Roti canai and char kway teow

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Damn Dirty Apes – Naninong

Hi. This is my real voice, not my fiction voice. Just me casually talking at you. I know, I know, you imagined it deeper slightly less nasally. Fuck you. Just listen.

During a recent visit to Penang, I met someone a girl who enjoyed Damn Dirty Apes, which slightly exploded my brain. Half Swiss, half Malaysian, she wore her hair short and moused, and spoke with a gentle, soothing voice. I didn’t really know anyone else had heard of DDA.

When I was a freshman in high school, a senior named Sina quit his band, Analog Vs. Digital, to drum in a group his brother, back from college in Australia, was putting together. The brother, Pedram, and some random European tourist who was bumming around Malaysia for a couple months played guitar in a band they called Damn Dirty Apes. Since I attended a very conservative Christian boarding school, we spoke of the band in hushed whispers and called it DDA. (Not to be confused with Dance Dance Revolution, which we also enjoyed.)

I remember Sina walking around with stacks of self-printed CDs in red cardboard sleeves, selling them for RM 5 a pop (equivalent to 2 U.S. dollars at the time).

Air is thicker in Penang. Dripping with humidity, it’s gives everything a slightly underwater feel. And it carries smells better. When I listen to Damn Dirty Apes, I can feel the weight of the air on my skin and smell roti canai (pictured above). And then I think of gorgeous, ethnically-mixed women.

[If you find a place to buy this music, tell us in the comments section.]

One Response to “Roti canai and char kway teow”

  1. Milad says:

    You’re stranded on a small dingy boat in the centre of the ocean.

    All you have is a couple of days worth of food and drink to ration, an old spoon and your brain. You’re floating there on the placid, salty water with your limbs lazily hung over the side of the boat waiting for a saviour. The waves are ever so slightly rocking the boat, but in a relaxing way. It reminds you of the comfort you used to receive when you were all but a small child, gently rocking about in the crib.

    Your fingers are breaching the water’s surface, and the chill Pacific Ocean cools your hand extensions as you lay there, pondering. Pondering about life, about love, about everything you have learned as a human being.
    Now what are you? Just a semi-lifeless entity floating around on an inflatable piece of plastic with nothing to occupy, educate or interact with you. You seem to have gotten yourself knee-deep in mud, and there’s no one to pull you out.

    You hear a seagull cry coming from somewhere. You squint into the direction the noise came from, with the sun’s rays lathering your eyes.
    It was exactly what you heard – a seagull. You let out a deep, fateful sigh and turn your head a few degrees back towards the other way. Suddenly, from the corner of your eye, you notice a silhouette sliding across the sky towards you. You turn your head back. It’s too big to be a bird, and it doesn’t appear to be making any noise. You apply your right hand to your forehead to shield your eyes from the excessive light rays and you notice something. It’s a hang glider, making his way down towards you – ready to be your saviour. He zips down and reaches out a powerful hand to help you off the dingy boat which you are oh so glad to depart. As his fist clenches around your weak hand, he tells you not to fret. Gently up into the sky you ascend, until the dingy boat is all but a dead fish, loitering on the sea’s surface. All of a sudden, you feel the hang glider’s grip on you loosen until you lose all physical connection with him. You’re falling again, this time into a watery grave. The velocity of the wind makes it impossible to breathe as you plunge towards your death. Then comes the moment – SPLASH.

    You violently twitch and wake up on the dingy boat, startled but glad that it was all in your brain, with a slight disappointment that your saviour was but a false image.
    You lay down and begin to nod off again, your condition seemingly deteriorating by the hour. As your eyelids begin to meet, you hear a hover in the distance. Disregarding it as a hallucination, you continue to head towards slumber land. However, the hovering is nearing. You burst open your eyelids and peer into the distance, your hand cupping your eyes just like in the dream. You give yourself a long, hard pinch to make sure you’re not dreaming again. You’re not. A helicopter is hovering towards you. Ready to be your hero.

    Hope comes and hope goes, but no matter how bleak the outlook there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Your saviour.

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