Tuesday, September 29

To Kuching I came, and from Kuching I leave


I remember when I first came to Kuching. I thought I knew what I was getting into. But little did I know there was more to Kuching than the reservoir of information I had collected about its political, economical and socio-cultural aspects.

I wanted a small town, humble people, devoid of the hectic city life that most like. Actually I was running away from city life, in search of new adventures in a land of such diversity that one can only wonder about its existence.

The first time in the city, I couldn’t escape that feeling of being in a different atmosphere, almost as if stretched away from the depths of the horizons. A feeling of entering an alien land, while driving from the airport enveloped me.

I took a breather to wander its clean roads, not heavy traffic, and its neatly arranged buildings. For a visitor, a good impression was formed concerning the city planning. It was definitely much better than a couple of small cities I’d visited in the past.

There was no time to waste. I had to start adjusting to its new climate, faces and diverse culture. I guess the most important aspect was its dishes and delicacies. Initially my taste buds had to work to find ways of getting used to the new delicacies.

In Kuching I learned the art of devouring dishes I had never tried before. With its varieties, I tasted, though not many, but enough to enjoy the richness of its delicacies. From Malay food to Chinese and Indian, I travelled greater distances for lunches and dinners.

The pace of life was slow, just the way I wanted it. But the heat was something that took awhile to get used to.

However, Kuching taught me many lessons in life. It taught me how to be an ambassador by reminding me of the onus I carry by studying abroad. Through me, I learned that people would learn about my culture and my people.

Generalisations would be made through me. For the first time, I realised the power was in my hands. It was either for me to misuse or use appropriately for my sake and for the sake of others. And I guess you know which path I took.

It was the big celebrations I enjoyed most. During Gawai, I visited longhouses. The Dayak community showered me with tuak. My low alcohol tolerance has over the period been transformed.

During Chinese New Year, I would wander through friends’ houses learning and immersing myself in the spirit of a new beginning. Through dragon dances, dinners and angpows, for a short period of time I became one with the culture.

Oh how I celebrated Hari Raya. Though I am a Christian, I always find it a celebration I could be a part of regardless. In all these celebrations and festivities, I became a multi-celebrator of life and diversity.

The best experience of living in Kuching is the humility I observed in many of its residents. There was no doubt that this land is a friendly place I will call home for three years. With positivity, it became a place where I could enjoy and thrive to become what I wanted.

But the greatest of them all, was how as a person I became a point of intrigue and learning. I presented a unique thread in a fabric interwoven with different threads. I drew from around the city, curiosity that attracted eyes.

Though initially it proved a challenge to be a unique thread in the larger fabric, I slowly mastered the capacity to transform such situations into experiences I could look back on with a smile.

It was my hair, my skin and everything that I was that made me special. It was the fountain of knowledge I possessed that was of value. Kuching taught me to see myself as a special being; for me it is much better to live in such a community.

However, an experience that I wouldn’t leave behind is the multiple opportunities that opened doors in my life. I managed to live fully, with opportunities always presenting themselves to me.

It is in this land that I drew some of my greatest inspirations from the wonderful people I met during my journey. It always seemed as if God never ceased to bless me with new faces and mentors that would steer my life in uncharted territories. I will always look back with a heart of thanks for all those great inspirations that passed my way.

With this, I want to thank my dear readers who have been with me throughout my journey of learning how to write whilst sharing information that has been dear to me. I also want to thank all those who took the time to write me, to answer or make me understand things I was unaware of.

I hope that, even with the little I had, I was able to share it unselfishly. It was a great honour to have had this opportunity and thank you very much for everything.

Contact the writer via [email protected] com.