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During my first week in the new office in Cyberjaya, I don’t really have much to do. I arrive early, getting to know the company in general & its processes, making up new friends, setting up my laptop & workstation, making up even more friends and then it’s time to go home.

That was last week and the thing is, before I go home I would stop by Alamanda, Putrajaya. Every day! Maybe I was escaping the traffic jams, maybe I was checking out MPH bookstore for some books I have in my wish list, maybe I was craving for the “sambal udang” buns at Rotiboy or maybe I was just buying myself a bottle of Selsun Blue shampoo. But 2 out of the 4 evenings last week, I went to the movies.

On Wednesday evening, I went straight to buy myself a ticket for the 8:30pm show of Something Borrowed. Yes, I have a thing for chick-flicks. Don’t even ask why. I chose my seat at the last row of the middle section of the theatre hall, the first seat next to the aisle, immediately after the theater hall’s entrance. When I was at the ticket counter, I can see that the show was 80% full. I’m guessing that lots of couples are watching this movie because of the special Wednesday ticket prices.

Anyway, I then had my dinner, went for Maghrib prayer and then did a little time wasting session at MPH bookstore.

*****

It was 8:25pm when I was walking along the corridor, looking for theatre hall number 7, with a laptop backpack on my back, a box of caramel popcorn in my left hand and a bottle of Spritzer in my right. I entered the still-brightly lit theatre hall. The first few hundredth of a second, I notice that the hall was still empty. And during that small window of time, I seemed to know my seat by heart that almost like closing my eyes, I took 2 steps from the entrance towards it.

I nearly dropped my popcorn box when I saw next to my seat was a “huge” girl, sitting comfortably waiting for the movie to start. She was the only other person inside the theatre hall. I didn’t know what to do. My mind was thinking that if I sat down at my seat, people coming in the theatre hall would think that the girl and I was a couple. Before that day, I was convinced that I was the kind of person that doesn’t care about what other people say, what more other people that I don’t know. Unfortunately, in a rather sub-conscious manner, I’m still a typical human being who cares about what other people say about me.

Arghh! Of all the seats inside the theatre hall!

Still standing, I put down my bottle of Spritzer in my seat’s cup-holder and began pretending to check my mobile phone, pretending to put it on silent mode although I’ve already did that at MPH.

And since I’ve already put down my drink in the cup-holder, I thought that it would’ve been awkward if I go out and wait in the corridor. Again, the “thinking about what other people say” mentality came to play its mischievous role. I was thinking that if I did that, the “huge” girl would realize that I was uneasy with her sitting next to me, so on and so forth.

The next 4 seconds, I was still standing there doing nothing. Then I decided, to hell with what other people say! I put down my backpack and sat down on my seat.

The moment my ass touched the velvet cushion, people started coming in the theatre hall in bulks, as if the awkwardness that I felt a few seconds before was carefully planned by the rest of the world, including the “huge” girl as one of the perpetrators.

Come to think about it, it was actually not a big deal anyway. Although I must admit that during the whole course of the movie, I was leaning away from the person next to me and it gave me a sore back until the next morning.

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For the second time, I asked Akaz about the schedule. Frustrated with my rhetoric question, he could still answer in a calmly manner, “Once every one hour, just like what the cleaning lady said and just like what the internet said”. I said rhetoric because I was with Akaz when we asked the cleaning lady and when we browsed the internet.

It was just ten minutes past ten o’clock in the morning and we were heavily sweating under the Terengganu sun. Maybe it was not just because of the sun, maybe it was because of the 750 metres walk from the hotel lobby to the bus stop under the Terengganu sun. Or maybe it was because of the heavy breakfast we had at the buffet before we walked 750 metres from the hotel lobby to the bus stop under the Terengganu sun.

I sat at the inefficiently shaded bus stop. Akaz opted to sit at an ugly, DIY wooden bench under the trees beside the bus stop. He pulled out his white Blackberry and snapped a picture of me, sitting grumpily at the bus stop. I said, “What the hell??!! He replied, “Ahmad Said is laughing at your misery”. I turned and looked at the wall of the bus stand and saw a huge picture of the Menteri Besar smiling with a rhetoric motto, “Rakyat sejahtera di bawah kerajaan negeri”.

We then both sat at the ugly, DIY bench. It was ugly but it was surprisingly comfortable, under the shades of the trees. There were busses that passed us by but all were express busses. No signs of any local, inter-town busses. Several motorists who passed us by looked at us and smiled, some laughed. Are they looking at Akaz’s unfamiliar pale white skin or my dark, unshaven face? Something was definitely wrong, somewhere.

An hour and six minutes went by. No signs of the maroon coloured bus that we hoped to see. Akaz was already out of cigarettes. Mine had a few left. We continued waiting and sweating.

When it was nearly twelve o’clock in the afternoon, I stood up and said, “I’m gonna smoke my last cigarette and then I’m gonna call the hotel to send us a taxi”.

*****

We were inside a cab, halfway of the 20 minutes journey from Kijal to Kemaman. Akaz asked the cab driver on the whereabouts of the local busses. The driver replied, “Bah belambok tapi takdok drebar. Nok-nok cuti panjang gini, rama orang nok gi dduri. Dengang drebar bah skali gi dduri”.

Damn!

*****

The driver stopped in front of Hai Peng coffee shop. “Enam puluh”, the driver said without being asked.

“Why so expensive?”

“Biaso lima puluh. Tapi sebakk panggil, tamboh lagi sepuluh”.

*****

Hai Peng was over crowded. Luckily some local folks signaled with their fingers, inviting us to their table.

“Ramai orang hari nih”, Akaz started the conversation.

“Sini memang aaa ramai sokmo orang. Hujang, ribot pong mari jugok orang”, a young man at the table replied.

An old man at the table added, “Aku hari-hari kena mari sini, minung air koppi. Dok kire ah, demang-demang pong aku mari jugok”.

The rest of the table simultaneously shook their heads slowly while uttering the words, “Berakk…, berakk…”

*****

At the Kuala Kemaman bus terminal, I went to the Transnasional booth. “Two tickets to Kuala Lumpur on the 1:30PM bus please”. I was confident as confident as any other man that did their homework before doing something.

The man in the booth looked at me and said something to his walkie-talkie in Bahse Ganu. I couldn’t catch what they were saying. After a few seconds, he looked at me again through the hole in the glass separating us and said, “Seme sekali RM52.40. Kalu nok bayo sini buleh, nok bayo dalang bah pung buleh jugok. Ikut panda aarr. Tapi takdok teket la ehh. Bah plok dok ikuk taing. Kek gi sappa laa bas orr.”

*****

Was there even a Tong Aik? Because seriously, during the series of events above, I didn’t see a single maroon coloured, Tong Aik bus from Kijal, all the way to Kuala Kemaman.