Go On Mofo… Make My Day!

The other day I was filling up at a gas station in Cheras when I noticed something odd. A lone motorcyclist was darting from pump to pump and the drivers were scampering off, just as quickly. It looked like a botched robbery attempt to me.

Maybe this inept robber was brandishing a butter knife or something, I thought to myself. Anyway, everyone appeared to be very alert and took off faster than P.I. Bala. I was the only guy left standing at the last pump.

As you would have guessed, he came for me. I pulled out the nozzle and pointed it at his direction, with my finger on the trigger. Was going to spray him with subsidised petrol and threaten him with a lighted match. Go on Mofo! Make My Day!

Eh… I forgot two things in the heat of the moment. I have given up smoking two years ago and did not have a single match with me. If I had, I will probably be blowing him up along with my car. And bury us all in a deep crater in Cheras. It should be cheaper handing over my wallet and Galaxy S.

He stopped right in front of me. Seeing a loaded, dripping nozzle pointing at his face, he lifted his visor carefully and asked meekly. “Abang, boleh tanya di mana Taman Konot?” (“Bro, could you tell me where is Taman Connaught?”). I gave him the directions but before I could lecture him on approaching people with a dark full-faced visor, he dashed off as fast as he landed.

A week later, I met a very polite extortionist on a motorcycle. I pulled over by the roadside and was fiddling with my GPS. A macha on a bike rode up next to my car and knocked on the side window. I rolled it down partially and was going to jab his eyes with my Manfrotto monopod, if needed. He asked me in an unconvincing, robotic voice “Boleh bagi dua ringgit isi minyak?” (Can give two bucks for petrol?”).

I got so pissed and told him angrily that next time he should put some emotion into his delivery. Or at least push his bike in order to elicit some sympathy. He burst out laughing suddenly, said he agree wholeheartedly and rode off happily into the sunset. Didn’t see him running out of petrol for sure. Mofos!

Be safe and observant always.

Pit Stop

Is easy not to notice the flashing low fuel warning when you are driving on a country road with such breathtaking scenery. I pulled into an unbranded gas station at the kampung.

Petrol pump attendant Ahmad Burhani asked me if I want the fuel in a ketchup bottle, cooking oil bottle or a mineral water bottle. Only RON 95 grade is available and it starts at RM 2 per bottle.

Ahmad, who is autistic, makes a decent and honest living catering to local motorcyclists who find it inconvenient to ride all the way to town just to re-fill. His father buys the fuel for him.

The affable guy suggested I take all bottles, thinking I was planning to drive all the way to Pahang.

I didn’t even know the Orang Asli kampung and jungle trail can lead to Pahang. Another adventure for another day!

The petrol station’s security guard is a goose and it needs to go for anger management. It kept charging at my knee.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f5, 1/80 sec.

There’s A Lesson In Here Somewhere

At the turning into Kuala Kubu Bharu town, I stopped to fill up and friendly pump attendant, Mr Rajamani, assisted me. Since he is KKB born and bred, I asked him if that’s anything interesting to see inside. He thought about it for a few seconds and said: “Not, really. Mostly government offices”.

Familiarity breeds indifference or nonchalance, I guess. It turned out to be the town with the most things to see, so far. Glad I went ahead and explored it, running into so many interesting people and places.

A former government servant, Rajamani has worked at this Shell station for the past 20 years after retiring from civil service. He is now 78, fit and sharp.

I am here again to refill before continuing north on Federal Route 1. Jaded as he was, his face light up when I showed him pics of some of the KKB residents I captured. He smiled broadly as he identified each by name.

Before I drove off, I asked him a question that was bugging me:

Me: “Were petrol stations, such as this one, affected when the highway opened up and transit traffic by-passed the small towns?”.

Rajamani: “Not, really”.

Me: “How is it?”.

Rajamani: “Locals have cars too lah”.

Photography Tip: On a road trip, pack along a small low-light lens but not for bokeh or stylo-mylo purposes. I put it to good use here where twilight was fast fading.

I normally click as I converse, composing with the rear LCD screen so that my face is visible to the subject. With the Sony Zeiss Sonnar T, I was able to dial a fast enough shutter speed to hand hold with one hand and also to freeze a very animated subject.

Goodbye KKB, thanks for the friendships and memories.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 100, f1.8, 1/250 sec.