KL Rocks! Lunch with Elviza

Mat Salo explained: “Elviza had called me – she wants to see you TOO. We’ll go see her in Bangsar”. `Kidnapped’ by Mat Salo! Apparently, he had spoken with Elviza before coming to get me.

Well, that’s it then – there’s no avoiding Elviza now … unless if I jumped off that Toyota Land Cruiser (And she would most likely visit me at the hospital).

I had `known’ Elviza for a couple of months; having found her site through Mat Bangkai’s What! No Tea and Scones? – which in turn was from Sharon Bakar’s blog. And I had gotten Sharon’s site through David R in Korea; whom I had known since late 1998 through a Usenet writing group.

There is one specific post here about what I think of her writing. And then I saw a comment by Zaharan Razak of Ground of Being to Ground Below (previously known as “I” of the Storm) that surprised and delighted me – that Elviza was from Kelantan too! (I later found out that she also has “Pasir Mas connections”).

Then last Hari Raya, I received a SMS from her. I won’t hide it – how thrilled and elated I was! (Again, it was Mohd Zawi who had given my number… He seems to know everybody!) After that, I still received messages from her – simple “Hellos” which I really appreciate, knowing how busy she must be. Plus SMS alerts about Raja Petra Kamarudin and Razak Baginda that twice beat the media when it comes to speed!

Elviza had also mentioned about wanting me to meet her, husband Jafree and two-year-old son Luqman – either when she comes back to Kelantan or when I go to KL. And there was that bloggers’ gathering function yesterday (Saturday 29 Nov) [*See Update below] which Mat Salo had played a major part in organising – early this month, she had expressed hope that I would be present … and even suggested that my “transportation and accommodation could be arranged” [THANKS for the offer, Elviza].

Well, I’ll be very happy and extremely comfortable with Luqman, definitely – but minus the parents:-) …there is this “extreme shyness and inferiority complex” I mentioned in the previous post – something that I’m dealing with.

However, last 19 November, Elviza had made the decision for me – I was going to see her, no if’s or but’s!

Mat Salo explained that she had “a very good reason to be in Bangsar”. Yes, she is a lawyer, but apparently Elviza is fortunate enough not to be stuck to a desk whenever she was not in court. And Mat Salo was also going to give her a DVD he had bought in Indonesia – Ayat Ayat Cinta, if I remember correctly (Is it?).

Contrary to what Mekyam might have suspected (as in her comment in the previous post), Mat Salo didn’t engage in any “MacLaren-type” of driving – probably having enough sympathy for a hillbilly already feeling out of place in the big city, and with his heart thumping at the thought of meeting Elviza.

During that drive, we learned a few things about each other. Mat Salo insisted he’s no angel; probably fearing that I was holding him in (too) high esteem. Oh, have no fear of that, brother – I had never expected you to be perfect. However, it’s the good things about you that I’m most impressed with – `simple’ things, like that care and thought for your siblings… your fulfilling your responsibilities as a good father… your truthfulness, honesty and sincerity… your being a good friend with those who deserve good friends – among other things.

And Mat Salo had learnt quite a few things about me; especially what and where I was working as more than a decade ago. Somehow it didn’t feel right being silent about certain things that I’d often keep quiet about – not when talking with someone like him. Yes, his aura is such that.

As Mat Salo drove towards Bangsar from Mont Kiara, I remembered that I too had driven to here from Jalan Duta before … 1995.

It was a time when I was already heavily addicted to morphine, but still managing to consume through the `wasteful’ chasing the dragon (with the substance on cigarette/aluminium foil, heated from underneath and inhaled through a straw/small tube). And I still could maintain a car then (it was a Toyota Corolla GL 1.3 – one of the very best cars ever made), plus trade that in for a Proton Megavalve a year later.

Well, the collapse didn’t happen in a month or two. However, I was surely in a downward spiral then; with the bottom being those days in the dreaded “Quarantina” of the Pengkalan Chepa Prison in 2005.

Anyway, Mat Salo went in to park at Bangsar Village, which was another amazing thing after his U-turn early on. Despite the sign that clearly announced “FULL”, he still drove into the carpark. `Helpfully’ I mentioned it (as if Mat Salo didn’t understand the Queen’s English) as he collected the automated ticket. Simply smiling, he gave a nonchalant “Tak apa, adalah tu.” (Never mind, there’ll be something).

And sure enough, just three second after he said that, and even before he had engaged first gear, a car pulled out and vacated a bay! Well, Mat Salo sure has `Ong’ (lucky)!

Then he pulled reached out for something at the back of his 4WD and gave to me as a present – something in red wrapping paper with “BORDERS” printed. “I have a copy of it too – about writing… I found it very useful, so I bought one for you too…cheap, it was on sale” (The listed price on the jacket of this hardcover copy is £9.99)

Click HERE or on the picture for a review of it from the New York Times. ISBN 1 86197 6127 Publisher www.profilebooks.co.uk

THANKS, MAT!

I don’t know how much he had paid for it. However, I must say that it’s an excellent book – the type that won’t go stale with the passing of time.

BTW I did not open it until I reached home the next day. And I was careful in opening it – using a sharp blade to cut the tape and managing to save the wrapper; of which I’ve kept. Yes, I’m the sentimental type who often would keep “certain things” as mementos.

The entrance of Bangsar Village was the rendezvous with Eliviza. I was certain that I would immediately recognise her for I had seen her picture with Luqman at her blog. I didn’t – even when a woman had walked up to Mat Salo! Maybe it was because I was so nervous that I wasn’t really observing people. I don’t know whether she had felt the trembling when we shook hands:-)

Ah, the classy Elviza!…She is with her writings and she is in real life – plus was great on TV too. Well, that charisma – some people “have it”. And she and Mat Salo certainly do. To her credit, she didn’t make me any more nervous than I already was – it would have been easy for her to have a few laughs at my expense from my being extremely shy and my awkwardness.

We went to a restaurant outside Bangsar Village. I’m thankful for that because I would not have been comfortable in the chic-looking cafes inside the building. And especially if smoking was not allowed. Mat Salo probably shared my sentiments about the smoking part.

One thing that I regretted at that restaurant was my ordering something that I could easily get in a kampung in Pasir Mas – Nasi Lemak.

But I didn’t really care too much about eating anyway. Not when I was elated with that moment: of actually being with them – previously just “names” and “posts and comments at blogs” – to Mat Salo and Elviza “The real and living persons”! It’s hard to describe the thrill and sensation.

And I was amused to read a message from Sherry Nor-Jane, who is a big fan and admirer of the writer of Write Away; after Elviza had SMSed her about the three of us meeting at a restaurant in Bangsar. Well, she comes to KL a lot more frequently than I do (probably 20-1). BUT I had beaten her to meeting with Elviza first!…and I know she and Nazmi were happy with me too.

It was great; sitting there talking about various things and observing people. There was Jit Murad, whose moppy hair didn’t look so unruly nowadays.

Then there was one smartly-dressed guy shouldering a laptop bag, who seemed to be in a hurry to go somewhere. “That’s Rehman Rashid”, Elviza mentioned softly. He most likely knew Elviza (she has an office near there too), and nodded at us – seemed to be in a hurry to go somewhere.

Rehman, as blog readers might remember, had written a piece in New Straits Times in March 2007 that had offended many bloggers titled Broken down in the barnyard of free expression. Needless to say, he had then received quite some flak at the high-traffic blogs that included Rocky’s Bru and Susan Loone – among others.

Elviza and Mat Salo certainly didn’t know this (although Mekyam does) – Rehman knows me. Or my name, that is. But since he was in a hurry that day, I didn’t go up to introduce myself to him – to match this physical self to that name. Maybe it was just as well – let people know me as “Mat Cendana” (who aspires to be “Cendana287”).

But anyway, Elviza had work to do, so at 2.30 PM she left Mat Salo to take me to Sentral. That was an added bonus – meeting Elviza too after having met Mat Salo. Who would have thought that my day in KL that was “work related” to be blessed with that kind of luck!

But Life seemed bent on dishing out even more good fortune for me! The day was far from over yet…

We headed back towards Bangsar Village where he pointed to a vehicle and mentioned, “Rocky’s car is still here”; casually adding that he had earlier messaged Rocky about us being in the area.

I was to meet Rocky Bru too! Plus Nuraina Samad, who happened to also be there.(To be CONTINUED)

*7.52AM 1 Dec Update: Mat Salo has sent in a post WITH PICTURES of the gathering in Blog Bash – A Bit Player’s Perspective

[Note: This post is written using Zoundry Raven – a freeware I’m testing, instead of the usual Windows Live Writer. I don’t know how things will come out.]

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