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The Bengali Runaway: The Bengali Club

A roof of a Chinese temple

I spent two days wandering the streets of George town. It was very hip and arty with Chinese temples and mosques scattered around. But I felt restless. I was wasting my time. I should have planned great things to do here but I seemed to lack the motivation to do so. On the second day, I made friends with an Indonesian girl in my dorm called Munni. I had just returned from an excursion early afternoon and she seemed to have just woken up. I thought she was ill. 'Are you okay?' I asked. She looked at me curiously and then smiled. We hung out, going to the local shops for drinks and snacks. She was ten years older and here on business, setting up a restaurant and a hostel nearby. She'd stayed at Siok for a month and I got the feeling she wanted to be friends with me because she thought I was classy. She really liked that I was from London, that I was an ex-teacher and of course, like many others, my British accent. I had never considered myself to have an accent as I always thought I spoke 'normally.'

She wanted to go clubbing that evening. It wasn't my thing but hey, I was travelling so why not? Plus it was a Bengali club. I'd never heard of a Bengali club let alone been to one so it intrigued me. Did they offer beetle nuts and paan instead of tapas? I wore the only fancy dress I bought with me for such occasions, a deep orange, knee length dress with lace. Some jewelry and make up I thought I'd never wear. And perfume. I was glad these things were coming in handy and I wasn't lugging them around for no reason.

We went to a bar first where they were playing live music outside. A tanned guy with a black hat on and a rugged voice singing old school rock. He was good. After a drink, we made our way to the Bengali club. It was called Aashiqui and it was more Bollywood than Bengali. An almost empty club with eight girls dressed in traditional attire, two of them dancing out of sync on stage while the rest of them sat in the back, faces serious, bored even, waiting for their turn.

There were open booths all around the stage but they were empty apart from ours and two more. Maybe because it was a week night. An overweight guy seemed to appreciate the dancing girls and gave them 10 ringgets each.

Munni wanted to dance. Customers weren't allowed on stage so we remained in our booth and danced to the music. She liked my moves (I mentally patted myself on the back for all the belly dancing classes I took over the years) but my enthusiasm was diminishing by the minute. This wasn't my thing and I was conscious of the men in the other booth watching us. I stopped dancing shortly after and tried to convince her to go. But instead, she ordered another drink. She said she'd never had alcohol before but for a newbie, she seemed very confident with it and wanted to get drunk. Did she think because I was from London I'd be a drunken party animal? After another long half an hour, I managed to convince her to leave. We went back to the main road and ended up in another bar. I was ready for bed and really did not fancy throwing my money away on expensive drinks. She ordered alcohol and I ordered orange juice. I Iooked at the bill and was surprised to see the orange juice was more expensive than the alcohol! What world was this?

Just then, I received a text from Ben, the guy who I cat-sat for in KL. It wasn't good news. In fact, it upset me. I needed to sort it out but had to go somewhere private so I could respond properly. I used this as an excuse to leave and go back to the hostel. Every cloud has a silver lining I thought as I walked back to Siok alone.

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