It was a reunion of sorts during the last Thaipusam holidays. My nephew had booked the Flamingo suites in Penang and we decided to make it into a small family get-together of sorts. Took leave on Friday and started on the journey from Rawang at about 10.30 in the morning. Traffic wasn’t heavy and I made it to Kulim by mid afternoon where I picked up my mum, sister and my brother. I decided to cross over to Penang by ferry as it had been a long time since I travelled this way, always preferring to take the bridge. We got a place on the upper deck of the vehicular ferry. The ride was really nice and brought back old memories when we lived in Butterworth and it was the only way to cross over…….way back in the 80s….
We reached the hotel close to 6 in the evening and were assigned to our rooms. It was a tastefully furnished 3 room suite with 2 balconies along the beach in Tanjung Bungah overlooking the sea. Unfortunately, the sun sets over the hills at Balik Pulau, the other side of the island, so we had to make do with just the sight of darkening of the skies as the sun called it a day.
Later that night, my nephews and I together with Ragu (from Australia) then adjourned to the bistro on the first floor where we started on the beers. It was nice and cozy with a full view of the pool. My brother joined in too. After a full session, Ragu and I took a drive to Gurney Drive and met up with Imbaraj, Sargu, Murali and their families who were spending the holidays in Penang too. After chatting for close to an hour and downing a few more within the same space of time, we moved on to Penang Road to meet up another one of my second cousins Vasu who had been waiting there for a while. He wasn’t alone though….introducing us to a Ms. Banu who was with him. She provided the needed companionship without commitment this evening. The night ended close to 2 am. Its rare for me to hit the bed at such unearthly hours……… but what the hell? Its not often that I get to let my hair down.
Although I slept late, I was up early the next morning….in time for breakfast at the hotel anyway. My son and son-in-law were seen playing snooker outside the lobby area while Mohanan and I quietly planned to sneak out for some nice beer. The mid afternoon sun was blazing down by then and what better way to cool down than a couple of nice cool ice-cold Danish delight by the sea. We adjourned to the sunset bistro off Tanjung Bungah town. It’s actually a very private joint away from the bustling tourist spots nearby and has a cozy long bar just along the edge of the beach where we perched ourselves for the next few hours. The huge trees provided natural protection from the sun’s rays with its large canopy of leaves leaving just enough opening for us to take in the lovely sight of the beachfront with seemingly energized waves of the incoming tide rushing in as if in a race among them only to dissipate as they swept across the shore…..and recede to pick up the pieces for another round of unending action. A while later, Alicia dropped in to provide the much needed relief support with her partner tagging along, having parked his recently purchased Beamer at the distance but within view. It was a wonderful respite from the everyday routine and a much needed one too. To understand the feeling, you have to close your eyes and take away all thoughts of everything from your mind……….blanko it! You become completely free then ……….free from life’s daily demands, chores, the obligations, compulsion……from everything. It lasts only for the moment and you are aware of it but it’s a beautiful feeling……….. even if only for the moment.
Thaipusam in Penang is a must-see event. I know because I have been there so many times, especially when we lived in Butterworth. It is much better than Batu Caves where the crowd is contained just below the Temple. In Penang, it takes a carnival atmosphere of sorts with the crowd milling around “all over Georgetown” so to speak. I make it a point to advise all and sundry that they must make it a point to visit Penang during Thaipusam to experience the difference.
..............unfortunately, this time around……….I didn’t make it to the temple……..!