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November 11, 2009

Tom Goes Spark’in – Part 2

Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysia – I decided that I was tired of living, sleeping and traveling alone. I am ready to find a wife and begin a new marriage after five years of bachelorhood. I have met many ladies here in Malaysia and have been courting a 42-year-old Malay girl. (see last weeks column).


I invited her over to my condo a world away from her simple home in the kampung. Not that she lives in poverty; it’s just the locals don’t hold much stock in material furnishings. Sitting, eating and sleeping on the floor is fine by them.


She stated she would visit my condo in a 16-story building across the river, a world away from hers. She accepted my invite as she would be moving in with me after a proper Islamic marriage. (more on that later).


I wanted her to arrive after my house keeper had cleaned the place. Metro, at least I think that’s her name, comes from a small village about 15 km from here. She enjoys my antics and I think I am the first American, or white man for that matter, she has been associated with.


We have had some minor adjustments, mainly in the clothes washing department. At first I let her have the run of the place, usually while I walking around town shopping for the sweet, colorful tropical fruits.


I returned one day and noticed her coming from the river with my clothes. I asked her what she was doing and she said she had been washing my clothes, whipping them on a stone and rinsing in the questionable fluids of the tropical river. I asked her why she didn’t use the washing machine in my apartment and she related she was afraid of it. We have had several lessons about the workings, and she has it down pat now.


The next adventure was the dryer. Located on the 16th floor and swallowing $1.63 for 40 minutes or one large load, we had to have a lesson when I noticed my shirts, neatly folded in my bureau, returned a couple of sizes too small.


Let me back up. At first she couldn’t understand why I would want to use a dryer when the tropical sun did the job quite nicely. She also thought it quite foolish to feed money into a machine. Thinking about it, I now know she has a very good point. I informed her that the sun never reached the balcony of my condo. That made sense and she reluctantly learned about the dryer.


I had to correct her about the temperature setting. There are only three – 90 C, 45 C and 20 C. She correctly told me the 90 C would dry the clothes much faster and cheaper. She had no concept of shrinkage because of her outdoor drying methods back in the village. We got that straightened out after a couple of lessons.


My girlfriend arrived for her visit with her Auntie, who I had met, a six year old and another lady. I had mixed up the days so my housekeeper was there cleaning. We sat down, they made coffee and I served cakes. We talked about my background (I speak Malay, the local lingo) and I gave them the tour of what most westerners would consider a small flat. I think it met with their approval.


The two visitors walked out onto the balcony to what I thought was to enjoy the view. My girlfriend and I talked in the living room. It wasn’t until I got up and glanced out that they had my housekeeper, who had been with me for about a year now, button holed and questioning her vigorously. I could see they were prying every minute detail about my life out of her.


I sat back amused.


…life is good…


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