#NOSHOTS: Learning to Say Goodbye

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WordsManifest has been with JUICE for a long time. Intermittently as it was – he left as a writer and rejoined as a photographer-cum-columnist – he had a hand in shaping the magazine during our mid-years and continued to do so until now; this is his last piece of article for us. Issue #132 marks the end of his stint with us. As he had written below, we gave him a lot of sh!t for being homies with Jesus H. Christ back in the day. But we do it out of affection, much like how the high school bullies really just want to be friends with you… except that we were the skinny bespectacled kid and he was the 6 footer giant. We’ll miss you, Wan.

As Alif Omar Mahfix loves to remind all and sundry in his promo posts for my column on Twitter and Facebook, I am JUICE’s resident old man. I guess I am. Most of what I write hearkens back to days gone by, when things were simpler, yet inexplicably more dope, and whatever’s here now is either just a pale facsimile of past glories or a superfluous innovation that isn’t worth my time.

That, despite my general level of crank, is not necessarily always true.

I get that we have a fair amount of heritage to preserve, be it in culture, or architecture, or in the form of our cherished LaserDisc collection. (I’m kidding about the LaserDisc collection. I’ve never owned a LaserDisc in my life.) There are a lot of things I have been sad to see go, never to see again. A Bukit Bintang you could skate through with minimal police harassment, for instance. The Samurai Burger. Kedai game. Also, the old National Art Gallery, now converted into the Colonial Wing of the Majestic Hotel. The KL Bas Mini system (if you could call it a system), cramped seating, blaring dangdut music and terrifyingly high mortality rate notwithstanding. The putu mayam uncle making rounds on his motorcycle. All those things are gone for me, and won’t likely come back any time soon.

There are also things from my past that are still around, and for these things I am generally thankful. Sungei Wang Plaza is still a wretched hive of scum and villainy, and I never want it to be any different. I can still get the unhealthiest plate of nasi kandar ayam madu in not one, but two places along Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, and KL’s best kuey teow kungfu is still just across the street from one of those places. Hasbullah Awang is still commentating on live football telecasts, and he is still sublimely horrible at it. By some amazing happenstance, Taman Tasik Titiwangsa is still a thing that exists, even though any Federal Government worth its alleged kickbacks would have sold it off to YTL for premium real estate valuations, with nary a tear shed.

But even the things I cherished in my youth that are still around must give way to the new things emerging here and now, things whose eventual absence my children (all 1.5 of them, according to socioeconomic statistics) will grow old bitching about: smartphones with screens larger than my face. Fuss-free online shopping. The Pirate Bay’s Android app. One prepaid card to pay for my all my public transportation options. Hilariously casual racism on TV. Female rappers who obviously can’t rap worth a damn but are still famous because hey, it’s a girl who raps! Also, Will Smith’s kids.

Every time I spend a few days in Penang, I’m reminded of how KL used to be 15 years ago. That’s not a diss to Penang. I like KL 15 years ago, and Georgetown is its own city with its own merits. But 15 years ago means Penang is like KL in 1998. 15 years from now, I’m going to miss Penang in 2013, and KL circa 1998 is going to be gone forever. You can’t win. If you hold on too much to the past, you’re just setting yourself up for dark days and long sour drinks by yourself because your old friends are either dead or bored of you. I choose to remember the old days fondly, as I fondle the new phone I want to buy (but can’t yet afford) and check out the latest version of Sense UI. I’m not trying to forget the past by immersing myself in the present; I’m trying to build myself a pleasant set of memories for the future by trying to live now.

Thanks for being all I was surrounded by for so long. There’s nothing else I would rather have be in my rearview, and I mean that in the nicest way possible.

Man, I suck at goodbyes.