It has been a little under a month in Kuala Lumpur, and the days have remained full. I have had the privilege of coming here with Faaiza, a returning intern, and as such has skipped the possible anxieties of travelling to a brand new country. I was met by buckets of rain while exiting the airport to arrive to sweltering heat with Faaiza and Kailey waiting for me outside our apartment that will be home for the next 6 months. The weather app has proved useless. In the snap of a finger, the humid, hot sun bearing down will shun its face and instead rain will pour down in torrents and flood the walking paths. Like the unpredictable weather, each day has come with uncertainty of what will come.

we’re a little tired from the heat

Being unable to settle into a predictable routine has left me reflecting on time. For the first time, I feel like I have a lot of it. I am not counting down the hours, minutes, seconds until the next task has to be done, until work ends, until I have to be at the next place. I am not gazing at the time or the notifications on my screen as one of the teachers here at MSRI explains the archaeology system of dating Greco-Bactrian architecture for almost three hours. (I still don’t get it). I don’t time the full minute it takes Faaiza to quit doing a workout with Kailey and I. A new friend sits at our table in a charity bazaar, telling stories of the founder of MSRI, with greatly animated impersonations. I meet her, her mother, her son, and her friends. We exchange stories, gifts, and wares freely. The children constantly peer over our shoulder, urging us to buy their baked goods. Both days, we sit at the bazaar for 10 hours.

I have time to sit back and talk with vendors, or grab drivers. I have time to read for my enjoyment and reflect, not skim in order to get in a lengthy essay. I linger and watch the lightning and the rain everyday without an urgency to get back to work. I listen. I sit. I watch the cars go by or watch people converse. I can observe the many the winding ways in which a rubber tree gets into it’s many traffic jams stretching up to the sun. Or the cat weaving through cars to cross the street better than I do. I am never bored, even when there isn’t anything to do. I’m getting comfortable with the absence of constant stimulation. It’s something so simple yet I’ve lacked it in quiet victory and somehow reclaimed the feeling of an empty head in a busy city. Things have gone by fast, yet everything is slow. There’s enough room to breathe.

I am also sharing my time with others. Lengthy conversations and decompression at the dinner table. Trying to find coffee shops together and instead, Grab drivers dropping us off where no coffee shops exist. It leads us to the next restaurant where they won’t believe my request for spice ( 🙁 ). We rate the best matcha tea all over town, as if it is our noble quest. We pick up fruit, and I carry it (there is an unsaid agreement that I am the muscle). We explore the busy streets of Chinatown, trying out street food and trying to find the best deal on fake branded backpacks. I mistakenly lead us down a dark alley with no exit. The elevator is always out of service in our building, and so we must entertain ourselves walking down 33 flights of stairs, and every other light is out. We aren’t adhering to strict schedules, allotted time to meet one person and jump to the next.

we are fostering this plant, carol jr.

I am getting “comfortable” with this new home. What is home, anyways? I imagined home as a place I am allowed to learn, a place where I begin to learn to navigate without maps, where I begin to think of places friends have taken me and rooted memories. I am no where near calling this my “home” in that respect, but I am grateful for the time KL has given me. I have plenty more time for the thoughts in my mind to marinate. And I’m sure it will give me plenty more to mull it over.

faaiza stuns in high fashion