Stories from Jalan Petaling: The Thirsty Mouse of Petaling Street

There is a street in the heart of Chinatown in Kuala Lumpur. A street of gangs and vendors and people from all countries, arrived in the thriving belly of Malaysia to carve out their life among the neon lights, souvenir booths, the deep fryed food stalls and the pirate DVD vendors.

In the centre of this mall, in Jalan Petaling, home of the Petaling Street Warriors, lives a mouse.

In the intersection in the middle of Jalan Petaling, with the Hello Kitty store nearby and the old restaurant that serves black noodles at night and a variety of porridges in the morning, is the home of a thirsty mouse.

I have seen this mouse many times over the last couple of years as I pass through Kuala Lumpur on my way to or from places in South East Asia, as Air Asia is my gateway to Asia and they always fly through KL, so when I stay, it is always in Petaling Street.

The mouse isn’t real. He’s a small stuffed toy. But he is still thirsty. The locals prop him up against a small can of soft drink in the dead centre of the mall late in the evening and stand back. They just watch people to see how attentive they are. How many people see the mouse. How many people stop to photograph the mouse, and how many people are too busy running from store to stop collecting souvenirs and pirate DVD’s long enough to notice a tiny mouse drinking from a soft drink can in the middle of Petaling Street.

Many times they have to “Tut tut tut TUT TUT !” to people as they walk through, oblivious to the mouse on the road. Many get the hint and slow down to look around. Some barge right on through and kick the mouse and the can flying like a piece of trash. Someone nearby gets up and walks over to pick up the mouse and reset him to his position, drinking whatever’s current flavor of disused soda is through a thin, mouse-sized straw.

The mouse is a tiny part of Chinatown culture. He has come and he will probably go again, just like the many other travellers and trends that beset the city, either like the Gangnam Style t-shirts that stay for a few months or like the mass of Angry Birds merchandise that seem to pervade the area forever.

I asked one of the DVD sellers that I was friends with if he had a name. He said “I think he has many names. You can call him whatever you want”.

I call him Algernon.

Now if you’re good, next time I’ll tell you about the monkey. He’s real. And he rides on a motorbike. “Stories from Jalan Petaling” will be continued in a future blog post as part of a multi-part story about my time in the heart of Chinatown, Malaysia.

 

Petaling Street. The heart of Chinatown, Malaysia.

So small, the Thirsty Mouse of Petaling Street escapes notice.

Drink drink drink mousie !
Before the crazy monkey on the motorbike comes to run you over !

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