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Archive for August, 2009

Driving concerns

When I use the MRR2 to go to Wangsa Maju, where Flora lives,  the distance is about 30km. It takes almost exactly 30 minutes from door to door in almost all congestion-free conditions, costs RM3.20 (return) and I think that’s brilliantly quick. Yet when I use the quickest toll-free way – via Pusat Bandar Damansara, Dynasty Hotel, Jalan Pahang and then Jalan Genting Klang – it takes about 30 minutes as well, and yet I feel it’s such a long and tiring drive that I would (sometimes) rather pay the RM 3.20 at no significant reduction in journey time.

Why?

I wonder how much of that is due to the fact that the MRR2 is one long, long stretch of road, where I can let my more automated reflexes take over the driving, and just make sure no car is trying to kill me. Then I can let my mind wander off to ponder about other stuff. On the various other routes, you have to keep left and keep right, turn left and turn right, queue up in long lanes, inch forward on congested roads, exit this highway and enter that other highway, et cetera. It takes much more mental effort.

Somehow that seems like a flawed theory to me. It seems that I feel that way on the toll-free route only because I am not used to that particular combination yet. If i stick to using the toll-free route, I think eventually that drive will be similarly relaxed as well.

Either way, the part about the perceived length of the journey is interesting. I wonder what sort of other situations, contexts and relationships in which this subtle illusion plays in our lives. I suspect the answer is: everywhere, for eg: choosing which brands of (anything) to buy, choosing where to buy property, where to eat, to shop, to park, to study, to live, to work, and to play. I suppose marketers and advertising executives are intimately familiar with this.

Perhaps it’s worth the while to be more careful in the future to look out for such illusory concepts and not to be swayed into paying RM3.20 every time when all you need is to familiarise yourself with the alternative. ;) To conclude I should also say I know next to nothing about pscyhology, marketing and/or advertising.

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Place of Origin

We know cultures, contexts and environments influence people’s behaviour and their personalities. I can say for myself that I managed to contain my habit to procrastinate towards the latter part of my time in UK and actually managed to nurture some sort of efficiency and productivity. I lost it as soon as I touched down in KLIA.

KL with its many distractions, inconveniences and prevailing work ethic/ social culture has over the years encouraged and worsened my procrastination. As soon as I came back I slid effortlessly into who I was before I left. But the past two years are not a dream, they came and went. I can see how kicking this terrible habit can change my life, and now that I am back I am going to kick it at the damn place of origin, before I return to Glasgow.

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Parking Spaces

I should say first of all that I am a student of architecture and know next to nothing about business or making money.

Anyway, it’s a Malaysian pasttime to go out in droves to the shopping malls. Before they step foot in the mall, they first have to engage in a desperate battle for survival in securing a parking spot, either in the mall’s provided spaces or, if it’s after 6pm or a weekend, anywhere at all. (no saman mah)

On weekdays mornings and afternoons, it’s so easy to find a spot in 1 Utama or the malls in Mutiara Damansara. There is an abundance of choice parking spots for you to stake your claim on. I remember a time when it was the same for Midvalley, but that’s not the case anymore. I say that based on “research”. My “research” is that I went there three out of the past five weekdays in the afternoon and at least 70% of the parking zones were full. [Edit: Flora thinks at least 85% were full]

There are these convenient LED signboards around the Midvalley Ring Road that shows the availability of parking spaces in different zones – Green for plenty, Red for full, and Orange for somewhere in between. There are maybe 5 or 6 of these zones. (Clearly I am not an observant person). When I arrived in all three instances around 2pm, most were red, and maybe a couple were orange.

Though I have no idea of the demographics of the people who visit Midvalley on a weekday morning/afternoon, I’d daresay that a substantial number visit for work-related reasons (that includes visiting or appointments with someone who is working in one of the adjacent offices, but not those who work in the mall), and not for the traditional purposes associated with a shopping mall.

I think that made the vital difference in driving up the demand for car parking spaces. And now people will gladly park at the Gardens’ Premier Zone to save the hassle of meandering through the endless car parks. Not only that, I’m sure most people will pay an extra RM1 or RM2 in normal parking zones if it means saving time. Man, I can just imagine someone laughing all the way to the bank.

(Note to PJ malls – You have a lot to learn!)

Finally, when I left at about 6pm on Thursday and 7pm on Friday, all five (or six) zones as shown on the LED signboards were green.

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Driving

While weaving my way through KL’s long snaking trails of traffic, Flora remarked that a person’s driving was indicative of their personality and character. If that’s the case, your car on the road is representative of you. And if life is a journey, driving might be seen as you making your way through life.

What does that say about traffic lights then?

Perhaps traffic lights and how drivers react to them are analogous to how people face and overcome obstacles in their life. Think of the people who wait patiently for the light to turn green, and they arrive at their destination safe and sound, albeit a tiny bit slower. Also, think of the people who blatantly drive through red lights to meet accidents, to meet a police roadblock or traffic police, or worst of all, to get away scot-free.

And think of the people who take advantage of courteous drivers by switching lanes abruptly, or the people who cut into lanes abruptly, cutting queues at the last possible moment, clog the traffic behind them so they can shave 15 seconds of their journey. What do that say about their characters and personalities? What about drivers in your communities; How does the quality of driving in a city reflect the character and personality of the city?

It’s always your habits that reveal the most about you. The next time you drive on the road, keep an eye out for different sorts of drivers, and on yourself, and notice what you are revealing to the world.

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When you go away on holiday, especially if it is to a different country, you suspend your life temporarily whether you want to or not. Even more so if you switch off your wifi-enabled email-receiving GPRS/3G/EDGE/GSM/WTV capable smartphone and refrain from surfing the net. That’s good when you need a break but obviously not when you are on a roll. It’s a bad trip when it disrupts your rhythm.

Anyway, I spent the last six days in Hainan island in China without a phone and internet access. I completely and thoroughly forgot about everything I have yet to do in KL/Glasgow. Whether the trip itself was fun was another matter, but the point is it was a different experience and a different trip in more ways than one, so this infusion of fresh input is fascinating to say the least.

So, it’s a good trip. Especially when our return flight fell on the one, single calm day in between two typhoons storming past in that vicinity. Harmless superstition says that’s because we visited the gigantic Guanyin statue in Nanshan (and hugged her “legs”) the day before our return, resulting in endless “临时抱佛脚” jokes.

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