Monday, August 29, 2011

On The Train, Aug 26, 2011


Just made it. I am not sure which train but when I boarded it was 1751. Yes, very early for my standard. Reasons - to beat the mad rush as well to be home early for the family.
The mad rush begins at KL Sentral. Ramadhan or not ugly Malaysians surface in front of me. I decided not to witness them anymore, closed my laptop and took a nap and woke up from my slumber at Kajang station.

Friday, August 26, 2011

On The Train, Aug 25, 2011


Crowd on the train since this morning is getting thinner. Definite indication that some have gone balik kampong already. Soon this train will be a United Nation train where most of the commuters will be foreigners. Except for an obvious Malaysian like me he he he. 
The train suddenly stopped at Seputeh like yesterday. No announcement yet and the doors are closed. Now exactly like yesterday is happening it moved forward a bit then backwards with the doors closing and opening. Ok the driver now just forced the train forward with the door’s alarm going off. Looks like it is ok now, I hope.
Thank goodness history did not repeat itself if not I would definitely be cursing KTMB yet again today. Nevertheless, with the train already late and with that short episode I was late home. Met my old friend Salem Cabre when I disembarked at Bangi. We chatted as we walked out and both or us being season commuters agreed KTMB is beyond repair and we will continue to get on one everyday to work LOL.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

On The Train (The Third Place and was dumped yet again), Aug 24, 2011


This morning I had a nice feeling moment when I heard a group of commuters were talking and laughing happily on the way to work. I would like to assume it was not because of the Eid is around the corner. 
I wrote a short note about the characteristics of The Third Place today that I picked up through my reading and suddenly I asked myself is the Komuter train service my Third Place? Let us let loose an have fun with this :)
Characteristics of The Third Place:
  • Exist on neutral and socially equal ground for its clientele
Oh yes it is natural enough and definitely no one in their right frame of mind would want to to be saying they are above KTMB or anybody else in the coach. Equal as equal can be - equally late. equally squeezed, equally mishandled and equally annoyed of the service. Really once you are on this train all the trappings that you are somebody will be stripped off automatically.
  • Primary activity in the third place is conversation
Talk about conversation! There’s all kinds of conversations occurring at the same time. In fact you have a choice of listening in different languages. Beside Malay, Tamil, Mandarin or English you could have Indonesian, Bangla, Vietnamese, Urdu, Mynamar, Tagalog, Parsi and once in a while Arabic and German. The topics ranges from football to arts. They are also groups of people that converse to themselves in their dream, to their phone like he was the only person on the train, with their ITunes or audio players. Or you would have somebody like me who diligently creating a conversation using his laptop. 
  • It is a place where human personality and individuality are displayed and appreciated
Oh my! I do not know about being appreciated but human personality definitely. Especially once you have the train packed to the seam. Animal instinct came out immediately when they just jump in thinking no body’s going to disembark first. If they got push they yell at all directions. The line when waiting for the train would be straight and decent but once the train arrive everyone seem to be asking WHAT Q??? I tell you a lot more human personality to share here. Opps maybe not not human. 
  • They are taken for granted and most have a low profile. 

The coach and train are way beyond taken for granted. With the kind of service they dish out they should be low profile but instead they strife for national attention especially regarding their breakdowns.
  • Third places normally open in the off hours, as well as at other times. 
Ha ha ha ha off hours alright. When we need them they conveniently went off the schedule.
  • The character of a third place is determined most of all by its regular clientele and is marked by playful mood, which contrast with people’s more serious involvement in other spheres.
No way Jose. This is the domain of chaos own by KTMB.
  • Though a radically different kind of setting from home, the third place is remarkably similar to a good home in the psychological comfort and support that it extends. 
Finally, to me yes it is home somewhat. How else would you think I survived for the past 8 years?
Joking a side. My conclusion the train is not the Third Place for just anybody but train nuts like me. Hey, I am on one and typing this now!
No, not again!!!!

As I was finishing this piece the train stopped at Seputeh. After about five minutes it started to go backwards and the door kept opening and closing. I ignored it at first but after another five minutes it started to reverse again. At this moment my commuting comrades around me started to recount our misadventure with KTMB Komuter train two successive Friday ago. They were conversing the kind of experience that I experienced as well. So in that way we were soul mates. They joke about the whole things and of course lamented about KTMB. I just kept quiet and listened to them as I was afraid if I say something I would be fasting for nothing. At this juncture the train really pushed back all the way back to MidValley station and the dreadful announcement came on the air that there was a mechanical problem with the doors that would not closed. We were asked to abandon the train and wait for the in coming six-car train. The station master, or at least that’s what he think he is, came on the air to ask us to moved to platform 1 for the six-car train. As if we need the exercise badly as soon we were at platform 1 he came on air again to say that platform 2 is back in service and ask us to moved back there again. I must tell you by then I lost few fasting points already by cursing them. So in the end the conclusion as always I was late yet again and thank you very much to KTMB.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

On The Train, Aug 22, 2011


I caught the Bangi short run train home and lucky to get a seat at KL station. Solid packed at KL Sentral.
I found out today I missed the registration date big time. I guess I have to do it after the Eid holiday. Someone told me I could be fined RM200 for late registration. What can I say it is my fault.
Huh! I just realised most of the human being on the train are men. The ladies must be at home already. Men just conscious about eating and wanting to eat whereas women more about preparing food or at least making sure there are food on the table for breaking fast. Kids, well, they just eat now days. Worse they could demand for certain kind of food.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

On The Train, Aug 19, 2011


Caught the 2242 train home. No I was not derailed by KTMB today but due to the function I attended. Our yearly office activity during Ramadan. Clad in full baju melayu with Bangla’s ketayap on my head I looked more like a cross of African and Indian. Who cares I wore and looked upon worse before. Nevertheless the train was a tin of ikan sardin at KL Sentral. I could hear kids voices coming from both end of the coach. Weekend commuters going home or maybe shoppers coming back from their Eidul Fitri shopping. The train moved out of KL Sentral slowly that worries me. After what had happened the last two Fridays I have a very good reason to worry. 
Still solid pack at UKM. I guess most are going all the way to Soromban.

Friday, August 19, 2011

On The Train, Aug 18, 2011


I thought I could go home early today. I rushed out of the office and KTMB spoilt it for me yet again he he he. 
It is a different scene on the platform this year compare to during Ramadan last year. If I could go home comfortably at 1804 last year it is not so this year. A change in the demography of the commuters? People are working late? KTMB change the schedule? I am not sure what really. But for me it is not like last year that I arrived home on the dot for iftar. I am not complaining really. The last two weeks the train service has been erratic and unpredictable. More than its usual erratic self to the extend that I really could not plan my trip home. For now I just go with the KTMB flow. Now, the six-car train is packed due to the delay of the normal Komuter service.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

On The Train, Aug 17, 2011


When it rains it pours. I barely reached the station when the sky opened up once again and this time it was pouring. I was thankful I was not drenched if not I would be shivering instead of complaining (silently) about the Komuter’s air-condition which is not working now. It would be disaster if it were not Ramadan. Still I could sense a couple of restless commuters.
Combination of heavy rain and people from Selangor coming back from their shopping spree the train was ikan sardin can until Serdang. It is a good thing we want Malaysian to spend more locally he he he. I was ok as I got a seat at KL Sentral.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

On The Train (Deep Thinking mode), Aug 16, 2011


The train this morning was punctual and with the normal number of people inside. Yesterday was another outlier with extra bodies coming from no where to fill the train. I started to read for a couple of pages and when we got to Kajang my eye lids were pushing downward powerful that I closed my book for a short nap.

The sky looked like erupting when I walked out the office. I hasten my pace to avoid being caught under an evening downpour. I arrived at the station just to miss the 1820 train. I’ll be taking taking the six-car train home again I said to myself. To the wire again today. Tomorrow will be a holiday for Selangor and will be a dream for me going to work. Going home will be another story as always KL will be packed with Selangor folks shopping. I have to time my departure properly tomorrow.

Monday, August 15, 2011

On The Train (KTMB is a big mess still), Aug 15, 2011


Now two Fridays in a row commuters for the KTMB Komuter were treated like shit by KTMB. I am not going to mince my words anymore and I know it is Ramadhan. Alas, this story need to be told and shared so as KTMB would know that what their Komuters carry daily are human beings. Due to the familiar ‘technical problem’ the train services was disrupted the Friday before last. The saving grace for me was then that the announcement caught me at the right time and place that I could rearranged my transport home. Last Friday I was not so lucky. The 1804 train came almost on time and I boarded happily anticipating I would be home earlier than the usual. Everything went well until we reached KL Sentral where the train was made to wait at the station. As I was busied with my laptop I did not realise it at first until I could sense restless commuters standing in front of me. We had been waiting for awhile and yet there was no announcement. Only later the driver came on the air to see we were waiting for the green light to proceed. By then I was really tired and I decided to close my laptop to have a quick nap. When I woke up I thought we had not moved an inch but when I looked outside we were waiting somewhere at Brickfields. It was pathetic and straight away I knew I was for a long night on the train. I decided to boot up my laptop and fired up my broadband to check if there was any updates. Now we were told there was a technical problem at Salak South. The commuters inside the train by now were tired, frustrated, hungry and very angry. Soon it was iftar and those with water and dates started to pass them around to share. It was a mess inside the train and I could not understand why KTMB did not inform us earlier and let us suffered. I continued communicating with my friends via Facebook and all of them were sorry of our predicament. We have no option but to wait inside the train. After a long suffering the train moved slowly and finally came to rest at MidValley station. I thought our agony would be over but what came next really hit the roof for most commuters. KTMB asked us to disembark there without giving any clue as to what to expect. Practically KTMB dumped and abandoned their customers at MidValley that night. I just walked out and entered MidValley Mall to search for my dinner.
Again the failures of KTMB are:
  1. Failure to inform and communicate
  2. A big time customer service failure
  3. Failure to be human being
  4. Strategy failure
  5. Implementation failure
The added benefit to this episodes is that now I have reason to continue to blog daily.
Today, it is a technical problem at Kuang station!!!!!????? Luckily I am on the six-car limited train to Seremban already

Friday, August 5, 2011

Personality and Perception Game

Always when we are not careful when we do not understand people enough and reading a wrong signal will put us in a difficult situation. It can be hurtful, stressful and down right angry. People can just read a lot from a situation and making it the truth about what they see. They are not wrong only sometimes they need to take a step back to think and maybe they will see a different perspective. As always, as we always say then sometimes the damage has been done. So how do we deal with it? I certainly do not have the right answer because I am also seeing perception. I guess asking the right question would help me. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Third Place

I remember those days growing up in Gali when my grandpa’s sundry/coffee shop was always being patronized by the same people every evening for them to relax and meet. When they met they either were talking about the current national events, the happenings in the kampung or just playing checkers (dam haji). The hardship of life and their problems were put away and they were genuinely happy. Late in the evening before maghrib they dispersed and walked or cycled home for the day. This was a standard routine for most of them. Most people will dismiss this as a culture of wasting time or worse pemalas. No doubt they are some truth to that to certain people but they were honest men just gathering at one place every evening to meet, relax and talk. Only recently social scientists concluded that this kind of activities and routine is a community culture building, networking and therapy. 
Oldenburg (1999) in his book discusses this phenomena and taking American backdrop says,
‘In the absence of informal life, American are denied those means of relieving stress that serve other cultures so effectively. We seem not to realize that the means of relieving stress can just as easily be built into an urban environment as those features which produce stress. To our considerable misfortune, the pleasures of the city have been largely reduced to consumerism. ‘ p. 10
‘In the absence of an informal public life, living becomes more expensive.’ p. 11
Expensive because we almost have to pay for everything that used to be availabe to us free before. To be in a community today you may have to pay for steep club membership. Fees to go to the gym, spas and swimming pools to name a few. All these are required by us to help to manage our stress. Rules and regulations sometimes prohibited us to be at one gathering place just to meet.
The concept of the third place is not new then but because of new social behaviour and thinking induce by the new knowledge that we termed as management thinking we misguidedly destroyed the concept.

Oldenburg, Ray (1999). The great good place: cafes, coffee shops, bookstores, bars, hair salons and other hangouts at the heart of a community. Philadelphia: Da Capo Press.