YOU know you’ve made it when you live in Bangsar.
At least that was the notion my ambitious 15-year-old self had while daydreaming of someday acquiring the lifestyle of the rich and famous.
Growing up in a suburb, I was often fed stories of how Bangsar used to be an affordable valley to reside in and how it eventually grew into an affluent neighbourhood.
Yet listening to these stories was like entering a time machine into a past I could not quite relate to.
I used to visit the vicinity occasionally during weekends in 2005, as I would accompany my father for theatre shows at the Actor’s Studio in Bangsar Shopping Centre, in my best dress just in case we bumped into a local celebrity.
To me, Bangsar was the Beverly Hills of Kuala Lumpur, and I was determined to live the luxurious life with valet parking and freshly baked bread that did not come from a factory.
Moving into an apartment in the affluent neighbourhood two years ago, brought arched eyebrows of approval with a resounding “Oh Bangsar ah!” each time I announced my “grown-up move” to my aunties, but soon the compliments paled next to the reality check which soon arrived.
Scrambled eggs on croissant and a cappuccino for breakfast was the first sign of achieving the great life, until I realised it was a daylight robbery to pay more than RM60 for a meal.
While the thriving coffee culture and jazz bars along Jalan Telawi gave the area a trendy personality, it actually masked the vicious rat race between entrepreneurs and franchise outlets, as you rarely see the same shop survive more than a year.
Somewhere between taking pictures of coffee art and posting selfies with our food on Instagram, perhaps we did not notice the value of the RM10 note slipping away.
“It’s Bangsar lah, what do you expect?” became the standard justification for every unreasonable price tag and odd behaviour of equating good quality with an exorbitant price.
Unwilling to squander the rest of my first few paychecks, I eventually sought refuge at the age-old Bangsar Fish Head Corner for RM2 rice dishes at Lorong Ara Kiri, Lucky Garden.
Lofty dreams of fine dining quickly switched to regular bowls of pan mee at One One pan mee shop hidden on the top floor under the signboard of Restoran Sun Huat Kee in Lucky Garden.
Brown sugar and coconut milk goodness at 19-year-old Om Shakti Chelo’s Appam stall was an institution I religiously visited while watching luxury cars inching their way through constant congested lanes.
Parking spots are a luxury even for the most wealthy.
Like most pockets of Kuala Lumpur, Bangsar is evolving but I am sceptical as to where its development is headed.
With the MRT service soon to be completed, assuring a greater influx of visitors and infrastructure demands, I wonder if my teenage daydreams and stories of Bangsar’s past will be swallowed by development.
While I keep my fingers crossed that the size of appam and pan mee do not shrink once GST kicks in come April, I can only hope this valley will not lose its blue skies to another highrise.
Dreams aside, I am certain that for my generation and the ones to come, it is going to take much effort for us to make ends meet in Bangsar.