Kuching for me is life. Kuching for me is a breath of fresh air in a suffocating world. Kuching for me is where I see familiar faces. Kuching for me is the only place I would ever want to grow up in. Kuching for me is nothing short of home.
Kuching is more than a name, for it is a city. It is a city of nostalgia and it is a city that beckons for the creation of nostalgia silently in its own whimsical way. This city is charming and this city never forgets. It is all but a huge metropolis but it is all we ever needed. You see, it is as if this place has a life of its own. It gets its livelihood from its people, its culture, its past and the surroundings upon which it is built around. Just like the Sarawak River which runs with life and gives life, Kuching has its own version of life to offer. Turn this corner and you are greeted with the clanks of the old tin makers or the smell of traditional buns along Carpenter Street. Turn that corner and you are gently thrust into the hustle and bustle and loud bangs of construction along the Waterfront. Because Kuching offers you choices and it lets you have the best of both worlds. Be it a quiet morning to yourself sipping coffee amidst the usual morning kopitiam crowd, or the comfort of a sofa sipping expensive coffee in international franchise coffee shops.
But more so than that, Kuching is nourishment and a paradise for comfort food. Food in Kuching is where we mainly place our identity in. We take pride in the name of our dishes, known in parts of Southeast Asia and even in the western world. We revel in the sense of pride each time we take a foreigner friend to try food only found here. We swear undying loyalty to our favorite kolo mee stalls and nasi briyani joints. And with a city this small, we find a kindling sense of unity in sharing the knowledge of the best food locations. We know the go-to places when we crave the best pick-me-up after a long day. We know that when we call on our friends to meet, they’ll be there in a jiffy.
Kuching is also a city of familiarity where you’re bound to meet someone you know while out for a stroll in a mall. Is it because Kuching is small? I beg to differ. I’d like to say it’s because we love the fact that we can take comfort together in knowing that what is familiar to us is familiar to those we love too. It is easier to share news together as word spreads fast around here. It is easier to share moments of joy and anguish because somehow in Kuching, almost everyone knows everyone to some extent. Not to forget, Kuching is a place where you can always find a helping hand, sometimes in the most unexpected ways.
Kuching for me is also a subject of envy. We do not have the widest roads or the tallest buildings. But we do have a common dislike for wayward ideas and subjects which disrupt our precious peace. We are modeled upon unity and mutual respect and other cities will model themselves after us. We are somewhat content with what we have and take what we don’t have as blessings in disguise. We know to strive for protection of what matters the most to us and are quick to silence any form of peace-disruptive mechanism. We are the subject of envy because what others strive to procure for personal content, we do not have but yet are still as satisfied. We have joy and we have the general feeling of security and togetherness.
Kuching for me is a place that people return from abroad and smile knowing that what they remember still exists as they remembered. Even though some places that evoke memories of bygone days have been replaced, there are always lingering traces to connect the new and the old to. This city will always be old no matter how new it looks, for people like the old things. They like to connect the dots and be around familiar places and sights. Smells and sounds they grew up amongst and people they shared unique relationships with. I can’t say for other places but once you’ve found yourself a home in Kuching, nowhere else is home enough than this.
Lastly Kuching is a place for the weary. Kuching is a city to slow down in and take one step at a time unhurriedly. Kuching is a city that you should take in slowly and bask in the little fleeting moments of happiness that you might find here. Put your leg up, let your hair down and unwind. The city wants you to. For Kuching is not going anywhere. It is here to stay. In later years her face may change but nevertheless do not doubt that this old soul of hers is always hidden somewhere, waiting for you to explore and to lose yourself in.
Kuching for me is family, friends, comfort, security, peace, happiness and it is home.