A Religious Experience

Day 4 – Monday, 1 April 2024

Masjid Negara
The view from the mosque

After a breakfast of French toast (Anna) and stealing bits of French toast off Anna’s plate (the rest of us), we packed up, left our bags with our hotel (Aloft KL Sentral, a solid recommendation), and went where we could not, on our last swing past, the National Mosque. Very welcoming, Anna had to put on the loaned robe probably only because she wore no headscarf, the rest of us passed muster. We all doffed our shoes and went inside, snapping away on our phones. A few areas were out of bounds to us unbelievers. We could enter the main worship area but were kept to one side. The crowd was sparse, the ambience calming and cool. In the courtyard, a sole concession stand sold plastic helicopter gunships and a kite almost but not quite in the colours of the rainbow flag.

From Masjid Negara to the Petronas Towers for lunch and a walk around KLCC Park, dodging between shelters to avoid the increasingly heavy showers. Anna then set her heart on visiting a cat café, the only difficulty being that the nearer of the two she could find online was in Bukit Bintang, an irritatingly inconvenient trip using only the trains. And could we be arsed learning the bus system for one trip on our last day in town? No, children, we could not. So the choice was between an annoying walk/train trip of 38 minutes or just plain walking for 39. Ever the advocate of footslogging as the best way to see an unfamiliar city, I argued for the latter and, to my surprise, met no great opposition.

The family, in KLCC Park, in the rain

Then the rain set in. Then it got harder. Then it eased for a second before getting just plain vindictive. By the time we’d gone half a kilometre we were drenched and my thin, white cotton shirt was completely transparent, every flabby protuberance and body hair visible to the world. Colin Firth made this look sexy. I did not. I was a walking indecency violation. Standing under a fan on the monorail platform, I silently tried to signal my apology to an approaching woman, who was dressed with the customary modesty of the devout on the streets of KL, by raising my hands into the all-purpose prayer position and briefly ducking my head, with what I hoped was an expression of sincere embarrassment on my face. She smiled, completely unfazed. Meanwhile, through the open sides of the elevated train platform, the rain could be seen and heard pouring on and on. At the first opportunity, I bought a cheap t-shirt and slipped into a toilet to put it on under my wholly inadequate outer layer.

A cat café is a café that smells of cats’ piss. It also has cats in it, which is cute, but that is not the first thing one notices, not by several metres. After that, we went to Japan. I slept about half an hour on the flight and woke feeling worse than when I fell asleep, but that is a story for another day.


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