This is Neela

Neela’s dream is to be famous in the movies. Neela is currently with her family at the Batu Caves celebrating Deepavali. She is with her family and her mother nods appreciatively at me. “Are you going to put her on the Internet? She will be famous yes?” Neela demurs, then I ask her if she wants to be famous in Hollywood or Bollywood movies. She bobbles her head around, which clearly means, “YesNo”.

This is Neela

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KLIA

I spend way too much time in this terminal, so I decided to grab an HDR shot. This is Kuala Lumpur International Airport. It is a great airport, just like most Asian airports I visit. They generally blow away US airports in terms of design and functionality. When compared to international hubs like LAX and CTG, there is no comparison.
Kuala Lumpur International Airport

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Buddha Buddha Buddha

I found these three monk fellows engaging in capitalist activities in Kuala Lumpur. For whatever reason, I decided to look up “Buddha” on the Wikipedia to see if I could figure out what sect of monks these guys are from, since they did not speak English.

The entry was hilarious; check out the second paragraph. I can only imagine this has not been edited or redacted by the Wikipedia community because it is so funny:

In Buddhism, a buddha is any being who has become fully awakened (enlightened), has permanently overcome greed, hate, and ignorance, and has achieved complete liberation from suffering. Enlightenment (or nirvana (Pali: nibbana)) is the highest form of happiness. The name Buddha is commonly used to refer to Siddhartha Gautama (Pali: Siddhattha Gautama), the historical founder of Buddhism. Buddha literally means “awakened” or “that which has become aware”. It is the past participle of the Sanskrit root budh, meaning “to awaken”, “to know”, or “to become aware”. Buddha as a title means ‘The Awakened One’.

Andrew Sigal, a student at Stockton is also known as Buddha for his Buddha belly. He is hairy and smells worse than anything you can possibly imagine.

Buddha Buddha Buddha

I took this very close to where I took this HDR picture, during the night:

The Haze of Kuala Lumpur

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Mom

It’s never a bad time to get a drink…

Mom

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Farewell Kuala Lumpur

Here is a shot I took wedged between two fully hooded Muslim women from the top of the KL Tower.

Farewell Kuala Lumpur

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Ready to Strike

If you click on it and go to the Smugmug site, you can see the large or original size, which has some really nice details. And yes, that is the same 30 pound iguana that I held… bad idea.

Ready to Strike

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Petronas Towers on a Surreal Morning

I took these on an early morning walk since I could not sleep. The smoke from the Indonesian fires combined with the choking humidity sometimes makes for really strange skies in the morning here.

A Surreal Morning in Kuala Lumpur

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Hindu Art

I know all art is relative, but to my Western-trained eyes, it is a bit garish, no?  However, having said that, I found a place that is so over-the-top that it is actually kind of cool. This is deep underground int the Batu caves where Hindu artists have slaved away on these creations. I took a few pictures, and here is the first:

Wheel of Time

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I think this is what they call going native

The story of how this got worse starts in a bit.

Here, in the middle of a 16 day outing in Kuala Lumpur, things that once looked crazy to me are starting not to see so crazy, at least until I return to the hotel room and am once again reminded, objectively, of how crazy things are.

I succumbed to a supposedly ancient Chinese therapy known as cupping, when they attach Matrix-like suction devices to your back and then abandon you in a poorly wallpapered room for 10 minutes.

The process supposed to remove the “wind toxins” from my body, which is a good thing since I didn’t realize I had any of those and I certainly appreciated the opportunity to remove them forthwith.

As you can see in the first picture, the red blood welts are not dissimilar in color, swelling, and pain from a serious car accident.

As you can see in the second picture, something went horribly wrong, most notably my lack of understanding Cantonese. I managed to compound my first mistake by at least one order of magnitude. Here is the story:

I went to Malaka to do some exploration and it started to rain, so I dove into a little Chinese massage place to pass the time. It’s hard to pass up a $15 hour-long massage. After my previous experience, I told them I just wanted a massage, and none of the suction cup stuff. The woman nodded absently then sent me upstairs where another Chinese woman was positively aghast at the condition of my back. She said, “NO NO NO – ALL WRONG! ALL WRONG!” I said, “I KNOW I KNOW”. Then she said, “I FIX IT I FIX IT!” Then I said, “NO WHAT DO YOU MEAN?” and she went out of the room and I could hear a bunch of glass clanking violently together.

She said, “THIS THIS??, showing me a big box of glass bulbs about the size of softballs. I said yes, and she indicated for me to lie down. I thought she was simply asking me if that was what they did at the previous place, and it was similar but with plastic cups and suction pumps. I didn’t realize she was about to do something much worse until I heard her light a flaming stick, igniting some kind of gaseous oily substance in the glass bulb then slamming it down on my back, where it stuck like a poison dart. I couldn’t figure out how to say, “Burning Pain combined with suction pain please stop.” in Chinese so, tried to crane my neck around to see what she was doing to me…

Pop pop pop, then three more were on me before I could do anything. The pain and suction was so diffused and all over, I could not even think about telling her what part hurt. I tried to get up, and the glass bulbs clanked all around, like when you try to move a Christmas tree after its already been decorated. As soon as I moved, she screamed, “NO MOVE! DANGER DANGER!”, so then I froze still, while burning in a netherworld of vacuumed pain.

That fun lasted for a good while. After I got done, I gingerly made my way downstairs and the lady at the front counter warned me not to take a shower for a day. I was like, “why?” and she looked at me seriously and whispered, “Danger.”

I think this is what they call going native.

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This is Ranjit

Ranjit’s dream is that he gets to work in the factory again.

Ranjit is currently sitting in front of an old restaurant on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. He used to work in a nearby factory, making aluminum parts, but he was replaced after his cataracts got too heavy and he began making mistakes. Ranjit does not like being a burden on his son, who doesn’t come to see him much anymore. He says, motioning off into the distance behind me, “The boy is in Putrajaya, living in government house.” He keeps reaching out in that direction, groping around, as if he is trying to find a light swtich in the dark.

This is Ranjit

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