A call from Borneo Blues Mat Salo came in at 1:05 PM on that memorable Wednesday, 19 November. And he sounded like what I had imagined – his voice, that is.
There is this thing in our mind that “gives a voice” when we read material written by others – blog posts, comments, email messages etc. Or at least with me – I’d imagine what their voices are like and read their writings as if they are speaking to me. Sometimes – or maybe “Often” – I’d get it wrong when I finally hear them either on the phone or in person. And I do know that many others do this too – with the same results.
For instance, I had imagined “some other voice” when reading the writings of Sharifah Nor Jannah and her husband Nazmi (two people whom I’m now in most frequent contact with). And when I finally heard her on the phone, it turned out to be… How do I describe it?…”bubbly, and like a very young woman” – “like someone aged 21 or 22?.
To make things even, her imagination about mine had been wrong too. And I was amused by the fact that she was surprised “my loghat (dialect) Kelantan is thick”. Apparently she had somehow thought that I would speak mainly in English, with some Malay thrown in! However, my imagination of Nazmi was correct – his voice on the phone is just like what I had imagined.
(BTW Nazmi holds the record for “the longest time I’ve spoken on the phone with”, either local or trunk call – 67 minutes. Sherry comes in second at 46 minutes, while third at 44 is a senior newspaper editorial consultant whom Puteri Kamaliah and her son know; as do Kak Teh and Mohd Zawi).
Back to Mat Salo – His voice, tone and inflection somehow were like what I had imagined. And the warmth too. I was already elated with how that meeting with the two company directors had gone through and I was already well satisfied with that trip to KL. But it was one of those blessed days when Life rolled out the gravvy train, for there were more presents in store for me.
During the call, I was also fishing for “his real level of willingness” – of whether his previous SMS was “as it really was” or whether it was “Ajak-ajak Ayam” (not fully meant, half-hearted); in which case I could safely go back to Sentral and not feel bad about it. It was definitely the former (”Mat Salo’s truthfulness and honesty” – I remembered Elviza Michele Kamal had SMSed me something about this a few weeks previously).
Mat Salo said he would come over immediately and I told him where I was – it was the taxi-stand with a new building under construction opposite the road and which had a “Pondok Polis” close by. On the plaza’s side, there was a KFC restaurant. “I know it”, was Mat Salo’s reply. For good measure, I told him that he should easily recognise me – “a thin guy in white long sleeves wearing glasses and with a gaunt face”. The “muka cengkung” at the end had him laughing.
The “within 15 minutes” he had mentioned in the SMS – it was true and genuine. I didn’t know how he’d get there – car, taxi, motorcycle or by foot. But I just knew (ala Razak Baginda) he’d be there. A blue Toyota Land Cruiser with a unique plate number (which befits him, I should add) stopped near the taxi-stand to my right and the smiling driver sounded the horn to show that he’s the person I was waiting for and beckoned me to come over. He didn’t really have to – he looked exactly like the pictures I had seen at his sites.
The great Borneo Blues Mat Salo in the flesh!
Even when I had climbed into the 4WD and shaken hands, it felt … unreal – like I was having a dream and it would all just go away in a moment. That was how I felt too when I had met Mohd Zawi last month – the very first person “from the Internet” I had ever met with.
On knowing that I’d be going back on the 8.30 PM train, he said “Oh, lambat lagi… Thought it was in an hour or two”. He suggested going to Bangsar; to which I agreed, of course. I didn’t know how far it was from Mont Kiara and Sentral and such things so it was best to just let him decide where to go and what to do.
And then he did something amazing – he made a U-turn on a very busy road, of which I am quite sure is not allowed. Another amazing thing was that no one objected to it and made their feelings known by blaring their horns – the Land Cruiser and the driver’s self-confidence must have been intimidating enough!
We chatted a bit on the drive there. I had confidently mentioned that it must have been Elviza who had given him my number. No, it wasn’t – it was Mohd Zawi. I didn’t know that he had Zawi’s number and vice versa. Mat Salo explained that he had known about that trip to KL from a comment I had made at his site – at the post concerning his artist sister’s first solo art exhibition. I was extremely flattered and touched with his statement of: “I just have to meet you”, for it’s not quite often to catch him in KL again.
And then his “By the way” floored me – He was taking me to Bangsar … to meet Elviza!
[Will CONTINUE “later”]
P/S To Malaysian Tigress/Tehsin: This post was supposed to be in at midnight last night. However, I was sidetracked by a very good friend of yours… No, no complaints:-)