Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Thousand Paces.

School Break's here again. Not that it concerns the owner of this blog but one does have to appreciate times like this as driving around is more pleasant with less traffic on the road. Sometime I wonder though, do those vehicles ferrying school children really add to the rush hour congestion? I mean, it's not like there more than several schools in one area compared to the hundreds of offices. Yet, the difference between the breaks and not, is something like pitter-patter and a stampede. Traffic-wise, that is.

Apart from the lesser traffic, another thing to look forward to during these breaks is the abundance of food. Yes, food! But no, it's not Raya time, though the whole atmosphere can lead one's mind in that direction. What, with many people wearing their best, especially those in Baju Melayu, how can one not think the season as such? And yes, school breaks are also known as Wedding Seasons...or was. With more and more people getting married these days, almost all the halls have been booked on weekends throughout the year. Sheesh! Don't these people know anything better to do? (Grin).

Now, before anyone think that grin is a prelude to something coming my way, I'd better put things right: No, I'm not getting married. What, with having to book a hall more than a year in advance, I don't see anyway I can be doing so. Well, not in the foreseeable future, that is. Hmm...don't sound good there as it may lead one to think that my foreseeable future is only about a year in advance. So, no. Not in the near future. I think.

Anyway, whether it is the season or not, there I was, together with hundred of invited guests at one of the many receptions. Like the many invited (except for a growing few) and not being family-related  almost everyone was wearing something presentable. Those few who did not, were youngsters who perhaps, do not know that by wearing a simple collarless t-shirt, they are doing a disservice to the wedded couple and the occasion. So let me put it straight: wearing something presentable is not for oneself as a guest, but to honour the occasion for the bride and groom. After all, as we Malays like to say it: the wedded couple are the "Raja Sehari' - royalties for the day. Celebrities in a celebration, if you wish. So please, do give them their due respect.

Back to the invite.

So there that cakapaje bloke was for the day amongst the sea of strangers, in a place that was confining. As per normal, whenever that bloke feels restrained, he would get up and walk about seeking friendly faces. On this occasion, however, he was compelled to do so not because he was feeling suffocated but because of some noise he thought he heard at the back of the stage. Thus there he went like a curious cat and glad he was he did.

Apparently, the noise he heard was of two young men, both dressed in all black attire, in a mock fight. A  meter or 2 away, sat an elderly gentleman whose attention seem to be entirely on the men. Not surprising then he did not notice cakapaje's approach even after several minutes of presence. Soon as the duo stopped, cakapaje took a step closer and gave greetings to the trio which was warmly received by the gentleman. The duo, however, only smiled back while standing erect like in military position. To break the ice further, cakapaje in his usual clownish manner said "Once you've finished performing, can you challenge the groom to a fight? If you can do that, I'll be able to run away with the bride".

Silat Pulut. A small variation of an art of self defence. Once cakapaje thought was extinct is actually alive and well. In fact, according to the gentleman, it is making a come-back as more people are now returning to old tradition of honouring the bride and groom, even at some high-end wedding receptions. It is, as the gentleman puts it, the artistic side of Gayung Pattani and named so as in the older days, the performers would be be paid with Pulut (Glutinous Rice. Once considered a dish for the royalties), while Silat is derived from the Arabic word Solat, which means prayers. Even the stance of a Silat exponent is similar to Solat, with both arms folded at waist height. For someone who knows only one form of self defence, this was certainly an interesting meet.

Two tings I need to clarify before I babble on. One: that cakapaje bloke is actually the owner of this blog here and that owner is also the writer. Have to put it clear for any new visitors here. The other thing is that, no, I am not a master or an expert in the art of self defense. I am, however, an exponent of one of the oldest art of self defence. Still in learning stage, in fact. At the risk of sounding vain, I do have to admit I'm getting good at it.

Oh, there's another thing I need to clarify before I impart my little secret. Before one even think of stepping into the ring, one must understand that the whole idea of the art of self defence is none other but self preservation. I mean, there's no point in getting whacked during training only to have a marker in your name after a real fight. Remember Karate Kid, the movie? Be it Pat Morrita or Jackie Chan, they're living proof of the art; any of the many in town. The first thing they teach their respective student is to take it easy. Be composed. Likewise with my learning.

I first came to be aware of this art when I was a kid. Then, a ferocious looking dog came running out a fence towards me. Instinctively I wanted to hightail but with no trees high enough for me to climb out of the dog's reach, I turned back and charged towards it, throwing my slippers to scare him away. It did. He ran back inside the fence where his master picked him up and cuddle him. For an eight-year old though, even a Pekingese do look vicious..

So I met this guy who took me under his wings. He narrated a lot of philosophical things which opened my eyes real wide. I mentioned narrated, as I couldn't make heads or tails about them and my eyes were bulging in disbelief. Yes, something like that Luke Skywalker guy. Then one day we had an encounter with 5 burly guys, each with a weapon of some sort their hands. Bad dudes, they were and they meant to rob us. But before they could make their move, the guy shouted 'run!'.

I stood looking the five dudes. I turned and looked at the guy running, then I looked back at the dudes. I ran.

Later on even as we were catching our breath, the guy said: "Good! You may well master the art of A Thousand Paces".

A Thousand Paces, by the way, means "Seribu Langkah' in Malay, which in English would simply mean 'running helter skelter'.

I'm still learning.

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