I come from what seems like, compared to Kuala Lumpur, a sleepy hollow. This hustling bustling world of around 1.6 million people (from every ethnicity you can imagine) is quite the shock to see in motion. Moving from pleasant Ilocos Norte (rice paddies and palm trees) into what feels like the architectural capital of Asia is overwhelming (there are towering skyscrapers that twist and turn and wrap themselves into the oddest shapes). And, truthfully, my senses are almost offended by the intense waves of “this” and “that” which are being sent continuously towards them. I’ve learned and seen so much in my small time here, and could rant and rave about so many things dear Malaysia has to offer…the lack of national identity, heck the lack of Malay identity!); the unrooted floating civilization tunneling towards progress while teetering on the ethnic tensions of rulers (foreign and local) who don’t understand the mosaic’s unique and VIBRANT culture; affirmative action…. Alas, no, I must pick one thing to talk on and it will be “movement”.
I will first make a couple observations:
- Malaysia has an award winning International Airport
- Their traffic is TERRIFYING but I am yet to see much gridlock, and if I do it doesn’t seem to last as long as one might expect
- There are more taxis here than I have ever seen in my life (albeit I have never been to NY)
- They have an excellent train system, and monorail system
- People have the keen ability to weave through this terrifying traffic
- Their walk lights are equipped with cues for the blind and their sidewalks have special ribbing to allow a blind person to walk down the street unaccompanied
This is my point. There is this hustling bustling city of 1.6 million, they have transportation vehicles whizzzzzing around, and I MEAN WHIZZING! As a legal blind member of Canadian society (blind in my left eye, that is) I’ve almost died more times this past two weeks than I care to reflect on. I can’t walk down the street without fear of imminent death, yet…I have seen more blind people this week walking around themselves than I have in my life…in a big city…of 1.6 million people moving about in chaos. This city, which seems like a scary and uncaring place filled with confused citizens and terrible drivers has to be one of the friendliest places for a blind person to live. I have watched the seeing assist the sightless when they get disoriented, and I’ve had the chance to talk to men who’ve found good jobs even if they have no vision.
It might be the heat, but my heart is warmed. It may be because I know, only a sliver, of what a pain in the butt being blind can be. And, Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, I stand and applaud your efforts, instilling dignity and independence into the lives of your citizens. Kuala Lumpur: a place where every grown man can go for a walk outside his home. This seems like a natural right to me, so much more important than bearing arms…. Malaysia, you seem to have at least some of your priorities straight! Take heed, Canada.