Today is 13th May, a date which brings back sad memories of this day forty years ago – May, 1969 (click here for the earlier posting). Fate had it that I was made to play a role following the tragic incident of that day. Brickfields happened to be the focal point for me. Coincidentally this little enclave of Kuala Lumpur, now the Little India, played an important role in the early days of Pakcik’s family as well.
One posting may not do justice to the importance of Brickfields to me and family. So this one is likely to be followed by another at a suitable time later
Kuala Lumpur 13th May, 1969
My recent trip to K Lumpur
By coincidence I got swept by the flood of traffic along Lornie Drive ( now Jalan Syed Putra ) into Brickfields Road (now Jalan Tun Sambathan). A sense of panic was beginning to creep in when, to my relief, I caught sight of a vaguely familiar school grounds and buildings I knew so well as La Salle (Primary) School. Hence I knew where I was driving and heading for. In those days I could probably proceed blindfolded from that point. As expected a row of old two-storey shop building came into view on my left. There used to be the large Anthonian bookstore which I frequented long, long ago before the birth of today’s larger bookstores.
Following that building there should be a familiar hotel on my right just before coming to a three-way junction. I had intended to turn left into Traverse Road and to Bangsar, but I found myself too late and was again swept staright ahead. Had I turned left I should pass a building which housed a clinic used to be run by a Dr Rashid Malal, a distinguished Malayan amateur golfer. This fellow member of RSGC (Royal Selangor Golf Club) was our family doctor for years and years.
So I missed that left turn and had to go straight. Immediately on my left I could see in my mind's eye the picture of an oil depot with a tank farm containing some six huge cylindrical steel tanks standing upright in a bund wall. (The wall was designed to contain oil spillage in case of an incident which should never happen) Those huge tanks contained petrol, diesel and kerosene which supplied consumers in and around Kuala Lumpur. I was made to be in full charge of that complex during the infamous May 13th 1969 riot to make sure that the police and the military vehicles would have uninterrupted supplies of fuel. I was a civilian with a curfew sticker on my car driving the deserted and eery streets of Kuala Lumpur.
All those oil tanks had gone and now I was approaching KL Central instead. Gone was the parcel office of KL Post Office where I had to go sometimes to collect parcels posted from abroad which needed to be checked by Customs office for dutiable goods. On my right I should see a long row of two-storey shop building where I used to have lunches. In particular there was a Makcik shop, a very good family restaurant serving genuine Malay foods. I am certain that Malay shop was long gone.
I wonder if I did pass Scott road and the old cinema. Before I knew it I was again being swept by traffic into the road leading to Pudu Raya and into Mountbatten Road (now Jalan Raja Chulan - Oop, I am wrong said GUiKP in his comment below. It should be Jalan Tun Perak. You see, I still live in the past, Batu Road, Foch Avenue etc.) From there all was familiar again. At last I was out of the wood.
How did Brickfield become so prominent in the life of my family?
Fifty years ago this year I started my working career in Singapore where the multinational I worked for had its regional head office. From time to time I was to travel to its KL office which was not very far from Brickfields, and also to visit the oil depot mentioned above. For my convenience, on each of my trips to KL a room was booked at a reasonably good hotel within a walking distance from the depot and also from a ‘taman selera’, a well frequented row of food stalls along the road past La Salle school. I belive this 'taman selera' is still in existence.
On one of my visits to KL office I returned to the hotel fairly early and without the normal company of an office colleague. Early in the evening I drove to the ‘taman selera’ and returned to the hotel immediately after having my supper. I decided to stay in to catch up with my work.
It was near midnight when there came gentle taps on my door. I wonder who could the late visitor be. Immediately on opening the door there was whiff of perfume and a young pretty face was smiling straight into my eyes. “ Saya datang kalau encik hendak apa apa. Saya boleh tolong.” was her gentle stream of words. I knew what a suitable answer ought to come out from me.
My oh my! Did this bachelor executive look lonely enough and still hungry after after that supper? He was sorry that he had too much work to finish! Or shouldx she be invited to finish off his work? Anyway that was his last stay at that hotel, a place and an incidence to remember.
Insya Allah I will have more serious subjects to write about in due course.
Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.