Week 25: Kuala Lumpur, More Ponggal, and Meeting the Prime Minister

January 16-22

On Monday after school, Amma, my host brother, aunt, and I went to Kuala Lumpur. While Amma was at an event, Anne (brother), Periamma (aunt), and I went to the Petronas Towers and KLCC. Before this, I’d only seen the lit up towers from a distance, and they always looked so beautiful and crystal-like. There was also a display of dancing water, a fountain lit up by color-changing lights. 

Being in the center of Kuala Lumpur for just a few hours gave me a sense of the culture shock I’ll have when I return to the US (which seems so soon! As much as I love you all back home, I know I will be extremely sad to leave this second home). Seeing so many foreigners felt extremely strange to me, and after just an hour I kind of missed the culture and scenery of Tapah. 

Anyway, I had a great time with Anne and Periamma, and I got Mexican food in the KLCC food court! (very exciting)

We got home very late even though I had school the next day, but it was worth it! 

With Kanaga Periamma, my host aunt who now lives with us

With Anne (brother)
The dancing fountain

One morning this week the drive to school was absolutely gorgeous— apparently there are perks to school that starts at 7:10 am and having to wake up before the sunrise! 

(These pictures aren’t even edited!)


Wednesday, we had the practice run for our schoolwide cross country competition! The practice was this week, and the actual competition was a week later. They said it was a 5-6km run, but based on my time relative to the fact that I am rather out of shape, I think it is less than that. I came in first for girls and passed the majority of the boys, who started earlier (but just walked after a few hundred meters, evidently saving the competition for next week) but this week was just a practice run. Running through the palm tree plantations and kampungs (villages) was so pretty!

Friday, some women came to my host aunt’s shop to demonstrate how to make bread and cake in a small oven so my aunt can teach a class. I went to KFC with some of the women and spoke with them in Malay almost the entire time! 

 

The next day, we went to Negeri Sembilan state so that we could attend the 16th Day prayers for a relative who passed away, a grandmother I’d met a few times before. We also attended an event for Ponggal. 

We went to a palm oil estate, where Appa’s relatives live. Palm oil is Malaysia’s #1 export, and the plantations line nearly every road. Originally, most workers came from India. Today, workers still live on the plantation in houses with their families. 
Later, Amma and I went to a national Ponggal event at the seaside in Port Dickson, held in honor of the 60th anniversary of the Tamil Bell Club, a successful program meant to help Indian youths. 

All of these pots were set out for making Ponggal rice, and people from all over took part in order to set the Guinness World Record for most people making ponggal in one place. I took part as well, though the breeze made it difficult to make a fire and I only boiled milk without rice. Still, it was a cool experience! 

I was so happy to be near the ocean, and I sat on the rocks to watch the sunset. Tons of people asked* me to take pictures with them— a Foreigner in a Sari!—  and there were way more people staring at me than an ordinary day.   (*generally without caring whether I actually agreed to or not). This got very annoying as I was trying to peacefully sit and watch the sunset after carefully navigating rocks wearing a movement-constricting sari. I have decided that I definitely do not want to become a celebrity. 

But overall, this was a very nice event, and of course I was happy to be a part of it. 

Amma and I took photos together— I didn’t mind taking these ones. 




Later, there was a sort of beauty pageant and music performances onstage, which were fun to watch! 

We went back to the house in the palm plantation, where prayers were going on periodically through the night. 

The next morning, we went to the second day of the Ponggal event, a huge luncheon with the Prime Minister as a guest of honor! The event consisted of many speeches by ministers and other performances. 

All the women involved in the Bell Club, including Amma

A photo of me with the Prime Minister: (look closely, he’s in the background) 
When the event was ending, Amma hurried me to the front of the building to shake hands with the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dato’ Seri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak. She didn’t get a picture, but I did indeed shake hands with him. 

Later, we said goodbye to the family at the palm oil estate and returned to Tapah for school the next day after a very nice weekend. 

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