Rebel Without A Pause

28 04 2008

I derive a certain spine-tingling thrill from breaking rules, scorning authority and just generally being a rebel, which is why I stood in the elevator grinning from ear to ear, having slipped past the vigilant concierge with my bag of junk food in full violation of the lobby sign that emphatically stated “No outside food in the guest rooms”.


A glamourous life of spectacularly tasteful crime clearly loomed. I could envisage a future spent abseiling from art gallery ceilings in black spandex or relieving state depositories of their entire gold reserves accompanied by vertically-challenged circus acrobats.  There was clearly no stopping me now - until my room card wouldn’t work and I had to sheepishly return to the front desk clutching my illicit food and bashfully request a new one.


Every hotel and hostel has its rules and regulations. Many make perfect sense - like not smoking in the rooms, or refraining from throwing furniture off the balcony into the swimming pool. But the sign in the elevator of my hotel in Kuala Lumpur had me stumped.


It was a small, engraved plaque fastened to the wall just above the floor buttons. It depicted something akin to a medieval projectile: a peculiar oval-shaped object with little spikes around the outside, with a line drawn through it. My elevator-mate, observing my quizzical gaze, explained that it referred to the durian - a popular fruit whose odour is so offensive that it is banned from most hotels and public places throughout Asia.


Clearly, the gauntlet had been raised: I had to have one - and in the illegal seclusion of my hotel room too!


In the nearby market I quickly located the stinky-fruit stand. Disappointingly, it looked rather innocent. The seller instantly rumbled me as a curious tourist rather than a connoisseur of his tropical wares and offered to let me try it right then, instead of going to the bother of actually buying one. Somewhat disappointed that this was cheating and would deprive me of the naughty pleasure of noxious fruit smuggling, I nevertheless shrugged my shoulders and agreed.


No sooner had his large knife penetrated the skin than the smell of victory reached my nose. My nostrils twitched. Imagine taking some very dirty and well-worn socks, stuffing them with a wretched quivering mass of rotten mouldy-onions, stirring in some turpentine and adding a hint of death - and you would be close. I suspected that its character-building scent was illegal under the Geneva Convention.


Not content with permanently damaging my olfactory senses, a small bit of its flesh was then offered on the end of his knife.


I grinned nervously, the sweat beading in my hairline. This was a living breathing Fear Factor without the bikinis or prize money. It slid onto my tongue and sat there before I quickly swallowed it whole, successfully managing to circumvent all taste buds. I smiled and nodded that it was lovely, although in fact cowardice had ensured that I discerned nothing more than its slimy consistency.


I returned to my hotel obediently devoid of durian but wondering if my nose would ever truly be durian-free again.


Post by: Simon Vaughan © 2008




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: