Life away from concrete townships

It was a 10-hour drive deep into the jungles in Kelantan, a state on the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Here, at an Orang Asli village, life existed so far from concrete townships, writes TARANJIT KAUR

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| Taranjit Kaur | Roti for the Soul | Asia Samachar | 18 Feb 2016 | 
Orang Asli kids at a village in Gua Musang, Kelantan - PHOTO/TARANJIT KAUR
Orang Asli kids at a village in Gua Musang, Kelantan – PHOTO/TARANJIT KAUR

In the little time spent catching up on local and global affairs, sorrows of others drives a desire for change. The fast pace of life amid a challenging race to make ends meet leaves little room for self fulfillment, let alone that of others. The zest to do something often evaporates unintentionally as the realities of the day unravel. In the course of life, societal obligations sink in as other crucial tasks rise up, ranging from professional to family and personal matters. While channeling resources such as finances is commendable, it is far more meaningful to set aside time for social work and the invaluable experience it holds.

Suffice to say, an unplanned trip into the deep jungles was a lifetime opportunity for me. The journey to an Orang Asli settlement at Kampung Simpor in Gua Musang, Kelantan, was challenging, but equally fun! Orang Asli are the indigenous minority peoples of Peninsular Malaysia. The drive of close to 10 hours via road from Kuala Lumpur was scenic, flush greenery complementing, cold breeze, clear blue skies and mountains standing tall. Sadly, there were sights of a compromised environment resulted by rampant logging, air pollution, and water contamination.

The joy of arriving at our destination after hours of travelling across nerve-wrecking off-road terrain was one-of-its-kind. It was no wonder during the historic east coast floods in 2014, the Orang Asli community residing in Kampung Simpor was cut off from essentials. The access to this village is either via road or by air, with the latter being a rather costly option. No malls, no cinema halls, no fast food outlets, no fuel station, no clinics or public transportation – a life unimaginable for a city brat like me. In fact, the nearest government school was located some three hours away, while medical service as well as police station some five hours away.

The road leading to an Orang Asli village in Gua Musang, Kelantan. Orang Asli are the are the indigenous minority peoples of Peninsular Malaysia. - PHOTO / TARANJIT KAUR
The road leading to an Orang Asli village in Gua Musang, Kelantan. Orang Asli are the are the indigenous minority peoples of Peninsular Malaysia. – PHOTO / TARANJIT KAUR

Away from the bustling city’s rat race and roaring developments, a group of people lived in isolation with bare minimums. It was an eye-opener, for the comforts I take as granted were luxury for some. The females, nestled together, giggled over small talk, as kids played with no shoes on instead of being at school – fearing their fate after the unfortunate incident which involved a few of their fellow Orang Asli children. The men on the other hand were busy in their own small chats. Perhaps, they too, like other human beings, longed for a better quality of life, but battled between staying close to their roots.

We played, shared some stories, shared goodies and of course, relished yummy refreshments. It was an eye-opener, how in little things they found big happiness. Suffice to say, that time spent up there was like no other, and completely worth the adventure.

Personally, I was speechless, that life existed so far from concrete townships. Perhaps those busy logging the forests for timber should shift some focus towards doing good instead of merely ripping the natural environment of its dignity. Just like them, the masses should also explore ways and means to reach out to those around us, in our own unique ways. The power lies in numbers and if we collectively leverage upon shared strengths, there is so much we can do as people of this world. Many are deprived of basic awareness on health, sanitation and safety access. In the case of Kampung Simpor, I wonder what would the local people do in the event of a medical emergency or should there be a midnite attack by a wild animal? The thought in itself is worrying.

If we desire for a better Malaysia, let us in our own unique capacity drive change and share our experiences, so a mere individual initiative turns into a shared efforts, for bigger as well as better impact.

Taranjit-mugshot

Taranjit Kaur, who works at a Malaysian oil and gas company, is an active social worker. She has been spotted at various activities at Gurdwara Sahib Petaling Jaya

 

[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE! Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]

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