Sunday, September 20, 2009

Selamat Hari Raya and some odd ramblings...


Its Hari Raya Aidilfitri today and I'm up over at my in-law's place in Ara Damansara doing absolutely nothing to really celebrate this auspicious day except give my daughter some 'duit raya' or some festive money to her. I've even dressed down as I'm only in a polo tee and a pair of olive green chinos. The food was good as we had the usual nasi himpit, lemang, rendang (which I don't bother to eat as I'm a sausages and egg kind of man) , some nicey prepared roast tongue and salad (which I truly enjoy).

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The actual cost of transport, and some tea.

I was pondering one afternoon during this month of fasting about transportation as a whole. This idea was brought about by hunger and the need for a nice pot of Earl Grey to soothe my at that time parched throat. But the brain keeps on working anyways.

Transportation has changed our lives in ways we have never imagined. In those days, we lived in a town, village or even a city with barely any contact with a person who lives a couple of hundred kilometers away. We’d basically grow up in a village and go to school there. Then, end up at the nearest large town or city to further one’s education or skills to become a carpenter, tailor, tradesmen or bank robber. We’d then learn enough of one’s trade and set up shop in a small town a few hundred miles from the place we grew up and then find a wife from the nearest village or town.

In these days, as an example, a person can be born in Kangar, Perlis, goes to boarding school in Kuala Kangsar, Perak, does his A-levels in a college in Kuala Lumpur, gets a scholarship and leaves for England where he gets his degree in engineering, comes back to Malaysia and works for an oil and gas company, gets posted to Dubai for a stint, marries a French gal who works as a banker also in Dubai and they decide to uproot and live in Bristol, England; opening a small tea and scones shop in a suburb there while managing an internet business selling Malaysian Batik which he gets his stock flown in from a batik factory in Terengganu, Malaysia. The change that had made this all possible is the invention of the major forms of transport; Planes, trains and automobiles.

Transport has made Earth a small place to live in. Soon we’d be running of places to explore and we’d have no choice but to invent proper passenger ships to send ourselves to Mars where we’d have a whole new world to colonize. However, transport has also caused a large drawback towards Mother Earth in general. The fossil fuel we burn is causing havoc towards our environment. The carbon released from our forms or transport is causing a supposedly marked rise in temperatures globally.

If we all used eco-friendly means of fuel, there won’t be any drawbacks to people flying down to Paris every few months for shopping or driving up to Singapore in their SL55s for a supposedly decent plate of Nasi Padang along Arab Street. Note that it takes about 800 liters of aviation fuel per person to reach gay Pahree from Kuala Lumpur and about the same amount back. It’ll take a couple of hundred Ringgit in fuel just for the nice fast Mercedes to make it to Arab Street. You’re thinking that what’s a couple of liters of fuel in a car that no one actually owns here in Malaysia, most of us drive Kancils, Vivas and Wiras. Well, the supposed myth is that we tend to export our oil out of Malaysia and bring in automotive grade petrol to sell. Just think, the amount of fuel is used by the oil tanker to bring in our fuel is not calculated. Our carbon footprint is huge. Unless we find a cost effective way to replace oil.

Note that it now costs RM1.80 per liter of RON95. It costs on average RM1.50 for 1500ml of bottled water. So petrol is slightly cheaper than bottled water, even if we have to drill it from the middle of the ocean, transport it back to shore, process it, then send it a couple of thousand miles away for refining and then used. Water if bottled in, say Taiping, sent by a lorry to Kuala Lumpur and still costs cheaper. How does a country stay rich by having so much oil is a mystery to me.

But as I stated above, transport has made us very choosy people. I for instance drive a Japanese car. The cost of making that car (steel, glass, electricity used, fuel used in the process), bringing that car into the country (building a car carrier freighter, fuel to transport) and so forth makes my car have a larger carbon consumption per vehicle than if you bought a Proton Persona. Of course, there is a slight difference in quality and what pleasure the Japanese, Italian, German car can give you over the Malaysian one. It’s However, being able to afford this ‘luxury’ means that I can do such a thing. I also love Italian shoes which were crafted in Italy and most probably
sea freighted or air freighted over burning more of our fuel along the way. I cannot see myself using BATA (Buy And Throw Away) shoes nowadays as they actually are terrible items for my beloved feet which thrive on looking dapper.

I also love expensive pens, watches and clothing that we can usually find being made in China (quite true as some expensive pens are now made there), Japan, Switzerland, and Italy which are usually transported in burning more fuel to satisfy such needs.

So you see, everything we want is either transported in whether we like it or not. Your carbon footprint is large if you like handcrafted goods made by the best around the world. We have grown choosy and fussier when we are able to earn more. When our spending powers are small, the things we want are basic necessities. When we become greedy 'capitalist pigs', we can afford things from everywhere around the world. Even the beautiful wife may come from Uzbekistan if we were ugly and desperate. You see, transport has made the quality of life so much better and life more interesting overall. But we are now feeling the repercussions from all of our fossil fuel burning.

However, we motorheads are a strange breed. While some of us may seem like we care for the environment, we still want our big petrol V8 to sound like Thor’s mighty hammer. We still want our dream cars to be 1000bhp Bugattis. We still want our Mercedes’ running 6.2liters of All Mighty Grunt (SL63AMG). I think the only serious eco-friendly thing I can do now is make sure the plants (planted by my mum who does her best in making a small plot of land in front of her terrace house in KL filled with flowers and some fruits and vegetable plants) that I have on my balcony watered and alive instead of shriveled and dead. Maybe a donation or two to the WWF or any donation box that I see at the order counter of the fast food joint I frequent. EnvironMENTALISTS would love pelting me with some rotten eggs by now. But heck, I love my life right now.

Am I babbling? I suppose I am. Consuming lots of food after breaking fast does that to people. Now where’s that nice cup of tea that I’m supposed to be having now that it’s late in the evening?

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