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HAVE you ever taken the LRT from Kelana Jaya to KL Sentral in the heat of a morning rush, let’s say on Thursday?
Ladies and Gentleman: Welcome to Planet Weird, where Nobody-Utters-A-Word.
A while ago, a flock of young executives boarded the train at the Taman Bahagia stop – draped in their formal shirts and leather shoes. Hands firmly gripped on the briefcases.
Throughout the journey, their eyes never once left the screens of their handhelds. Some punched away email and short messages into their Blackberry; some were scrolling the state-of-the-art iPhone screens back and forth, back and forth. None appeared to give a damn about anything around them.
Seating right in front of me was a teenager – who should have been in school an hour ago – with iPod headphones plugged firmly into his ears. I lost his song selection after Play that Funky Music by Wild Cherry. But the sound from his iPod was loud enough to fill up an entire shopping mall.
A six-year-old boy sat sandwiched between the iPod teenager and his mother, with the latest version of Game Boy clutched in his fingers. He was oblivious to his surroundings. Watching him, I recalled someone once telling me that he had made it a point to avoid two things in life: illegal substances and electronic game devices. I now know why.
An exception, perhaps, came in a form of an old pensioner in skullcap and walking stick. He sat quietly reading a copy of the Harakah. Reading is decidedly a dying culture in Malaysia.
My quick, nosy glance around me revealed that a pregnant lady badly needed a seat. The bulging varicose veins threatened to pop out of her feet anytime now. A makcik holding a basketful of keropok needed a seat, too, that basket must have weighed at least five kilograms.
Lo and behold, humanity was apparently a foreign concept in this train. Awaken them I must. Let’s disturb the iPod kid, shall we?
“Excuse me son, could you please give up your seat for the pregnant lady?” The eyes of the young executives, the six-year-old boy, his mother and the old pensioners were all on me.
The teenager looked up to my direction. He sniggered. Then he rolled his eyes while saying: “Mind your own business.”
His headphone never left his ears. As to how he could hear me talking is still beyond my comprehension. Fair enough. I should really mind my own business. Who was I to tell him to give up his seat?
The massive bloom of technology dissipates good old-fashioned inter-personal communication. Gone were the days where strangers could carry-on animated conversations in public transport.
Courtesy and respect for the elderly, or the helpless, diminishes into thin air as the younger generation hold on to their handhelds and computer games. Reading, while passing time, can only be seen in pensioners.
Often, for the sake of staying connected to the World Wide Web, we forget the simple pleasures of saying ‘hello’ to the person next to us. While we scour for information splashed on online news-portals, or keeping up virtually with friends on Facebook, we forget to take a break to smell the flowers.
Have we become a nation so infatuated with technology that we have chosen to forsake common courtesy and chivalry? I have to pen off now. KL Sentral was two stops ago.
● Elviza Michele Kamal is a reluctant lawyer who tries to train her runaway thoughts by jotting in her moleskine. She blogs at http://www.elviza.wordpress.com