Tuesday, April 13, 2010

If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it...

does it make a sound?


The torrential rain in KL has been really something to speak about. The roads turn into rivers. Sometimes you wonder what the city would be like if drains didn’t exist.

I was driving one day about 3pm with a colleague, to a hotel for a meeting, when we got caught in a traffic crawl. This was within earshot of my employer’s headquarters mind you (as if this fact was a sign of anything…). The rain was so heavy that the view from my windscreen was a blur despite the valiant efforts of my 15 year old wipers at full speed to remove the raindrops away. The road I was on is usually completely shaded by the 50 to 60 foot lush trees. One of those cosy roads that you love to drive on. Now the lashing rain made the trees sway madly.

The SUV in front of my car moves, and I move my car too. Suddenly, I see a 20 feet long branch snap off and come crashing down on the SUV. The SUV shudders to a stop, and so do I.

For what seemed an eternity, I sat there, thinking what a close call that was. Then it dawned on me that the driver of the SUV may be squished! I got out of my car, jinked to the back to get my umbrella - before realising that I can’t do a rescue mission holding an umbrella! I was already drenched hand, foot and mouth in that short time. I ran over to the SUV, expecting to pull out a bloodied and wailing driver at best… but as I got to the driver’s side, he opens the door and gets out, stunned. He was in uniform, and he looked to me like an auxiliary policeman. No blood, so that was a relief. I ask if he’s ok, and he asks if I can help remove the branch.

I thought he was nuts. I looked back, and traffic was already backed up as far as the eye can see. I give the branch a nudge to see how heavy the behemoth was. It was very heavy. Carrying it would be impossible for the two of us, but should be possible with the many KLites who would in a few moments stream along to help.

In the meantime, leveraging on the position of the branch across the bonnet of the SUV, the two of us attempted to force the branch over the vehicle. Just as we were about to roll it over, I realised that the branch had snagged a cable on its way down. Not wanting to first get electrocuted and second cause a blackout in KL, I screamed at the dude to stop. At this point I realise that there’s actually another guy in the passenger seat, still stunned that a tree had fallen on his vehicle. We manage to convince him to get real, get onto the driver’s side and reverse the SUV a little.

The two of us then heaved and pushed the branch off the SUV and launched it over the safety railings on the other side of the road, taking advantage of the momentum of the heavy branch to pull off this manoeuvre… pulling down the cable a little further, but not wrenching it down. But my deltoid muscles…

I was soaked to the bone.

Throughout the 2 minutes it took for all this to take place, a lot of people stopped to look, but not a single person came forward to help.

Not surprising though. Who would want to get wet on a working day?

By this time, my colleague had used her blackberry to e-mail her next appointment saying she won’t make it because a tree fell in front of her ride.

As I got back into the car, she remarked that I had to get changed because I was dripping wet. Not a single thread was dry.

She had a closer look, and saw streaks of dirt across my shirt.

“Eww, what’s that?”

I looked at my shirt, and said “Must be from the tree…”

“Oh… the tree is quite dirty.”

“Yea…” I replied… disappointed that my shirt now had dirt stains.

As we drove on in the driving rain… very soon we realized the utter obnoxiousness of the statements we made. These are the type of things you won’t be able to live down if anyone knew you said it…

My colleague made it on time for her appointment.

As I drove back home early through the rivers of KL that evening, I recalled fondly two other incidents, one a close call, and the other involving ‘water' … :-)


It’s not the sound it makes when it falls, it’s the silence it leaves when it’s gone.