They say if you want to write, live a life worth writing about. For me, a well-behaved mediocre person who grew up in very “normal” times in a small town (normal = no war, no famines, no natural disasters, no family disasters), this is an almost discouraging message. It seems like an orderly life would be at odds with an interesting life.
But mediocrity might be totally okay, right?!
In my generation, it was often about self-optimization, extreme individualization, permanent peak performance – it’s all far too exhausting and futile. But this is not meant to be a plea for mediocrity. Or is it? Well, I don’t have any really noticeable incompatibilities, I can’t dance my name and musically I’m zero. I say sneakers to all the hip athletic shoes. And I love movies like “Ratatouille.”
Kuala Lumpur, not Paris.
Do you remember the animated movie Ratatouille? No? Not seen it? Then go ahead and catch up. For everyone else, remember the moment Remy the gourmet rat emerges from the sewers and sees the lights of the city of Paris?
“Paris?” he says. “All this time I’ve been living under Paris?”
Incorporating a real life into a fictional narrative to bring a mundane story to life, that might be the solution for when my life isn’t so special after all, but I still want to write. To be in paradise and yet to search for it, to search for something special.
And that’s how my story about Kuala Lumpur is born. A very special, mediocre city. A city that caused a tingling in my stomach. So vibrant, so colorful, so full of life. You can hardly resist all the smells that drift down the streets from the cookshops there, and I can’t get enough of all the hustle and bustle.
A dirty city
But of course I also notice: the city is massively dirty. In front hui, behind pfui.
In the front the prepared meals are served deliciously arranged, in the back vegetables and meat are chopped in the dirt. The rinse water is poured into the gutter and the waste is simply thrown down. Not to underestimate the air pollution and the massive automobile traffic.
Every day I set out on foot and eventually I realize that I’m taking the same paths over and over again.And in a small alley, romantically bathed in yellow light at night and full of garbage and horrible smells during the day, I meet Rosie. A rat. I take a seat on a stone and watch her and all the other rats.How they run up the walls, along the power lines, how they disappear again in the cellar holes and how they pause, literally staring at me, waiting to see what I am up to.
I revisit them every day and eventually Rosie tells her story. How she came to the city and why she now has to leave again and all her experiences during her time here in this city.
Rosie was an ordinary rat. But she was curious. She dreamed of a futuristic bicycle that she had designed herself. This bike had shiny wheels made of glowing plasma and could whiz between cities in seconds.
One day Rosie decided to visit her family in Kuala Lumpur. She put a glowing rose in a special device on her bike, and strapped on a high-tech camera to capture all the exciting adventures and, of course, take some selfies at the selfie spots. After all, back at home, she wanted to show off her experiences.
With a snap of her fingers, Rosie activated her bike, and she was whizzing through the futuristic tunnel of the Trans Speedway toward Kuala Lumpur. The scenery flew past her, and she was able to enjoy the breathtaking view of the futuristic skyscrapers.
Once in Kuala Lumpur, Rosie parked her bike in front of the Petronas Towers, which were now even taller and more impressive than she had ever seen them before in books.But she also noticed something that saddened her. The streets were littered with dirt and trash, despite the city’s advanced technology.
Determined to do something to make the city more beautiful, more livable, healthier, Rosie organized a group of futuristic robot helpers to collect trash and take it to recycling facilities. And she organized a couple of spray robots to make the gray walls of the houses in the narrow streets more colorful.
Rosie and her family explored the fascinating city by riding hoverboards.
However, Rosie also had to be careful because there were still some dangers. She carefully watched the ground to avoid poison traps that some people had laid out to keep rodents away. When the time came to say goodbye, Rosie once again activated her bike and returned home through the trans speedway. Her family back home saw her adventures through the eyes of their own holographic projectors and were enthralled by the stories Rosie had brought back. And so ended the futuristic journey of Rosie the clever rat as she traveled to Kuala Lumpur on her technologically advanced bicycle, beautifying the city while watching out for dirt and trash and protecting herself from poison traps. Rosie had not only visited her family, but also made a difference that would positively impact the city for the future.
How nice to be allowed to be mediocre.
Keep your eyes open, and the lights of Paris may grow brighter. Imagination, no matter how fantastic it seems, is simply wonderful. What will happen if we stop trying all the time being better and just say: Oh, I’m medium, medium, medium?
And so I will continue to write. It doesn’t matter if somebody likes it or if it’s just me. It’s okay. That’s enough and makes me happy.
But now a few facts about this fantastic city Kuala Lumpur.
KL for short and especially a few facts about the building “Merdeka 118”, which is far from being just mediocre. And KL is far from just okay in other respects as well. KL is one of the fastest growing cities in Asia and the largest city in Malaysia with an area of 243 km2 and a population of 2 million in 2020. Greater Kuala Lumpur, is a metropolitan area with a population of 7.5 million.
Kuala Lumpur is one of the world’s leading cities for tourism and shopping and was the sixth most visited city in the world in 2019. The city is home to three of the ten largest shopping malls in the world. The name Kuala Lumpur comes from a Malay term. This term means “muddy confluence.” The reason for this name is that Kuala Lumpur is located at the confluence of the Klang River and the Gombak River.
It is home to one of the tallest twin towers in the world: the Petronas Towers. They are very impressive. Indeed. When completed, they remained the tallest twin towers in the world from 1998 to 2004. Yes, the superlatives.
And then there’s Chinatown, the TV tower, and Merdeka 118. Unfortunately, not yet opened.
Much (!) more than the Petronas Towers, this building fascinates me. “Merdeka 118” is a 118-story skyscraper in Kuala Lumpur. With a height of 678.9 m, it is the second tallest building in the world. Merdeka means “independence” in Malay. 400,000 square meters for apartments, hotels and stores. The building is designed with a mixture of diamond-shaped glass facades to characterize the diversity of Malaysians. The building’s cladding consists of 18,144 panels, 114,000 square meters of glass and 1,600 tons of window frame profiles. The building is the first in Malaysia to be awarded triple platinum in global sustainability certifications. A glance up at all the mega-buildings quickly makes you forget that things are usually different down here in the streets.
Greetings from Rosie the rat and, of course, me. Unfortunately, we can not switch to trans speed to quickly leave the city on our onward journey by bike, because that always means a real mega challenge. It’s not uncommon for freeways and expressways to be arranged over multiple levels and we’re never sure which ones are passable for us.
P.S.: If you like city trips, this fantastic city KL Kuala Lumpur is more than worth such a trip.