He was a great believer in education. He said that history tells us that most wars throughout time have been started by the uneducated. (Not sure Hitler did all that bad at school? – anyway moving on…) His philosophy knew no bounds, as he moved from subject to subject with the smooth transition of a cocoon to a moth. He believed that all sport was corrupt, and that anyone who ever laid a bet was as corrupt as the corrupters. (Fascinating stuff in the delivery, and it was hardly time to examine the substance when he was buying the drinks. Because that was exactly what he did. After five beers, he delivered a monumental gesture of goodwill and peace to all men, by calling for my outstanding bar tab chitties from his sister Anita, and theatrically ripped them up!) He left me with his sister after that, and I soon came to realise that he was the quiet one! He left a mark on me with a number of profundities. We had been talking about money and the spending of it thereafter. He said to me this… “Always remember that your last shirt has no pockets.” When he left in his Porsche Carrera he bade me farewell with a practised dramaturgical “Go with fond memories and let the wind be kind to you,” What the jumping Josephat was that all about, he knew I was catching a bus? I well and truly tied one on this afternoon, but still managed to make my laundry appointment for seven.

Not slow coming forward...

His older sister Anita - Just have a look at that yellow sign by her head.

Now is this an ex- Poter? If so what does a practicing Poter do?

The view from the front of the bar - not exactly tourist brochure front cover, is it?

This evening I was to get wet, then dry within a very short span of time, as stated earlier. It was another of those open air affairs with so many choices of cooks and menus from different small eateries. The principle is that you pay when they bring the plate, your drinks are from another source entirely. Same ritual with the whisky tumbler and the beer served in an ice bucket.

Pick one and get it boiled.

The Woodentops building next to my hotel below

That's my room with the light on - can you see me waving? (What a great selfie stick this is!)

Penang has left its imprint but not just because of the colonial imagery from the pen of Tan Wan Eng. (Author of The Gift of Rain and Garden of the Enchanted Mist) The islands and bridges that connect Penang Island to Penang Mainland are mysterious and inviting, although time is against me this trip. I am hearing all kinds of disturbing news about Australia closing its borders to anyone that has visited China recently. I will do some homework and report more tomorrow.

Position: 05°25'37” N 100°19'16”E – Miles completed: 11469

Location: George Town, Penang, Malaysia 23:42 - 1st February 2020 - Journey 37 days 20 hours

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