Things I Have Done In Malaysia



I have grown a beard for Malaysia so its sunlight would have somewhere to become entangled in repose after lightspeed freefall,

I have danced to Latin samba grooves with Costa Ricans and Columbians on the streets of Kuala Lampur and even jeered at Indonesian prostitutes in Algerian,

I have tasted Malay lemon fried chicken and garlic naan with tandoori beneath red lanterns and manic criss-crossing neon and savored puffs of grape sheesha with warm pita bread slathered in mounds of hummus while the city hooted at the Manchester United match,

I have been extuinguished in the soft reticent gaze of some nameless Arabic goddess encountered on the KL monorail whose dark ringlets framed a long-lashed glance that struck me like a Napolean flank attack and subdued me into a woozy confusion of bliss and primal intrigue so that I can say, if my heart’s wound surrenders blood let it be spilt in her unknown name,

I have been mistaken for Australian and Brazilian and hailed as ‘Rasta-Man’ and ‘Bob Marley’ by long-haired grinning Malays as I floated down the beach in Langkawi on a single grid of sunrays with these golden ropes of hemp cascading past my temples and down my spine,

I have plunged myself into the warm ocean of Malaysia’s westernmost reach as the sun lowered itself to the horizon and trickled a trail of shine across the surface with the kind of dissoluble radiance that bedevils man’s sanity,

I have been stung by a jellyfish in that same water as I chatted idly with a British companion,

I have roamed the sandy star-shot banks under the cover of night with a Pakistani banker hungry for an extravagant memory of fellowship and sensuality, hungry for phantoms that flare the heart with excitation so that there is some kind of plateau from which to fall and crash,

I have lost myself in conversation with a Sri Lankan/Swedish women of smooth brown skin and shiny black eyes of molten glass who was too beautiful to see twice and so improbable that she told me her witch grand mother had taken her into the forest at the age of 18 and applied a balm of herbs and roots to her underarms that sent her to a place called the Blue Mountain where she lost her virginity to the devil himself,

I have nursed a middle-aged Scottish musician with long brown dreadlocks and clear blue eyes back to health after a motorbike accident and then performed impromptu music with him at a bar-on-the-beach joint as the clock crept up on midnight and into the microphone he growled “I picked myself, my LIFE up from the floor,”

I have made the acquaintance of an old Italian ex-sailor who faced the world with leathery skin and an unassailable dignity of carriage and praised the writings of Borges and the supreme sentient gravity of Indonesian orangutans, who denounced the Spaniard race as “degenerate”, frivolous, and parasitic while noting that Voltaire was rightfully aligned with his sentiment, who made strange theatrical faces in the intellectual throes of his restless discourse, who prefaced each paragraph with three ‘NOs’ and appeared to have some ideal conception of civilization thinly masked in his ramblings which nonetheless tormented his every opinion, who was content with a humble life and not desirous for luxury and excess, but only desperate for a listening ear,

I have rejoiced at the company of a fellow young American man from Washington state with whom i was able to talk basketball and share the giddiness of being stoned in that particularly American, boyish way which sometimes I am so hungry to embody for its sheer weightlessness and beautiful bedazed sincerity, and we harmonized in gales of laughter after improbably referencing DeMarcus Cousins right there in the Malaysian airy cosmos,

I have found myself lost in paddy-fields with a mustachioed buffoon from Brighton and gripped by an incurable, contagious bacteria of hilarity there in the dead of night as the Muslim call to prayer began to echo through the stillness and the three of us bumbled about in a comedy of ineptitude like a Cheech-and-Chong slapstick, as in my perception his absurd Samuel Clemons/Salvidor Dali creature-mustache hybrid had primacy and could not be usurped nor ignored, criminally dramatic–was he about to claim territory in Oklahoma? surprise attack the Confederate camp?

I have spent ringits on Coronas, ice coffee, chicken masala sub sandwiches, sunscreen, a British white-bread tuna ensemble and a McDonald’s breakfast biscuit, along with meat and charcoal for an evening guesthouse barbecue for which I flipped burgers and fed the skinny green-eyed cats liberally,

I have befriended a Dutch couple on their honeymoon who chose not to remain aloof in their young love but instead consorted freely with us sordid singles and engaged me in discussions on quantum physics, religion and European politics and even kindly took me out for posh pizza at an Italian joint when they caught wind of my dwindling finances,

I have had the clearest lucid dream of my life complete with the trickery of a false awakening before finally awaking to the even stranger dream of being 25 years old on a tropical island in Malaysia,

I have talked to the mustache-man under more sober conditions in quite a pleasant and cordial manner discussing technicalities of music, Bob Dylan and Jack Kerouac’s novels with mutual enthusiasm,

I have dreamed of an Irish lover in the half-light of my quintessential awareness,

I have become close with the daughter of the Senior VP of Haliburton, her mother South African, who is a converted Muslim with a lovely 6-month old daughter fathered by a Malay heroin addict who had to leave the island to wash his hands of that interminable vice, who herself is an old soul with an ancient heart and a person for whom I would do anything even against my better judgment,

I have thought and reflected upon my parents’ Malaysian meanderings of the 70s while gazing glassy-eyed at oceanside sundown and wondered if my will’s inclinations were coincidental or indeed just the conscious surface of a deeply encoded destiny directing my various ideas and initiatives,

I have seen God in a little girl’s face on the street who smiled at me with a lingering look, turning her head to keep me in her sight as we passed, kissing me on the cheek with her eyes, capsizing me in waves of salvation that could fill a thousand and one lives with meaning,

I have cursed and prayed and sung, shouted and hollered and serenaded, conversed like a madman, slept like a dog, stroked my beard and lavished the pattern of bikinis with an undue amount of attention, I have bared my unbrushed teeth when people called my name and eaten yellow rice with only the two hands the good Lord gave me–I have been angelic in anonymity…

I have received the insight, “Maintain humility in the shadow of knowledge” unexpectedly while wading in the salty currents alone as off in the distance human silhouettes contorted themselves in a wild game of football that some would call a name that rhymes with “rocker”,

I have said good-bye to Langkawi and good-bye to Malaysia as though I never suspected to say good-bye, as though the excursion wasn’t just a vacation on borrowed time but some kind of new chapter of experience just beginning with all else behind me and firmly in the past,

I have lost track of the World Series and encrusted my camera with bits of sand, I have animated those lost faces with smiles in my memory a million times, I have wondered about the quality of vacancy that I myself have left behind, I have healed a sprained ankle with urgent movement and raucous company, I have seen the jewelled constellations for the first time all over again,

I have lived life in Malaysia,

I have been the real Julian.


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