It’s the people that make Bangsar tick

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  • Saturday, 18 Oct 2008

RECENTLY, I found myself awake at 7.30am - an ungodly time of the morning, mind you - and so, not knowing what to do with the few extra hours in my life, decided to go for a run.

It was a Sunday and except for rushing to work-related events, I have not been up that early in a long time.

It was a most interesting run, I have to say, because I bumped into so many people I’ve not met in a very long time. Living in Bangsar all your life (yes, since I was born), you tend to know the people who make Bangsar tick - the newspaper uncle (who has put on so much weight!), the nasi lemak lady and the Filipino maids.

I kid you not. Halfway through my run, I was so tempted to break into this song:

Hey, hey, hey, Mabuhay Sun-day!

May, may, may, everyday be fun day.

Say, say, say, I need a little more pay.

It was a song from a group of Singaporean satirist dedicated to Filipino maids that I listened to as a child. Looking at the maids decked our in their Sunday best, on their cellphones waiting for taxis made me feel like I was in a musical.

Instead, I just turned to a couple of them and said, “Mabuhay!”, a Filipino greeting I learnt from Linda, one of my family’s maid from before. They smiled and returned the greeting.

It has been so long that I had forgotten how much Bangsar buzzed in the mornings. These days, I am more used to the buzz from alcohol at night on the streets of Telawi where many pubs and bars are situated.

Yet, from that 45 minute I spent running around, I realised how little Bangsar has changed, despite the developments - a second wing to Bangsar Village (and another to come at the Bangsar Shopping Centre), new shop lots and apartment blocks, and houses on the main road turned into stores.

I saw children cycling around and heading to the park with a basketball and wondered how long before they discovered the wonders of sleeping in. I, myself, was like them - the children from the neighbourhood and I would head to the empty field we had turned into a golf driving range, or to the unused badminton court where we had to put up our own nets.

The routine, for some, remained the same. Old aunties were pushing a trolley in the direction of the morning wet market, which has not moved since many years ago when I used to accompany mum on her weekly grocery shopping spree.

I even got some “Hello” waves from people washing their cars or tending to the garden €“ people from the neighbourhood I had not met in years, and was surprised that they (including some of the maids who have been around for years, mind you) would still recognise me, one feet taller and 15 years older.

Of course, some things do change. A couple of the aunties I used to see walking around are now in wheelchairs, the earlier-mentioned newspaper uncle was just a delivery boy but now he runs the company, and there were new people running shops where I used to cycle to and buy stuff from.

Yes, it was a pretty nostalgic run, but it was a good feeling because the familiar faces are a reminder of what Bangsar used to be like, and the new faces (along with their renovated homes and fancy new cars) show how much Bangsar has developed.

What was most heartwarming, for me, was that despite the blatant commercialisation, the increase in property prices and the many incidents of crime we sometimes hear about, that what continues to make Bangsar tick, is the people.

That run reacquainted me with a time before I got lost in the rat race and caught up with socialising (at night). I don’t wish for things to be the way it was, but it is always nice to know that although I don’t see it often enough, I return home each day to not only my house, but to an area which I know so well, where people know me and which shaped me into the person I am now.

You can bet that I will be waking up earlier (once in a while, let’s be realistic) and going for more runs around the neighbourhood.

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