Whenever I thought about my late grandma, there are three things that I remember vividly: her taking me and my brothers to this huge playground inside a shopping center, her perfect “Negeri Sembilan dialect” when she spoke to people her age, and her house which has plenty of vacant rooms that she had it rented out after my grandfather passed away. She really wanted to help other people especially students or even working professionals who had just arrived in KL and finding rooms for rent. It’s expensive as you may already know to rent a whole property to live in.
I remember Siti (student) – one of her longest “tenant” who would come back from college and went straight to the dining area to have tea with my grandma, and repeatedly tell me and my mom about how good my grandma’s cooking was every time we came to visit (We live next door).
Or Atikah who always invited a young and curious me into her room everytime I engaged her in a conversation. I remember how close my grandma was to all her tenants, and how much they respected her. We even invited Siti to my wedding as she became a very good family friend. This was of course, back then.
Looking around me these days, I seldom see the same things.
Finding room for rent is almost certainly the norms for young executives living in the capital. The heavy traffic in and out of the central business area makes it more reasonable to opt for room for rent near the office or school, than to commute for 1 or 2 hours each day to-and-from our parents’ house. Imagine how long it would take to travel from Rawang to Pudu – a distance of more than 35km – when the average speed is only 20 km/hour in the CBD area… Or Jalan Kuching and Pasar Borong Selayang perhaps in the early morning traffic condition. Gosh, makes me feel like I’d rather walk instead of driving.
“I prefer renting a room since I went to office because traveling from Selayang to KL every day is just too tiring,” expressed Alex, a 28 year old young executive who works in a financial consultant. “Now I prefer to stay near the office to save time and to get more rest. I won’t get that if I stay at my parents’ house.”
Alex is definitely not alone in expressing this opinion. Many young executives also feel the same way about commuting and prefer to stay closer to work or school and rent a room. The long hours work, the long hours commute, and the high expectations from jobs and school eventually lead to people wanting more time to rest and relax. And renting a room nearer to the city center would be the ideal option.
Living together in the room or house you rented with people coming from variety of backgrounds and profession gives you an insight of the reality.
We tend to understand better of what is happening around us economically or even financially. As Malaysia progress economically, things gets more expensive and properties aren’t excluded. Come on lets be real, I mean can we buy a house in the heart of KL with the average RM4,000-RM5,000 monthly salary? That’s the average rent monthly. Good luck!
The point that I am trying to draw here is that let’s not look at just the economic perspective of renting a room. It’s more than that. What are we sharing? Are we making the best of what we have in hand at the moment? Do we communicate with each other at home, the home you’re renting, the room you’re renting. Perhaps it is not that we don’t want to talk to each other, or that we’re too ignorant towards one another. Perhaps we’re just looking for warm and comfortable place to greet our housemates and roommates and to strike a conversation with them. Perhaps we’re actually missing that fun of watching and waiting together for who got sent home on Akademi Fantasia. Or, perhaps sometimes we’re just looking for a company to spend that relaxing moment in the dining table while sipping a hot cup of tea.
On that thought, I’d like to quote my grandma, ”In principle, human beings are social beings. We want to feel comfortable and we want to trust one another. So if you provide a comfortable environment, we’ll go back to our nature – trusting, interacting, building comfort.”
Now I remember again why my grandma’s house and the rooms she had rented out. It was always full and the people who stayed were always so nice to us. It’s because she always had communicated well with them and understood the difficulties they’re having living in KL. It made them feel welcome. It made them feel home. And they shared a home away from home.
As for us, what do we really share besides the same mailing address?
Photo credit to: farhanajmi