Sunday, November 28, 2004

Pudu Station

Took the night bus back to Kedah yesterday. I was a bit early and having nothing else to do, got a drink, just sat down and watched people go by.

Pudu Raya is a really interesting place and you get to see and meet a lot of characters. The place is always busy and yesterday night more so with all the people coming back from their Kampungs and students going back to Universities after the Raya break. In fact, Jelita the only bus service which goes into the Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) campus ran extra buses and yesterday I counted 5 buses going off at 9:30 pm. Normally they have only 1.

Anyway, while waiting for my bus I was passing my time observing the people around me. There were the usual ticket touts. Some of the ladies were very aggressive shouting “Ipoh, Ipoh, Ipoh, JB, JB, JB”. Suddenly, this Indian guy came up to me and said " Excuse me! Can you please give me some money to buy a ticket to Ipoh?" in perfect English. I said "Sorry! I don't have enough money" and he walked off. Normally I would be very helpful but this being my fourth experience was wiser to the fact that this people usually hung around Pudu trying to get money from sympathetic passengers. However, I always had this feeling of guilt. “What if they were really telling the truth”.

I was looking around for another famous Pudu Raya character, a beggar with no arms wearing a sarong and a small bag around his neck. I didn’t see him.

I finished my drink. Continued looking at couples going from counter to counter trying to get tickets at the last minutes. It was getting pretty uncomfortable as I was sweating, feeling sleepy and sick of the fumes wafting up from the idling buses and the cigarette smoke from the guy sitting next to me. Hey! I thought they banned smoking in public places. Making laws are easy; enforcing them is the difficult part I guess.

Then there were these two young teenage girls sitting opposite me. They had real sad expressions and were not talking to each other much. Some guys hung around (Romeos on bikes often found loitering around Pudu, maybe?), trying to chat them up without much success. One of the girls asked the other girl something, which I could not hear and the other girl snapped back "I don't know!" The other girl looked as if she was ready to cry. Observing their miserable expressions, several scenarios were playing out in my head. Maybe the person supposed to pick them up didn’t turn up. Were they running away from home? Maybe someone tricked them and they were stuck there not knowing what to do. The girl who looked slightly older looked at me and was staring. Was that a plea for help? I guess I didn’t have the guts to ask them. Anyway, the Police counter was just around the corner if they had any problem. Felt a bit guilty.

Finally left Pudu Raya for Kedah at around 9:30 pm. The aircon felt good and I was ready to try to get some sleep. Then the girl beside me started having coughing fits. Oh! My god! Waited for a while but she didn’t stop. Do I have Strepsils? I usually do. Looked around in my bag. No I don’t. Arrgh!

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