The KTM Series #1

This is the beginning of The KTM Series, where I write about what I see on my way to work. KTM stands for Keretapi Tanah Melayu, which means Malayan Railways in Malay. First built to transport tin in the British colonial era, it’s the most reasonable mode of transport for the average worker today, without regards to its countless delays, excruciating waiting times, and relatively low connectivity on a national scale.

Everyday, I notice things that are of interest to me in the KTM. So it is with this series that I will write about them. The goal? By the middle of September, I will have written at least 20 posts. I set a goal such as this, so that I know that there’s an end to it; and, knowing that there’s an end to it that it will push myself to deliver without being complacent of the fact that I could do it tomorrow (whenever that is). However, if I were to tell myself that I will write one post for every time I commute, it will indirectly make me desperate in finding things to write about. It’s July. From now until the middle of September, there are about 50 work days. So, 20 sounds reasonable la. Okay? K. Thanks ah. 

Last Thursday, I went home slightly later than usual. Only slightly. But for some reason when the train arrived at KL Sentral, there were a few empty seats. I managed to grab one, sat down, and put on my headphones for some Madeon.

There was a woman who was slightly plump, but not enough to tell the difference whether she was pregnant or not. The Malay women beside me (who was still fasting at that time) tapped on her shoulder and offered her the seat. At that moment, I felt that all the gentlemen in the world were disappointed in me. In my defence, I honestly couldn’t tell.

After a few songs, I started to notice that the Indian man sitting opposite me was smiling. At one point he was smiling at me. It was very genuine. His hair had volume, and was a mashup of white and black. His eyes were wide and bright; his glasses, thin rimmed and fragile. Very neatly dressed in a white shirt and black trousers, and had earphones on too. I wasn’t sure if it was because of how funny I looked while I was in the zone; but, I remember that he seemed really happy  that day.

Right in front of that man stood two teenagers. There were quite close to each other physically. I had heard them talking previously. The girl was very articulate, and pronounced her words very well. Soothing, to say the least. The boy was a bit more quiet and only occasionally replied her. I never really bothered to look up until we arrived at a certain station that freed up two seats.

One for him, one for her.

But they had to sit separately with two people in between, on the same bench. The Indian man was one of those two people.

The girl was wearing a blue t-shirt with ‘Penang’ written on it and the Penang bridge drawn on it. Her hair was tied in a single ponytail, and I couldn’t tell if she was Malay or Chinese. Mixed, is a safe bet. Immediately after taking her seat, she  looked to her left as though to check up on the boy.

The Chinese boy dressed as though he just came back from his internship, wore thick rimmed glasses, and had wavy pulled back hair. Like the typical ‘hipster’ one la. The one that nowadays everyone does it that it’s more mainstream than hipster already weh. Right after the girl looked at him, he looked at her as though he was concerned.

Their eyes never met.

But what it did meet was their own phones. Both of them seemed awkward. Were they trying to appear busy and occupied, when the gap in between them made it very hard to talk to each other?

He looked at her.

Then, she looked at him.

10 seconds later, he looked at her.

Then, he looked at her again.

Shortly after, she looked at him.

Then the train arrived at the Subang Jaya station. They both left together. Maybe the Indian man knew what was happening the whole time too.


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