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Monday, May 14, 2007

Penang: My Missing Festivals

I'm making a career of missing festivals and parades. In Chiang Mai, the Flower Festival came and went, and I never even noticed. Here, I showed up for Sikh New Year just as it ended. Apparently I was here for a couple of festivals in March and April, and knew nothing about them, either.

More frustrating are the ones I know about but can't seem to get to on time, or at all. One day I decided to go to a procession for Buddha's birthday. I asked at The Malibu, "When does the procession start and where is it?" Armed with directions, I set off, only to find myself in Little India. An odd place for a Buddhist procession, I thought, even though there are several Buddhist temples in the area.

Then I realized that I was standing in front of a Hindu temple, watching people get ready for some sort of ceremony. There were a couple of floats, and young girls all dressed up, women in pretty salwar kameez. After wandering around, looking in shops, admiring flowers, and sipping on an iced coffee, I had learned that the sleeveless Punjabi suit is very popular here. But I still knew nothing about the festival. I asked a policeman when the procession would start. It would be a while, he said, so I decided I'd try to find the Buddhist event.

Once again armed with directions, I headed for Burma Road. After a stopping to take some photos, getting disoriented and walking several blocks in the wrong direction, I gave up. I was now too tired to return to the Hindu temple. I gave up and returned to my room, for a shower and a nap.

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