Sleepless in Bangsar


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  • Saturday, 29 Jul 2006

FOR the last few months, my house has been a mess. I cringe to imagine what must be going through my dad’s mind, house-proud man that he is. You see, we have just had a built-in cabinet put into my room and to do that, everything had to be packed away into boxes and removed. It has been months since, but I have yet to unpack and the boxes remain partially hidden behind the sofa. 

It is not that I am lazy; I just see little point in doing it. After all, chances are that barely a year or so from now, everything would have to be packed up again because I would probably be doing something else to the room, like painting it. House improvement, it seems, is a disease in Bangsar. 

This morning, I was awakened by the sounds of drilling. This has been going on for a while now, ever since my neighbour of 25-odd years moved out. And, this is not the first house to be renovated within earshot. At times, I have felt like shouting, “Shut up!” but then there is really no point. If it was not my immediate neighbour who was renovating, it was the one directly opposite me. I was not going to get any sleep, anyway. 

But that is exactly it! I do not think people in Bangsar, or at least those living in my street, have slept peacefully in a very long time. Let’s not talk about all the million-ringgit houses along Jalan Maarof (the main road that goes through Bangsar) being turned into car showrooms and other stores. The street I live in has been in a constant state of “house renovation in progress” over the last few years. 

At the moment, I think there are three or four houses being worked on within a 100metre radius. 

I wonder if it is a status symbol thing. I would like to believe it is not – after all, I have known some of these people for the better part of my life and I would still like to think of them as that nice, humble uncle or aunty I grew up with. 

Could it be that they are just house-proud? Well, I would like to think so. 

After all, wouldn’t you be proud of a house worth almost (or perhaps, even more than) RM1 million? 

Different people do different things to their houses. Nearby, there is a house with a glass façade – not very practical, especially during storms (the glass has broken before). Then there is another one that looks like a manion of a kampung house. Others get rid of their garden, while some have gardens that resemble a forest. 

My house? It looks almost the same as it did 25 years ago. The front awning is a little longer and the back has been walled up to replace the grill but that is pretty much it. Dad recently got most of the house repainted but he spends most of his energy inside, making his house into a home. 

My dad is a neat-freak, and so “artistic” that he has different parts of the house for different things. There is that one wall and a couple of cabinets for all the souvenirs from his travels around the world. And then, there is the hobby area where mum’s crystal and glass collection lies alongside dad’s matchbox collection (my liquor collection is there, too!).  

Dad is most proud of his “tropical” terrace – small palm trees and lots of earth-toned furniture and decorations - and of course, his Chinese corner – an old cabinet and some framed Chinese-inspired motifs. Sometimes mum tells him that she has this great new thing to add to his collection and he just ho-hums and turns to his children (me and my sisters) and goes, “Aiyo, it does not fit in with his theme.” 

Yup, “his” theme. I wonder if many other people are like him. It appears so, because the folks doing up their houses have all lived here for a long time. It could be something in the water. 

My friend’s boyfriend – the one through whose gates I confessed to peeping last week – recently told me that it was the owner who had made the house look like that when I complimented him on his beautiful place. I guess old school knows, and does best. 

In the meantime, I am waiting to see the outcome of the next house being renovated.  

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