20180322 Of Kafka, coincidence and the KL monorel

Life’s funny and the world is tiny. And there is no such thing as no such thing as coincidences.


Early this evening, I left a conference at the Hilton hotel in Kuala Lumpur, universally known as KL, at KL Sentral (Central) intending to walk the short 5km home. It’s an easy walk through a lovely city, albeit on streets that are often broken, pavements littered with parked motorbikes and abandoned ride-sharing bikes and turned into cycle lanes by being painted blue over the dimpled stones embedded to guide the blind, kerb stones that are angled so that one slips off them into the traffic, electricity cables poking up through the pavement in loops into which feet are drawn like iron filings to a magnet and a host of other hazards.

But as I headed to the toilets to change into my shorts, having learned the lesson of walking home from an event in a suit only two weeks ago, I spotted someone I’d met earlier and he was looking a bit lost, booking a taxi.

Using a taxi in KL in rush-hour is very, very inadvisable.

Knowing he was from out of town (actually, out of country – indeed out of hemisphere) and in town for only a short time, I suggested he join me for dinner in Jalan Alor which TV programmes, and only TV programmes, wrongly call “Food Street,” a name that absolutely no one who lives here recognises, unless they, like me, have laughed at the crassness of TV documentary makers who make things up and then present them as fact.

He aborted his taxi booking and we walked out of the hotel and through KL Central Station, via a shopping centre to the monorail (spelt Monorel on the sporadic signs in the shopping centre).

There, a token purchased in the machine for him (Bukit Bintang, MYR2.50 – that’s important information), I pressed my Touch ‘n’ Go / Railcard to the reader. It became alarmed. I tried three other gates but they, too, screeched that I, or more particularly my card, was not welcome. I touched. It would not let me go.

Odd, I thought: I only reloaded the card last week and I’ve not used it since. A message on the gate’s screen told me to go to the service desk. Looking around, there were the machines selling tokens but no service desk visible. The easy solution was to buy a token (also Bukit Bintang, MYR2.50 – still important information) and pass, and sort out the card later.