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Saturday, May 1, 2010

An Afternoon with the Religious & Philosophical Monkeys

The Afternoon Plan- It was a spur of the moment. “Why don’t we see it?” Rogue asked her partner. The two were having lunch and they were discussing how to spend their afternoon in a busy city. They were there for leisure and they have all the free time they need. “Why not?” Italo replied. “After all we have almost explored every corner of the downtown and it would be great to go somewhere unique,” he added. After lunch, the two hurried back to their budget hotel to prepare for their afternoon adventure. Rogue was excited about their plan. She was with Italo when two of their newly met acquaintances from this foreign country, Anne and Celine, told them about the place. “It would be a good retreat for the two of you. You would enjoy the monkeys,” Anne told. “Yes! I was tried to chase the monkeys. It was a real fun!,” Celine excitedly exclaimed. These remarks got the couple curious to see the place. They are tourists and they deserve to see what they like. They have crossed oceans to be wanderers and explorers in this place. Rogue loves to see new places and she loves adventures. On the other side, Italo hates restrictions when he goes around. He never dreamed of a package tour in all his life.t.

It was a peak season for western tourists and information booths were all over the country. Rogue and Italo were ready to start their afternoon adventure. “How can we reach the Batu Caves”?, Rogue inquired from the information booth agent. The kind Asian agent replied as he pointed to the direction of the bus stop. “You simply take a bus with Batu Cave on its sign board.” And so Rogue led the way. With their days of stay in the city Rogue can almost memorize every street and establishment around. It was a hot, humid and sunny afternoon in the "dusty administrative centre" (Sheridan, 2003, p. 16) of Malaysia and the couple was more than prepared for this weather conditions with their pairs of thongs, cotton shirts and walking shorts.

The Bus Ride
Although the bus has a “Batu Cave” sign board, Rogue wanted to be sure. “Is this the bus to Batu Caves?” she anxiously asked. The bus conductor smiled to both of them and gave an assuring look. Rogue was feeling both excited and anxious. “What will I see in this cave? All I know about are the monkeys that Anne and Celine told us,” she thought to herself. At the start, the bus had difficulty squeezing itself out the heavily jammed central district. At least "traffic pattern reflects closely the pattern of economic activities" (Ooi, 1963, p. 368). This is the only consolation for Rogue as she remembered the book she was able to browse months before. “Hey! It’s not your country! What do you care about!” She scorned herself in her thoughts. She was excited to reach their destination.

After “ thirteen kilometers north of Kuala Lumpur” (“Batu Caves,” n/d) and after an hour of jammed traffic in a busy city, the bus passed by the entrance of Batu Caves. It was not until 100 meters away before the two realized that they should have got down the bus. The next bus stop was another 100 meters away! The couple got down and walked back to the caves’ gate. “Are we there yet?” Italo asked Rogue. “Hmmmm… From the looks of it, I think, YES!” The first thing that caught the attention of the couple was the giant golden statue. They did not have any idea that the cave is also an Indian temple with 140 feet colossal golden statue. At the foot of the cave and right after the entrance, there is a wide square serving as parking space, food stalls space, souvenir store space and snack bars space, among others. Italo and Rogue were busy taking photos and looking around the place that did not notice the two Indian lads who were talking to them. The two were ushered inside a little air-conditioned room that serves as a little theater. There was a projector inside and before the two entered, they were required to pay ten Malaysian Ringgits (RM 10) each and to take off their respective thongs. They were the only audience inside that room and both were obviously anxious, especially after the lights of the room were turned off. “What are we supposed to do here?” Rogue asked Italo. “I don’t have any idea,” was the reply. It was not until the presentation of the Batu Caves Temple highlighting the attractions within, the Indian culture, and Hinduism, the two realized what they were supposed to do inside that room. Only by then the two became aware of the Thaipusam held every February, which is “the yearly celebration by members of the Hindu faith of the birth of Lord Subramaniam." (Shemanski, 1985, p. 132) Moreover, the giant golden statue was also introduced in that short video presentation. It is the statue of Lord Murugan, a Hindu diety and god of youth and justice to whom "thousands of devotees pray, fast, and form a long procession to honor." (Fong, 2002, p. 88)

The Thrill in the Temple
The couple thanked the two lads after they have finished learning what the place is all about. They were ready to go up the entrance of the cave to enter and explore. “I think we will need some drinks”, Italo suggested. The two entered the nearby snack bar and have a bottled water and a bottle of sprite. As for Rogue, she took a little bar of Toblerone to take with them at the top of the cave. “Sugar replenish lost energy fast” (“Sugar Gives You,”n/d) she was grinning as she naughtily whispered these little knowledge to Italo. The two shared drinking the bottled water and reserved the other bottle of Sprite in case they get thirsty up in the cave. Rogue took one bite of Toblerone and so did Italo.

Before one can enter in any of the major and minor caves at the Batu Temple, one must go up to the entrance using the 172 steps leading up the caves’ entrance. Rogue was thrilled with this idea as she has seen in the video presentation earlier that Hindu worshippers and devotees carry heavy weights in going up the steps. In fact, thousands of Hindus climb the 172 steps of the Batu Caves during the February Thaipusam, as they “balance milk pails on their heads and many with spears (or other sharp objects) pierced through their bodies, to pray at the Murugan temple atop” (Malaysia: Hindu Festival Declared, 2008) “Let’s start the adventure. It would be a great knee exercise!” Exclaimed the excited Rogue. “It’s a bit high and it would be a work. Sigh…”, Italo lamented.

There are at least a hundred other people around the place. They were either fellow tourists or Indian nationals maintaining the temple or vending goods and souvenir materials within the compound of the temple. The two continued their way up. Italo was always scores of steps behind Rogue. “Come on up! It’s really thrilling me.. Puff… Puff…” Rogue was catching her breath as she urged Italo to go faster. “Just go ahead and we see each other at the cave. Puff!... But better if you wait me and we take a little rest. Please give me the drink,” was the reply. Rogue paused from going up the steps and she took few sips from the bottle of Sprite. She waited Italo and as soon as he was at an arm’s length distance, she offered the bottle of Sprite that she have already opened. “Thanks. At least my throat is cleared now,” Italo told her after he took a gulp of the soda. She only smiled. They stayed at the middle of the steps for few more moments letting their fellow climbers overtake them. At the same time, the two took photos of the cityscape laid out down before them. The giant statue of Lord Murugan is now seen from behind and it did not look as imposing as seen from below.

“Let’s race to the top!” challenged the ever excited Rogue. “No. It’s a shame to not win over you,” replied Italo. “Hmmmp! Men of pride,” she murmured. They continued their way to the top and after few minutes of treading upwards, the couple reached the entrance. Italo was soaking with sweat. He took the last sip of the remaining soda. Soon, they were holding hands exploring the inside of the cave containing Hindu statues, symbols, and bass-reliefs.

“Where are the monkeys now? I don’t see any of them!” asked Rogue. “Let’s explore the cave further. Maybe they are staying there,” suggested Italo. The two roamed around the cave until they reached the other side where the light of the sun pass through the cave opening. Things are better seen at that side of the cave. There were fellow tourists taking photos and feeding monkeys with some food. As they reached the step leading up to that side of the cave, another monkey crossed their path. “Indeed there are monkeys around. Ha! Ha! Ha! Let’s take some photos,” Rogue remarked. They took more photos around. Italo, on the other hand, requested that his photo be taken with an Indian deity over a pedestal at his background. After few more minutes of wandering around, the couple was satisfied and decided to go back down.

Rogue decided to eat the Toblerone. She felt a need to replenish the energy she lost while going up the 172 steps. She took a bite. They were descending the little steps toward the entrance/exit of the cave when someone snatched the chocolates. “Help me! Oh my God!” She was almost out of her mind with what happened and she got a bit nervous. “What’s wrong?” Asked the bewildered Italo.. The surrounding individuals all looked at them and were alerted with Rogue’s scream. “There was something! I never saw it but someone snatched my chocolates. Where is our camera? Is it with you?” She was still a little nervous as she answered to her partner. They looked around and Rogue felt a sigh of relief when she saw that the camera was with Italo.

The couple tried to understand what really happened. It was not until they turned their eyes at one side of the cave where there were three monkeys. One of them was holding the Toblerone bar as it savors it while he was munching. The other two were staying on guard in case the former offer them some charity or in case the food fall down from its grip.

The couple could only laugh at the amusing reality that they have seen. It was the snatcher monkey! They went back to their budget hotel very contented with their afternoon adventure. As for Rogue, she never expected that simple afternoon to be so thrilling and be one of the most memorable experiences that she had. Thanks to the religious monkeys of the temple.

6 THINGS YOU Must Do in KUALA LUMPUR. (2007, February 11). The Mail on Sunday (London, England), p. 96. Retrieved May 3, 2008, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5019372880

Fong, P. K. (2002, June). Asian Arts Brighten Malaysia. World and I, 17, 88. Retrieved May 3, 2008, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5002477021

Ooi, J. (1963). Land, People, and Economy in Malaya. London: Longmans. Retrieved May 3, 2008, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=98317681

Shemanski, F. (1985). A Guide to World Fairs and Festivals. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. Retrieved May 3, 2008, from Questia database: http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=51723017

Malaysia: Hindu festival declared national holiday. (2008, January 21). Hindu Janajagruti Samiti. Retrieved May 2, 2008 from http://www.hindujagruti.org/news/3871.html

Sugar gives you energy. Retrieved May 2, 2008, from http://www.chewonthis.org.uk/ fat_salt_sugar/sugar_home.htm

The Batu Caves. Retrieved May 2, 2008, from http://www.malaysiasite.nl/batucaveseng.htm.

The purpose of this assignment is to look ‘inside’ and analyse the leisure experience.
1. Participate in any one leisure activity in which you are unfamiliar and have to pay for.
2. Write a story (see guide lines below) about all or a part of this leisure experience.
3. Using your story and those of three other class member’s examine the leisure experience.
4. Relate the messages from yours and the other stories to that mentioned in the literature about what contributes to the meaning an individual derives from the leisure experience.
Specific Requirements
1. The story must be typed and not exceed 600 words. Write only about your experience and feelings even though other people may have been involved (eg. Leader, family, partner, friend)
2. The story should be very descriptive and rich in detail so others can sense what the experience was like. Include what you may consider to be trivial information.
3. You do not have to justify the experience or the actions mentioned in the story as this is your account of a real leisure experience.
4. The story is to be written in third person. Replace your name in the story with a pseudonym and write as if a fictitious character is having the experience. The following is an example of part of a story of a leisure experience.

On a rather cool Saturday morning Julie, along with seven others, were greeted by Dave who would be their guide for the two-hour raft trip down the Totara River. Julie had received her ticket as a birthday present and although she wasn’t the adventurous type this wasn’t going to stop her having what should be a thrill. “All aboard” Dave yelled indicating it was time to hit the road and drive to the river. On the way the group introduced themselves and tried to hide their anxiety about the up-coming experience. Looking around the van Julie could see that those accompanying her on the trip were of all ages and shapes. “they certainly don’t look like a particularly physical group” Julie thought to herself. “Oh well, I suppose the company knows what it’s doing and I guess fitness isn’t important for such an experience”.

At the river Dave assigned everybody a job. Julie thought he seemed organized. She also liked the jokes he told about the size of the eels in the river although this seemed to make the townies in the group rather anxious. Once the raft was ready and loaded with the safety great the group were assigned wet suits, life jackets and helmets. To break the nervous tension Lisa asked, “Dave, what are the chances of getting tipped out?’ This brought a steely-eyed look her from one of the ‘cool dudes’ but Dave used this as a chance to begin explaining the safety procedures during which everyone was most attentive.

The group was soon dressed up like frogmen (without masks) and ready to head into unknown. The river looked calm but given this trip was called ‘A Ride on the Wild Side’ then Julie thought there must be a few surprises down stream. Dave began barking orders about how he wanted us seated. “Julie I want you up front left. Tim, you sit in the back right.” The group was strategically placed in the raft and out in the slow flowing current learning to paddle in unison. “Such a beautiful feeling being out here and conversing with nature” Julie commented. “I like being out here to” said Julie “but I’m not keen on conversing with those eels in the river”. You could sense a feeling of apprehension at the thought. However, this soon turned to excitement when the first rapid came into sight.

“Get swinging on those paddles,” yelled Dave at the top of his voice from the stern of the raft. “we’re about to encounter some wild water”.

The tone of his command made everybody quiver. This was the moment everybody had been looking forward to – the adventure of rafting down a rapid. There was a sense of fear at venturing into the unknown but also a confidence, knowing that Dave wasn’t about to risk his life for us, The sound of raging water over powered the chant of the group as they raced toward the rapid. “Hang on.” Screamed a timid voice from the front of the raft, “it’s wild.”

---and so on for approximately another 100words

Writing the Assignment
1. The assignment is to be written by self and must be your interpretation of what the three experiences discussed by your group mean. There is no one right or wrong explanation.
2. The information from the analysis should be categorized into a maximum of three(3) themes that reflect the main points identified in the collective stories.
3. Your written assignment must be more than a description of the experiences. You are to get ‘inside’ the experiences and provide some analysis about what contributed to meaning and level of (dis)satisfaction attached to the experiences.
4. Information from the literature (texts and journals or web – see below) must be used to elaborate on and extend the meaning associated with the experiences.
5. The stories are your data so short quotes can be incorporated into the written assignment to help illustrate a specific point. If you use quotes from the stories then name the character.

The assignment must:
- Have a title page and be typed using Times font size 12 and one and a half spacing
- Have an introduction (150-200 words) and mention the focus of your paper
- Have the content organized into a maximum of three (3) themes (400- 500 words each) and identify them with side headings. Do not wirte up each experience separately.
- Incorporate the views of at least seven (7) different authors to support your argument this must include a combination of books and journals. Do not include references from the SPLS102 book and only three from the World Wide Web using the www citation
- Use the fictitious character names (in the stories) when referring to the experience
- Use the APA referencing format and only list the authors cited in your assignment
- Provide a conclusion (150-200 words) by capturing the main points of the paper
- Be no more than 1800 words excluding the reference list

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