The Place I Didn't Want To Be; Temerloh

Once upon a time in my life, precisely a year back, I went to a town called Temerloh. It is located in Central Pahang of Malaysia and very famous for its exquisite attributes. I was invited for a three days Malaysian Networking seminar. After reaching the hotel early in the morning, I faced an unsatisfactory level of internet service, but there was a bistro half a block away that had wireless. So, I headed there in the evening to finish my presentation for the seminar. The moment I walked up to that bistro into that cold evening, it was then when my bad decisions started to ignite. I sat at a cozy table in the open-air place of the bistro. After couple of hours as I was eating, I noticed a few random people staring at me from 3 tables away, and they had a car directly parked next to that table. I ignored them.

The evening began to get darker slowly, and I have noticed an old man sitting in his car, staring at me from a distance. But I didn’t think much of it because I was in a populated, well-lit area with plenty of local people around. As I got up, I did not put my iPad back in my bag, as I was planning to carry it on my way back to the hotel, which was 50 yards away from the bistro, and the sidewalk was lined with cafes with people sitting out in front. Therefore, you might think nothing would happen, right? But guess what, as I was walking about 10 yards away from the bistro, someone ran by me really quick and tried to snatch my iPad. I held on it really tight, purely out of instinct, with my strong hands.

The man then pushed me off to the ground, trying to pry the iPad out of my hands. I wouldn’t let go, so he stomped his boot onto my face really hard. To this day, I can still remember what the tread on the bottom of his shoe looked like, as it really bruised my charming face. I got up on my feet as soon as I could and started to chase after that guy, screaming my head off and shouting in Malay. At that moment I wasn't scared at all, but really p#ssed off as hot as molten lava. The noise coming from my throat sounded more like a hungry wild wolf than something one would expect from a human, and it did seem to surprise the muggers, but they still kept running and running, laughing aloud. After a while, the man who grabbed my iPad was joined by another man, and the two ran straight down the sidewalk, with me following them from behind. Funny thing was, they ran right past all those bistros full of people, and even though I was screaming “Stop him!” and “Halang dia” in Malay, nobody raised a finger or tried to stop them. Eventually, they rounded up at a corner, and by the time I got there, they vanished into thin air.

Later on, I went back to the hotel and explained to the staff and some participants what had happened. After several hours, two local police officers showed up and took my statement. They told me to go to the station in the morning to give a more comprehensive report. Then I went to the bed for a 14 hours sleep due to the stress. The next day, I went to the Temerloh police station, which was literally across the street from the hotel and less than 10 meters away from where the crime scene. With the help of one of the bilingual staff at the hotel, I gave a more extended statement. My Malay is pretty good, but I lack the vocabulary to go into finely detailed descriptions, therefore having a translator was a huge help. I was told that they would inform me immediately if the muggers were caught and my items were confiscated, but that since I was leaving the city in two days, there was not much more than that they could do. I was given a copy of the useless police report, gave my presentation and headed back straight to Kuala Lumpur in that late evening with the most horrific experience that I have ever had. Regardless of all these, I've managed to learn some valuable lessons along the way. Never show off your gadgets in an open bistro and making sure to bring along some friends wherever you go in a new place.

Undoubtedly, Temerloh is the place I didn't want to be.

S Eusuf

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