Friday, May 18, 2007

Nation of daredevils

Would you find it strange if I placed a stool 3 feet into a busy road and invited you to sit on it?

Apart from the weirdness of the whole thing, I know you would decline the invitation fearing for your safety. We know that most Malaysian drivers need to get from point A to B in the shortest time possible. If cyclists and crossing pedestrians do not normally serve as impediments one should avoid hitting in one’s endeavour to reach one’s destination quickly, why should a person sitting almost in the middle of the road be treated any differently?

But somehow it might not seem so strange if it wasn’t a solitary stool that was placed on the road but a collection of table and chairs with other people seated on them already.

I am not sure what the appeal is of patronizing this sub-species of open-air eating establishments. So for the purpose of research, I braved myself and sat myself on one of those wobbly plastic chairs to enjoy a teh tarik (the things I do for you, honestly).

After 5 minutes I felt like every driver was trying to murder me but changed his mind at the very last second. I concluded that the attraction must not be dissimilar to bungee jumping. There are people who would pay (although the cost of my teh tarik adventure is significantly less) to experience the thrill of feeling like you are about to die. But with the roadside teh tarik, the possibility of dying unexpectedly in the process from a combination of a road accident and dysentery is not quite eliminated.

It’s not as if such a scenario has not been played out before. At around 2.00 a.m. on May 25, 2003 a young lady by the name of Charlene Joseph Jindi drove along Jalan 14/14 in Section 14, Petaling Jaya. For reasons which are not totally clear she crashed into several tables placed outside a mamak restaurant on the road. One person was killed and 6 others were injured. She was subsequently charged with reckless driving and causing death and injury.

What was interesting was that her lawyer during the trial argued that "the accident took place on the road where the restaurant patrons were not supposed to be sitting." The court has not decided on the case yet and it remains to be seen how the magistrate, who probably had a roadside teh tarik himself the day before, will view this argument. Perhaps the lawyer might do better arguing that she was using the rearview mirror to apply her make-up at the time.

But don't think that sitting quietly in the safety of your own home could insulate you from this type of danger.

At 11 a.m. on May 11 2007, 70-year old Madam P. Saravathy had just stepped into her kitchen to make curry when a tipper lorry laden with stones and soil crashed into her double-storey corner lot home in Bangsar and landed in her living room. The lorry driver claimed that he was driving downhill and tried to steer the vehicle to safety but failed. It is likely that he will be charged under Section 43(1) of Road Transport Act 1987 for careless and inconsiderate driving.

I would say he was indeed very inconsiderate as the least he could do was to time the event to coincide with a suitable episode of AXN’s World’s Most Amazing Crashes. That would probably have enhanced the sound effects and added to the excitement of Madam Saravathy and her neighbours in a more positive manner.

It is no surprise that some road-users and pedestrians alike have this lack of concern when it comes to the safety of themselves and others on the road. This apathetic attitude is probably instilled from small. How often have you seen circus acts as below on the road?

And poking your head through the sunroof while your car is cruising to pretend that you are the queen of a homecoming parade may be fun but it’s one way of increasing the chances of your head arriving at your destination much earlier than the rest of your body.

I could go on about Mat Rempit, motorcyclists who don’t switch on their lights at night and pedestrians who think that overhead bridges are merely decorative structures but I feel quite tired and thirsty after all this writing. I feel like having a teh ais my local mamak. And I’m going to sit inside. Far inside.

23 comments:

NinJaMoo said...

Where do you come up with all this stuff? Absolutely amazing! Can't believe anyone would deliberately run into a mamak stall. Must've had a bad case of food poisoning or something...;p

♥fizzy♥ said...

Dear Mr I,

Finally!!
I've been peeping your blog for the whole week, waiting for an entry.
[or do you update on weekly basis?]
=)

Anyways, it's a good thing you brought up this topic.
I remembered watching the news about an accident similar to what Madam P. Saravathy experienced.
But it was a car rammed into a house instead of a lorry.
The owner of the house was watching TV at that time, with his family.
Thank God they only suffered minor injuries.

pugly said...

A world-class show is happening everyday right here in Sg. Buloh. And you don't even need a ticket to watch them circus performers in action.

Theta said...

Right on Mr Incognito! I'd not be caught dead (pun intended) eating by the side of a busy road!

But I guess some people wouldn't mind inhaling them fumes, nor the death traps, while gulping their favourite concoctions.

Uniquely Malaysia....Malaysia, Truly Asia! ;D

Mr Incognito said...

NinJaMoo >>> actually she claimed that somebody overtook her suddenly from the left and she had to swerve. she can't win. on the left there's a selfish driver and on the right some suicidal diners.

♥fizzy♥ >>> i try to update weekly but i was waiting for the decision of the mamak accident trial which was due on friday. but then i couldn't find any coverage after all. the court must have adjourned it as usual.

pugly >>> the sg buloh branch of the circus is more daring. add no lights at night to the equation and we get a truly entertaining show.

Theta >>> should start a new gimmick. have a stall on the divider and ofer double the thrill

Diesel Electric said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Diesel Electric said...

Ah, the disrespect the average Malaysian has for the law (or anything, for that matter) is astounding.

Good ol' Blighty is still the place for me - a shining beacon in this mad world of ours, a land where the culture is so steeped in discipline, courtesy and common sense - everything that this blasted country of ours is not. No wonder I can cry from just watching a BR ad on YouTube!

P/S: I am hafizi1979 - apparently Google changed the login for me.

A Babe Of Very Little Brain said...

kat dalam kedai panas.

Mr Incognito said...

Diesel Electric >>> anglophile trainspotter? no wonder you feel England is home

Babe >>> tapi boleh hidup lama sikit

GemmaJames said...

makan kat tempat ada air-cond, makanan sejuk cepat. tepi jalan, engine motor keeps the curry warm.

trueblue said...

kalau makan kat tepi jalan ada asap and habuk yang buat lagi sedap tu. Tak panas sangat jugaklah sebab angin pun sepoi2 bahasa :P

Mr Hobo said...

makan tepi jalan senang cabut ... makan free!!

Mr Incognito said...

GemmaJames >>> bagus ada awek low maintenance macam ni

trueblue >>> kalau nak sedut asap baik hisap rokok terus. mati pun puas hati

Mr Hobo >>> patutlah selalu belanja makan

Dayang said...

I'm in a love-hate relationship with Sg. Buloh. Love all the kedai bunga and landscape along the road, but really hate the traffic between Kota Damansara and Sg. Buloh town.
I'm also in a love-hate relationship with mamak stalls too, but that's a different story altogether (that'll probably be my next 800 words blog entry).

Desparil said...

the CO in the exhaust fumes add flavour la...

Mr Incognito said...

Dayang >>> as if we will ever get to read that entry (or won't we ;?)

Desparil >>> sedut CO is for the disappointed fans lepas FA cup final . the roadside mamak will be so convenient

zewt said...

if i am the magistrate, i am not going to hold the driver responsible. i mean... if someone suddenly dash out on the road and you run him/her down... is it your fault? it happens...

if a mat rempit did some stunt in front of you and did a boo boo and fell on the road and you failed to hit the brake on time, do you think it's your fault? i blogged about my experience with a legion of mat rempit once... if you've read... u will know my frustration.

so... if you're sitting on the roadside... prepared to get killed. and typical malaysian... it was such a big thing then and everyone had to sit inside... now... back to square one...

UglyButAdorable said...

to die or not to die....maner maner pun boleh...sitting right inside pun dun guarantee maaa...kalau ader tong gas meletup...aiyooo...ngerisss..

izso said...

Poor lady. If it were me I'd fire the damn lawyer and get someone better. It's the fault of the mamak not so much the driver. Yeesh.

Mr Incognito said...

Mr Incognito said...

zewt >>> i see you devote quite a lot of posts on stupid drivers (keep it up). hence the heartfelt comment. btw, there's a problem reading your blog with firefox.

UglyButAdorable >>> kalau tong gas meletup can claim "went down in a blaze of glory". kalau kena langgar while minum teh, itu namanya "mati katak"

izso >>> the lawyer is quite high profile actually. i'm sure he raised quite a few other arguments. we'll see what the verdict will be

moby said...

Well, just goes to show if one's gonna die, one WILL die. Death is not in our hands. How we die, only HE knows.

Why, I could be sitting here happily blogging away when some freak electrical fault will cause my pc to blow me up into tiny little pieces.

Diesel Electric said...

Mr Incogny,

Just a little deviation here. The second last photo of that motorbike with that freight train - where was that taken?

Mr Incognito said...

moby >>> i think the chances of you dying by having a roadside teh tarik in singapore is probably lower than in our country. add no smoking to the equation and you will have a long and prosperous life

Diesel Electric >>> lol. why am i not surprised that this caught your attention? it was near the pantai dalam komuter station