Saturday, September 11, 2010

What Lonely Planet won't tell you

There are two ways to travel in a new country - as a tourist or as a backpacker. If you have the luxury of time and little money you backpack. If it's the other way around you're a tourist. Also, in all probability, you're a corporate whore. But I'll leave that for later. I've backpacked a bit and as a backpacker one is predisposed to despising tourists. They're loud, with kids (always plural; there is never only one kid) in tow and are always either searching for McDonald's or posing in front of McDonald's or, if Gujarati, are complaining that there are no veggies in that country's McDonald's.

So a couple of weeks back when a friend, ATG* recommended that we 'tour' Kuala Lumpur as opposed to a trek across the Malay countryside, I had my misgivings.

(ATG*: Desi, economist, feminist, Mallu-Maoist, armchair activist, Bombayite-Singaporean. Don't be overly impressed. This is snapshot of what these pseudo-intellectuals study - pic below. JB's kid's rhymes are more profound.)

Tourist? Who, me? Was she expecting me to use taxis, hunt down desi restaurants, ogle local women, drink Budweiser and wear denim during travel? Really? Did she even know the anal ego that she was dealing with here?

Despite our ideological differences we wanted to meet up. So we talked it out and a loose framework of ground rules to mollify any potential tourism-guilt was drawn. No butter chicken or meen moilee. No shopping. No phone calls. No wake-up calls. There is no such place as a crowded place. Drink till the first one drops. If we ogle, we ogle together. One is free to not believe in the lord but one must trust the trinity - Jack, Johnnie and Jameson. Cigars are injurious to Clinton's health, not ours. The amount of alcohol in one's system does not dictate one's sexuality. Darker the night, weaker the gaydar. Use zebra crossings.

With such pious, devout and upright principles, we were not surprised when our trip went from being weekend of tourism to weekend of debauchery.

This is how you do it.

1. Hotel Booking - Do not ask for the 'City View' or the 'Lake View' or even 'Petronas Twin Tower View' bedroom. Request for the 'Bathroom View'.

2. Dining - Begin your night in a shady back-alley with the 'Soup Torpedo' - a recommended local aphrodisiac; a devilish concoction of 11 spices, beef broth and bull's penis (hence the explosive euphemism). Follow it up with a cuppa of Tongkat Ali Coffee - essentially coffee spiked with local viagra - strictly for men. What that translates to in English is 'Not recommended for women'. So if as a lady, you choose to ignore the warning from the hawker, you have only yourself to blame when you find yourself doing something extremely unladylike with transvestites (always plural; there is never only one transvestite) in a club.

3. Sightseeing - Sufficiently satiated and appropriately aroused from the meal, head to the busiest whore pickup club. Take your seat at the bar. Do not order a drink. Why? As the only Indian couple at the bar, adorably horny, significantly sloshed and incredibly stupid Indian men on the prowl would be more than happy to send across bottles of whisky your way in an attempt to impress their ladies.

Warning: In a club, never let your wily albeit drunk friend out of sight. He/She would surreptitiously pay off a prostitute to come feel you up and freak the crap out of you. True fact!

4. Off the beaten track - In a state of ecstatic inebriation, have your future told by a Malay Oracle. Do not call her fat.

Personal digression: The oracle read the tarot cards and this is what she had to say about us -

Me - Women mess me up. I only know messed up women. (Even cards can tell now!)
I will find 'true love' only in my abroad living woman friend's firang friend in the month of Jan 2011. (I have only two close female friends living abroad. The both of you, please to introduce me to these firangs. Don't you think I deserve 'true love' and all?)
An interesting fact - I drew a set of cards 5 times in total for the oracle to read. Every single time the card below came up. I wonder if it was a sign from God or perhaps the trinity?

ATG - If she gets married before thirty, she will get divorced and will not marry again. If she waits till she turns thirty, the guy she marries will most certainly be a jackass. (Whoever said that there is no such thing as Sophie's Choice.)
She will never become a successful politician/economist. At best she can aspire to become a clerk. (I laughed so hard I had tears of joy in my eyes.)
The card below was recurrent in her draws. I'm guessing, I won?

Now you may call the oracle fat and leave.

5. Rounding-off the night - Head to the shadiest transexual club in town for a ringside view of the weirdest set of 'guy-who's-a-girl vs. girl-who's-a-guy' competitive sporting events known to man; rather not-known. I shan't divulge the details of these events on the blog for fear of losing my seven existing blog-readers. The participants, however, I'm sure wouldn't mind a little publicity.

Things that Lonely Planet might tell you -

(Clockwise from top left: Guinness Stout Beer in English/Chinese/Tamil, the most ridiculous soap ad - why is that kid being raunchy?, fresh coffee beans, Ramzan street-food market, multi-ethnic love, random cafes)


My aunt has always said that a really good traveler does not need a camera.
I clicked twenty-odd photographs. That makes me strictly ok.